Times are changing, and Disney World is finally expanding onto parts of their property that have sat vacant for over a decade. Located on Bay Lake, near the current property for Fort Wilderness, once sat Disney’s first ever water park on property.
Disney’s River Country was the first water park that Disney World ventured into creating. At the beginning of it’s time, River Country was very popular. In the heat of Florida, you can imagine that an already popular Disney World was thriving from opening a water park. The park would be packed and even hit capacity. Oddly enough, the booming popularity of River Country would end up being it’s own demise.
My guess is that, due to the high demand in River Country, Disney World decided to expand and build another water park to capture more guests. In the late 80’s, Typhoon Lagoon opened, and in the mid 90’s, Blizzard Beach opened. With two, much newer, water parks that were much larger in size and included some more exciting attractions, River Country began to fall off.
Once River Country finally closed, the property was left vacant and abandoned for years and years. The craziest part? The property was located right off Bay Lake and some Fort Wilderness trails even led up to it. You could basically, without breaking any rules, walk right up to the surrounding fencing and possibly peek through. The only other abandoned Disney World location is Discovery Island, and it’s pretty clear that visiting over there is VERY off limits. So it’s pretty crazy to me that River Country was left without that many limitations to visiting it’s grounds.
All that being said, it was recently announced that the property where River Country was once located will soon be home to a brand new hotel. It seems as if construction on site has already begun. My dreams of visiting Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and exploring what was once River Country have shattered. A little piece of Disney World history has disappeared. The bright side? If I am every lucky enough to stay at the fancy new resort on the former River Country property, I will ensure that I take the time out to glance over Bay Lake at the only other abandoned Disney World park; Discovery Island.