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Disney's River Country

In the mid-1970s, Walt Disney World had yet to evolve into the sprawling multi-day destination that it is today. It still only had one theme park, the Magic Kingdom, surrounded by a selection of resort hotels. EPCOT Center wouldn't open until the start of the next decade, so Disney decided to install another attraction to keep guests on site for longer - its first water park.

Disney's River Country was located on the shore of Bay Lake, and boasted a rustic "wilderness" theme. Packed with rocks and boulders, it was designed to resemble an old-fashioned swimming hole. The water for its pools and slides came from Bay Lake via a filtering system, and abundant sand was used to enhance the natural feel of the park.

Disney's River Country (1)

Source: Auntie Rain Flickr

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.

We don't advocate trespass, and making your way into the abandoned River Country these days could be quite dangerous. Instead, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the park and its former attractions from skies, using the magic of Bing Maps.

First, let's take a look at a map of River Country:

Disney's River Country map

There were relatively few attractions on offer at the park, which was much smaller than the current Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks. They included:

  • 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 water slide.
  • 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.
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Comments

We visited from the UK...in 1998 and it started raining as soon as we arrived...I never even got to swim!...they had under cover games and I entered the 'how many marshmallows can you fit into your mouth' game..I remember it being a fun day in spite of the rain..

I lost my mothers engagement ring playing volleyball in water and it was never found. I love going there with my family and have great memories except loosing my ring. We stayed in fort wilderness in those days and went there many times.

In the last photo, what are those mostly blue circle things? On the right hand side...

I went to river country the summer before it closed, I was only a freshman in high school and it was the best water park of the three. I loved the slides and the low key feel. I wished they never closed it down. I have 4 kids I take to Disney every year and because river country is no longer open we don't even do the water parks. The best memories I have of a water park were there.

I loved River Country and wished it never closed. It had the best slides and a the best tube ride. River country was relaxing...I loved everything about it.

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