Oh, who doesn’t love the story of River Country? It’s got all the nostalgia, mystery, and just-slightly-creepiness anyone needs in conjunction with Disney.
To be clear, there is nothing actually CREEPY about River Country, aside from the simple fact that the property is abandoned and is left to become overgrown and wasted. It’s not haunted, no mysterious tragedies occurred there, and there’s nothing hidden or buried that has been discovered. It’s just, you know, property at Disney World that is no longer in use and has rather quickly been reclaimed by the local vegetation. But it makes for some fascinating pictures.
Since this is a FastPass to History feature I’m going to focus instead on the River Country that was. River Country opened in 1976 at the Walt Disney World Resort, adjacent to Fort Wilderness, and was the resort’s first water park – the only one, in fact, until Typhoon Lagoon opened 13 years later. River Country kept the rustic theming of Ft. Wilderness intact and presented itself as an “old-fashioned swimmin’ hole”, with all the attractions built to resemble a homemade backyard entertainment set-up around the ol’ lake.
Much of the water actually came from the surrounding lake, though it was heavily filtered and cleansed, which helped with the natural look of the area. Structures mostly had a rocky look to them, slides were disguised within these “mountain outcroppings”, and they had other little homey additions like a zipline and a tire swing. There were kids’ areas too, including Kiddie Cove and Indian Springs. Names of other attractions featured stuff like “Slippery Slide Falls”, “Whoop N’ Holler Hollow”, and “Barrel Bridge”.
River Country was “temporarily” closed in 2001 and left in limbo for a few years until Disney announced in 2005 that it would not be reopened. There are a number of reasons flying around the internet for this, including that the lake water houses an amoeba that can very quickly destroy the nervous system of anyone infected (this is true, it does, which is why there is no swimming on Disney beaches), but Yesterland.com points out the fact that they closed for the season in September 2001, right before the 9/11 attacks. They went into financial emergency mode after that point, and since they had two larger water parks with higher attendance and more capacity, and it made sense as a cost-cutting measure to eliminate the oldest, smallest one. That simple. Too bad though!
Did you ever go to River Country? Any great memories to share? Comment below!
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