June 20, 2012

Looking Back at River Country

This Day in Disney History - Jun 20, 1976

River Country Water Park Opens at Walt Disney World

River Country, a relaxing oasis under Walt Disney World’s hot Florida sun, began dousing guests with filtered Florida lake water in 1976. Inspired by Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, this old-fashioned swimming hole included a host of natural swimming areas covered with mountainous manmade boulders. A number of water slide attractions made the park an inner tuber’s paradise with Slippery Slide Falls, Upstream Plunge, White Water Rapids and Whoop ‘n’ Holler Hollow — two winding half pipes that emptied into Bay Cove, a 330,000 gallon half-acre, sand-bottom lake. Here, guests could relax on sandy beaches or hang out on a tire swing at Bay Lake, with the Magic Kingdom’s beckoning skyline in view. Each summer, the All-American Water Party drenched guests from April to September with water balloon games, cannonball contests, live music and splash time with Disney characters. River Country hung up its towel on September 1, 2001, when Walt Disney World’s water adventures began to head upstream — reaching new heights with the opening of Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

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.


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