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?

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

There's a street named Disney in Sedona. A woman told me that Walt lived there every now and then. Space Mountain got its inspiration from one of Sedona's mounds.

Anonymous said...

http://disinfo.com/2010/06/latitude-33-disney-and-high-strangeness-oh-my/

Anonymous said...

Yes... Walt Disney lived in Sedona on Disney Ln which is off Lower Red Rock Loop Road in Sedona. (It was a vacation home). The house was still in the family until 1987, it was a rental property at the time when it burned down. Walt Disney used Sedona for much inspiration in his films too. The famous Scary Forest that are featured in many films such as Fantastia, Snow White, etc... were inspired by Sedona's famous twisted vortex trees. There are also other streets in Sedona inspired by Walt Disney... Little ELf, Teapot, Thunder Mountain, etc. Sedona is a magical place that inspires all who visit! I have lived in Sedona for over a dozen years and worked as a Conceirge and Tour Guide... I discovered much information from the Sedona Heritage Museum.

Anonymous said...

Walt Disney NEVER lived in Sedona or lived on Disney Lane. The house that burned down was a drug house and was NEVER a vacation home. Do your mown research. Jeep drivers are a poor information resource.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the same Jeep Driving Tour Guide told our small group that Disney wanted to build Disneyland in Sedona; but the local authorities would not let him - so he settled with Anaheim, CA.
He seemed to be really loaded.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Sedona and I drive Jeeps for one of the tour companies. I did the research a few years back after after hearing the story for the first time (I heard it told from another guide). What my research produced is that Disney never lived in Sedona, but did vacation there until the early 1950s. Other than Disney's presence in Sedona, there is no real evidence connecting Sedona to that roller coaster. ...or Mickey Mouse to prickly pear cactus. Makes for a fun story. Or better put in today's lingo, it's fake news!

personalcheffy said...

Definitely fake news. I have a friend who grew up on Disney lane in a house his parents built. The street name was a joke. Something about the development was "Mickey mouse"--super easy.