Here’s how the 1976 Annual Report to the shareholders of Walt Disney Productions described River Country:
Six Acres of aquatic fun await visitors to River Country, As many as 4,700 guests per day have already enjoyed its Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole, white water rapids, raft rides, rope swings, beaches or a plunge down a 260-foot, 2,000 gallon a minute water slide called Whoop ‘N Holler Hollow.
River Country was operational from June 20 1976 to November 2001.On January 20, 2005, The Walt Disney Company announced that River Country would remain closed permanently. There is argument to exactly why it closed; one of the reasons may have been because there were better water parks built within Disney. But the main (and creepiest) reason I can find is that the water used in the park came from Bay Lake and was not filtered into fresh water. Due to new laws that passed the park would of had to filter the water entirely from the bay or shut down.
A rare but deadly disease caused by an amoeba found in Florida fresh-water lakes was contracted from swimming at Walt Disney World’s River Country. The victim was an 11 year old boy. He died. His parents said that the amusement park was the only place where he went swimming recently. The disease, amoebic meningoencephalitis, attacks the nervous system and brain. There was no more deaths from that disease linked to River Country, but there were two drownings at River Country: Howard A. Pueppke, 14, in 1982, and Christopher Staff, 13, , in 1989. .
Urban Explorers have visited River Country to take videos (here and here) and photos. The music still plays, casting eerie echoes through the abandoned, swamp-like landscape. The lights are also still operating.