Seven Facts About River Country

by | Nov 13, 2017 | Disney History, Disney Parks and Resorts, Lists and Trivia

River Country…It’s a hoot. It’s a holler! It’s a water jamboree!

In 1976, Disney opened River Country, a water park on the shore of Bay Lake. For the next 25 years, Guests enjoyed the ‘old fashioned swimmin’ hole’ near the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, splashing in the pools, riding the water slides, and walking along the park’s nature trail.

So, come along along and join as we take a trip through River Country, and remember, you can shed your cares over there, but not your bathing suit.

1. Pop’s Willow Grove
Unlike other water parks, Disney wanted their creation to function under a single, unified theme. Imagineers drew inspiration from the works of Mark Twain. Pop’s Willow Grove served as the first working name for the park eventually dubbed River Country. Imagineers worked to create an atmosphere that embraced, “the fun loving, carefree spirit of Huck Finn” and “1800s-style fun.”

The Attractions included Whoop N Holler Hollow, a pair of water slides that emptied into Bay Cove, an artificial sand bottom lake. A tire swing, boom swing, rope climb, and t-bar drop were located in Bay Cove. The White Water Rapids Attraction was an inner-tube river. The Cypress Point Nature Trail hugged the side of Bay Lake, and Indian Springs served as a small splash zone for younger Guests. Other Attractions included Kiddie Cove (with two waterslides), Slippery Slide Falls (a pair of waterslides that emptied into a pool called Upstream Plunge) and the Barrel Bridge.

2. Fresh Water
The water in Bay Cove was pumped in from Bay Lake. Disney used an elaborate system that ran through the artificial mountain located in River Country. Imagineers even went out of their way to make it appear that there was no real separation between Bay Lake and the Cove. They also utilized a system that allowed the filtered water from Bay Cove to spill out into the lake, but not the other way around.

3. Opening Day
Disney opened River Country on June 20, 1976. Over 700 reporters were in attendance and President Gerald Ford’s daughter aided in the ceremonies. A special commemorative coin was created to celebrate the opening.

4. The New Mickey Mouse Club
In 1977, the new incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club visited River Country for an episode titled “The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World.” They even sang a song about the park:

River Country. Big River Country.
It’s a hoot. It’s a holler! It’s a water jamboree!
River Country. Big River Country.
If you’re hot around the collar it’s the cool place to be.

River Country. Big River Country.
Let ‘er rip. What a drip! It’s a dandy. It’s a beaut.
River Country. Big River Country.
You can shed your cares over there, but not your bathing suit.

You can slip.
You can slide.
You can zip.
You can dive.
In River Country everyone’s a friend.

You can swing from a limb.
You can sink.
You can swim.
It’s a day you’ll remember when you’re freezin’ in December.

River Country. Big River Country.
There’s a lot about it, to brighten up your soul.
River Country. Big River Country.
Come and join us for a visit to the ol’ swimmin’ hole.

5. Goofy
Goofy functioned as River Country’s mascot and could often be found decked out in swim trunks and riding various attractions throughout the park.

6. The All American Water Party
Beginning in 1998, Disney began hosting the All American Water Party on the 4th of July at River Country. Contests like tug-of-war and sack races were held along with a barbeque. A banjo band provided music and Disney characters mingled with Guests.

7. Closing
River Country closed permanently on November 2, 2001 but the structures for the park’s Attractions remain in place. Photographs of the abandoned slides and pools have become viral sensations on-line, though the area is fenced off and trespassers can be banned for life from Disney parks for violations.