16 photos of abandoned Disney resorts that will give you the creeps

Disney has tons of thriving parks— but it has abandoned more than most people realize. Discovery Island was abandoned in 1999 and has been left untouched. River Country was the first water park at the Walt Disney Resort, and closed down after multiple deaths and the tourism effects of 9/11.

Anything that’s been abandoned is creepy to begin with, but abandoned Disney parks in particular have an unsettling quality to them that’s hard to shake.

Disney has ditched several projects over the years for various reasons, but often these parks have been left intact to decay naturally over time. The result are eerie remains of what once was part of “the happiest place on Earth.”

16. Take a look at a few of the parks Disney has abandoned over the years.

Discovery Island in Bay Lake has been abandoned since 1999.

From afar, Discovery Island looks like a normal island.

The island could only be accessed from a Disney resort boat or a Walt Disney World Cruise, and was known as a premiere tourist destination from the 1970s to the 1990s.

15. It was originally called “Treasure Island” when it opened in 1974 as a bird sanctuary.

A bridge on Discovery Island.  It was rebranded as “Discovery Island” in 1978, featuring a range of exotic animals, an aviary, flamingo pool, and a beach for tourists.

14. It closed in 1999 for a variety of reasons.

One of the beach chairs that was left on the island. Reasons it closed included a fear of wild-roaming alligators, alleged mishandling of animals, and deadly bacteria found in the park’s waters.

13. When it closed, the animals were moved to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Resort nearby.

The equipment has all been decaying since the area was abandoned.  The island has not been maintained since.

12. Visitors are prohibited from exploring the island.

More of the remnants of Discovery Island. Those caught trespassing could be arrested and banned from Disney World.

11. The area now looks like a ghost town.

The buildings are starting to fall apart after years of abandonment. Matt Sonswa/YouTube
Even if visitors were allowed, you probably wouldn’t want to check out the area anyway.

10. After opening as the first water park at the Walt Disney World Resort in 1976, Disney’s River Country closed in November 2001.

Seph Lawless

The abandoned River Country.

9. It was designed to look like a swimming hole, with an artificial mountain featuring water slides.

Seph Lawless

The water slide at River Country is now overgrown. As Disney’s first water park, it was very popular.

8. It was very successful when it first opened, but in 1980 a boy died there due to an amoeba that breeds in fresh water that attacked his brain and nervous system.

Seph Lawless

A hat lies abandoned in the middle of a bridge in River Country.  Disney was absolved for this because the amoeba could have bred anywhere.

7. Then, two years later, a boy drowned coming off of the Whoop n’ Holler Slide.

Seph Lawless

Disney was sued by the family, who claimed that there was no warning about how deep the water was. A lifeguard testified that they had to save dozens of kids from that slide daily.

6. In 1989, another boy drowned there.

More of the water slide at River Country, covered with foliage. Seph Lawless
However, the park continued to operate until 9/11, when a country-wide setback in tourism forced Disney to cut opening hours.

River Country then shut its doors for maintenance, but never reopened. Disney announced its permanent closure in 2005, despite it having laid abandoned for three years before that.

5. Now the park is overgrown and decaying, and the area has a haunting quality to it.

Seph Lawless

Seph Lawless says it looks like something out of another world.
The area is much different than it was when originally advertised in 1976.

4. One of their advertisements said, “Bring a swimsuit and a smile. You’re likely to wear both out at River Country.”

The interior of the buildings is now in complete disarray. Seph Lawless
Now that it’s abandoned, that advertisement sounds much creepier.

3. Nara Dreamland isn’t a “real” Disney resort, but it was built to resemble one.

The lookalike to Cinderella’s castle.  It opened in 1961 as a Japanese version of California’s Disneyland, complete with its own Main Street USA and Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

2. Some of its Disney replicas include Matterhorn mountain, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, a monorail, and Main Street USA.

Abandoned Man/Flickr/Public Domain

It closed in 2006 due to dwindling attendance.

1. The desolate park has an eerie feel to it without any visitors.

JP Haikyo/Flickr

The parking lot and entrance to Nara Dreamland. The whole place is left to decay now, and visiting the area is prohibited.

See and read more about Disney’s Doomed Discovery Island Park HERE.

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