What do Dave McCoy, who built Mammoth Mountain, and Walt Disney have in common?

When I think about who has provided me with the best man-made playgrounds in my life, I have to admit that Walt Disney and Dave McCoy provided me with all the fun. When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, we visited Disneyland 3-4 times a year on birthdays and special occasions with my family.

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

I respect what Dave McCoy and Walt Disney were able to achieve by following their passion, “have fun!” The other day, I was looking at a biography about Walt Disney and I was amazed at how many similarities Walt Disney and Dave McCoy have.

Here are the similarities that caught my eye:

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

2) The demand for what they offered grew rapidly.

3) They are respectable, God-fearing family men, backed by loving and understanding wives.

4) They are possibility thinkers who did not let the derogatory comments of others discourage them from achieving their dreams. A saying I got from Dave McCoy when I was at his house recently was, “Impossible just means it takes a little longer.”

5) 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 greatly inspired a workforce with their vision. Humbly, Dave McCoy recently told me, “Mammoth Mountain wasn’t built by me. It was built by others.” And I replied, “Yes, but you inspired them!”

9) Both men learned more about where to make changes in their businesses by “listening” to their customers. Dave McCoy told me that the reason he was standing next to the row usually in chair 1 where people were loading was because they were telling him what he needed to improve. Walt Disney did essentially the same thing by having its office on Main St. just inside Disneyland so that it could observe visitor behavior and see what needed improvement. Implementing what their customers told them helped them refine their visitor experience to the highest levels.

10) Both men left a lasting legacy of good, clean family fun by bringing pleasure to millions of visitors.

Dave McCoy told me that he and Walt Disney put on each other in the early 1950s. Walt brought his family skiing at Mammoth Mountain and had a cabin near the Mammoth Mountain Inn. Walt also invited Dave and his family to his Burbank studios for a special visit.

Walt Disney and Dave McCoy will go down in history as men who followed their passion for fun and built resorts that hundreds of thousands of visitors still enjoy on a daily basis. Unfortunately, Walt Disney left us too early by contracting cancer from the cigarettes he started smoking in the military.

Dave McCoy is still going strong and just celebrated his 96th birthday last August. He is still very active in his projects. He spends time taking beautiful photos of the Eastern Sierra that he has loved since he was a child and working on his solar / electric Rhino. My favorite photos I have purchased 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 under the Gravy Chute taken by Warren Miller who is on the wall of McCoy station while loading the gondola.

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

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