Disneyland’s Online Auction For Vintage Items From The Park Includes Some Iconic Favorites
What would you do if I told you that tons of vintage items from Disneyland are going up for auction soon? If you’re anything like me, you'd go, “Gee, I wonder what the actual lots will be?”, wander over to the auction’s catalog, and immediately clap your hand to your mouth in disbelief over the kinds of things that are soon going to be available for public purchase. You would also immediately start making plans to visit the That’s From Disneyland! exhibit that’s currently on display in Sherman Oaks, Calif.; you can see every single one of the items that will be up for auction there right now — and the best part is, admission is free. So, even if you don’t have many thousands of dollars on hand to buy yourself a ride vehicle from Snow White’s Scary Adventures that dates back to the 1980s, at least you can see it up and close and personal before someone else snaps it up.
That’s From Disneyland! is the work of Richard Kraft, an agent who specializes in composers and music supervisors — including many who have worked on the scores for iconic Disney films. (Alan Menken and Danny Elfman are both clients, so, uh… he’s kind of big deal, is what I’m saying.) According to Yahoo! Entertainment, Kraft has been collecting Disney memorabilia for around 25 years; it would not be inaccurate to describe his collection as a treasure trove of all things Disney. From signs once used in the park to actual ride vehicles and from concept art to vintage souvenirs, Kraft’s Disneyana covers the Anaheim, Calif. park’s entire history, dating all the way back to its opening in 1955.
Kraft told Yahoo! Entertainment that Disney was one of the ways he connected with his brother, David; after David passed away from Crohn’s disease, he began bringing Disney home as a way to cope. Now, though, he’s opted to shrink down his collection; his priorities have shifted, he said—priorities which include a 4-year-old daughter with special needs. “Part of the proceeds of the auction of all this [is] going to go for organizations that benefit kids like her,” he said. However, he also noted that he didn’t just want to up and sell everything to private collectors immediately; as he put it, “It was really important to share it with people.”
Hence, That’s From Disneyland!. Collaborating with Van Eaton Galleries, Kraft turned a 40,000 square foot former Sports Authority store into a pop-up museum featuring all of his Disneyland collectibles. Laid out according to the locations they once occupied in the actual park, That’s From Disneyland! invites guests young and old to celebrate not just Disneyland itself, but the memories it has helped them make over the years as well.
The exhibit began Aug. 1 and runs through Aug. 24 — and after that, all of the items on display will go up for auction on Aug. 25 and 26. You can view all the lots online, although be warned; there are a lot of them. In fact, they total nearly 800… but to save you the time, I went through all of them to find the coolest ones.
These are the fruits of my labor.
The first day’s lots are primarily signs, maps, concept art, manuals, and souvenirs — the items tend to be physically smaller and perhaps slightly less showy (although to be clear, every single thing in this auction is incredibly cool). The second day, however, is where most of the bigger items can be found — props from rides, entire ride vehicles, animatronics, things like that. You can check out all of the Aug. 25 lots here, and the Aug. 26 lots here; in the meantime, though, here are 12 of the most spectacular items about to hit the auction block:
1. Neon “D” From The Disneyland Hotel
Minimum bid: $20,000.
The Disneyland Hotel opened in 1956, about a year after the park itself did. The Tower Building, which is now known as the Sierra tower, was built about six years later; then, a year after that — in 1963 — a set of gigantic, neon letters spelling out “Disneyland Hotel” were added to the top. This D was one of those letters.
2. Grandfather Clock Prop From Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Minimum bid: $1,500.
I was devastated when Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was cleared out of Disney World in 1998 to make way for the Winnie the Pooh ride, but at least the original version still exists at Disneyland. The ride, which is based on Disney’s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, opened the same day Disneyland itself did in 1955; it underwent a pretty major overhaul in 1983, but it’s still one of the weirder dark rides in the park, and I love it. This grandfather clock appeared in Toad Hall during the ride’s 1970s era.
There’s also an actual ride vehicle up for auction, too, by the way; designed to resemble a vintage car, it’s a two-seater from the ‘80s that was removed when the decision was made to put in ride vehicles that could accommodate four people instead.
3. Peter Pan’s Flight Original Attraction Vehicle
Minimum bid: $70,000
HOLY COW, YOU GUYS, IT’S A PIRATE SHIP. What’s more, it’s one of the original pirate ships used when the ride first opened in 1955. Somewhat astonishingly, the original vehicles were used into the 2000s; they even made it through a major 1983 refurbishment. According to the auction listing, these ships are incredibly rare; this one apparently “represents one of the only pirate ships we have ever seen offered for public sale.” No wonder it’s expected to go for a minimum of $70,000.
4. “Skyway Closed Due To Wind” Sign
Minimum bid: $1,000.
I don’t know why I find this sign so funny, but I think it would be a hilarious piece of décor to display prominently in your home. The Skyway opened at Disneyland in 1956, shuttling visitors on a scenic aerial path between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. When the Matterhorn began construction in the late 1950s, it was designed such that the Skyway gondolas could pass directly through it. The ride closed in 1994 for budgeting reasons (not because of accidents that occurred on it; it was just old and getting costly to repair and maintain).
For safety reasons, the ride couldn’t operate when there were heavy winds. During the 1980s and ‘90s, this sign was hung outside one of the two Skyway stations to inform visitors when the ride was closed. But hey, if the sign isn’t cool enough for you, you could always buy one of the gondolas dating back to the ‘60s instead.
5. Jose Animatronic From The Enchanted Tiki Room
Minimum bid: $50,000.
Originally opened in 1963, the Enchanted Tiki Room was the first show starring Audio-Animatronics the world had ever seen. At the time, it was a 17-minute musical review with four macaws acting as the MCs: Jose, Michael, Pierre, and Fritz. This Jose is actually the very first Jose, which is impressive enough on its own — but even more impressive is the fact that he’s been restored and actually works. According to the listing, the robot bird, who sits on a custom-built perch measuring about six feet in height, “now moves and speaks his original audio from the attraction.” Wowzers.
6. Space Mountain Attraction Vehicle
Minimum bid: $12,000.
Interestingly, Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain actually predates Disneyland Park’s — the Florida version opened in 1975, with the California version following in 1977. This rocket ship-shaped ride vehicle shot visitors into “outer space” when the ride first opened at Disneyland. Oh, and fun fact: The side panels glow in the dark.
7. Frontierland Trash Can
Minimum bid: $400.
One of the weird details that I kind of love about all of the Disney parks is that the trash cans are usually designed to fit in with whatever the theme of the area in which they’re placed happens to be. This one was used in Frontierland in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so, uh, if you’ve ever wished your home trash can was a conversation piece… it doesn’t get much better than this.
8. Dumbo The Flying Elephant Attraction Vehicle
Minimum bid: $100,000.
The current Dumbo ride at Disneyland is actually an entirely different ride than the one that opened about a month after the park’s grand opening in 1955; originally built for Disneyland Paris, it holds 16 elephants which carry guests through the air as if they were riding the flying pachyderm. The original version of the ride had only 10 elephants — and this was one of them. Or at least, it was one of the replacement vehicles that went in during the ‘60s; the very first versions of the vehicles were intended to have mobile ears, but the mechanism never worked quite right, so starting in the ‘60s, the ride vehicles were redesigned with stationary ears. Even so, this elephant is a remarkable piece of park history.
9. Pirates Of The Caribbean Entryway Sign
Minimum bid: $4,000.
Although Pirates of the Caribbean — which, you probably already know, was originally planned to be a walk-through attraction, rather than a boat ride — opened at Disneyland in 1967, this sign isn’t that old; it dates back to the ride’s 1990s era. I still think it’s pretty cool, though.
10. Animatronic Sea Serpent From The Submarine Voyage Ride
Minimum bid: $15,000.
The Submarine Voyage, which originally set sail in 1959, no longer exists in its original form; it was closed in 1998 and lay dormant for nearly a decade. After Finding Nemo became a major hit for Disney, though, the ride was resurrected, with the Finding Nemo: Submarine Voyage opening in 2007.
The biggest moment from the original version of the ride, however, was undoubtedly the encounter with a gigantic sea serpent at the very end — this sea serpent, in fact. The image seen here is just its head, but the auction lot actually includes all five pieces of the serpent; also, like Jose, it actually works. According to the listing, the serpent originally operated via pneumatic tubing, but has been revamp so that it runs on electricity; by using a control switch, you can swing its head from left to right and make it rotate its eyes.
Also, it’s 48 feet long and six feet tall, so if you put in a bid on it… make sure you’ve got space to store it first.
11. Tom Sawyer Island Wooden Map Sign
Minimum bid: $2,000.
Tom Sawyer Island underwent a pretty major refurbishment in 2007 to incorporate elements of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but in its original form, which opened in 1956, it paid homage to Mark Twain’s classic novel and characters. At its heart, it was really just a playground — but it was a really cool playground, full of caves and tunnels and bridges made of barrels to keep energetic kids (and, if I’m being perfectly honest, adults) occupied.
This map, which was posted on a wooden sign on the island, was used during the attractions early days; we know this because it lists Huck’s Tree House as the highest point in Disneyland. That was only true until 1959, at which point the Matterhorn knocked it from its perch.
12. Stretching Portraits From The Haunted Mansion
Minimum bid: $40,000.
I saved the best for last, of course.
These are the original stretching portraits used in the iconic opening chamber of the Haunted Mansion — the room that appears to grow as visitors stand seemingly “trapped” inside, but which actually functions as an elevator to take guests down to the ride’s loading dock — when it first opened at Disneyland in 1969.
They are by far my favorite things in the auction — yes, among all 800 items.
The one seen here is my favorite, but all four of the portraits are up for sale; what makes them really remarkable is the fact that they’re actually hand-painted. (The portraits undergo a significant amount of wear and tear just in their daily use, so in 1972, Disney switched over to printed images, rather than hand-painted ones, according to the auction listings; they were easier to replace.)
You can see all of these items — and many, many more — on display at the That’s From Disneyland! exhibit in Sherman Oaks between now and Aug. 26; it’s free to visit, which makes the whole thing extra awesome. The auction itself is set to occur on Aug. 25 and 26. Head here for information on how to bid.