Disney’s River Country was the first water park at Walt Disney World. It opened on June 1, 1976, and closed in November 2001.
This water park is sure to bring back some great memories for those who have visited in the past. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, including a lazy river, slides, and interactive play areas.
Most people know about Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot, but what about their River Country water park? It was a great place to cool off in the summer and had tons of fun activities for the whole family. Whether you’re swimming in the river or playing on the slides, you had a blast at River Country!
Disney’s River Country Facts
Opened in 1976, Disney’s River Country was the first water park built at Walt Disney World.
Located on Bay Lake, just downstream from the Magic Kingdom, the park was themed after the Florida backwoods and featured a number of rustic attractions.
One of the most popular was the Slippery Slide Falls, a waterslide that shot guests down a natural rock formation.
Other popular attractions included the Deer Park Pool, where visitors could feed live deer, and the Upstream Plunge, a pool with a powerful geyser that regularly sent swimmers skyward.
In 2001, River Country closed its doors for good, making it one of the shortest-lived Disney parks in history.
Disney River Country Attractions
River Country was the first water park at Walt Disney World Resort, and it was a favorite among visitors for many years. The park featured natural surroundings and several unique attractions, including a giant Floating Mill Wheel and a downstream Plunge Pool.
Disney River Country Attraction List
- Slippery Slide Falls
- Indian Springs
- Upstream Plunge
- White Water Rapids
- Barrel Bridge
- Bay Cove
- Whoop ‘n’ Holler Hollow Water Slides
- Bay Bridge
- Cypress Point Nature Trail
Why was Disney’s River Country Abandoned?
When the park closed, the intention was never to abandon it. The idea was to reopen the park but it just never happened.
River Country was Disney’s first water park. In the early 1990s, however, the park began to lose popularity. Competition from other water parks, and maintenance issues all contributed to its decline. Two of those water parks that were surpassing the success of River Country were Disney’s own Typhoon Lagoon (opened in 1989) and Blizzard Beach (opened in 1995).
With its Tom Sawyer Swimmin Hole vibe compared to Disney’s two other water parks, it just felt too quaint.
In 2005. Disney decided to announce they were permanently closing River Country.
Although it is no longer open to the public, River Country holds a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans.
People Explore the Abandoned Disney River Country
Disney’s River Country was the first water park at Walt Disney World, and it was a popular destination for families looking to cool off in the Florida heat.
However, the park closed its doors in 2001, and it has remained abandoned ever since.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped people from exploring the site. Urban explorers have broken into the park to see what has become of it, and their photos offer a glimpse of a once-thriving park that is now eerily empty.
The photos and videos show rusted slides, overgrown foliage, and empty pools. It’s a sad sight, but it’s also a fascinating one.
For many people, exploring River Country is a way to remember a happy childhood memory while also getting a taste of adventure.
Please note, that none of these pictures are mine and I do not suggest sneaking anywhere backstage on Disney property. These photos belong to Imagineering Disney.
Some Of The Park Was Still Open
The front half of the park was open, with Mickey’s Backyard BBQ still going strong. The venue held an all-you-can-eat barbeque meal that would be perfect for any guest looking to end their day on a sweet note! There were also bathrooms available inside this area as well.
For a while, this portion of the park had lights on and still played the classic Disney River Country music.
You can still see evidence of the old ticket booths on your way into Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.
Disney Vacation Club Resort, “Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort
Nestled on the shores of Bay Lake, Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort will offer a gateway to relaxation and fun. As a Disney Vacation Club resort, it will provide guests with all the comforts of home, plus special benefits like access to Member Lounge and concierge services.
From its lakeside location and beautiful grounds to its spacious accommodations and top-notch amenities, Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort is sure to please every member of the family.
Right now, construction is paused with little news to resume.
Some Often Asked Questions
What happened to River Country at Disney?
River Country was the first water park at Walt Disney World, opening in 1976. The park was inspired by the natural beauty of the American South and featured attractions such as a man-made lake, swimming pools, and a whitewater rafting ride. River Country was very popular in its early years, but attendance began to decline in the 1990s.
In 2001, the decision was made to close River Country permanently. There have been several theories about why River Country closed, including competition from other parks, changes in the Disney company, and the impact of 9/11.
However, the most likely reason is simply that the park was no longer profitable. In any case, River Country holds a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans, and its closure is still mourned by many today.
Is River Country still abandoned?
Yes, River Country is still abandoned. The park has been closed since 2001, and no plans have been announced to reopen it. However, that hasn’t stopped people from exploring the site. Urban explorers have broken into the park to see what has become of it, and their photos offer a glimpse of a once-thriving park that is now eerie.
Why is Discovery Island abandoned?
A topic for an entire post, Disney’s Discovery Island was once a bustling place full of over 500 species of animals and birds. However, the island is now abandoned and eerily silent. The story of how this came to be is both fascinating and heart-breaking.
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd struck the island, causing extensive damage. The hurricane destroyed animal habitats, downed power lines, and toppled trees. Many of the animals on the island perished in the storm, and those that survived were relocated to zoos and sanctuaries.
As a result of the hurricane, Disney decided to close Discovery Island permanently. Today, the island remains uninhabited except for the occasional trespasser – a sad reminder of what was once a magical place.
Disney’s River Country Quick Review
It was the first water park at Walt Disney World. It opened in 1976 and closed permanently in 2001.
-The park is located on the shores of Bay Lake, near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.
-River Country featured a variety of pools, including a wave pool, sand beach, and “lazy river.”
-Themed areas within the park included Kiddie Cove (for children), Barefoot Bay (a tropical area with a swim-up bar), and Mountain Creek (featuring a high-speed water slide).
-In its final years, attendance at River Country had dwindled as newer parks such as Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach opened at Walt Disney World..
-The decision was made to close River Country permanently in 2001, and the park has been abandoned ever since.
-Despite being closed for over 15 years, River Country remains a popular destination for urban explorers and Disney fans alike.
-Many photos and videos of the abandoned park have been shared online, offering a glimpse of what once was.
The story of River Country is a sad one, but the park holds a special place in the hearts of many Disney fans.