Rundown River Country a hot spot for Disney World adventure seekers

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Walt Disney World's original water park, River Country, closed down 13 years ago, but what most people don't know is that the park is still there, overgrown and rundown, and some adventure seekers are finding their way to island for some illegal exploration.

Millions of visitors slipped and splashed their days away at River Country on Bay Lake for more than 25 years before it eventually closed its doors for good in 2001.

Photos: Before and after photos of Disney's River Country

Dr. Rick Foglesong is a Rollins College professor who has studied Disney for years.

"This one was teeming with Disney nostalgia. It was a swimming hole," he said.

New state regulations made having a water park in a natural body of water impossible, and there was concern about deadly amoebas in the warm Florida waters.

But it appears the adventures in the park didn't really stop in 2001.

As recently as this year, young adventurers have been posting videos on YouTube, showcasing dilapidated structures and swimming pools with algae-filled waters.

"What fun for a kid to have a Huckleberry Finn experience and sneak into River Country," said Foglesong.

The River Country ticket booth is still inside Fort Wilderness, but no sales have been rendered there for over a decade now.

Old aerial footage of the park shows guests enjoying the water, slides and ambiance of Disney, but now there are damaged docks and other hazards.

The property was so rundown that some who posted videos questioned whether they even wanted to explore it all.

Foglesong acknowledges the danger and said what is seen in the videos is surprising, considering Disney is famous for controlling what goes on in its parks.

River Country is one of the few closed Disney attractions that seems to have gone untouched for years.

Disney issued the following statement to Channel 9:

"While we appreciate the enthusiasm of our fans, undeveloped areas of Walt Disney World are off limits to guests. As a private property owner, we have the right to trespass guests who deliberately enter unauthorized areas."