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

A fascinating look at Walt Disney’s last, unfinished project and the controversy that surrounded it.

About the book

It was going to be Disneyland at the top of a mountain. A vacation destination where guests could ski, go ice skating, or be entertained by a Disney Imagineer-created band of Audio-Animatronic bears. In the summer, visitors could fish, camp, hike, or take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of a mountain. It was the Mineral King resort in Southern California, and it was Walt Disney’s final passion project. But there was one major obstacle to Walt’s dream: the growing environmentalist movement of the 1960s.

In Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort That Never Was, Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer provide an unprecedented look inside the Mineral King saga, from its origins at the 1960 Winter Olympics to the years-long environmental fight that eventually shut the development down. The fight, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, reshaped the environmental movement and helped to put in place long-reaching laws to protect nature. Although the court battle, coupled with Walt’s death in 1966, meant the end for the Mineral King resort, the ideas and planning behind it have permeated throughout the Walt Disney company and the ski tourism industry in ways that are still seen today.

With firsthand interviews and behind-the-scenes details, Disneyland on the Mountain offers incredible access to a part of Disney history that hasn’t been thoroughly explored before, including Walt’s love of nature, how the company changed after Walt’s death, and of course, the story of Mineral King. It’s a tale of man versus nature, ambition versus mortality, and how a gang of scrappy environmentalists took on one of America’s most beloved companies.

Reviews for "Disneyland on the Mountain"

“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"

“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!” fascivists fought the Mouse—and won.”
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 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

“A fascinating depiction of how a group of activists fought the Mouse—and won.”
Book Riot
“The book will remind film buffs of Disney’s enormous role in shaping perceptions of the natural world.”
Shepherd Express

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 U.S.”


PopMatters

“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

“Reveal(s) in great detail Disney’s plans for Mineral King and why the ski area was doomed.”

Denver Post

“One of the best Disney history books I have read in a long time … a well-balanced recap of what was was a contentious battle over Disney’s proposal to turn Mineral King into an innovative resort destination.”

OC Register

“A fascinating journey through the animator’s efforts to build a resort … It examines the cross-section of popular culture, winter sports, and environmental concerns.”

Powder Magazine

“A masterful new book … Told with compelling detail and impressive interviews from participants, the book transports the reader into the drama that unfolded high in the mountains of Southern California, when the dream world of Disney clashed against the growing reality of conservation protections.” 

Los Angeles Book Review

“Through meticulous research and firsthand reporting, Glasgow and Mayer give readers a glimpse into a tremendously compelling conflict that changed the way public land was viewed in the United States.”

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