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Book Review | Disneyland on the Mountain: Walt, the Environmentalists, and the Ski Resort That Never Was by Greg Glasgow and Kathryn Mayer

From the publisher: A fascinating look at Walt Disney’s last, unfinished project and the controversy that surrounded it, including the budding environmental movement that made sure the resort never saw the light of day.

I’m a huge fan of Disneyland, Disney World, Disney movies, and their creator, Walt Disney. Walt Disney revolutionized animated films and theme parks. He truly was an American genius. (And I think he’d be appalled at some of the things being done in his name today.) When I saw a book was coming out about his attempts to build a Disney ski resort destination, I wanted to read it.

I’m afraid to say I did not find the entire book to be “fascinating,” no matter what the blurb says. Parts of the book I did indeed find fascinating, but I think this book could have been a great essay. The book appears to have been exhaustively researched. There are 18 pages of footnotes, a 2 page bibliography, and a 7 page index. There is no doubt that the authors did indeed find the subject fascinating.

The book opens just three months before Walt Disney’s death from lung cancer in December 1966. Right up until the end of his life, he was excited about goals he had for the Disney company. If he had managed to turn California’s Mineral King valley into a Disney resort, it would probably have been amazing. This book tells the story of the environmentalists who were determined to stop the resort from being built. (I got a definite sense that some of the people who already lived in the valley wanted to keep it pristine for themselves. It reminded me of a quote, attributed to Dennis Miller, that I heard my environmentalist brother-in-law repeat more than once: “A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the woods. An environmentalist is someone who already has a house in the woods.”)

I did find parts of the book interesting, and I learned things that I did not know. It’s only about 200 pages (not counting the footnotes and index). If you are attracted to all things Disney, you may want to read Disneyland on the Mountain.

I read an advance reader copy of Disneyland on the Mountain from Netgalley. It is scheduled to be published on September 13, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it.

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