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Where Country Bears Came From!

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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.

Famed skier Willy Schaeffler was brought in by Disney to assess the project’s viability. Mineral King had the potential to be “unsurpassed when it comes to magnitude, terrain and dependable snow,” he told the company. They estimated the slopes could accommodate up to 20,000 skiers of all skill levels. It had the potential to be America’s greatest ski resort and a training ground for its Olympians.

The plans, at least on paper, were stunning. Disney officials promised locals Mineral King would never be “another Disneyland.” There wouldn’t be theme park rides or magic castles. Instead, it would be a ski haven built into the mountains. There would be 10 restaurants, 14 ski lifts, two hotels, a heliport, a conference center and even a chapel. To keep the area pristine — and because Walt hated traffic — vehicles were prohibited in the valley. Guests would park at a massive lot some miles away and be ferried into Mineral King via one of Disney’s famed transit vehicles, like a monorail or gondola.

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On 10/22/2020 at 6:24 PM, fladogfan aka Gretchen said:

" Disney World, located in muggy Florida, a state not particularly known for furry brown bears."

I have seen black bears in the neighborhood, now they are not brown, but they are bears.

And Black Bears aren't always Black nor Grisslies always Brown.......

Black bears can be black, blue-black, dark brown, brown, cinnamon and even white. Grizzlies, likewise, may range in color, from black to blond.

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