Did you know that the water at Disneyland isn’t just water? The water is dyed a greenish/brown color and circulated throughout the park - to mask the depth and keep it fresh respectively through the use of a “green water” system. But few people know
the system would more accurately be referred to as the “green tea” system due to the way the water gets it’s color. As environmental regulations became more stringent, in 1979 Disneyland started using a mix of green and regular tea leaves as a natural way to dye the water throughout the park. In fact approximately 1,955 pounds (nearly a ton!) of ground tea leaves are circulated through the system each year. While it’s hard to quantify the following claim, this is said to contribute to the calm and tranquil atmosphere of the park especially near the Rivers of America. Stray cats ,wild ducks and other birds can be seen congregating around the waterways engaging in regular, what cast members call, “tea parties”. In fact the birds are a bit too regular - their overly relaxed bowels have been the bane of many a custodian and guest hairdo alike.
In recent years the use of so much tea as a natural colorant has become problematic. With the rising popularity of green tea as a gourmet drink served in coffee bars around the world, and especially in California, the cost has risen steeply. It’s risen so much that ticket prices have increased drastically to cover the growing expense. Park Managers fear that the method of obscuring the shallow depths will soon become unsustainable - revealing the emu leg bones, lost sunglasses, and (most disturbingly) remains of children turned into small world dolls.
Clearly another solution must be found. Some speculate that the construction of Star Wars land, and the draining of the Rivers of America has been an elaborate coverup while researchers try to find an affordable replacement colorant. After all, it does seem very unlikely that Disney would otherwise be laying out such a large sum of money for a new attraction.
We’ll know soon enough as the River will be back shortly. Recent changes in LA law regarding the growing and selling of the cannabis plant have lead to rumors pointing to this as a suitable replacement. Keep an eye out for any changes in hue or particularly hungry, philosophical ducks.
Next up in our series: How DO they create that perfect Disney grass.
Today’s Throw-Back-Thursday is for a now abandoned water park here in Central Florida. River Country at Walt Disney World was a seasonal park located near the Fort Wilderness Lodge. This first water park at WDW opened on June 20, 1976 and ceased operations on November 2, 2001. Four years later, Disney announced it would stay closed permanently. With Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon now open (they both opened in the ‘80’s), one more water park, especially a very old and small one, just isn’t necessary. In the almost 15 years since Its closure, the park is decrepit and falling apart; an epitome of a ghost park.
(Above: River Country when open)
Surprisingly, while I was raised here in Central Florida and went to WDW a lot, often camping in Ft. Wilderness, I never went to River Country. The water park looked like it was designed as some kind of cross between Tom Sawyer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad; “an old-fashioned swimming hole” was Its theme; right down to the tire swings and rope bridges. Of course, back when it was created, the Imagineers didn’t understand the possible repercussions of some of their design choices. Such as, damming Bay Lake and using untreated, though filtered, fresh water for the park. This resulted in a water-born disease (with a 95% fatality rate) that killed at least one child.
(Above: Goofy was the official River Country Mascot)
(Below: The same slide today)
The park continued struggling on, barely making a profit with the competition of the two, newer water parks. Then, citing declining tourism rates everywhere after 9/11, the decision was to close the park, with a possibility of reopening at some point. However, that idea was abandoned in 2005 when Disney announced it would not reopen. It may also have had to do with “a change in Florida laws, which prohibited unchlorinated natural water bodies from being used for water park attractions”. [Wikipedia] It would have taken major overhauling to accomplish this change, and it just wasn’t worth it.
(Above: Main swimming hole then, a fresh-water lake… Below: and today)
Want to hear something REALLY creepy? The park has been closed 14 years. Occasionally, people sneak in to the park, taking pictures or video. Let’s face it…who ISN’T intrigued by abandoned amusement parks? I’ve got a whole board on my Pinterest page dedicated to just that subject! ( www.pinterest.com/guinnesswench )More than one person reports that path lights, water fountains, and plumbing still work and the park’s banjo MUSIC IS STILL PLAYING. Here’s a video of two guys who snuck in at twilight. Eerie.
(listen for the music about 3 minutes into the clip)
I haven’t been able to find any reason why the park was simply abandoned instead of being demolished. Most of the park was left in place, even towel boxes, rafts, etc., as if it fully planned to reopen for business. You would think that demolishing it would be preferable both for a liability issue (you just know at some point, some idiot is going to sneak in and get killed) and an environmental one. I can tell you, it doesn’t take long for things that are left neglected in Florida to be reclaimed by swamp. I just can’t believe the deterioration doesn’t hurt the environment. And why not use the land to create something useful?
(Water slides and pool then and now)
At any rate, if you never made it to River Country, it has to go on the “Things you’ll never see again at Disney” list. Then head over to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon for a bigger and better water park.
When I first saw this headline on Facebook I braced myself to be disappointed. But it sounds like this park was designed really well, consulting the disability rights community, doctors, etc. and keeping in minds the various needs of people with differing disabilities.