Thursday, September 1, 2011

Remember River Country?

This day in history, in 2001, River Country closed at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Gosh, it seems like such a long time ago, but yet we remember the place like it was yesterday.  The slides, the tire swing, the rope climb, the tube slide and the nature trail.  Oh, the little fishes and the smell...that Bay Lake smell.  

Positioned on the shore of Bay Lake across from Discovery Island, River Country was part of Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and matched its rustic wilderness theming, complete with rocks and manmade boulders similar to what you see around Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom.

Billed as an "old-fashioned swimming hole". The water park featured a sandy bottom and unique water filtering system using water from the adjacent Bay Lake, which was dammed off creating a natural-looking man-made lagoon. 

Attractions at the park included:
  • Whoop 'n' Holler Hollow, two water slides, 260 ft (79 m) and 160 ft (49 m) long that emptied into Bay Cove
  • Bay Cove, a half-acre (2,000 m²) sand-bottom lake which featured a tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and T-bar drop.
  • Slippery Slide Falls, two water slides that emptied into Upstream Plunge, a 330,000 US gallon (1,250 m³) clear-water pool.
  • White Water Rapids, a 330 foot (100 m) long inner tube river.
  • Cypress Point Nature Trail, a trail among trees beside Bay Lake.

The water park opened on June 20, 1976 and closed on September 1st, 2001.  There man (unconfirmed by Disney) theories for the closing of River Country.  
  • Lack of attendance.  Even though the park was popular during the hot summer months, the majority of the water was unheated and River Country would often close for refurbishment in early fall.  
  • The addition of two larger water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
  • The Bay Lake water was corrosive and made maintenance of the park costly.
  • The potential presence of an amoeba (Naegleria foleri) that can cause Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis in people with compromised immune systems.  One of the reasons cited as to why you can't swim in Bay Lake.  
Whatever the reason, River Country now sits abandoned in place on the shores of Bay Lake.  It's sad to see it there, but I sometimes wonder if I would be sadder to see it torn down.  Even in it's current state, I can't help but to smile and point out to my kids how "that" used to be a water park that Mommy would go to.  It's funny, though, I don't think they believe me.  

Satellite map of the park in it's current state


  1. I remember this water park too! Lot os fun..... as a kid we used to stay at Fort Wilderness Campground and we used to always go by it on the boat to MK :P

  2. So sad... I hate that it's gone! thanks for the memories.