Vintage Disney River Country

Abandoned Disney World: Five Things Still There, But Not Used

There are plenty of things in Disney World that have been there since opening day or even longer. Some attractions like The Carousel of Progress and it’s a small world were created long before Walt Disney World opened, and others like Country Bear Jamboree and The Haunted Mansion were present on October 1, 1971.

Not everything in Disney World has that kind of staying power.

If Disney closes an attraction and doesn’t replace it with something else, sometimes there’s no real value in tearing it down.  Disney has a reputation of just leaving them totally untouched – sometimes for decades.

Let’s take a look at five things that Disney World abandoned.

1. Mike Fink Keel Boat Dock

The Mike Fink Keel Boats were an opening day attraction in Frontierland. Two boats, the Gullywhumper and the Bertha Mae, were docked next to the Liberty Belle and sailed freely on Rivers of America throughout the day. The same attraction was in Disneyland, but in 1997, the Gullywhumper capsized injuring several passengers. The boat was removed and the attraction was closed.

The Disney World version continued to operate until 2001 when it closed. The dock for the boats is still there, and you’ve probably seen it dozens of times and never realized it. Disney has maintained the dock enough for it not to be crumbling.

Next time you take a cruise on Rivers of America, see if you can spot the abandoned docks.
Next time you take a cruise on Rivers of America, see if you can spot the abandoned docks.

2. Rainbow Corridor in Imagination Pavilion

Guests can still experience ImageWorks today, but the original ImageWorks used the second floor of the Imagination Pavilion and was the post ride attraction of Journey Into Imagination. This playground area was located inside the giant glass pyramids. To get to ImageWorks, you had to go through the Rainbow Corridor, which was a large winding tunnel with moving colored lights.

The Imagination Pavilion in Epcot‘s Future World opened in 1982 and holds some serious nostalgia for long time Disney fans. Figment, the loveable purple dinosaur who lives in the pavilion, has become Epcot’s mascot.

This area was converted to a Disney Vacation Club lounge after the attraction closed in 1998, but the Rainbow Corridor is probably still there behind the wall of the lounge.

3. Wonders of Life Pavilion

The Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot is not technically abandoned because it is still open to guests but it only functions as a festival center. Since festivals run almost year round now, the pavilion gets a good bit of use.

Wonders of Life has no operational attractions, but it still gets plenty of use as the Festival Center.
Wonders of Life has no operational attractions, but it still gets plenty of use as the Festival Center.

However, there are no operational attractions open to guests since the pavilion technically closed on January 1, 2007.

Since the pavilion is used for festivals and festivals are only growing longer and longer, it will probably never have attractions again. Regardless, there are no official reports that Body Wars and Cranium Command were dismantled, so they’re probably still there, and could even be fully operational.

4. Disney’s River Country

On June 20, 1976, Disney’s River Country opened as the first water park at the resort. It was billed as an old-fashioned swimming hole, and it was very popular. There were water slides and rope swings, and everything emptied into a large pool that looked totally natural.

River Country was conveniently located on Bay Lake, and although the water was filtered, the park had several issues with people getting sick from bacteria in the water.  Some guests also encountered not so friendly Florida wildlife.

The park closed on November 2, 2001 for refurbishment and never reopened. While reasons for closing the park are disputed, many people think it’s because of the water issues.

What’s more, when Typhoon Lagoon opened in 1989 and Blizzard Beach opened in 1995, they had more impressive attractions and also a larger capacity. Regardless, River Country still exists, and many urban explorers broken into the park to get a glimpse of what it looks like today. Videos show that the music is still playing, many attractions are still in tact, and there are even towels still in the dispensers. They also show massive overgrowth. This is a bad idea though and not something you should try because, if caught, trespassers are banned from the resort forever.

River Country is arguably the most notorious abandoned attraction in Disney World.
River Country is arguably the most notorious abandoned attraction in Disney World.

5. Discovery Island

Discovery Island is an 11+ acre natural island in the middle of Bay Lake that was inhabited until Disney bought it in 1965 while still working on The Florida Project.

Discovery Island opened to Disney World guests in 1974 as a miniature zoo complete with birds and animals like flamingos, swans, tortoises, and more. It was only accessible by boat.

When the island closed in 1999, the animals were moved to the new Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the island has remained untouched since then. Officially, the island closed because of Animal Kingdom opening, but some suspect that the amoebas found in the water at River Country contributed to the closure of this attraction as well. There is a current attraction in Animal Kingdom named Discovery Island.

Should Disney tear down abandoned attractions?