April 24, 2024

When I think of who has provided me with the best man-made playgrounds in my life, I have to credit Walt Disney and Dave McCoy with providing all the fun. As a boy who grew up in Southern California, we would visit Disneyland 3-4 times a year on birthdays and special occasions with my family.

As an adult, I began to make the pilgrimage to Mammoth Lakes to ski at the world-famous Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. I went skiing at Mammoth anywhere from only a few days a season to over 80 days a year recently.

I respect what Dave McCoy and Walt Disney were able to accomplish by following their passion, “Having fun!” The other day, I was watching a biography on Walt Disney, and it struck me how many similarities Walt Disney and Dave McCoy have.

Here Are the Similarities that Jumped Out at Me:

1) They both turned their passion into profits by building playgrounds for the masses.

2) Demand for what they offered grew quickly.

3) They’re respectable, God-fearing, family men backed by loving and supportive Wives.

4) They’re possibility thinkers who didn’t let other’s disparaging remarks discourage them from achieving their dreams. A saying I got from Dave McCoy when I was at his home recently was, “Impossible just means it takes a little longer.”

5) They both came from minimal educational and financial backgrounds.

6) They both had iconic logos – Dave had the Woolly Mammoth, and Walt had Mickey Mouse.

7) Both men were innovators who had to develop and implement new tools and machinery to make their dreams come true.

8) Both men highly inspired a work force with their vision. Humbly, Dave McCoy said to me recently, “Mammoth Mountain wasn’t built by me. It was built by others.” And I countered, “Yea, but you inspired them!”

9) Both men learned the most about where to make changes in their businesses by “listening” to their clients. Dave McCoy told me the reason he would stand next to the line usually at chair 1 where people were loading was because they would tell him what needed improvement. Walt Disney did essentially the same thing by having his office on Main St. just inside Disneyland so he could watch visitors behaviors and see what needed improvement. Implementing what their paying clients told them helped them refine their visitor’s experience to the highest levels.

10) Both men left enduring legacies of good, clean, family fun by bringing pleasure to millions of visitors.

Dave McCoy told me that he and Walt Disney met each other in the early 1950’s. Walt would bring his family to come skiing at Mammoth Mountain, and had a cabin near the Mammoth Mountain Inn. Walt also invited Dave and his family down to his studios in Burbank for a special visit.

Walt Disney and Dave McCoy will go down in history as being men who followed their passion to have fun, and built resorts that hundreds of thousands of visitors still enjoy daily. Unfortunately, Walt Disney left us too soon by contracting cancer from the cigarettes he began smoking in the military.

Dave McCoy is still going strong, and just celebrated his 96th birthday this last August. He is still very active in his projects. He spends time shooting beautiful photos of the Eastern Sierra that he has loved since he was a boy, and working on his solar/electric Rhino. My favorite photos I have bought from Dave McCoy Photo are:

1) Dave’s recent shot of a beautiful rainbow over Gull Lake with Carson Peak in the background.

2) The iconic shot of Dave McCoy skiing below Gravy Chute taken by Warren Miller that is on the wall at McCoy Station as you load the gondola.

If you love Mammoth Mountain and the Eastern Sierra, I’ll bet you will enjoy Dave McCoy’s photos as much as I do. Right now, Dave McCoy will even sign your photo for you, which makes it collectible as well as enjoyable art!