X Marks The Spot: Disney World Water Adventures

Written by Frank Fiorinelli. Posted in Features, Walt Disney World, X Marks the Spot

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Published on March 28, 2013 at 3:00 am with 7 Comments

Welcome to another round of theme park map adventures with X marks the Spot. This week, as promised, we take a look at some Disney water park material as well as hear about the long lost Water Park River Country and my families adventure to find it.

These two brochures both were featured within the same time frame of 1996-1997, to the eye looking very similar. As a map collector you will want to look out for different variety’s of the same brochure to make sure your collection is complete.  As you can see, the left version focused more on promoting the 25th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, by having the logo and the Disney title in silver to represent the “Silver Anniversary”. Who Remembers the Famous “Cake Castle”? Lets take a look inside and see what we find.

As we open the brochure we are greeted by the title “Plunge into the Excitement of our 25th Anniversary. A play on Blizzard Beach’s famous Summit Plummet, one of the highest water slides in the world. Followed by a short introduction of the three water parks at the time: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and River Country.

We then move on to Typhoon Lagoon, Walt Disney World’s second Water Park, which opened in 1989. Typhoon lagoon features one of the World’s largest wave/surf pools in the world, blasting out waves over 6 feet high at points. As you can see the brochure makes no mention of Crush N Gusher Water Coaster, which opened more recently featuring three different slides of excitement. A quick tip for those who are looking to enjoy Typhoon Lagoon: Head straight to Crush N Gusher as it is hidden away behind the lockers from all the rest of the attractions in the park and offers a nice quiet oasis around one of the parks signature slides.

Next in the brochure is some information about Blizzard Beach, in my opinion one of the most unique water parks in the country. Blizzard Beach is set up to look like a Ski Resort melting away in the Florida Sunshine.  Blizzard Beach offers many different water slides including the can’t miss Summit Plummet, a thrill seekers dream. This speed slide is the second largest in the world and offers rider speeds of up to 60 mph. A tip to those making the plunge: wait till later in the day, as the line for Summit Plummet can be rather long and slow especially in the mid-day heat.

River Country was Disney’s first step into the water park game, located next to the Fort Wilderness Resort and campground, not far from the Magic Kingdom. River Country, as stated and depicted in this brochure, featured that ol’ time swimming hole feel with tire swings and lake water straight from the adjacent bay lake. During the 25th Anniversary summer, River Country hosted “The All American Water Party”. The party featured character appearances, old time games such as tug-o-war and potato sack races, and a celebration of the fourth of July everyday, as the brochure reads.

As a kid, my family and I decided to venture to one of the Disney Water Parks. At that time, we had all three to choose from. We chose Blizzard Beach because it looked really cool, so we jumped in our rental car and headed for a fun day. Little did we know capacity had been reached for the day and were turned away before I could even see what Blizzard Beach was all about. As one of the Parking cast members suggested, we headed to Typhoon Lagoon only be turned away again because of capacity. This left us to venture to River Country, as a kid I was still excited having never been to any of the Water Parks, and it was literally 100 degrees out. What happened next was funny. Our family, having gone to Disney World every year, knew our way around the resort really well, but never knew where River Country was or how to get to it. I can remember my Dad driving and driving and driving, at one point ending up off Disney Property. We never did make it to River Country that day, or any day for that matter, a regret I have to this day.

Since only one of the three Disney water parks is now just a slowly decaying memory, what stories do you readers have of River Country? And do any of you have any old water park maps?

Stop by next week as we take at a look at some Magic Kingdom Maps and a special vintage surprise you will not want to miss.

About Frank Fiorinelli

Frank Fiorinelli is from New York, but that has not held him back from his love of the Disney Parks. Frank has been visiting the parks since the age of 2 and has not looked back. His passion is collecting Theme Park Maps, since he is able to look them over when returning home. X Marks the Spot, Frank's biweekly Column for Micechat, unfolds from those very maps. A two time Disney College Program Alumni, Frank is currently in the midst of Graduating with a Business Management Degree.

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7 Comments

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  1. In 1994, I had a multi-park ticket that included the water park option. I made my way to Typhoon Lagoon to learn that my ticket was only good for River Country. So I relunctantly went back in the rental car and headed there. The place was nice but small. The atmosphere was more nature and less Disney. I remember there was only one water slide worth its name. Strangely, what I enjoyed the most was the boardwalk over the edge of the lake right next to the forest. There were vines hanging from most of the trees. I had pictures of Tarzan in my head swinging from tree to tree. I could never make up my mind if the vines were real or fake. Probably fake. Maybe not. Still can’t decide.

  2. I loved the water park maps as a kid! They always seemed to enchant me more than the other maps. I think it is because we spent the least amount of time at the water parks, so it was exploring them with my imagination via the maps.

  3. I agree 100 percent Eric!! There is just something about them. I love going to the Disney Water parks they never let me down

  4. I absolutely love both of Disney’s current water parks. They have such different themes, but both are unique and wonderful in their own way. However, I was never a big fan of River Country and can’t say that it’s a big loss.

    Love the maps and can’t wait for more!

  5. I have enjoyed all three water parks over the years. River Country was only visited once – I enjoyed it because it had a more natural swimming hole kind of feel. It had two slides which I particulaly recall and have never seen anwywhere else. These slides were very short but ended at least 6′ above the splash pool giving you a quick ride down the slide then a very exhilarating free fall. River Country was a perfect compliment to the campground and I liked it’s connection to the lake.

  6. As a kid in 1978 I really enjoyed River Country. It had a fun White Water Rapids ride that was part “lazy river” and part “water slide.” You would float along on a REAL inner tube (not those vinyl things they use today) and every once in a while you’d rush down a small decline (rapid), frequently colliding with other riders. The water was only waist deep, of course, and I do not recall any injuries. The ride ended with a steep descent into the ol’ swimmin’ hole, plunging into the water with enough force to flip you off your tube. I doubt the law firm of Mickey, Donald, & Goofy would allow such a ride today.

  7. While I agree that River Country couldn’t compete with TL or BB, I would say that from the perspective of a family standing at Fort Wilderness, it was probably the best pool area of any resort. Obviously a little different, as you had to pay to get in, but with a young family that loved to stay in a Wilderness cabin, we really enjoyed being able to take the short ride over to River Country and enjoy the water and atmosphere. It really seemed like a water park that was geared for families with small children.