A River Country Post Mortem

I was never able to attend the now permanently closed River Country water park at Walt Disney World. Someone has however posted a series of photos showing the current state of affairs on the swimming hole.

Here’s a link to Walt Dated World’s entry on River Country. (Please no deep linking to Allison’s site as she has limited monthly bandwidth.)

31 thoughts on “A River Country Post Mortem”

  1. I visited River Country one time as a child on one of our regular trips to Disney World. The pictures looked quite eriee. The day I went it was hot but the water was as cold as it could be. We were thankful we had a park hopper ticket. The water was slimey and you could not see the bottom. I grew up on a farm with a swamp and a creek in the back and this park reminded me of it. I also heard plenty of horror stories from friends that worked for Disney about the troubles they had such as fuel and oil from the boats getting into the water supply, among other things. I’m sad to hear it is gone.

  2. Man, I loved River Country. I went when I was 13 and I just loved the atmosphere. The slides and stuff were also rather unsupervised which created a great environment for mischief minded teenagers such as myself. I’m sad to see it go.

  3. Anytime we went to River Country it was great. There were lots of people and the water was cool and refreshing. The place was very clean and there were many places to take a slide or jump into the ole river hole. This place will be missed, John

  4. Sadly I never had the chance to go to River Country. I have seen many pictures of the park in its finer days though. Those pictures of its current state make me sad, it seems a shame that Disney is just letting the old park stay around and get in worse and worse condition.

  5. I lifeguarded at River Country in 1980, 1981. I never drank so much beer, took so much acid or met so many women. While, clearly, my memories are pretty much restricted to debauchery (is that still a word?), the very phrase “River Country” reminds me of carefree youth and I’m a little sad to hear it’s closed. Such is life, I suppose. RIP, River Country.

  6. Why why why ?
    I have only just found out about this.
    I am from Scotland. And river country was Fantastic.
    Unlike Michael I never had acid or met a lot of women.
    But plenty of beer. where else on Earth could you sit
    on a rocking chair drinking beer, eating fried chicken
    and listening to bears playing instruments and singing
    Eagles songs. then into the plunge pool to witness Goofy
    dropping off the slide and swim towards you.Magical!

    Myself and family visited Orlando 3 years running
    And looked forward to visiting again in two years time
    I cant think how I can tell them that river country has gone.

  7. I never went to River Country, but heard a lot of negative things about it. Several friends, that lived in the Orlando area, at the time, would tell me to avoid that park like the plauge. I was told that the water was always freezing cold, slimy and dirty. I hate to see any disney attraction go, but it’s pretty obvious that River Country was not as popular as the other 2 parks. I would venture to say this is because of the cleanliness factor. I know I wouldnt want to go swimming in untreated water… Who knows what was going on at the very bottom? YUCK!

  8. Our family visited River Country in 1993 and 1997 as part of our Disney experience. We always found it to be extremely clean and enjoyed its more leisurely, relaxing atmosphere. I always felt I could lay back and relax while the kids played volley ball or played in the shallow water. The other two parks always seemed much more hectic and we seemed to spend all our time waiting in line. I was very surprised and disappointed to hear it has closed and I shall miss it very much.

  9. how could they do this! first mr toads wild ride, then the skyway, now this! i’m going to cry again. the regular pool near the entrance had that big slide that i was so scared of when little, but so fun. and the T whatever they are called that you ride on the cable into the water. just so classic, it was the least popular but who cares! i never remember the water being dirty but they can clean it and fix it, and they BETTER open it back up!

  10. I was a lifeguard at River Country from 1998-1999. I love Disney, and what has made up this magical resort. The attention to detail and creativity that went into this place is inspirational. River Country was the original water park. There was history there. Yes, the water was cold, but never dirty. The water was treated with a chemical called Bromine, similar to chlorine, except it caused the water to turn green. This added to the “ole swimming hole” theme of the park. I am sad it has closed. I have made great friends and memories there.

  11. I was lucky to make my first visit to DW in 1999, in my 30’s, just before they closed River Country and got my only chance to see the Main Street Electrical Parade in a curtain call performance.

    It’s too bad about RC, because there is a culture of folks who camp at FT Wilderness and love a couple days NOT going into the big parks and just hanging out. RC was a golf cart ride away. I’m sad my 5 year olds will never get the chance to go there.

  12. Wow. I was just sitting here with my four children, planning our September 06 trip to Disney. I could not wait to show them the photos of River County, a place I was fortunate to have visited many times in my childhood. My heart was broken when I saw on Deb’s website that River Country had closed…permanently.
    Luckily, I was able to share this experience with my oldest daughter in 1996. Sadly though, my three younger children will only see the pics and video of the past.

    Come on Disney. Some of us folks still enjoy the scaled-down theme parks of the past. After-all, isn’t Fort Wilderness a “theme of the past.”

    I am just so disappointed in Disney. We all know they can certainly afford to keep this water-hole going.

  13. Amy’s Mom,



  14. River Country has been closed for a long time. the people of diseny said it was just seasonal but that wasnt the truth a little boy died there becasue of the contaminated water

  15. Hi Iam 16 years old and I have been to WDW every summer vacation for the past 6 years except last. I cannot believe river country has closed it was the most exciting water park as it was so different i love the green water instead of blue it was such good fun! Bring it bak!

  16. why did river country close????????? i loved it and i dont know why it has closed and i would really like 2 find out?

  17. why did river country close????????? i loved it and i dont know why it has closed and i would really like 2 find out?

  18. I visited River Counry in the summer of 1976, when I was 24 yrs old. I thought that it was heaven on earth. I could have spent my whole Magic Kingdom vacation there. In 1986 I brought my wife there to experience what I thought was still the greatest fun I ever had. In 2000 I brought my three children to River Country, when I was 48 yrs old. My 4 yr. old daughter learned to swim, because of the shear joy of sliding down the waterflooms into the water below. I have fond, fond memories of that tried and true old swimming hole,and I will miss it dearly

  19. I remember going to river country when i was a veryy little child. I am 13 now but i remember everything about disney (i go every summer) We stayed at the ft. wilderness resort and went to RC. It was really fun for me as a little kid, and I went to the other parks to, but I wanted to go again this year and i was shocked to find out it was closed!! It’s very sad to see some disney magic go down the drain…

    p.s. – i think that whole thing about a little boy dying because of contaminated water is a rumor.. disney would never be so careless… the water is green because they put a chemical in it to make it green.

  20. To everyone saying that River Country was slimy, dirty, or contaminated…RUBBISH!! RC was the first and BEST Disney water park. The river water was so clean that I could see forever under water, and the sand was white and clean, too. There was absolutely no sliminess. I miss the hell out of the white water rapids and Hoop & Holler Hollow. Although I love the other water parks, too, they just have none of the charm of RC. I remember sitting on the beach and looking across Bay Lake to the Contemporary Hotel and Cinderella’s Castle and feeling such a feeling of contentment…I was truly at Disney World. I miss the old watering hole.

  21. It is sad to ride by River Country on the launch and remember all of the fun. Ticket booth still up behind a barricade with prices still on display..like a time warp. A brave soul can snoop around back there to see the now ghost park.. A close friend of mine saved someone from drowning there years ago and got a lifetime pass to all of WDW..rumors still swirl about specific closing reasons; refurb costs and lower attendance because of the other 2 parks combined with economic impact of 911, parking & transporation issues from FW outpost parking area, overflow of people at the Pioneer Hall area, water contamination from bacteria/paramicium and of course petroleum fluids from the watercraft. It all boils down to dollars though, because if Disney wanted it open it would be open..simply retain wall off the Bay lake fed River Country lagoon from the lake and no longer have the natural water..have it treated and colored to appear clear green and chlorinated. It is simply not a good return on the investment..dollars over sentimentality..thanks board of directors
    River Country 1976-2001 RIP

  22. I have nothing but fond memories of River Country. My family, of five kids, always stayed at Fort Wilderness and would go to River Country and then the Hoop De Doo. I have wonderful memories of River Country and I hate that it is closed.

  23. What a shame Disney decided to shut down such a wonderful place to go during your stay. I went to river country every year from 1976 to 1991 as a kid. A majority of my favorite memories are at River country and especially the tube ride my favorite. What a site you could swim and look at the magic kingdom and just be memorized and forget everything on the outside world.

    River country was one of the main reasons we stayed at Fort Wilderness. My wife and family are planning a trip for august of 2007 and staying at fort wilderness. All I could talk about was getting to river country so my step son could experience the best water park ever. What a shame my fondest memories are of river country. The Disney brain trust may have closed the park but they didnt take my fondest memories. Do the right thing Disney Open it back up you make plenty of money as it is you can afford one reasonable park that provides a lifetime of memories and brings a smile when you think of it. Whats next close down the jungle cruise because of the Wild Animal Park???

  24. What a shame!!! River Country was a slice of Disney magic and natural Florida all wrapped up in one. I have fond memories of going to RC when I was a child. It is a shame my boy can’t experience the same. Disney has enough money to figure out a way to make the park operable again. The other water parks are fun and themed, but too crowded. I like the huckleberry finn atmosphere. Easy, relaxing, yet fun and adventure.

  25. I too was a huge fan of river country. I had been going to that water park for over 20 of my 27 years. I like to say it was my “Neverland”. I never thought the water was dirty or slimy and I loved every second I spent there!! When I ride by on the boat and see the “ghost town” that’s left there it almost makes me cry. I keep on dreaming that maybe someday disney will bring it back!!!

  26. Another ex RC lifeguard here. I was there ’79 to ’81, tho the latter part I served on the Lake Patrol.

    Yes, we partied…alot!
    And let me say that in all the time I worked there, the water was never anything but crystal clear and as clean as could be desired. Now with a 5 year old daughter, I wouldn’t have hesitated to let her swim there.

    And, oh yeah, we partied…alot. Did I mention that?


    1. Chuck,

      I opened RC along with a dozen other lifeguards. I worked for Dave J and had the opening shift at 6:30 in 1976. What great memories and boy did we have a great time hanging out with the guest. I recall fond memories of Janie Gray, Carl Long, TOm Smith, Susan Bush. May the flume ride RIP. never had so many occassions to tell guest to pull the bikini tops up….whahoooo.

  27. I would just like to say that River country was my first water park, im 44 years old and remeber it like it was yesterday, it was lots of fun with lots of great memories.

  28. I am really sad about River County closing. First coming over from the UK on holiday back in 1980 (when I was 9) was quite something – I had never even been on an aeroplane before! We arrived at Disney and it just blew me away, I had never been anywhere so amazing in all my life. As part of our holiday we ventured to RC and WOW – I had never seen anything like it before, and to be honest still havent today. On every holiday thereafter RC was an absolute must on our agenda. It was the one place that you could chill out at or be as active as you wanted. It was quite simply fab.

    It is such a shame that it has come to an end. I understand that Disney has to keep moving forward in this fast paced world of ours, where expectations are ever changing. But I feel that RC is part of Disney’s heritage which shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Its such a shame – I went to RC many times with my parents and brother when I was growing up, my husband on many occassions and one of my Children when he was a small baby (but too young to remember). I would have loved to have taken both of my children to RC – I just know they would have loved it.

    I too thought it was only closed seasonally.

    In the dozens of times that I have been to RC it has always been immaculately clean, the water refreshing – not too cold, and a fantastic, safe experience.

    Please, please bring it back!

  29. Actually, RC was closed because of a new Florida state law about water parks.

    This new law dictated that all water used in water parks be filtered before swimming/usage, hence destroying the entire concept of river country. Basically, the main attraction of RC, the normal water in the “Not so Clean” area was declared illegal.

    I cant get the pics to work though..

  30. Hi – I still have an unused River Country ticket from 1993! Does anyone know if this can be used anywhere else in WDW?

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