These Disneyland Collectibles Are Worth a Combined $3.2 Million
When Walt Disney opened his visionary Anaheim, California theme park in 1955, little did he know Disneyland would forever transform the amusement park business. And later foster a legion of fanatical memorabilia collectors who don't bat an eye at popping $240 for an empty box of Magic Kingdom popcorn. Or more than $30,000 for a Disneyland sign — we see you, John Stamos. Welcome to the wild, often insanely expensive Disneyana sub-genre of collecting Disneyland artifacts.
In this round-up of Disneyland goodies, we've chosen to focus solely on items related to Walt's original Magic Kingdom and ignore the Disneyland Resort's other theme park, Disney California Adventure. Though we have made one exception for the Disneyland Hotel.
The dominant player on today's Disneyland memorabilia scene is Sherman Oaks, California-based Van Eaton Galleries, which has held a dozen big-ticket Disneyland collectibles auctions since 2015. The gallery's highest-profile sale came in 2018 when uber-collector Richard Kraft unloaded his entire collection, including a number of original attraction vehicles and props. Browsing this list, you'll see these items noted as coming from the "2018 Kraft auction."
And now, with apologies to Uncle Walt, here's hoping this nostalgic trip will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
Disneyland Marquee Sign
While actress Lori Loughlin allegedly spends her "Full House" money on bribing the USC admissions department, Aunt Becky's former TV co-star and Disneyland superfan John Stamos blows his cash on Magic Kingdom memorabilia. And Stamos likes the big stuff.
In a 2000 eBay auction, he outbid Michael Jackson by paying $30,700 for the humongous Disneyland marquee that stood next to the park's Harbor Boulevard entrance from 1989 to '99. Today, the sign's 14-foot-tall letter "D" sits in the yard of Stamos' Beverly Hills home and is visible from Mulholland Drive.
A dark day in Disneyland history, November 9, 1994, marked the final voyage of the Skyway to Fantasyland/Tomorrowland. For more than 38 years, the aerial gondola ferried more than 150 million visitors across the park while earning a notorious rep as the go-to ride for teens and assorted rebels looking to smoke weed, sip smuggled booze and play kissy face. Apparently, our memories are as fond as those of the winning bidder who ponied up $621,000 for this Skyway bucket at the 2018 Kraft auction.
Disneyland Mickey Mouse Propeller Beanie
Anyone who pays more than half-a-million bucks for a Skyway bucket should be forced to wear this silly Mickey propeller beanie, every day for life. In decent shape, these 1960s-vintage caps sell on eBay and at auction houses for about $300.
Disneyland Popcorn Box
Proving vintage Disneyland devotees will buy anything, a 2019 auction saw this circa-1958 popcorn box fetch $240 — for a cardboard container that likely cost a dime, hot-buttered popcorn included! How much does Disneyland gouge for popcorn today? A regular bucket runs about $5, while a plastic souvenir "droid" bucket from the new "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" adds $15 to the tab. Such a deal!
'Pirates of the Caribbean' Attraction Prop
Enduring a hot-and-sweaty marathon day at Disneyland, who among us hasn't wanted to trade places with this sword-wielding, wine-guzzling skeleton in the cool confines of the "Pirates" ride? The skeletal marauder — original to the attraction's 1967 debut and still in working order — hauled in a $130,000 booty at auction in 2015.
'Tomorrowland' Conceptual Art
In 1954, flying by the seat of his pants, Walt Disney scrambled to entice viewers of his "Disneyland" TV show with images previewing the yet-to-be-built Magic Kingdom. Talking up Tomorrowland, Uncle Walt flashed this charcoal sketch by Imagineer Bruce Bucham. Looking more like something out of a 1930s' Flash Gordon serial than the finished theme park, this conceptual art piece spurred a Disney freak to fork over $55,500 at a 2015 auction.
Among the rarest of old-school Disneyland toys, this playset by Louis Marx and Company (aka Marx toys) was first sold by Sears stores for the 1961 Christmas season. Over-excited brats lucky enough to find it under the tree often ripped open the box (a sin among collectors) to discover 95 plastic playset pieces, including Main Street, U.S.A. buildings and "vacu-formed" mountains for Frontierland/Adventureland and the Matterhorn. Acquiring one of these beauties, complete in its undamaged box, will run ya' $1,000 and up.
'Autopia' Attraction Poster
For decades, wide-eyed patrons entering the park through the tunnels beneath the Disneyland Railroad saw big, colorful posters touting attractions ranging from the Matterhorn to Space Mountain. The striking graphics — often rendered by Disney Imagineers — recalled the romance of vintage travel advertising. Original posters dating to the 1950s and '60s routinely fetch a few thousand bucks at auction. But leaving them in the dust is this ultra-rare 1956 poster for Tomorrowland's Autopia — driven away for a high-octane $287,500 at the 2018 Kraft auction.
'Pirates of the Caribbean' Plastic Model Kits
"Yo ho, yo ho, a plastic pirate's life for me!" From the old TWA "Moonliner" rocket ship to The Haunted Mansion, plastic models of Disneyland attractions have been a hobby shop mainstay since the 1950s. In 1972, the MPC company released a series of seven, movable "zap-action" Pirates-themed models that rank among the most collectible. In their original box, the kits routinely snag between $200 and $500 at auction.
'Disneyland the Nickel Tour' Book
No Disneyland nerd's bookshelf is complete without this definitive history of the park, originally self-published in 1995 by authors and former Disney Imagineers Bruce Gordon and David Mumford.
A hefty tome, it traces the Magic Kingdom's history through all 1,514 souvenir postcards ever sold in the park (many originally costing 5 cents, hence the title) up to '95. Out of print since 2000, the book sells for between $300 and $1,000 on eBay, depending on the edition and condition. Lack that kind of scratch? Get your Disneyland nostalgia fix at the excellent Yesterland website; it's free and just a mouse click away.
'The ‘E’ Ticket' Fanzine, Complete Set
In 1986, Southern California brothers Leon and Jack Janzen launched this beloved fanzine with the goal of "Collecting theme park memories" via interviews with Imagineers and other Disney insiders. Cover stories focused on a specific park attraction or themed land — from the Monorail to Tom Sawyer Island — and were illustrated with historical photos and Disney conceptual art.
After 46 issues, in 2009 "The "E" Ticket" ride came to a halt, and its back stock was acquired by San Francisco's Walt Disney Family Museum, which sells select back issues and CD compilations in its gift shop and online. On eBay, original copies go for between $15 and $150 each, with the first three issues known to command as high as $800 per. Putting together a complete set would cost an estimated $4,500.
Disneyland Hotel Neon Letter ‘D’
Offered in the Kraft auction, this 16-foot-tall neon letter "D" blazed bright atop the Disneyland Hotel tower from 1963 to '99. Smashing a pre-auction valuation of $30,000, magician David Copperfield snapped up the restored, neon-functional "D" for $86,250. Copperfield says the "D" has great sentimental value because, as a kid, the Magic Kingdom and its hotel inspired him to become a magician. Unlike David, Disneyland has only served to make our money disappear.
Disneyland Opening Day Press Ticket
Tales of Disneyland's opening day fiasco on July 17, 1955, are the stuff of legend. Construction of the park was so rushed, some rides had yet to open and ladies' heels got stuck in still-sticky asphalt. Reporters eager to cover what was then-dubbed "Walt's folly" were comped this opening day ticket. In crisp condition, they've won up to $5,000 at auction.
Disneyland Ticket Booth
While opening day passes and vintage, unused Disneyland ticket books can command high dollar, they can't touch the $56,000 "E-Ticket" price paid at the 2018 Kraft auction for this Victorian-style ticket booth that stood outside the Disneyland gates in the 1980s and '90s. Ah, remember the days when you could get into the joint for less than $40 bucks? Today, adult general admission during the park's peak-visitation periods will strip you of $149. Bob Iger, have mercy!
1958 Disneyland Map
To this day, all who enter Walt's "happy place" receive a free guidemap/brochure of the Magic Kingdom. Decent eBay dollars lie in 1950s- and '60s-era brochures. But Disneyland cartography collectors (yes, there is such a dorky thing) know the full-size souvenir maps sold in the park from the late 1950s to 2008 are where the serious coin is at. Scarcest of the bunch are the first 1958 maps by Imagineer/artist Sam McKim. In cherry, rolled condition (rather than folded), they've sold at auction for up to $6,500.
'The Haunted Mansion' Stretch Portrait
"Is this haunted room actually stretching, or is it your imagination? Hmm?"
These chilling words spoken by the mansion's unseen "Ghost Host" (the rich voice of the legendary Paul Frees) echo in the octagonal "stretching room" as painted portraits on four of its walls begin to "stretch" vertically (actually, a slowly descending elevator). On this particular 10-foot-tall canvas — brushed by animator/Imagineer Marc Davis — the portrait of a gent in a bowler hat is ultimately revealed as a trio of panicked men sitting on each other's shoulders, sinking in quicksand. At the 2018 Kraft auction, a collector sunk $402,500 into this piece that hung in the attraction from 1969 to '72.
'Dumbo the Flying Elephant' Attraction Vehicle
The 2018 Kraft auction saw a handful of Fantasyland attraction vehicles change hands for pie-in-the-sky prices. A Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car raked in $161,000, while an original 1955 Peter Pan pirate ship was procured for $253,000. Topping them both was this 1960s' Dumbo vehicle that soared to a gavel price of $483,000.
Disneyland TV Tray
In the '50s, network TV shows like "Disneyland" and "Walt Disney Presents" played a vital role in early promotion of the park. And what better way to feast on a frozen Salisbury steak and watch Uncle Walt on the tube than with your own Disneyland TV tray? This circa-1955 tin-litho tray features a map of the park and nets between $250 and $500 on eBay.
Disneyland 'Main Street, U.S.A.' Miniature Models
Rarely do products designed and marketed as "limited-edition collector's items" wind up being especially valuable. But artist Robert Olszewski's incredibly detailed miniatures depicting Disneyland attractions are an exception. Since 2002, Olszewski's replicas of icons like the Mad Tea Party and Mark Twain Riverboat have retailed for a few hundred dollars, then later sold for hundreds more on eBay. Most coveted is a complete assemblage of the miniatures comprising Main Street, U.S.A. At the 2018 Kraft auction, a set sold for $29,500. Currently, an eBay seller is offering another for $35,000.
Rand McNally Globe Game: 'Disneyland: A World In Itself'
The rarest and most unique of vintage Disneyland board games, this 1955 Rand McNally tin-litho globe features early renderings of park attractions and is played with magnetic game pieces depicting Disney characters (Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto).
Featured in a 2014 episode of the TV show "Pawn Stars," the globes typically sell at auction for $300 to $600, but usually lack one or more of the game pieces and/or playing cards. A complete specimen sold at the 2018 Kraft auction for $3,200.
'The Haunted Mansion' SHAG Mouse Ears
Quintessential souvenir headgear, your general-issue mouse ears have been selling like hotcakes since the 1950s' Mouseketeer days. In recent decades, Disneyland capitalizes on superfan fervor with designer, limited-edition ears commemorating special events and attraction anniversaries. Celebrating The Haunted Mansion's 40th birthday in 2009, this groovy pair by Southern California artist Josh Agle (aka SHAG) sells in the $300 to $400 range on eBay.
'PeopleMover' Attraction Vehicle
For nearly thirty years (1967-1995), the slow-moving, futuristic PeopleMover ferried riders on a grand tour of Tomorrowland — including the ride's very own "Superspeed Tunnel" (replaced in the '80s by "The World of TRON"). The best part? Unlike other Tomorrowland attractions with their torturous queues (looking at you, Space Mountain), you never waited more than a few minutes to hop aboard a PeopleMover vehicle — a pair of which sold at a 2015 auction for $471,500.
'Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge' Opening Day Merch
Only time will tell if the memorabilia Force grows strong with the limited-edition t-shirts, baseball caps, pins and other swag commemorating the May 31, 2019 opening of the Magic Kingdom's newest land, Galaxy's Edge. So far, t-shirts that retailed for $35 and sold out at light speed are appearing on eBay for asking prices that double their original cost.
'It's a Small World' Audio-Animatronic Doll
For some, Disneyland's creepiest ride is not The Haunted Mansion, but rather this 1966 Fantasyland classic brimming with an international cast of singing, dancing animatronic children representing the countries of the world. This pint-sized Scandinavian dancer, once featured in the ride's grand finale, kicked up $80,500 at auction in 2016.
'Enchanted Tiki Room' Audio-Animatronic Parrot José
Giving "It's a Small World" a run for its most-annoying-Disneyland-song money is the Enchanted Tiki Room's "Tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room" ditty, sung by the attraction's cast of audio-animatronic tropical birds (for the love of Uncle Walt's frozen head, make it stop!).
At the 2018 Kraft auction, a fully-functional animatronic prop of the Tiki Room's feathered-host José flew away for $425,500.
Disneyland Rocket Ship Control Board
Get your Atomic Age kicks with this 1957 Tomorrowland-inspired toy that requires a healthy imagination as the molded-plastic "control board" springs to life with lights and buzzers, yet doesn't come with flying rocket ships of any kind. Still, it's a neat, nostalgic piece that, in tip-top working condition, has sold at auction for as high as $2,650. Occasionally, lesser examples turn up on eBay with asking prices in the $500 ballpark.
'Rivers of America' Mike Fink Keel Boat
On the "Rivers of America" encircling Tom Sawyer Island, playing third banana to the Mark Twain Riverboat and Sailing Ship Columbia were the Mike Fink Keel Boats. Though the boats (the "Gullywhumper" and "Bertha Mae") had sentimental appeal to graying fans of Disney's 1950s' "Davy Crockett" TV series, later generations of park-goers never gave them the love they deserved.
Sealing their ultimate doom was a 1997 accident that saw the "Gullywhumper" capsize and dump a boat-load of visitors into the drink. The "Bertha Mae" was decommission and later acquired by rabid collector Robert Kraft, who unmoored it at auction in 2018 for $27,000 — motor not included.
'Matterhorn Bobsleds' Tin-Litho Bank
Disney has never been shy about stuffing its coffers, evidenced by the original backing card for this Matterhorn piggy bank that encourages youngsters to "Save Your Pennies For Disneyland." A nifty souvenir cherished by collectors, the tin-and-plastic bank was released in 1959 to promote the then-new Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage attractions. At auction, they've gaveled for between $1,000 and $2,400.
'Adventure Thru Inner Space' Attraction Prop
Any kid who visited Disneyland from the late '60s through mid-'80s recalls having their young mind blown by Tomorrowland's long-gone "Adventure Thru Inner Space" attraction — a dark ride in which you entered the "Monsanto Mighty Microscope" and were supposedly shrunk down for a journey into an atom.
Waiting in line to board an "Atommobile" (a favorite of teenage make-out artists) you saw other miniaturized riders passing through the microscope's glass tube. The cheesy-yet-awesome effect was achieved with scale Atommobile models that've sold at auction for as much as $41,300.
With the 2019 opening of "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge," Disneyland entirely banned smoking (including vapes) from a park that Walt Disney himself often strolled with a cigarette in hand. In fact, back in the day, the Main Street Tobacco Shop sold cigarettes, cigars and Disneyland-branded smoking accessories until it shuttered in 1990.
A favorite among collectors craving a bit of nicotine-stained nostalgia on the cheap, retro-cool Disneyland matchbooks usually sell for about $8 to $10 each on eBay.
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