This abandoned Disney water park has been rotting for 15 years

Untitled 20Seph LawlessA photo from Seph Lawless’ series ‘Dismaland.’

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 is finally draining River Country’s 330,000-gallon pool.

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the Upstream Plunge pool will be filled with cement,
since standing water can attract mosquitoes — a growing concern due to the Zika virus. Disney says the work is 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.

River Country in Orange County, Florida was Walt Disney World's first water park.

Seph Lawless

It is only one of two Disney parks, along with Discovery Island in Orange County, to close permanently. Both parks were left to deteriorate.

Seph Lawless

Lawless took about 150 photos of the decaying park, he tells Business Insider.

Seph Lawless

Almost everything is covered in water and moss.

Seph Lawless

Vines and weeds overrun this slide, one of five in the park.

Seph Lawless

This is the Upstream Plunge pool, which crews are now working to drain and fill with concrete.

Seph Lawless

Leaves, paperwork, and ripped cardboard boxes fill the manager's office. Much of the wallpaper is peeling off.

Seph Lawless

A mysterious top hat lies on this bridge.

Seph Lawless

'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.'

Seph Lawless

Lawless, who considers himself an activist before an artist, travels around the US to photograph abandoned locations.

Seph Lawless

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.

Seph Lawless

'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.'

Seph Lawless

But until then, it will remain as Dismaland.

Seph Lawless

'It's always a surreal feeling shooting anything abandoned,' he says. 'It was also very beautiful -- like witnessing something out of this world.'

Seph Lawless

For more photos by Lawless, check out his Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

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