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  1. #1

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    Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    PART 1 (Sep. 21, 2012)

    The Claim: An 11-year-old boy who had been swimming at Walt Disney World’s River Country died from a brain disease linked to amoeba at River Country.

    PART 2 (Oct. 5, 2012)

    The Claim: River Country had to close when Florida law changed to require waterparks to use water from municipal water systems, not from natural bodies of water.

    Please discuss it here.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 10-04-2012 at 10:31 PM.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    So what exactly are the theorys as to why it closed? were Disney not prepared to risk sickness? Its seems strange they wouldnt just change the park as needed seeing they built 2 more water parks. I know little about the sistuation.

  3. #3

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I'll admit that Part 1 doesn't really answer the question of what closed River Country.


    Part 1 explains that River Country DIDN'T close after the tragic death linked to brain-eating amoeba in 1980. In fact, its stayed open another 21 years.


    Part 2 will discuss post-9/11 cost cutting at WDW and Florida Department of Health regulations for pool water.


    Permanently closing River Country was ultimately a business decision.
    Werner Weiss
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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I was looking at River country from google earth. It seems it is all still there. Is that surprising?

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I went to RC in its second year, 1977. I liked it immensely, because I love swimming and I'd never been to a waterpark before. I remember sliding into the big pool, taking the rapids ride and the flume, but I didn't stay in the cove for long because it was so much colder than the pool. It might be due to the fact that I always went at night so I wouldn't get sunburned and I hate applying sunscreen.

    I was last at WDW in 1997, but I didn't go to RC at all; instead, I went to Typhoon Lagoon and this was before Blizzard Beach was built. I also went swimming in a couple of natural springs in the Central Florida area, like one spring in the Ocala area in the national forest (I forget its name). Man, I loved that spring! But I had no idea I was taking the risk of an amoeba infection.

    Great article! It let me take a ride on the nostalgia train.

    Will there be a waterpark in Anaheim? If Knott's can do it, so can Disney.
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    There should be a sticky thread called "This Day in Disney History." The company has a long history and this would be a good way to acknowledge it. Walt was born 112 years ago; that's quite a chunk of American history and culture.

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    Looking at old footage of the park it's pretty obvious that the water being pumped from the lake was not the only problem with the park, the park was a lawsuit waiting to happen, JeffLangeDVD posted some nice footage from 198(7?) and it's obvious there were too many things that would have needed a near complete rebuild to keep them up to safety standards, I mean have you looked at those wooden climbing poles? If a kid fell he could smack his face on a couple of the wooden pieces, compare that to modern builds from Disney, they padded the area around the cars at Art of Animation. It's even worse when you think of how much hand railing the park would have if it was built today or how they couldn't use actual tire as tubes for the waterslides. Anyway that's enough of me rambling like an crazed man thanks for the great article Werner.

  7. #7

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I grew up right around this time and played on things that would be considered highly "dangerous" in today's litigation-happy society. I made it out all right, and am probably all the better for having a normal, activity filled childhood without the constant fear of injury that surrounds playgrounds and whatnot today. Kids are kids, I'd let them go ahead and be just that.

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    It's my understanding that both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach had days this Summer when both reached capacity. So a new seasonal water park for the Summer season doesn't sound like a terrible idea. Most of the structure and facilities are in place already and only need to be brought up to today's standards. But surely a cheaper alternative then splashing out on an entire new Water Park experience.

    Thanks really enjoyed both articles on River Country

  9. #9

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    Werner, I know this is Yesterland, but any chance of a part 3 that talks about what may happen next? We keep hearing rumblings about a DVC?

    If they were to build a 3rd water park, I think they'd put it on a less scenic piece of the property. People don't come to a water park for the view, but they pay a lot more for hotel rooms with one!

  10. #10

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I thought of including the possible transformation of the River Country site into a DVC resort in Part 2, but I decided it was outside the article's scope. I wish I could write a Part 3 with all sorts of details, cool Imagineering art, and construction photos, put that's impossible at this point.

    About two years ago, Disney filed plans with the South Florida Water Management District to relocate parts of the Tri Circle D Ranch facilities at Fort Wilderness. Sharp-eyed Disney fans noticed that the drawings went beyond the scope of that project to include what appeared to be a DVC resort to replace River Country.

    A DVC resort at Fort Wilderness is great idea. It would bring new life to the core of Ft Wilderness, would finally erase the ruins of River Country, and would provide a new experience for DVC members.

    I'm not aware of any progress since then. Disney Vacation Development (DVD) is building a new DVC resort at the Grand Floridian. DVD has announced nothing about any DVC projects beyond that one.

    If Fort Wilderness will be the site of the next DVC resort, chances are that construction would begin soon after the Grand Floridian DVC is completed. It takes a long time to build a resort, and Disney needs to have the next DVC resort ready to sell before the Grand Floridian DVC is sold out.

    However, it's also possible that DVD will build its next WDW resort somewhere else, and that River Country will just continue to deteriorate.
    Werner Weiss
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  11. #11

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    I read somewhere a while back about remaking River Country into a grand theme pool area for the Wilderness resorts. It'd be big, but there's lots of people at those resorts; it could be plausible. And they could even accept guests from the Contemporary, as well.

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    Quote Originally Posted by richboi117 View Post
    I read somewhere a while back about remaking River Country into a grand theme pool area for the Wilderness resorts. It'd be big, but there's lots of people at those resorts; it could be plausible. And they could even accept guests from the Contemporary, as well.
    I remember that rumor. At the time, I wondered if it had any substance behind it, or if it was just wishful thinking by Fort Wilderness regulars.

    At this point, River Country is a terrible mess and has received no maintenance for a decade. Even the rock work is coming apart (take a close look at the rock work on the photo of the two slides at the bottom of Part 2).

    I can't imagine Disney being able to reuse any of the old River Country infrastructure beyond the physical site and the parts that are still in use (and maintained) for Mickey's Backyard Barbecue.
    Werner Weiss
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  13. #13

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    [QUOTE=Werner Weiss;1056847913]I remember that rumor. At the time, I wondered if it had any substance behind it, or if it was just wishful thinking by Fort Wilderness regulars.

    At this point, River Country is a terrible mess and has received no maintenance for a decade. Even the rock work is coming apart (take a close look at the rock work on the photo of the two slides at the bottom of Part 2).

    I can't imagine Disney being able to reuse any of the old River Country infrastructure beyond the physical site and the parts that are still in use (and maintained) for Mickey's Backyard Barbecue.[/QUOTEWerner, I'm glad you have confirmed what I have always said that River Country was a 9/11 casualty and cut backs offering. Fort Wilderness, Pioneer Hall, and it's River Country's old time swimming hole, were all designed together as a package with one theme. This theme should be kept if they rehab or rebuild. Of course the 2 steam trains are also gone that transported guests for that same feeling. They could be refitted and shipped back from California if an agreement was made with their new owners. I'm sure Disney Legend Fred Joerger who did it's rockwork and the rest of the team, including Disney Legend Dick Nunis(his wave machine may need some work) would love to see it restored and upgraded as will as the Fort Wilderness guests who are there for that themed experience, and not body surfing on snow covered mountains. Make it so! PD
    Last edited by DisWedWay; 10-06-2012 at 03:24 PM.

  14. #14

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    Quote Originally Posted by DisWedWay View Post
    Werner, I'm glad you have confirmed what I have always said that River Country was a 9/11 casualty and cut backs offering. Fort Wilderness, Pioneer Hall, and it's River Country's old time swimming hole, were all designed together as a package with one theme. This theme should be kept if they rehab or rebuild. Of course the 2 steam trains are also gone that transported guests for that same feeling. They could be refitted and shipped back from California if an agreement was made with their new owners. I'm sure Disney Legend Fred Joerger who did it's rockwork and the rest of the team, including Disney Legend Dick Nunis(his wave machine may need some work) would love to see it restored and upgraded as will as the Fort Wilderness guests who are there for that themed experience, and not body surfing on snow covered mountains. Make it so! PD
    Thank you for your observations, especially how "Fort Wilderness, Pioneer Hall, and River Country's old time swimming hole were all designed together as a package with one theme."

    The theme has suffered with the closing of River Country. The ugly green fence separating Mickey's Backyard Barbecue from the ruins of River County should be an embarrassment to Walt Disney World executives and Fort Wilderness management.

    I have mixed feeling about the rumored DVC resort at Fort Wilderness. On the plus side, it would bring new investment and new life to the heart of Fort Wilderness, while eliminating the eyesore that was River Country. But, on the minus side, a large, multi-story structure with dozens of DVC villas on each floor would completely contradict the theme of Fort Wilderness.
    Werner Weiss
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  15. #15

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    Re: Sep. 21, 2012: River Country Closed by Brain-Eating Amoeba?

    This style of writing kind of reminds me of the Mouse Tales books, about death in River Country. Also, I like how your're writing about other Disney-related topics that answer to a degree about certain subjects and debunking myths.


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