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  1. #1

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    December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    It was a Friday. It was about week before Christmas. And it was official: The U.S. Forest Service awarded the right to develop the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Forest to Walt Disney Productions. The year was 1965.

    A wire service article quoted Walt Disney: “When I first saw Mineral King five years ago, I thought it was one of the most beautiful spots I had ever seen and we want to keep it that way.” To Walt Disney, that meant a self-contained “Alpine Village” designed to preserve the natural beauty of valley.

    Other people wanted “to keep it that way” too. But to them it meant no development at all.



    Link to Walt Disney's Mineral King at Yesterland



    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
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  2. #2

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    It's to bad that Mineral King was never developed. It would have been nice.
    James

    Once a Disney fan, always a Disney fan.

  3. #3

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Got my tickets to the program last weekend and my tickets to the member meet and greet this morning. I hope you will be there as well Werner!
    The Mur
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  4. #4

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    One wonders if Walt had lived if the project would have had enough momentum to get completed. I too think it was too bad it was killed. It might have been a real turning point for mountain recreation. I am not a skier, but the lodge looked nice enough to want to just visit and enough the atmosphere.
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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminyCricketFan View Post
    One wonders if Walt had lived if the project would have had enough momentum to get completed. I too think it was too bad it was killed. It might have been a real turning point for mountain recreation. I am not a skier, but the lodge looked nice enough to want to just visit and enough the atmosphere.
    I tried to tell both sides of the story. The conservationists were sincere in their desire to protect the undeveloped Mineral King valley.

    But I'm afraid my bias came through in the article. The Sierra Club has fought many worthwhile battles, but I don't think this was one of them. Disney's Mineral King plan — especially in its revised, scaled-down version with the 15-mile cog railway instead of the all-weather road cutting through Sequoia National Park — would have provided families with a great deal of enjoyment and appreciation of nature, with a much lighter environmental footprint than other mountain recreation resorts. It would have been a model for how to do such a resort well.

    As I wrote the article, I wondered if the outcome would have been different if Walt Disney had not died when he did.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  6. #6

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    The "What If" will certainly be part of the discussion. It is a great topic.

    Sam
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  7. #7

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    There is a possibility that it could still happen in a couple of years. (notice the location under my name)
    Best interview answer: My biggest weakness is my honesty...I can never remember my lies!

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Quote Originally Posted by Orcatime View Post
    There is a possibility that it could still happen in a couple of years. (notice the location under my name)
    I see that your location is "Sequoia National Forest." I'm curious what the basis for your statement about "a possibility that it could still happen in a couple of years" is?

    If Mineral King were still part of Sequoia National Forest, I could see the possibility of reviving the idea of a ski resort if an acceptable access solution could be found. However, with Mineral King having been annexed to Sequoia National Park, a ski resort now seems extremely unlikely — at least to someone like me who almost 2 thousand miles away.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-16-2011 at 03:39 PM.
    Werner Weiss
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  9. #9

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    It's interesting that California Govenor Edmund Brown supported Mineral King but his son, then and present California Govenor Jerry Brown, would not support Lake Independence and go up against the Sierra Club, who opposed the project. I did have a chance to ask him about that in the early 80's. I remember WED was waiting to see who would be elected president for project support, as Gerald Ford was a skier and Jimmy Carter was not. Carter was elected and the project was put on the shelf. Maybe Walt should have purchased Mammoth Mountain from the McCoy family in the 60's and built his dream all season resort there. Mammoth Mountain came up for sale again not to long ago, but then Disney Management did not step up to the opportunity or challenge. The Starwood Hotel chain did, but don't think you'll be seeing rotating hill top restaurants, Country Bear Band entertainment or cog railroads as Disney would have done. I do hope one day they do build such a resort with Walt's Mindprint on it, as they can make the Magic. PD
    Last edited by DisWedWay; 12-16-2011 at 08:54 PM.

  10. #10

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Quote Originally Posted by DisWedWay View Post
    It's interesting that California Govenor Edmund Brown supported Mineral King but his son, then and present California Govenor Jerry Brown, would not support Lake Independence and go up against the Sierra Club, who opposed the project. Maybe Walt should have purchased Mammoth Mountain from the McCoy family in the 60's and built his dream all season resort there. Mammoth Mountain came up for sale again not to long ago, but Disney did not step up to the opportunity. The Starwood Hotel chain did, but don't think you'll be seeing rotating hill top restaurants or cog railroads as Disney would have done. PD
    I've started to do some research on Independence Lake for a possible future Yesterland article.

    The Sierra Club did not fight Disney's Independence Lake project. In fact the Sierra Club and the Disney organization agreed in 1974 to cooperate on the environmental study for the project.

    When Disney suspended the Independence Lake project in 1978, they blamed the state of California. According to the Los Angeles Times on March 22, 1978, “Disney project manager Wing Chao accused the state of trying to sabotage the development. Far from expediting its process, state agencies sniped at the development, resulting in delays that cost the company a year of development time, Chao said, and Disney could tolerate it no further.”

    Bill Press, the state official responsible for expediting permits, angrily responded that the state had taken unusual steps to cut 2 or 3 years off the process.

    Jerry Brown was the governor of California when Disney cancelled the project. The cancellation embarrassed Brown, but I have not read anything that suggests he actually opposed Disney's Independence Lake project.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-16-2011 at 03:45 PM.
    Werner Weiss
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  11. #11

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    I work at the lodge in Sequoia National Park. It's run as a commissary for NPS. This means that there is contract on the facility. That contract is coming up soon. With the success of Adventures By Disney, Iger could put in a bid and have Sequoia has a base for tours into the park as well as its Yosemite packages.


    HOWEVER, I also know that the National Park Service has a very tight reign over control on how any commissary is to be run. I don't think Disney would like giving that up. You are right that it wouldn't be a downhill ski resort, however, cross-country skiing is a main activity up here in the winter.
    Best interview answer: My biggest weakness is my honesty...I can never remember my lies!

  12. #12

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Interesting story how Govenor Jerry Brown came about visiting WED to see the Ski resort project. I may tell you that one day. Jerry Brown did not appose Lake Independence, he just would not support it and go up against the Sierra Club when Disney needed him in the end. The Sierra Club may have agreed on the intial early environmental study . PD

  13. #13

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    Re: December 16, 2011: Walt Disney's Mineral King

    Quote Originally Posted by DisWedWay View Post
    Interesting story how Govenor Jerry Brown came about visiting WED to see the Ski resort project. I may tell you that one day. Jerry Brown did not appose Lake Independence, he just would not support it and go up against the Sierra Club when Disney needed him in the end. The Sierra Club may have agreed on the intial early environmental study . PD
    I would be very interested in the story of Govenor Jerry Brown's visit to WED.

    A Los Angles Times article ("Sierra Dilemma: How Disney Resort Plans Went Awry") by Robert A. Jones on March 11, 1978, described how the Disney organization had major problems with Sierra County, not with the Sierra Club.

    The article describes at length how Sierra County caused grief. Among other things, they wanted Disney to operate the resort as winter-only operation and to move the lakeside village (with its proposed lake recreation) many miles away from the lake.

    The only mention of the Sierra Club in the article is connection with a paragraph summarizing what happened with Mineral King. The Sierra Club fought Disney's Mineral King plans aggressively through the legal system, but I could find no articles mentioning any similar legal efforts by the Sierra Club against Independence Lake.

    It seems that Gov. Brown needed to stand up to Sierra County.

    The article also mentions Disney "now asking for a public statement from Gov. Brown himself expressing support for the project" and asking for a meeting with Brown.
    Werner Weiss
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