River Country was Disney World’s first water park. It opened in Orlando, Florida, in 1976 and officially closed its doors in 2005. #RIP.
Disney World still operates two water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
At its peak, River Country boasted four water slides, a sand-bottom lake, an white water rapids, and a tubing river.
The park was not without its problems: In 1980, an 11-year-old died from a bacterial disease he picked up while swimming in the park’s lake.
It turns out that the River Country’s vaunted system of using Florida’s fresh water was to blame. The child’s death was caused by amoebic meningoencephalitis, which was known to run rampant in Florida’s water system.
River County was left to languish and deteriorate naturally for the last 11 years, and photographer Seph Lawless was able to gain access and shoot some creepy but mega compelling photos of the park’s lost grandeur.
Next month marks the park’s 40th anniversary, and Lawless wanted to chronicle the once great park’s slow return to nature.
The images evoke an eerie, swampy, almost prehistoric vibe.
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