FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail
Adventurer's Club

Walt Disney World spans an enormous area, covering a ridiculous 25,000+ acres. Despite the presence of four theme parks, two water parks, more than 20 hotels and many other attractions, there's still plenty of free space for future expansion.

Not all of the unused space at Walt Disney World is part of wilderness preserves or untouched swampland, however. Some of it is occupied by attractions that have been introduced since the resort's debut in 1971 and subsequently shuttered and abandoned. Other areas are partially closed or undergoing renovation.

Let's take a look at 3 major areas of Walt Disney World that are no longer in use as originally intended.

3. Discovery Island

Discovery Island (1)
Image: Scott Miller, Flickr

Located in Walt Disney World's Bay Lake, Discovery Island first opened to the public in April 1974 as Treasure Island. It was designed to be a wildlife observation attraction, and was renamed after being designated as a zoological park.

Discovery Island (2)

Image: Sam Howzit, Flickr

Discovery Island (3)

Image: Scott Miller, Flickr

When the much larger Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, Disney opted to close Discovery Island. Many of the island's captive animals were moved to the new park.

Discovery Island (4)

Image: Scott Miller, Flickr

While several alternative uses of the island have since been put forward - including turning it into an attraction based on Lost - it remains off-limits to guests. Urban explorer Shane Pérez reached the island in 2010, claiming to have discovered "abandoned buildings, cages, preserved snakes in jars, even old employee photos".

2. Disney's River Country

Back in 1976, Walt Disney World was short on attractions to keep guests on-site for more than a day or two. The only theme park at that stage was the Magic Kingdom, and EPCOT Center would not open until 1982. To add to its roster, the resort installed its first ever water park: Disney's River Country.

Disney's River Country map

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".

Disney's River Country (6)

Image © Disney

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.

Disney's River Country (7)

Image © Disney

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.

You can see the current state of the park in this recent article.

FacebookTwitterPinterestEmail

Comments

I so miss Pleasure Island, there was nothing like it and you felt SAFE. Mannequins I miss you!!

River Country was not closed because of the brain eating amoeba in the water. That child died in 1980, while the park closed in 2001, so that claim is completely baseless.

there are brain parasites in the water of bay lake. That's a big reason River Country will never return.

River Country was closed down due to the bacteria and brain eating amoebas that came from the bay.

It was a big mistake to close Pleasure Island.

View More Comments

Add new comment

About Theme Park Tourist

Theme Park Tourist is one of the web’s leading sources of essential information and entertaining articles about theme parks in Orlando and beyond.

We are one of the world’s largest theme park guide sites, hosting detailed guides to more than 80 theme parks around the globe.

Find Out More About Us...

Plan Your Trip

Our theme park guides contain reviews and ratings of rides, restaurants and hotels at more than 80 theme parks worldwide.

You can even print them.

Start Planning Now...