I Can’t Believe What These ABANDONED Parts of Disney World Used To Look Like

There is no denying that Disney World is constantly undergoing changes, constructing new areas, and reimagining older areas. 

Where is everyone?

However, Disney World also has a couple of abandoned parts that were once filled with entertainment and excitement that have now been left empty. We always love revisiting Disney World’s past, and we always think these three abandoned areas deserve some attention!

While we enjoy the constant stream of new experiences at Disney World, there is always a bit of nostalgia around old attractions and areas. So, let’s dive into three abandoned areas and take a look at them in their glory days!

Discovery Island

Discovery Island opened at Walt Disney World on April 8, 1974. When it first opened it was called Treasure Island, and the name was changed to Discovery Island in 1977.

Discovery Island ©Gary Cruise

The island can still easily be seen by Disney World guests. The island is located in Bay Lake and is surrounded by Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. 


Discovery Island was an 11.5-acre paradise that was originally themed to Treasure Island. The island was home to various animals and exotic birds including toucans, flamingos, lemurs, giant tortoises, and vultures.

©Carol Cruise

The island also boasted one of the largest walk-through aviaries in the world. The area was a wildlife sanctuary, and Disney cast members helped in trying to save the Florida dusky sparrow species. Unfortunately, the last dusky sparrow passed away of old age on Discovery Island.

Discovery Island Map

Discovery Island officially closed on April 8, 1999, 25 years after it first opened.

Discovery Island Postcard

River Country

Next up, we are taking a look at River Country. River Country opened on June 20th, 1976, as the first water park at Walt Disney World. This water park was located near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.


The waterpark contained water slides, an inner-tube river, a sand-bottom lake, and a waterpark play area with tire swings and bridges.

River Country ©Gary Cruise

River Country closed for business on November 2nd, 2001. It closed for its annual winter refurbishment and never reopened. The popularity of the waterpark is what convinced Disney to build both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

©Carol Cruise

Unfortunately, these two larger waterparks might also be the reason that River Country never reopened. River Country was much smaller than Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and attendance suffered after the two waterparks opened.

River Country ©Carol Cruise

As you can see, the waterpark looked like a lot of fun. The area remained abandoned until 2016 when Disney began working on the construction of a new hotel, Reflections. However we have not received any recent updates on if this hotel will still be happening.

River Country Postcard

Play! Pavilion (Formerly Wonders of Life)

We also can’t talk about abandoned areas in Disney World, without talking about the Play! Pavilion. This pavilion sits in EPCOT and was once known as the Wonders of Life Pavilion.


This pavilion opened in October 1989 and included attractions such as Body Wars, Cranium Command, The Making of Me, Coach’s Corner, Goofy About Health and the Fitness Fairgrounds.


The pavilion is 100,000 square feet, and the dome is 65 feet high! The inside is impressive, and the pavilion offered a lot of entertainment options for guests.


While the Wonders of Life Pavilion no longer exists, Disney had announced plans to reimagine it as the Play! Pavilion.  It was presented as a digital metropolis with games and experiences that guests could interact with.


While we had seen work going on at the Play! Pavilion in the past, we have not heard much from Disney recently regarding plans for this abandoned area. At one point it was added to the EPCOT map and labeled “coming soon,” but it has since been removed.

It is always fun seeing a blast from the past, and we definitely wish we could revisit some of these abandoned areas.

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Did you have the chance to go to any of these abandoned areas in Disney World? Let us know in the comments!

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