What’s the largest missed alternative in Disney’s theme park historical past?
Disney followers may most likely title a couple of candidates. Many Disneyland guests would possibly surprise what the resort would seem like at this time if administration had chosen to go along with the proposed Westcot theme as an alternative of Disney California Journey for the resort’s second gate. Or what if Disney as an alternative had developed the land across the Queen Mary in Lengthy Seashore and created a model of what grew to become Tokyo DisneySea in Japan?
On the East Coast, many Disney followers within the mid-Atlantic area would possibly really feel wistful for the proposed Disney’s America park, which might have introduced a history-themed Disney park to Virginia.
However for me, the largest “what if?” at Disney was the corporate’s failed try to get into the ski resort enterprise, in California’s Mineral King valley. That missed alternative is the topic of a brand new e-book, “Disneyland on the Mountain,” by Colorado authors Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer.
Glasgow and Mayer have reported top-of-the-line Disney historical past books I’ve learn in a very long time. It gives a well-balanced recap of what was a contentious battle over Disney’s proposal to show Mineral King into an modern resort vacation spot — one that may have set a brand new normal for what a ski resort might be.
Mineral King’s story begins with Walt Disney’s involvement within the 1960 Winter Olympics at what’s now often called Palisades Tahoe. Whereas the Video games could have sparked Walt’s curiosity in making a European-style ski resort in California, his curiosity in nature and the atmosphere preceded that by many years, as illustrated by his firm’s True-Life Adventures documentaries.
Walt’s dying in 1966 robbed the Mineral King challenge of its biggest advocate, however it wasn’t till the Seventies that Congress lastly killed the challenge. Glasgow and Mayer element how the Mineral King case impressed the Sierra Membership to seek out new authorized strategies to guard pure areas. However was Mineral King’s demise actually a win for the atmosphere?
I’ve little doubt that Disney would have developed a commercially profitable resort at Mineral King, one that may have helped the corporate financially within the years following Walt’s dying. I additionally suspect that Disney’s Mineral King would have helped broaden the ski trade, spawning a growth in reputation for winter and mountain sports activities, very similar to Disneyland did for theme parks.
However the folks must see the character that they’re defending every now and then, to remind them why it wants safety. In any other case, public assist for that safety could collapse. The title, “Disneyland on the Mountain” is a little bit of a Rorschach take a look at. To me, Disneyland means considerate design and innovation, not a haphazard and crowded eyesore.
Mineral King was a possibility for Disney’s gifted designers to create a brand new manner for the general public to entry and respect nature, with out destroying it within the course of. We nonetheless want that, as anybody who has sat in Yosemite Valley site visitors can attest. Studying “Disneyland on the Mountain” left me grateful for what we now have in Mineral King at this time, whereas nonetheless questioning what may need been.