Walt Disney Dreams



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Other Dreams


Walt died all too young, less than two weeks after his 65th
birthday. It’s no surprise, given his ability to juggle a number of
different projects at a time, that various efforts were still in the
works when he passed on. In 1960, he had staged the ceremonies for the
Winter Olympics. The success of that activity led Walt to make plans for
an elaborate year-round recreational facility in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains of California. It was to be called Mineral King, and would
feature skiing, an alpine village, skating rink, hotels, dormitories for
young people, and restaurants. Walt’s bid for the property was accepted
by the U.S. government. But he met with resistance from
environmentalists who worried that the development would destroy the
natural beauty of the land. Walt argued that he was taking every measure
to make sure the natural landscape was preserved — by limiting
automobile access, for example. The State of California was prepared to
support the effort with highway construction, and Walt announced these
plans at his last press conference, held on September 19, 1966. After
Walt died, however, the environmentalists prevailed, and the project
didn’t come to be.

Another project didn’t survive Walt’s death was Walt Disney’s Boyhood
Home, a nonprofit tourist site that would help the economy of Marceline,
Missouri — the tiny community in which Walt spent his happiest
childhood years. He bought land in Marceline and had plans drawn up. But
that was about as far as things went. By happy contrast, his idea for a
new kind of university education for creative people — to be called
CalArts — fared somewhat better. For a long time, the Chouinard Art
Institute had trained Disney artists. By merging the Chouinard Art
Institute with the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, supported by
patron Mrs. Richard Van Hagen, the opportunity existed to create a new
kind of university. It could educate students in all facets of the arts
— dance, music, drama, art, and film. Students wouldn’t be trained in
just one discipline, but rather treated to a multi-arts educational
approach. This general idea was novel when Walt argued for it — now,
it’s found in most major universities. Today CalArts is thriving, and
“Smithsonian Magazine” has declared that it “has now become one of the
great progressive forces for the arts it serves.”






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