River Country. Lost Florida Tourist Attraction

by Christine J
(Oviedo, FL)

Disney's River Country was a water park with a Tom Sawyer 'swimming hole' theme that pre-dated Wet 'n Wild by one year.


I remember they served 'Sasparilla" rather than plain old root beer, and I think they had a water wheel as part of the decor. There were long slides, a waterfall drop you did on an inner tube, rapids, etc.

It was smaller than the newer Disney water parks, but I absolutely loved the place as a kid.

In my memory, all of these new, concrete and crowded mega-parks can't touch it.

FLORIDA BACKROADS TRAVEL SAYS:

Christine, I had to think a bit about what to do about your article on River Country. Since Walt Disney World is still open, I wasn't sure a piece about River Country should be considered one of the Lost Florida Tourist Attractions.

I finally decided to add it, because it did have an identity all it's own. I regret that I never got around to going there. It opened June 20, 1976 and closed November 2, 2001. So it provided a lot of fun to a lot of people for more than 15 years.

River County and Discovery Island are the only two Walt Disney World attractions to close, as far as I know.

Comments for River Country. Lost Florida Tourist Attraction

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Oct 12, 2014
The ole swimming hole
by: NYC Entertainer

I worked as a lifeguard at River Country the summer of 1982. We had a blast recovering coins lost by the guests in the rubber tire raft ride. We used the, 'booty,' to play Frogger in the employee lounge. River Country had two flume rides, the raft ride, a large and beautiful pool and other diversions. Disney was a great place to work and I miss the days around the ole swimming hole!

Jun 14, 2014
Opening Day
by: Michelle P

My mother was friends with a man who worked for a Florida newspaper. He had been invited to cover opening day ceremonies at River Country and he took us with him. I was 14 and loved everything Disney so needless to say I was ecstatic. My main memories were of Susan Ford, daughter of President Gerald Ford, being the guest of honor and cutting the ribbon officially opening the park. Afterwards she walked around signing autographs. Part of the press kit given to everyone included a beach towel with the River Country logo on it. I still have it today. A picnic basket with lunch was also provided. The park was small but it's theme of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn playing down at the 'ol watering hole was created as only Disney can do. It was simple and fun. I wish it was still around.

Aug 25, 2013
How Discovery Island got it's Name
by: Julie Brown

I am so glad that you added both attractions to the "lost attractions list." River Country was a great loss to us all.

Discovery Island's name was chosen by my boyfriend of the time, Steve Ramsdale, who worked as a life guard at the Polynesian Hotel. He submitted the name and Disney loved it!

I agree with Christine J. that all of the newer water parks are missing the "old world" charm that made River Country such a warm and cozy memory for me, as well as anyone who visited it during its hey day.

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