When Disney River Country opened in 1976, visitors flocked to Orange County, Florida to ride the winding slides and traverse the wooden bridges.
The park closed down 25 years later. After leaving the park empty and abandoned for 15 years, Disney finally drained and filled River Country’s 330,000-gallon pool in 2016.
As the Orlando Sentinel reported, the Upstream Plunge pool was filled with cement, since standing water can attract mosquitoes — a growing concern due to the Zika virus. Disney said the work was not related to Zika, and doesn’t have any plans to re-open the long-closed park, the rest of which is still decaying.
A Cleveland-based photographer who works under the pseudonym Seph Lawless documented the abandoned park in his photo series “Dismaland.” (This is also the name of Banksy’s 2015 art exhibition, a fake apocalyptic theme park near Bristol, England.)
Lawless captured ghostly portraits of the once-busy attraction. Take a look.
It is only one of two Disney parks, along with Discovery Island in Orange County, to close permanently. Both parks were left to deteriorate.
Leaves, paperwork, and ripped cardboard boxes fill the manager's office. Much of the wallpaper is peeling off.
'I want the viewer to feel like their completely alone while looking at my images,' Lawless says. 'I want to bring that sense of abandonment to the viewer on a very intimate level.'
Lawless, who considers himself an activist before an artist, travels around the US to photograph abandoned locations.
He hopes that Disney will take notice and continue to renovate the parks at least for the wildlife that lives there. With some sprucing up, the park could transform into a nature reserve or walkway, he says.
'I have no problem asking that of a multibillion dollar enterprise such as Disney,' he says. 'No corporation should be powerful enough to hide the truth and not clean up their mess.'
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