Happy Sunday, everyone! Welcome to part one of the first article on thedisneyjournal.com! I chose to start with one of my favorites, and the one that got me interested in abandoned places, especially ones within Disney parks. And that is River Country, the abandoned water park within Walt Disney World, and one of two abandoned parks within the property, the other being Discovery Island, which I will talk about in a later post. Let’s get into the history of River Country. Part two will cover the darker part of River Country, which will be posted tomorrow.
At the time the Walt Disney World resort opened (1971), it had one theme park (Magic Kingdom) and two hotels, the Polynesian Resort, and the Contemporary Resort, and would add Fort Wilderness Campground soon after. While Magic Kingdom is huge, Disney needed another park. The idea was a themed water park, something never seen before. In the mid-1970’s, water parks usually consisted of a few slides and a pool, and were never themed. Disney reinvented the water park, and most water parks (Blizzard Beach, Mt. Olympus, etc.) either wouldn’t exist or would be drastically different if this water park was never constructed. The water park would be known as River Country, and would be themed similar to that of Fort Wilderness, a rustic theme. It was to be placed just west of Fort Wilderness, and you would travel there by a small train from the Fort Wilderness parking lot.
The park opened on June 20th, and was five acres, which is quite small, but it was incredibly impressive for the time, and it still is visually impressive. A map of the park can be seen here:
As you can see, the park featured three main areas: Upstream Plunge, Kiddie Cove, and Bay Cove.
Upstream Plunge: A kidney-bean shaped pool, filled with your average chlorinated pool water. The pool featured two water slides, called Slippery Slide Falls, which let you freefall for a second or two into the pool. This one is the most interesting, and will be talked about more after River Country closes.
Kiddie Cove: This was the area meant for children. It had smaller slides and a cove, hence the name Kiddie Cove.
Bay Cove: A 2,000 meter pool that used water from Bay Lake, filtered to get rid of most chemicals, bacteria, fish, and bugs. The bay had a sand floor, and had two water slides, named Whoop n’ Holler Hollow, draining into it. Over it were the Boom Swing, Tire Swing, and Cable Ride attractions.
Near Bay Cove was the lazy/tube river, named White Water Rapids, which was 330 feet around. Around these pools were other attractions, including Pony Rides and Boat Rentals (Now both a part of Fort Wilderness), the Cypress Point Nature trail, and restrooms.
During the parks’ operation, it looked like this:
The Park was amazingly themed, from the slides going through rock, to the wooden water tower, the rock speakers, the restrooms, and the concession stands. Now that I’ve described and shown to you what the park looks like, I bet you’re wondering why it closed, and why its on the darker side of Disney. Well, I’ll tell you tomorrow, when I post part two, of River Country.