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January 9, 2008

Disney's River Country Abandoned

River Country was a water park located at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It opened on June 20, 1976 and last operated in November 2001. On January 20, 2005, The Walt Disney Company announced that River Country would remain closed permanently. It is said to have been the world's first fully themed water park.  These days no one is plunging into the swimming hole or relaxing under a umbrella after hours of tubing and splashing. River country is no longer an enjoyable water park of fun as it has been taken over by nature. Brush and trees have infiltrated the slides, the lake and wading areas, like an umbrella of gloom.

Disney's River Country has been abandoned since 2005.

Disney's River Country was unlike any water park we have today.  Did you have the chance to visit before it closed?  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

Google Earth Images






MDR Photos

Photos copyright 2009, MDR

View more photos taken in 2008 here: River Country 2008


Nice video tribute of before and after the park closed.

Video from a 1981visit to the park.

Great photos and walk through from 2009.
Information about the water park.
old park map

updated September 2012 

Disney's River Country was unlike any water park we have today.  Did you have the chance to visit  before it closed?  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.


  1. is seriously neat!
    I love your website! I love reading about abandoned places and things. Although, the feeling I got when I heard about Disney World's River Country made me feel much different! Like a certain sadness like my childhood was ripped away. I couldn't believe Disney had abandoned it. Its the first place that I know of that has been a place I've been to. Its cool that you have information about it on your site though :)

  2. Sam from over at
    I had the chance to visit this park in November of '98, and had THE most memorable incident of 2 weeks in Florida happen there.
    There was a sort of "tarzan" jump into the lake, and we were waiting on the ladder to the wooden platform that you jumped off of... when two park employees showed up with long plastic bags, gloves, and metal clamps. We were told to climb onto the platform and stay there, no swimming. They then proceeded to pull out a huge snack, that was wrapped around the pole under the platform. Wasn't poisonous, and based on the equipment they had, pretty standard. But a 6 foot long, foot wide snack was pretty memorable for two girls from Quebec :)
    I think my dad or my friend's parents have some pictures from RC.

    1. Why didn't the people waiting just eat the huge SNACK? Or, did you actually mean a huge SNAKE?

  3. I might have a park map from '98 lying around that I'll try to find.

  4. My family and I were at Disney and River Country the summer of 1978! We had a blast. My dad still has pictures he took of us that day. I have ones on the Slippery slide falls. I will have to find them. The pictures of the ruins are heartfelt, made me a little sad like taking a piece of me. I went back to Disney in October of 1982 but we didn't go to River Country, wish I did :(. Well you can't go back!


  5. I heard that it's going to become a DVC (Disney Vacation Club) site for Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.


    2. Our family was there in the Summer of 1976. Was only a few months old. Recall being a mix of chlorine & fresh water. Didn't know it was the World's first waterpark. They were a few stand-alone waterslides in the 1970's.

  6. Had many happy memories of River Country, I was heartbroken when they closed it.

    The same goes for Discovery Island in the middle of the lake, another abandoned place in the middle of Disney.

  7. I was at River Country in 1984, and loved it. I for years had wanted to go there, and was absolutely taken aback by it. It's such a shame that this place is now sitting there neglected and forgotten, like a town out of the old west. They should reopen it and make it for those staying at the Wilderness campground, like the KOA camps do. That is, after they clean it up.

  8. Didn't notice a comment on this, but in 2001 public swimming in central Florida lakes was restricted due to lack of rainwater and a spike in bacteria levels. That is the actual reason river country closed; it was an unchlorinated extension of the lake. I actually worked at Blizzard Beach at the time and it was pretty memorable.

  9. Our family went in 1982, 1980, 1978, 1976 and 1975, each time during Easter break. It was the most awesome place! So sad to hear that Disney abandoned it and it is now just a mess. I never visit the water parks when I take my kids now to Disney, there's no need to, with other water parks up in Michigan. But I would have taken them to River Country.

  10. Visited there several times in the 80's with our two kids. They had a blast playing there.

  11. Anonymoos says hello

  12. I was employed by wdw as a life guard at River Country summer of 1979. I worked the little motor boats at the marina and watched the swimmers on the beach. The hours were long and I was outside my entire 8 hour shift. I lived in Orlando and commuted to work and back. I was usually too tired to have much fun in Orlando. I wil say this...wdw really works hard to provide a safe and enjoyable vacation for guests. Wdw may change with closings and new openings but the atmosphere is always first class!

  13. Please Disney, rebuild River Country!


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