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The Top 3 Lost Areas of Walt Disney World

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.

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There are 24 comments.

Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, not 1999.

One of those lovely typos that a spellchecker won't catch. Thanks.

The Adventurers Club was awesome!! My husband and I had too much fun at Pleasure Island!

Wish they would open river country just as it was

I was so disappointed when we checked into fort wilderness to find river country closed. I they are not going to open it back up they need something for the guests thar stay there and want a break from the crowds at the water parks to open something for the people that stay at Fort wilderness.we have stayed there quite often but now are thinking a hotel that has the water facilities that may not be on Disney property maybe more economical and fun for the kids when they just don't feel like going anywhere. Just so you know I am an annual passholder.

Part of the reason River country and discovery Island were closed were because of parasites the water it's not a widely known or publicized thing because disney doesn't want to freak anybody out, there are parasites in the water that are harmful to humans, Lakeland the river can make you verry sick, and they had a very large crocodile boom about 10 years ago the urban explore was lucky wasn't eaten he swim across the lake, and just so you know I get my information directly from the source I have a friend who is a cast member in animal kingdom and used to work at both River country and sometimes moonlights over at the new waterpark.

This was the longest sentence I've ever read.

Ahahaha!I actually signed into this sight just to lol at "' that's the longest sentence I have ever read" .......lol... lol...

moonlight over the waterpark sounds kind of romantic.

Crocodile boom?? Are you sure you know where Florida is? And yes, it it's publicized that they closed because of a "parasitic scare" when a child died from a bacteria. He also was in several other freshwater facilities and lakes at the time of his visit and the water in River Country tested negative and always had. They closed ultimately because of attendance issues after the scare. And please, for the love of God, learn what a comma and a period are. Smh

I was so disappointed when we checked into fort wilderness to find river country closed. I they are not going to open it back up they need something for the guests thar stay there and want a break from the crowds at the water parks to open something for the people that stay at Fort wilderness.we have stayed there quite often but now are thinking a hotel that has the water facilities that may not be on Disney property maybe more economical and fun for the kids when they just don't feel like going anywhere. Just so you know I am an annual passholder.

I was so disappointed when we checked into fort wilderness to find river country closed. I they are not going to open it back up they need something for the guests thar stay there and want a break from the crowds at the water parks to open something for the people that stay at Fort wilderness.we have stayed there quite often but now are thinking a hotel that has the water facilities that may not be on Disney property maybe more economical and fun for the kids when they just don't feel like going anywhere. Just so you know I am an annual passholder.

Uhhh ... You didn't say when you checked in to WL and discovered that River Country was no more. You must be the only person that didn't know. Since it closed 13 years ago it hasn't been listed on any resort media since.

Yeah, it would be a nice feature to have a water park right at the hotel, but that would cut into Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon revenues. That would be very UN-Disney like.

I remember seeing something about the state of FL saying you can't swim in untreated lake water. I don't know if that is true or not.

Regardless of what a state says, I just thought that always sounded like a good thing to avoid. But there were a lot of things done in the 70's and even 80's that we'd never do now, amazing how we all survived. ;)

I absolutely loved Pleasure Island!!! I loved going club to club and dancing to different genres of music! I loved the comedy club! Closing it was a bad move in my opinion. It was nice to have a place in Disney for adults to have a good time!

I did go to River Country a few times with my eldest child, but I have to admit it wasn't my favorite water park. I still think they should have kept it open for those that enjoyed that kind of atmosphere.

I absolutely loved Pleasure Island!!! I loved going club to club and dancing to different genres of music! I loved the comedy club! Closing it was a bad move in my opinion. It was nice to have a place in Disney for adults to have a good time!

I did go to River Country a few times with my eldest child, but I have to admit it wasn't my favorite water park. I still think they should have kept it open for those that enjoyed that kind of atmosphere.

I absolutely loved Pleasure Island!!! I loved going club to club and dancing to different genres of music! I loved the comedy club! Closing it was a bad move in my opinion. It was nice to have a place in Disney for adults to have a good time!

I did go to River Country a few times with my eldest child, but I have to admit it wasn't my favorite water park. I still think they should have kept it open for those that enjoyed that kind of atmosphere.

We loved the old Discovery Island. Loved seeing all the animals. It was so peaceful to take the boat over and walking around at our leisure. We enjoyed using the hammocks in the sandy areas and just chilling without all the crowds at the parks. They did have some animals that didn't move to Animal Kingdom. I am sure they were relocated to a zoo, etc. But we miss our quiet times on the Island.

It was a big mistake to close Pleasure Island.

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

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

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.

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

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