Walt Disney World's first water park, Disney's River Country, closed forever back in 2001. Let's take a step back in time...
Back in the mid-1970s, Walt Disney World was not the sprawling, multi-day resort destination that it is today. The only theme park on offer was the Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT Center wouldn't open until the start of the next decade. To keep its hotel guests amused and on-site for longer, Disney decided to build its first ever water park, Disney's River Country.
Located near Discovery Island on the shore of Bay Lake, River Country boasted a rustic "wilderness" theme. The theming was heavy on rocks and boulders, and was designed to resemble an "old-fashioned swimming hole".
The water that was used in River Country's slides and pools was drawn directly from Bay Lake, and passed through a unique filtering system. The natural feel of the park was enhanced by the sand that was abundant throughout.
There were relatively few attractions at River Country, which was much smaller than the current Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks. Among the attractions offer were:
- Upsteam Plunge - a small, kidney-shaped pool.
- Slippery Slide Falls - two water slides that emptied out into Upstream Plunge.
- White Water Rapids - a 330-foot-long lazy river.
- Bay Cove - a sandy-bottomed lake featuring a tire swing, rope climb and other apparatus.
- Whoop 'n' Holler Hollow - two water slides that dropped into Bay Cove.
- Indian Springs - a play area for younger children.
- Cypress Point Nature Trail - a trail through the trees alongside Bay Lake.
Disney's River Country photos
When Michael Eisner took over as Disney CEO in 1984, he took a more competitive approach than his predecessors. He decided to build a full water park, Typhoon Lagoon, to take on nearby Wet 'n' Wild. River Country's capacity was limited, and its days were numbered. It shut on November 2, 2001, but remains in place today - it was abandoned rather than demolished.