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.

Disney's River Country | Photo © 2009 Tri-Circle-D, www.disboards.com
Photo Credit: Tri-circle-D, 2009

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 his 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.


  1. Oh well things change the constant is change

  2. seems like that would have been some great summer fun!

  3. I SOOO miss River Country.. I remember going there many summers as a kid!

  4. so is this place still abandoned and able to be reached i was looking to going there and taking some pictures

  5. Long time Cast member

    it’s easy to get to if you are at Ft. Wilderness and jump the “Cast Members Only” fence


  6. If it is still opened and someone wants to go let me know

  7. I worked there the summer of 1982. It was going full steam in those days, flanked by Discovery Island on one side and the Hoop Dee Do review on the other. I, along with the rest of the lifeguards, had a lot of fun ‘fishing’ for change emptied from the pockets of the ‘guests’ on the inner tube ride! I learned how to play Frogger with all that change and like Kramer, I was good at it!

  8. Did you ever get to the said “character prep” room ?
    Did you find it and see the character costumes?

  9. I really want to go explore but getting caught is pretty much holding me back and being a teen too.

  10. Loved this place. Had the best time. Great childhood memories

  11. Is this place still abandoned, or have it been demolished?

  12. its so sad seeing an abandoned place by the creators of the happiest place on earth its like a lost disneyland i bet it was fun just knowing that brain eating ameobas were killing kids and leaving it just like how it was is just wierd and also rumor has it that you can sometimes hear the boys crying for help and you get haunted by the costumes but thats too fake but kinda creepy

    • The Amoeba had nothing to do with the closing of River Country. It caused ONE death, out of ALL the people who went there. The death also happened a long time before it closed. And the “Possessed Mascot” thing is a Creepypasta.

  13. I have fondest memories of River Country. My family and I loved this place. So sad that it closed. Wish they would revamp and reopen!

  14. If Disney still has this abandoned water park, why don’t they rebuild this with all new construction instead of building another one here in Orlando?

    • It”s very isolated from most of Disney World, making it hard to access unless you’re staying at Fort Wilderness. It would also cost quite a bit to demolish then rebuild it. Plus, a major problem with River Country was its lack of space. It easily reached capacity within its first hours of opening. As such, if another water park was needed, then building a large new one would be more profitable than restoring River Country.