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    I kept meaning to look up what happened to River Country. I had assumed it was absorbed or redone into one of the other water parks, but apparently it’s just been shut down and abandoned since 2001.

    Here’s a thread from another forum with a good set of photos of the ‘park’ as seen in 2009.





    Sad to see. Such a waste.

    Could be a new “Adventures by Disney – travel with Indiana Jones through Swamp Country”. Watch out for gators…



    It really is. I can understand why they closed it, both because of the low attendance and the massive filtration problem caused by the lagoon layout, but at the same time it would be nice to have seen Disney do something to clean it up.

    Apparently the old Discovery Island is essentially in the same condition as well.

    Every time I see these things, my head goes into planning phase and I start wondering what it would take to re-open these types of places and cure the problems that caused them to close originally.




    It’s interesting to see what Disney does. Personally, I kindof like abandoned places. It’s kindof interesting to see nature coming back in, and what happens to materials as they age. I also like antiques a lot. So it’s kindof neat to see photos of abandoned places, new and old.

    Unfortunately, I never got to see River Country when it was open. It seems like water is just problematic. When it comes to design, water is one of those things that leaks so easily (causing damage) and corrodes a lot of materials… It’s tricky, but engineers are getting better I think at solving the problems before they start… So maybe River Country could be done now without the problems that it had…

    It is possible that they will do something with it in the future. Until they get an idea, it is probably too expensive to tear down / refurb… but I know that they have re-worked one of their hotels that they had started building and then had abandoned for a few years… So who knows? I would love for Discovery Island to be resurrected into some sort of themed environment with an interactive Pirate/Mystery adventure, where you could just explore and solve things at your leisure (capped off with some sort of dinner event). I would imagine that some day they will find a good use for Discovery Island… probably as an extra ticketed event venue…



    I did get to visit there when it was open, and it was a fun little water park. But little was a key word, it was only a fraction of the size of most water parks these days.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think they could keep a lot of the basic concepts of River Country. It was very unique in that the park was built around a large central lagoon, which was about 2-3ft deep in most areas, and had a sandy bottom to it. It also came right up that big lake that Disney is built around, and the wall separating the lake from the River Country lagoon was make a foot or so higher than the water level. It was pretty cool in that you could swim right to that wall, and look out into the main lake.

    But it seems that the sandy bottom and large central lagoon is perfect breeding ground for amoebas. So they would have to totally re-design the core concept of the park. I just can’t see them doing that when they have two thriving waters now, with much higher capacity and access. From what I’ve heard, toward the end of it all the attendance was very low, with basically just people from Ft. Wilderness that had parkhopper passes being the main attendees.

    I would absolutely love it though if Disney would have some kind of tours available of the abandoned areas of the park system. River Country, Discovery Island, and even some of the abandoned ride segments and places that are just walled off and unused. I don’t think there would be a huge demand, but there are definitely people that would enjoy that kind of tour.




    I heard the same story about problems maintaining water filtration and such. It is a shame, because it looks like such a relaxing park. If they used sand, I am not sure how they would avoid amoebas without chemically treating the water. Because of warm waters, some of our natural lakes have occasional ameoba problems. There are definitely people who would enjoy an “abandoned” water park tour, although I don’t think that it is part of the image that Disney wants to project for the resort guests (“safe”, “clean”, “well-maintainted”)… but from what Wok said, maybe an ancient temple overlay (elevated walkways, cargo nets, “aquaducts”, interactive elements, etc.) could make for a great themed exploration zone… The area has great vegetation, and you could block off areas that are unsafe via temple theming (ex. the caves and rockwork become temple ruins… the wooden boardwalks would either have to be rebuilt or just lightly themed and not walked on — part of the panorama… slides become aquaducts and such). At such a small size, it would probably be more of a perk for hotel guests than a “park”, but it would be cool to have a “playground” in the Disney area for kids and teens to burn off some energy :-p What would you do with River Country if you had to come up with an idea to “re-use” the abandoned park as a true Disney guest experience?



    It could be made truly adventurous by having it set up like ruins, and run by Universal – sneaking in at night, avoiding (temple) guards…




    Holly has just issued a challenge…..

    Perhaps a bit of an impromptu contest amongst us?

    Let me crack my knuckels, dig out my good pencils, and see what I can come up with.




    Well, now you’ve got my creative juices flowing, so I’m looking at it much more seriously regarding what could be done for the remains of the park.

    The first thing that strikes me is that it really wasn’t entirely closed down. The water park element, yes, but there are adjacent facilities still in operation. Ft. Wilderness Stables, Mickeys Backyard BBQ, the petting zoo, and the Hoop-Dee-Doo musical review. The water park element is also very small, comparitively. Approximately the size of Space Mountain, or Thunder Mountain. Heck, it’s barely bigger than the pool area at the Wilderness Lodge! Geographically, it’s located right between Ft.Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge. There is actively maintained road access, and there is an active dock right there. So there is very easy access from Ft. Wilderness, Wilderness Lodge and the Contemporary via boat. So there’s no significant infrastructure problems to deal with, other than parking, there’s barely any.

    For a usability standpoint, I don’t see how it would survive as an individual park. There’s already two water parks which are much larger. But at the same time, River Country has much better access to the hotel system transportation, and to the Magic Kingdom. This makes me think that the rumored plans that Disney had were probably the best option for a functional River Country. Make it closely integrated into Ft.Wilderness.

    At this point, I’m running a bit long for a single post, so I’ll continue later.



    First, if they wanted to re-open it, a self-contained water system could work better than the “natural” water. The theme seemed to fit the area very well. It could definitely have more adventure added to it. Expanding it may help, too, since there are the other two water parks already – maybe the currently popular zip line and high ropes course attractions, which would also make it different from the others. Proximity and access would seem to be a huge help, too, and justify having 3 again.



    Funny, I was thinking of ziplines too. I keep having this image of a pirate ship in the old lagoon, and taking a zipline from atop the mainmast. But at the same time, I think the overall theming would be wrong. Given that it’s sandwiched between the Wilderness Lodge and Ft Wilderness, it would best be converted into a compatible theme with those two lodging areas.

    From a wilderness themed style, I’m thinking along the lines of an old gold mine or a logging camp. Both of which used to have some kind of sluiceway for water, which is really how water slides supposedly came about.

    At the moment I am leaning toward a logging camp, as you also open up the opportunity for appropriately themed shows too, along the lines of lumberjack competitions. If you do that you could also host some of the traveling lumberjack competitions that are already in-place, which would help attendance and exposure.

    Realistically you are right on the money that the natural water filtration would have to go. Even if it could be done properly, and with zero amoeba risk, the urban myths would just be too strong and the reputation would still exist. At this point the condition of the old slides and such is probably so poor that it would be best to just rip it all out and start fresh anyway. It’s been closed 11 years now, and my educated guess would be that refurbishment would cost just as much as total replacement anyway. But then again, this is without having any access to actuall evaluate the site, and under the assumption that much of the slide structures are wooden. If they’re primarily steel and fiberglass, then the major rides could possibly be resurrected in-place.

    As to expanding it, it does seem that there is a fair amount of un-used property directly adjacent to it. Enough to easily double, and possibly triple, the size. But I don’t know how that would play into any environmental concerns.

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