Top 5: Disney World Spots Sadly Abandoned

Walt Disney World is made up of 47 square miles. It’s a large plot of land. Some things have been built and continue to thrive on that Florida swamp land, and other things have sadly faded away. Strangely enough, some places have been completely abandoned. Let to rot away, these places are still there as if they were a ghost town. It’s like they didn’t want to toss anything out and knew people wouldn’t see it so it was just left as it was on it’s last operating day. So where are these places? Here are my top 5 Disney World spots sadly abandoned.


#5-Discovery Island. If you are unfamiliar with Discovery Island, it’s a small island on Bay Lake (near the Magic Kingdom) originally hosting a variety of animals and birds. It was a place you paid to visit and see animals as well as walk the trails of the island. It opened in 1974 but was closed in 1999 when the animals were moved to Disney World’s new park, Animal Kingdom. The island’s inhabitants found a new home, but sadly enough, the island never found a new reason to live at Walt Disney World. Ideas floated around like Myst Island, based on the popular computer game, or Lost Island, based on the popular television show, but nothing has been decided on for the island. In the meantime, it sits abandoned with everything except for the animals that once inhabited it. Now it is overgrown with the 250+ different plant species it once prided itself on and the facilities that were used by cast members are now rotten old buildings.

#4-Food Rocks! In the 1990s, Food Rocks! was one of my favorite shows at Epcot. I loved the Land pavilion simply for this show. When it closed up, it eventually made way for Soarin’ but here is a little secret, the actual stage was never ripped out. Walls were put up and it was placed out of view. When you are in line for Soarin’ it sits just on the other side of the walls, animatronic figures and all. I know that Food Rocks! or anything like that show will never return, but I feel like this is just laziness to keep this here. In the years to come when Soarin’ changes and the queue needs to be expanded, Imagineers will tear down that wall and wonder what the heck that stage is and why it’s still there..

abandoned 1

#3-River Country. Disney’s first water park was less of a water park and more of a water playground. Both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon made River Country look like a back woods red-neck park, but that was it’s appeal and charm. It was simple and fun. River Country was opened in June of 1976 and was closed in 2001. Due to new laws about water usage in parks across America, the original Disney water park had to cease operations. Rather than fix the problems and change the park around, it was decided that the other two parks were good enough and River Country was left to rot. Music still plays through the speakers, ights still turn on at night, and the slides once slippery with water are now faded and decomposing.

#2-Wonders of Life. An entire pavilion that slowly faded away in the early 2000s. It does get used for seasonal seminars but not in the way it should. Like it’s name, this pavilion came to life with Body Wars, Cranium Command, and a slew of different activities to show you how to stay healthy. The main room has been cleared for the most part but Cranium Command and Body Wars were boarded up and just left to sit. Will the pavilion ever come back to life or be used in a meaningful way? Nobody knows, but it sits and it’s sad because some of us who pay to see these seminars can still see the signs that once got us excited to see these attractions that now sit dormant.

abandoned 2

#1-Image Works. First of all, you may or may not be in love with the changes made to the original Journey Into Imagination and what it has become. Regardless, the Imagination pavilion is really missing something and that is the second level of the building and it’s Image Works playground. There are so many things that people loved on the second level that still sit untouched, including the Rainbow Tunnel. It hasn’t been announced that the second level would reopen and it seems like it never will. That’s the unfortunate part because you can imagine it right about your head as you are riding through. All of it’s wonder, stuck upstairs and never to be played with again.

What are some of your abandoned places you wish were still around? What do you think is next to be abandoned? Will any of these places see the light of day again? Leave your thoughts and comments.

Josh Taylor


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Posted on June 14, 2013, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. they really need to re open the old image works. It would be so well received but old Disney fans. Plus kids would love it.

    • nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  2. Salvatore DiSanto

    The Wilderness Trails at Fort Wilderness Campground were beautiful back in the day…
    My girlfriend and I got a little more than intimate, shall we say….

  3. Salvatore DiSanto

    Oh, yeah…and I life guarded at River Country for 2 years…we had to delay opening one morning due to an alligator in the ol’ swimmin’ hole….good times…..

  4. wow! I didn’t realize that stuff was still there, brings back memories! I guess just like our love for the original figment, I have found someone else who actually loved food rocks! And I miss body wars and the rainbow tunnel too. Wish they would go retro and bring more back like they did the orange bird

  5. It’s not officially an abandoned Disney spot, but Nara Dreamland in Japan was built with Disney’s help to become the official Disneyland Japan – then the deal fell through and after more than 40 year being a Disneyland clone the park was abandoned in 2006. I went there 5 times sinc3 2009 and it’s pretty amazing…

  6. #1 and #2 I have so many memories of! I miss them so much and would love to play in there still today even though I am adult (age wise). I think there is great potential for Discovery Island as well but don’t think I would be a fan of Myst or Lost even though I am familiar with both. Great post!

  7. Reblogged this on WDW Mousenger and commented:
    To all my fellow Disney Geeks who know and/lor like a dose in WDW history (perfect for Throwback Thursday!) here is a cool article from Josh Taylor at ModernMouse Radio about places in WDW that have gone the way of the Dinosaur…no, not as in the Carnotaur over at AK, but as in have gone extinct. There are 5 on Josh’s list, and there could easily be more. I may have to do a follow up article later…
    #3 on the list is River Country. It was a personal favorite of mine and I was sad to see it go. River Country was the original Disney water park back in the days before Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. You can find some pretty wild videos on YouTube of the abandoned site today, and as Josh points out, at night music still plays and lights still come on…it’s a pretty spooky looking place now. Enjoy the article, and if you have any other favorite extinct attractions, let us know in the comments!

  8. Stephanie Knorr

    The Odyssey Restaurant at Epcot is baffling to me. Great spot and yet it has sat empty for years 😦

  9. I remember many of those things. While I never visited Discovery Island, it seems like the perfect place for an attraction like Tom Sawyer’s Island. We enjoyed the Food Rocks show, too. As for the rest of the Land, I miss the original song on the boat ride. I also miss the original Journey into Imagination ride that was much better and more inspiring than what’s there now. It meant a lot to me as we went there to celebrate the sale of my first novel. We also enjoyed Horizons but that’s gone.

  10. I think they should do something with the discovery island make it into a pirate theme? or have the comtemary take it over and make it a lil private beach are for there guest? river country seems to be near fort wilderness maybe that resort should take over the area and do something with it maybe a beach for the camp grounds? Restore the park and bring it up to todays laws and codes?..i would like to see the imagination second floor open up it would be awesome to see kids play in there again. I think food rocks or another show about being healthy should come back and put use to those figures again! Soarin needs a new video soarin over florida ! and that’s all I have to say!

  11. disney needs to stop expanding and being lazy they could use the discovery island for a frozen kingdom and use then abandon islands for the old things that were riped out and they could use the untouched stuff and get more money to expand all they need is to come clean and tell people hey there is a park that was this what should we use it for use what the people thinks because there a more people that think the same way as the visitors

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  13. G. Robert Marino

    Disney will do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to extract AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE from your pocket books! And that whole ” making memories” thing…or whatever WDW now calls it…is a SHAME.

    One day I was on a water taxi from The Contemporary back to the Wilderness Lodge. With a single stop at Fort Wilderness, the boat continued on to The Wilderness Lodge.

    And what did I unfortunately spy off the port side of the boat? RIVER COUNTRY, A broken down, shattered and dilapidated RIVER COUNTRY!

    I could go on for volumes the “memories” made at River Country dating back TOO 1976 when my parents took me to Disney. I could go on for volumes as I reflect on taking my children there REPEATEDLY when my career brought me to Orlando in 1985.

    I could…at THAT MOMENT on that water taxi in March of 2014…how my cherished but…at the time…”tucked away memories” of River Country were SHATTERED…CRUSHED…OBLITERATED…AND RUINED BY WDW for the obscenity of abandoning IN CLEAR VIEW a venue once enjoyed by so many.

    I was so literally infuriated yet in disbelief at what I’d seen…I literally took ANOTHER round trip on the water taxi to again see this WDW OBSCENITY! On the next pass I’d requested the INCREDIBLY decent WDW cast member to briefly slow past the most visible part of the Disney Obscentity. This fine captain more…STOPPING the boat, albeit briefly, so I could get a look. Tears ran down my face!

    When I again returned to the Wilderness Lodge and got back to my room, my new bride could see I was shaken. I explained to her the HORROR of which I’ve just described in this writing and the past of what “my memories” included regarding this WDW park.

    Little did I know, the situation would get worse.

    My wife did a quick internet search concerning the once River Country…and I’m certain I don’t need to tell a single reader of what came up in living color!!!

    In closing, let me express…WTF WDW.!?!

    You go to all kinds of lengths to board up neatly so many things in and around the public on property YET…WDW allows the “memory pitching horror” such as the state that River Country remains in and in CLEAR VIEW OF YOUR SO-CALLED CHERISHED GUESTS?!?!

    Let me tell you something “MICKEY MOUSE!” I’m a MAJOR contractor and accustomed to some unthinkable and enormous projects! And, simply put,and by what can CLEARLY be scene by satellite photography and by the photographs taken by “that trespasser” who photoed and posted this atrocity…this MEMORY KILLER…could be leveled and cleared..IN A DAY!!!

    A DAY!!

    Yet, the ARROGANCE that undoubtly IS The Disney Company ALLOWS this nonsense to remain for 13 YEARS?!?!

    WHY WDW?!?!

    I made a formal compliant to WDW and the follow up was meant with some,and I’m certain WDW Interns LIP SERVICE concerning this WDW DISCONCERN for their guest. And the MOST PATHETIC of lip service one could possibly imagine!

    Ya’ make me sick Mickey. Ya’ made me very sad.

    Will we ever return to WDW?

    Qouth the raven…

    …never more.

    • Maybe if you’d actually do a little research before jumping to conclusions, you’d find that they closed River Country because of the possibility of brain-eating parasites from the surroundings getting into the park and killing guests.

      • The parasite reason is highly unlikely and a myth. A kid died in 1980 of what the CDC confirmed as a “brain eating” amoeba found at the park but since the specific amoeba is more common in Florida waterways than you think nothing really change. Besides, the park closed 21 years after the fact.

        Only the powers that be at Disney know the real reason but the real reason is probably quite a bit more mundane. It was probably the fact that the economy truly cratered in 2000 (and 9/11 didn’t help) which severely lowered park attendance, two other competing Disney water parks, new Florida laws requiring all water parks to use municipal water sources (River Country used filtered water from the lake), and the ever increasing value of land near the Magic Kingdom and monorail system that factored the cost/benefit equation. I wouldn’t be surprised if that land became bungalows at some point.

        As for the reason they didn’t tear it down. They actually didn’t announce the “closed forever” status until 2005 (adding credence to the economic reason for closing). You can find 2002 aerial shots of the property that show that they were maintaining the park for at least a year after its closing. I think they didn’t tear it down because when you let something fall off the radar for 4 years it becomes less of a priority. I don’t think they will do anything until the new purpose is announced which will be a bit since they have been focusing on refitting the existing hotels and parks for the past couple of years and for at least this year and next.

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  17. I heard about the abandoned parks after I went to Disney World in 2013. I also heard that the 2 Disney parks closed because of a deadly bug that killed some Disney guests and although it would be so good to see Disney turn all these abandoned things into amazing attractions again. I think that they might have to work on the fact that there could be a brain eating bug in its surrounding waters!! Disney kinda scares me now… (Sorry Mickey!)

    • From what I understand there are no deadly bugs or reasons why you’d be afraid of something deadly at Disney World. The restrictions on Florida river water is what closed the water park and other areas have just been closed for other ventures.

      • Actually in 1980 a boy from NY died from the brain eating amoeba that has been in the news in recent years. That was the only incident about the amoeba at the park… It was 35 years ago (21 years before it’s closing) and they clearly changed their filtration systems as it clearly came from the waters of bay lake. That incident led to ALL swimming in Disney lagoon water banned later in the 80s (except resort pools and waterparks).

  18. River country did not close due to laws about water parks…. It closed because of park attendance severely dropped after 9/11. Lots of things were cut out after 9/11 hit their bottom line. Park hours were shortened… Casts hours were cut. Air travel came to a screeching halt… And that included people flying to Disney.

  19. I had no clue that the Food Rocks! pavilion was behind Sorn’ animations and all. Sorn’ will never be the same especially now that I play Five Nights at Freddy’s and Five Nights at Freddy’s 2

  20. Thank for all information, is good… (y)

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