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Vintage Walt Disney World: Looking Back at River Country

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

Today, you can take a plunge on Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park or conquer Crush ‘n’ Gusher at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, but hitting a water park at Walt Disney World Resort was not an option until River Country opened back in 1976.
River Country at Walt Disney World Resort

When River Country opened, it was described as a “unique new water-oriented land.” River Country promised to be “everything kids ever wanted to do at the old swimming hole down by the river in the good old days, plus all the comforts for Mom and Dad so they can participate too.”
River Country at Walt Disney World Resort

One of the areas within River Country was Whoop-N’-Holler Hollow, with two separate twisting journeys (260 feet and 160 feet respectively) plunging into The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole.
Whoop-N’-Holler Hollow in River Country at Walt Disney World Resort

For over 25 years, River Country provided a refreshing escape from the warm Florida summers for guests of all ages.

Check out more posts from the Vintage Walt Disney World series:

Comments

  • I’m glad to see the water wagon is still there at Fort Wilderness with the original graphics. “THE GREATEST WATER ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME!”,in reference to River Country, it was so true. Hope they can fix it’s problems and get it going again for the people who like to campout at Fort Wilderness. River Country had the perfect themeing for that timeless adventure.

  • I loved every visit to river country as a kid. I wish it would open again so my kids can feel that same experience. I think there is room for River Country to compete with the other water parks. There is quite a distance from the other 2 parks. Please bring back a childhood dream. A dream future kids can enjoy.

  • Great memories here as a child with family and friends. Water slides, tube ride, zip lines, pool, and the slides with the long drop into the pool. Makes me reflect on my childhood every time I see River Country from a boat on Bay Lake.

  • Our family loved River Country. The kids loved it because it was part of the lake. We sure hated to see it close, the water slides were fun and the little kids area was a blast for the youngsters. I remember going in March, and after being in the River Country area then hopping into the swimming pool, the pool felt as warm as a warm bathtub!

  • I have such wonderful memories of spending the day here and then ending the day at the Hoop de Doo Revue when our children were young. It makes me sad to see it now – I’m sure there would be enough interest in it to make it financially feasible to reopen it.

  • I’m so sad I never got to experience this! I’ve never been to any of the Disney World water parks, but as a child visiting just a few years before its closure, River Country was always the one that appealed to me the most. I was very disappointed once I realized it had closed and I’d missed my chance!

  • Our family went here many times and really enjoyed it. On the other hand we have never been to the other water parks. Can’t blame ya for closing it tho with the bacteria scare in Florida’s hot waters.
    It was fun tho. So was the trip over to the island with all the animals.

  • I will never forget the time I took the zip line and didn’t realize how out of shape I was…………I jumped off the platform and immediatly fell into the water! LOL! The problem was I had my glasses on and they were now in the water! I stood still and felt around with my foot and TG! I found them! PHEW! Imagine being in WDW and not being able to see!! We had a great time every tme we went to RC. I still miss it!

  • My favorite was the tube ride that was a mix of slide and lazy river. I must of went down it over 100 times

  • I remember the fish nibbling at your legs as you waited in line for the slides or Zip Lines. That always freaked me out as a child.

  • I think as a Kid River Country was my favorite park. I was so disappointed that my kids didn’t get to experience RC or Discovery Island. I also didn’t realize about the FL law about the natural water. I also remembered swimming as a kid on the shores of the Contemporary. Oh Well. It was great to see this flashback. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  • @Katie – Sadly, the slides had “rustic” old-fashioned wood in the supports, which’s why it hasn’t been rebuilt–But mostly because the water used the natural water source of the lake, and central Florida today forbids swimming in natural water due to the bacteria.
    But like the article says, they went on to build even bigger water parks with their own self-contained pool water. :) It wasn’t “plussed out”, they just took out the variables.

  • I went there when it first opened! that seems like a long time ago!
    loved it!

  • My family almost always stayed at Camp Wilderness and I always remember going to River Country and Discovery Island and the last time I was at WDW and took the boat from Camp Wilderness to the Contemporary, it made me sad to see both locations closed

  • I remember going on a bus to River Country a few times as a kid. It was good fun. Then returned a couple times before it closed as an adult with my kids. Lots of great memories!!

  • I loved it too. I wish Disney would do something with this piece of the World. By the way, you can see what remains of River Country on Google maps.

  • Great time at River Country abouta year before it closed. Love Hoop Dee Do Revue for our birthday’s.

  • Sooo many fond memories!!

  • Easily the best water park they had. We went as a family to Blizzard Beach right after they opened… ended the day here cause my sisters and i loved it so much. Miss this place and my heart breaks every time i ride the boats past it. Super glad to have my Goofy Vinylmation celebrating it at least.

  • I loved River Country. Never bothered going to another Disney water park after they closed this gem.

  • River Country was one of my favorite places when I was a kid! I especially loved the t-bar zip line:)

  • Bring back River Country!!! One of my favorite Disney World attractions ever. So sad when it closed and every time we go by on the boat it makes me sadder. So many good memories of spending the day there away from the parks with my mom and dad who are both gone now. My first water slide, the first time I swam underwater, making fast friends with the other kids hanging out by the little slides.

  • River Country was pure Disney magic. And once you heard the River Country theme song, there was no getting it out of your head! I sure wish there had been a way to keep this area open, or reimagined for a new generation of kids.

  • As a kid I liked River Country, but Typhoon Lagoon stole its thunder… check out what was left of RC in 2009 — would love to see this, if its still there!

  • Back in the day, the Fort Wilderness complex looked really amazing, what with River Country and the Fort Wilderness RR. It’s sad to see cool things get “plussed” out of existence.

  • I never did try this park! sigh.. 😉

  • Why did River Country close?

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