Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thunder Mountain and Walt Disney

We recently returned from a vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  While there, we took a backcountry jeep tour which brought us into gulches and to Native American (Sinagua) ruins nestled in the cliffs behind Sedona. 

On our way out, our guide pointed out several of the red rock bluffs by name, including one called Thunder Mountain.  He then proceeded to mention that Walt Disney actually had a house in Sedona at one time for a few years, and could see Thunder Mountain from his kitchen/dining area.  He said that Sedona's Thunder Mountain didn't really look like the rockwork done on Big Thunder Mountain, but that perhaps it inspired the ride.

I wasn't sure of the timeline, and didn't want to call him out on that.  First, I've never read anywhere that Walt Disney spent significant time in Sedona, though it wouldn't surprise me if he did, considering how beautiful it is there.  Second, I believe Marc Davis did most of the concept art for that ride (I suppose it's possible that Davis spent time in Sedona).  Third, I am thinking that Big Thunder Mountain wasn't conceptualized until well after Walt's death.

Anyone who has any comments or information on this tour guide info, please leave a comment.  Did Walt ever live in Sedona?  Did he have anything to do with the planning of Big Thunder Mountain?  Does Sedona, or any part of Arizona, have anything to do with Walt's inspiration for anything in Disneyland?