When I was young, Fort Wilderness was the place for me. We always stayed there, no matter what, whenever we visited Walt Disney World. We would load up the Pop-Up Trailer, and drive the twelve hours to Disney World. This was a Spring Break ritual throughout my whole childhood. Being young at the resort, we would do everything they had to offer - Play on the playgrounds, use the free basketball in the wooden boxes, swim at the Meadow Pool, and even rent bikes. Evenings were filled with trips to the beach to watch the Electric Water Pageant, campfire movies, and of course looking through the trading posts. The reason we took the camper was for money saving and of course having our own beds to stay in. This meant many meals from the comfort of our own campsite, so Trails End and Crockett's Tavern were reserved for very special occasions, and sometimes years went by between visits to those places. River Country was another place that really wasn't somewhere I went. Why would we pay to go swimming when back at that time we had a choice of three places - The Meadow Pool, The Wilderness Pool, and of course the beach. If you don't remember, the beach was open to anyone. You could swim in Bay Lake! We would spend tons of time there, so paying to swim at a water park wasn't part of our vacation.
I recall one time visiting River Country, and if my memory serves me correctly it was around 1993. I don't remember much, other than the fact that those really tall slides really made me laugh as a kid. The ones that had the 4 foot drop off into the water. That is about it though, nothing else sticks out. So when I saw they closed River Country many years ago, it wasn't something that I'd have to be super sad about each time I visited. I remember just looking left, wondering what it was like, and continuing to the beach or boat launch at Fort Wilderness. The past few trips to Disney World though, my interest has peaked.
I started out venturing back to the fenced area, to see if anything was left behind. If you decide to walk back to that area of Fort Wilderness, which is totally legal and within the boundaries they provide, you will see a large green fenced area. This is actually past the old River Country Main Entrance. The neat thing about this is that you get to use the old River Country restroom facilities. They are extra big, like a water park would have, and even have some items that are weirdly out of place for their current use. One of them has a wall mounted hair dryer! Very interesting and it could bring back a neat retro memory for you. You really cannot see much if you look around back there, but I decided to stand up on some Disney Rock to see if anything else existed. This is what started my journey...