Disney’s River Country in Walt Disney World was an active water park that first opened in 1976! Come on! This place has been around for 99% of my life and I had no idea!
Here’s the scoop: In 1976, Disney opened River Country, its very first water park. It had water slides, a large pool, tire swings into a man-made sandy cove, nature trails and a few other features to make it feel like an “old fashioned swimming hole.” As you might expect, the place was a big hit among its visitors.
In 1980, a kid died from a disease he picked up from the water at the park, but still River Country continued. In 1989, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon opened up near by, but still River Country continued. In 1995, Disney also opened Blizzard Beach, but still River Country continued. It wasn’t until 2001 that River Country closed its gates for the last time.
After the 9/11 attacks, all of the various park attendances declined. Combining that with new Florida laws regarding public swimming areas and it was decided that River Country just wouldn’t reopen the following summer.
Here’s the weirder part… It’s still there! River Country sits abandoned looking like something out of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Metal has rusted, buildings have fallen into disrepair, trees and brush have overgrown the paths, and the pools are empty of anything besides algae-filled rain water. It’s a ghostly reminder of the excitement that used to take place there.
I’ve been to most of the major Disney parks in the US, gone on a tour of the studios, watched hundreds of Youtubes about Disney, collected every animated feature in the Disney canon, and have a bootleg copy of Song of the South… How did I miss this!!?
And tomorrow I’ll tell you about another one I missed right next door to River Country! Y’all come back now, y’hear!
Did you know about this place? Tell me about it! I’m fascinated. Comment me!