‘Explorers’ invade Disney’s abandoned Discovery Island and River Country water park

in Disney, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Tucked away in plain sight in the middle of Disney’s Bay Lake lies the 11.5-acre abandoned piece of property formerly known as Discovery Island. The now off-limits Disney attraction was once home to birds and other wildlife and can be thought of as a precursor to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park (which now also contains a section called “Discovery Island”).

Although Discovery Island has been closed to the public since 1999, a group referring to themselves as “urban explorers” decided to swim through Bay Lake and walk around (read: trespass) on the island. While their actions took place several months years ago in December 2009 [see comments for edit explanation], local WKMG Orlando reporter Mike DeForest recently reported about it, sparking conversation online. (Update: And perhaps earlier online conversation sparked the WKMG report…)

In walking through Discovery Island at night, blogger Shane Perez and his friends found that the lights were still running and a few vultures had made their home there. They also found old photos of Disney cast members:

Similarly, a few weeks earlier, a post was made on the DIS discussion forum showing off pictures recently taken throughout Disney’s abandoned River Country water park, adjacent to Discovery Island:

River Country closed its doors in 2001 and is now home to waterless slides and overgrown foliage. Like Discovery Island, it is off-limits to guests visiting Walt Disney World.

It seems that abandoned attractions encourage a certain sense of adventure and intrigue in some courageous types. I personally don’t recommend breaking Disney’s rules and venturing into the once-beaten paths of gone-but-not-forgotten attractions, but I do still find it interesting to see what has become of these areas. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone documents an unauthorized trip into the never-completed “Legendary Years” half of Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Oh wait

Sources: ClickOrlando, The Photography of Shane Perez

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