Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort That Never Was


Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.63 inches | 1.08 pounds

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About the Author

Greg Glasgow is a longtime writer and journalist for numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Denver Post, 5280, and the Boulder Daily Camera, where he worked for ten years as arts and entertainment reporter and editor. He lives in Colorado with his wife and co-author, Kathryn Mayer.

Kathryn Mayer is a Denver-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications including Health, Observer, Business Insider, and PopSugar. She primarily writes about business and has appeared on radio, TV, and podcasts as an industry expert.


The history of Disney has already been the subject of numerous books, from both inside and outside the company, chronicling the company's growth from a small animation studio founded in 1932 into the corporate behemoth of today. But one part of the Disney story has largely been overlooked, especially in the company's tightly controlled historical narrative: how it battled for over a decade to build a ski resort in a California valley.... Describing what happened during the subsequent decade of conflict would derail one of Disneyland on the Mountain's great strengths: the engrossing narrative. The book's subtitle is a bit of a spoiler, so it's not giving anything away to say that the resort was never built. But how that happened is an epic tale: one full of unexpected swerves, big personalities, personal and political clashes, tragedy, protests outside the gates of The Happiest Place On Earth, and legal battles that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.... [It] is also an affirming tale of citizen activism, with environmental organizations, nature lovers, and feminists joining forces to defeat a wealthy company with governmental and business connections that it wasn't afraid to use to get its way. The struggle also resulted in laws and legal precedents that, to this day, protect nature and the environment.... Glasgow and Mayer have undertaken extensive research, including interviews with some of the still-living participants in the events around Mineral King, and their narrative is thoroughly fleshed out and thoughtfully written.... Disneyland on the Mountain makes an important contribution not only to Disney's history but also to the history of activism and resistance in the US by providing a definitive account of these largely forgotten events.

-- "Popmatters"

The authors bring to life the delectable crossover of Disney history and good ol' American activism. We see an even-handed portrayal of Walt as both a conservationist and a showman, and how his plans inspired real change in our country's policies. Underdog activists and Disney buffs be warned--you will love this book.

--Jake S. Friedman, animation historian and author of "The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age"

Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort that Never Was by Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer provides a detailed history of the Walt Disney Company's hopes and failed vision for the Mineral King Valley. It feels complete and is super dense. This is a true serious well well-researched study of the park.Disneyland on the Mountainexpands the story that many Disney fans just see as a paragraph or rare failure in Disney history. However the book goes beyond just telling the story of Mineral King by presenting a case study that demonstrates changing societal norms in American society.

-- "Between Disney"

In 1966, Walt Disney announced plans for a ski area at Mineral King, a spectacular site in the Sierra Nevadas.... [Glasgow and Mayer] reveal in great detail Disney's plans for Mineral King and why the ski area was doomed. Among the first blows was the death of Walt Disney in late 1966. His successors worked hard to keep Disney's dream alive, but without the beloved Disney, they lacked his driving force as well as a charismatic frontman. Environmentalists, meanwhile, had turned to the courts to thwart the resort. One case, went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Eventually, after years of litigation, Disney pulled the plug, and Walt Disney's dream of a European-style ski area in the midst of one of America's most pristine sites was dead.

-- "The Denver Post"

Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer's Disneyland on the Mountain is environmental history at its very best. The battle to save the sequoia groves in the High Sierras from a sprawling Disney resort ended as a victory for the conservation movement in the 1970s. The legal activist and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, as portrayed in these pages, would've made John Muir proud. Highly recommend!

--Douglas Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author of "Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening"

A decade after Disneyland opened, and with the swamps being drained for Disney World, Old Uncle Walt hiked up an incline in California's Mineral King valley to announce his next plan. Accompanied by California Gov. Edmund Brown, Walt Disney declared his intention to turn the valley into a family-friendly resort. It would become one of his few abject failures. The thwarted project is the subject of Disneyland on the Mountain by journalists Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer. The book will remind film buffs of Disney's enormous role in shaping perceptions of the natural world. His animation raised generations of children on idyllic visions of nature and animals, a subterranean stream feeding the ecological movement that surfaced in the '60s. The irony is that Disney's dream for Mineral King valley was defeated by the movement he helped inspire.

-- "Shepherd Express"

Journalists Glasgow and Mayer debut with an illuminating history of a little-known chapter of Walt Disney's career that was also a victory in the early years of the environmental movement. In 1965, Disney and his company came to an agreement with the federal government regarding the development of a stretch of Sequoia National Forest called Mineral King. The mogul envisioned the space as a ski resort made in the image of Disneyland, his California theme park. Over the next four years, Disney, who died in 1966, and his successors created a plan for the resort that was approved by the U.S. Forest Service. A cluster of conservationists, including Sierra Club executive Mike McCloskey and attorney Leland Selna, fought back in court for years to keep the project from coming to fruition. By the mid-1970s, the Walt Disney Company gave up on the project, and in 1978 Congress added Mineral King to a list of protected natural areas to prevent its future development. Drawing on firsthand interviews, the authors provide an enticing combination of behind-the-scenes reporting on the Disney company and environmental movement history, including the ramifications of this episode on both the company's future developments and on environmental law. It's a rewarding deep dive.

-- "Publishers Weekly"

A gripping, in-depth look at the people and forces that shaped the outcome at the Sierra's Mineral King: the ski resort that wasn't built, the Supreme Court decision that opened the courts to causes, and the national park that became bigger--all this, with all sides being heard. What a story! Splendidly told.

--Michael McCloskey, former Sierra Club Conservation Director and CEO

There's no shortage of lore when it comes to Walt Disney and his cultural empire of movies and theme parks. But did you know that he once dreamt of building a ski resort...Writer duo Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer revisit this failed venture in Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort That Never Was in eyebrow-raising style.

-- "University of Denver Magazine"