Tag Archives: disney

Photo by Nomeus, 2008 -  Flurbex.com

Disney’s River Country


Opening on June 20, 1976, River Country was the first water park built by the Walt Disney Company. Located on the shore of Bay lake, the park featured a rustic wilderness theme that went along with the adjacent Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and Discovery Island.

Compared to Disney’s other water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, River Country was the smallest but was more known for it’s unique design. The park used a filtering system that pumped water from the lake into the water slides which emptied into Bay Cove, the park’s main swimming hole. The park was separated from the lake by a bladder, a rubber wall which was inflated a bit higher from the surface of Bay Lake so any excess water can fall back into the lake. Bay Cove was also sand bottomed so it featured smaller attractions such as a tire swing and a cable ride.

Photo: Bay Cove was separated from the lake by a wall which filtered clean water into the park.

The park closed in September 2001, at the end of the season as it usually did. In 2002, it didn’t reopen with rumors circulating that it was undergoing renovations. The rumors continued until on January 20, 2005, The Walt Disney Company officially announced that the park would remain closed permanently. Since then, there hasn’t been an official statement as to why it closed with many speculating the causes.

One rumor was that Disney simply made a business decision to close it. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Disney began cutting costs where they can which included cutting workers’ hours, the halting of construction on the Pop Century Resort, and parks opening later and closing earlier. It’s not a stretch to think that River Country was among one of things on the budget to be cut.

Another rumor was that it closed down due to rare but deadly disease, amoebic meningoencephalitis, caused by an amoeba which lived Florida’s fresh-water lakes. In 1980, a child died while swimming at River Country the amoeba entered his nose, traveled through the naval passage and attacked the nervous system. This occurred regardless of the fact that the water in Bay Cove was filtered and monitored by Disney so they would know if there was something in the water that shouldn’t be there. There were no other deaths from amoebic meningoencephalitis linked to River Country.

Whatever the reason, it closed and it’s remained closed. Along with Discovery Island and a few others, Disney decided the best thing to do is to let it rot.

Photo: The park’s signature attraction, “Whoop ‘n’ Holler Hollow”; two slides which emptied into Bay Cove. If you didn’t know how to swim, it was advised you didn’t go on it.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2008
Website: FLURBEX

Photo by Nomeus, 2009 - Flurbex.com

Colony Plaza Hotel

Photo:Ramada Inn Tower during the “first look” at Walt Disney World.

The Colony Plaza Hotel was originally built as a Ramada Inn in 1968. The hotel contained a a lounge, swimming pool, tennis courts, and meeting rooms. It was also the first hotel in Orange County to receive a license to serve liquor with meals on Sundays.

The site also served as a temporary headquarters for Disney officials who hosted a press conference in 1969. As someone put it, a “giant circus tent” was set up outside the hotel and invited guests were able to preview the upcoming opening of Walt Disney World Resort. Roy Disney, along with Disney legends Card Walker, John Hench, Charlie Ridgway, and Donn Tatum signed autographs and spoke announced October 1, 1971 as the opening date. Roy told guests at the event:

“You should know that the dedication of our staff to Walt’s goals is tremendous. And I know Walt would like what his creative team is doing because these are the ideas and plans he began. Everything you will see here today is something Walt worked on and began in some way. And today, the Walt Disney organization is dedicated to carrying out these wonderful plans in Walt Disney World.”

Photo: Guests were able to view scale models, artwork and animatronic figures at the event.

As hotels started being developed to directly support Disney, the hotel declined, changing hands numerous times before it finally converting into the Colony Plaza condominium complex and a portion of that being converted into a time share in the 1990s. In 2001, the city condemned the building after malfunctioning sprinklers flooded the first four floors. Apparently, it was marketed overseas which had let it fall into disrepair.

The city attempted to demolish the structure multiple times over the years that followed but ran into legal issues related to a longtime lien on the property, as well as the building’s fractured ownership which according to the mayor, had over 500 owners. On May 9, 2009, with hundreds of spectators to witness the event, the city demolished the building.

Photo(Tantrum_Dan, 2008): The building fell into disrepair over the years after it’s condemnation.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2009
Website: FLURBEX

Photographer: Tantrum_Dan
Year Taken: 2007
Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tantrum_dan/

Archive Photos

Photo by Nomeus, 2006 - Flurbex.com

AT&T New Global Neighborhood

Photo(Nomeus, 2006 – Flurbex.com): A shot of Spaceship Earth prior to the removal of the hand and wand.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Disney’s second theme park here in Florida, EPCOT. Originally planned as an experimental controlled community, home to twenty thousands residents; a test bed for emerging city planning and technological ideas and creations. As he put it in his own words:

“EPCOT… will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise. It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won’t let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed.”

Photo(Nomeus, 2006 – Flurbex.com): An exhibit part of the “New Global Neighborhood” post-show experience.

Walt Disney died long before he was able to see an progress on EPCOT. Though his idea for a Utopian city was set aside for the moment, plans to open a new park continued. Originally, there was much indecision among Imagineers on the park’s purpose, with some wanting it to represent present and any future technological advances while others wanted it to showcase international cultures and customs. At some point in time, the two ideas came together forming a plan similar to those of the world expos, where new technology is presented and guests are able to experience different cultures from around the world with Spaceship Earth as the centerpiece and main attraction.

Opening in 1982, Spaceship Earth was sponsored by the Bell System who had a monopoly on telephone services across the United States. In 1984, the Bell System was broken into smaller companies, with it’s parent company, AT&T, becoming it’s own company. AT&T would go on to continue sponsoring Spaceship Earth from 1984 to 2004.

In 1994, technology had drastically changed since Spaceship Earth opened and AT&T saw it as something that represented the old world, so they decided it was time for a update. Though the majority of the scenes of our history remained unchanged, those showing our current and future communication were largely updated; the script was rewritten, the theme song removed and Jeremy Irons was brought in to narrate. It was with this update that the post-show area was changed, replacing the original “Earth Station” with “AT&T’s Global Neighborhood”. The new post-show experience featured hand-on exhibits featuring AT%T’s communication technology.

Photo(Falcon’s Treehouse): Falcon’s Treehouse designed the new post-experience with the idea of combining nature with high technology materials.

In 1999, to coincide with the Millennium Celebration, AT&T once again updated the post-show. The original “Global Neighborhood” exhibits were removed and replaced with a large tree made of thick steel cable dubbed “The Network Tree” which sat atop a geodesic, transparent floor. Guests were able to see all the cables which connected to various exhibits through the tree’s branches and roots. This new post-show was renamed “The New Global Neighborhood”.

In 2003, after nearly 20-years as the sponsor, AT&T decided to end it’s partnership with Disney and subsequent sponsorship of the attraction. The “New Global Neighborhood” was removed and the area boarded up.

Photo(Nomeus, 2006 – Flurbex.com): The Network Tree as it stood years after it was boarded up.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2006
Website: FLURBEX