The Truth Behind Walt Disney World’s “Poop River”

walt disney world liberty square magic kingdom brown poop river concept art imagineers
Credit: Michael Gray/ Flickr, Disney Concept Art, How Bowers/ Twitter

Any guests who frequent Walt Disney World Resort in Florida have heard the rumor behind the streak of brown pavement that runs along the stretch of Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square.

Liberty Square

Credit: Disney

Guests who have visited only a few times may have heard about the “brown river,” as well, as it has become a bit of a Disney World tour fun fact. But is this brown pavement really meant to simulate colonial sewage? Or is there a much less gross explanation?

Co-host of the Retro WDW Podcast, How Bowers, took a chance to explain the whole truth on a Twitter thread discussing this feature of Walt Disney World.

Apparently, in the extensive concept art for Liberty Square, one thing was persistent: cobblestone roads. “By the time of the American Revolution, cobblestone and other kinds of paved roads were very common in American Cities.”

Disney Concept art liberty square disney world magic kingdom poop river brown cobblestone

Credit: Disney Concept Art, How Bowers/ Twitter

Related: Woman Claims She Sat In “Human Poop” at Disney

The gossip behind the “poop river” of Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square is based on the idea that, in American history, colonists would fill streets with excrement. I mean, Disney is all about authenticity and accuracy, right? But the story doesn’t quite stop there.

According to Bowers, the ‘brown river’ actually didn’t appear in the theme park until the 2000s, after the designer’s commitment to cobblestone proved overall impractical for crowds of guests. He shares a 1992 image where the cobblestone is replaced by brick.

Bowers notes that “cobblestone would have been a nightmare for people in wheelchairs and kids in strollers.” It would be a feat for daily parade floats as well!

The remaining path of cobblestone was eventually replaced with brown cement, though Bowers admits he’s not privy to the reasoning behind this. Was the Magic Kingdom’s ‘river of poop’ just a feature of “budget maintenance?”

Certainly, Disney World wouldn’t sacrifice the authenticity of cobblestone, right? Guests’ experiences come first.

walt disney world magic kingdom liberty square brown river cobblestone brick alice white rabbit

Credit: Retro WDW, How Bowers/ Twitter

Related: Group of Guests Intentionally Poop on Disney Attraction, Area Shut Down

This is what retired Imagineer and Liberty Square’s design developer, Donald Holmquist, had to say:

Oddly enough, I was the design developer for Liberty Square and can give [you] the straight poop! The cobblestone insert in the walking pathway gives lip service to what was common in the day. It would have been much more expensive to completely cover the entire pathway [in] cobblestone, and as you said, it would have been a nightmare for wheelchairs, strollers, etc. It was never considered to be thought of as part of a sewer system (not with Disney’s “good show-bad show” design criteria.) Interesting observation, however.

Disney world liberty square magic kingdom poop river brown cobblestone

Credit: Disney

Related: Guests Report Overwhelming “Sewage Smell” at Disney Park

THEN Bower was contacted by an “anonymous present-day Imagineer” who confirmed the Magic Kingdom brown trail in Liberty Square in fact “WAS intended to be a subtle nod to colonial sewage.”

It was supposedly a small design inside joke of sorts and was never expected to become widely known. But nonetheless, the Walt Disney World poop river was supposedly intentional!

That’s the story straight from Disney Imagineers! And now, my friends, you KNOW. Go forth and enjoy the sanitized version of colonial America at Walt Disney World’s Liberty Square in its Magic Kingdom theme park.

About Lana Porter

Lana has never lost a Disney Trivia night. Maybe it’s the hundreds of times she’s been to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, her love for Disney’s ’90’s era hand-animated musicals, or the fact that she’s often likened to cartoon characters, but Disney and its magic have a special place in her heart. Her favorite Disney experiences include the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, eating Mickey Bars on the PeopleMover, and crying during the Magic Kingdom fireworks show. One day she hopes to be chosen as the rebel spy on Star Tours. When Lana isn’t Park Hopping, she’s at home reading books of all topics, watching her favs on Disney+, or snuggling her two cats, which she swears are not named after Disney characters. She loves surprising people with her knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but admits she is still catching up with Star Wars. She is happy to combine her excitement for writing with her love for Disney-style storytelling and share what she can with the world!

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