Get a Glimpse of Walt Disney Productions in the Mid-1960’s With this 1965 Annual Report – Part Three
With Disney Parks around the world closed for the foreseeable future, WDWNT is dipping into our archives of vintage materials for a look back into Disney history! It’s time for the third and final part of our look at Walt Disney Productions’ 1965 Annual Report with a glimpse into the company’s plans for 1967 and beyond, including Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland, The Jungle Book, and the abandoned Mineral King resort!
Note: This article miniseries will detail the report page by page, but WIGS Members will have access to download a full-resolution PDF of the entire thing. Head on over to Patreon.com/wdwnt to join WIGS, the WDWNT Inner Globe Society, for as little as $2 a month and unlock access to great content like this, and much more!
“Judging by the sequences that have been completed, The Jungle Book will be one of the funniest full length cartoons ever made. Walt is giving the Kipling classic the Disney twist as the try their darndest to get the man cub, Mowgli, out of the jungle. Thirteen rollicking tunes, plus the voices of Phil Harris, Louis Prima, Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway and Frank Fontaine, add to the fun in this hilarious cartoon feature.”
And take a look at that concept art!
Disney Parks fans can take a look at the future tomorrow of yesterday, with the Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland for 1967, with new attractions like the PeopleMover and the Carousel of Progress. And see if this ride description sounds familiar:
“In New Tomorrowland, a towering structure will serve as spaceport and theme center. Inside, guests will board four-passenger ‘rocket ships’ to experience the sensation of racing through distant space. Spiraling upwards as high as an 18-story building, the ‘Tomorrowland Mountain’ will be the highest point in the Magic Kingdom, a magnet visible for miles.”
Though it would be a decade after the 1967 refurbishment, that sure sounds like an early concept for Space Mountain!
Space Mountain first opened in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in January 1975, while it would launch in Disneyland in May 1977.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an annual report without some mention of financials. Parks fans may be interested to know that Walt Disney Productions spent $4 million (valued at over $33 million in today’s money) to acquire WED Productions and $5 million to acquire land for Walt Disney World (or over $41 million today).
Overall, the company’s gross revenues in 1965 were $109,947,068. That’s worth nearly $903 million in 2020!
For lovers of unbuilt Disney projects, there’s a two page spread all about Mineral King, a planned ski resort in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. In 1965, the United States Forest Service accepted Disney’s bid to develop a resort for the area. The resort would have multiple hotels and restaurants, a village with an ice-skating rink and conference center, and fourteen ski lifts.
Despite the Forest Service’s endorsement, preservationists criticized using the land for commercial development, claiming a resort would destroy the natural area. Ultimately, it was enough to convince Congress to add the Mineral King area to Sequoia National Park in 1978, ensuring its preservation.
The report’s summary focuses on Walt Disney’s lasting power as a name in family entertainment, and his role as the Grand Marshall of the 1966 Tournament of Roses Parade. Little did anyone know that 1966 would be a watershed year for the company with the passing of Walt Disney on December 15th of that year.
And as the report went to press, they inserted a page with the latest updates, including holiday attendance at Disneyland, Mary Poppins‘ theatrical runs in Australia and Japan, and That Darn Cat‘s premiere in New York.
And as the back cover reminds you to “look to the name Walt Disney for the finest in family entertainment,” our report on this annual report comes to a close.
Be sure to read parts one and two of this look at Walt Disney Productions in 1965! What was your favorite part? Did you like the looks ahead to Disneyland’s future additions, or the early glimpse of what would become Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!