Disney's Failed Attempt To Build A Massive Ski Resort In The California Wilderness
It’s never quite made sense that the Country Bear Jamboree debuted in Disney World, located in muggy Florida, a state not particularly known for furry brown bears. But the ensemble of musical bears wasn’t meant for Disney World at all. They were destined, once upon a time, for a stunning alpine-style resort tucked deep in California’s Sequoia National Park.
For almost two decades, Disney’s Mineral King Ski Resort was the company’s white whale, the project that Walt loved but environmentalists hated.
The saga began in 1960 when Walt Disney was appointed head of the “pageantry committee” for the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. He loved it. He loved the snow; he loved the resorts; he loved the idea of healthy, family-friendly outdoor exercise. Disney, he decided, should have its own ski resort.
So the company began searching for suitable locations. By the mid-1960s, they’d landed on Mineral King, a little-known jewel four hours north of Los Angeles. The area had never been seriously developed because of its inaccessibility. Miles of the "road" into Mineral King Valley were completely unpaved. As a result, in winter, its most alluring and potentially lucrative season, the region was off-limits entirely.