On Aug. 15 and 16, 2020, over 1,100 artifacts of Disney Parks history were sold at the “Disneyland: The First 65 Years” auction at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, Calif., including rare props, park-used signage and costumes, vintage souvenirs, attraction posters, and many other unique items.
Attractions Magazine was able to preview the Disneyland auction in July, and there were quite a few items that caught our eye. Some of those went for top dollar, but others sold for less than we expected, including a collection of 27 black and white photos of the Happiest Place on Earth under construction taken by Disney Legend Milt Albright, which sold for $850. We were also intrigued by Albright’s original 1955 cast member #10 ID badge, which sold for $8,500, and a rare artifact from Disneyland’s opening day—a gold VIP press ticket—that sold for $5,000.
Among the original attraction props we highlighted was a loading sign from the short-lived Rocket Rods attraction that sold for $14,000 and a 1967 shrunken “Atommobile” from Adventure Thru Inner Space in Tomorrowland that sold for $7,500. The Phineas Pock Haunted Mansion Tombstone—one of only six stones that stood at the back of the original mansion—sold for $17,500.00.
That price is particularly noteworthy because the tombstone had been used as someone’s front yard Halloween decoration for the last 50 years, so hundreds of trick-or-treaters have passed by this piece of Disneyland history without realizing its value.
We expected the one-of-a-kind pitch book for a proposed McDonald’s sponsorship for “Brer Rabbit’s Splash Mountain” to bring in the big bucks—and it did—with a winning bid of $3,250.00. We also predicted the “E-Ticket” item at the Disneyland auction would be an original opening-year (1977) ride vehicle from Space Mountain, which was expected to sell for $50,000 – $60,000, but surprisingly went for “only” $42,500.
“There were some real special pieces in this auction,” says auction manager Cory Brooks. “Like the Main Street Mailbox that started at $2,000 but sold for $25,000, or the Eyvind Earle original Sleeping Beauty Castle concept painting that started at $15,000 and went for $39,000.”
#5 – Disneyland Mickey-Ear Lamppost
An original 15-foot-tall lamppost that illuminated Disneyland Park from 2000-2010 sold for $38,000.
#4 – Eyvind Earle Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough Concept
This original concept artwork for the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough attraction was painted and signed by Disney legend Eyvind Earle and sold for $39,000.
Fun Fact: Walt asked the Imagineers to find a creative use for the empty space in the castle, so they came up with the idea for a walkthrough featuring dioramas that tell the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” which was still in production at the time.
#3 – Original Space Mountain Attraction Vehicle
At $42,500, this completely refurbished Disneyland ride vehicle sold for much lower than expected, making it quite a “bargain” for its new owner.
#2 – Don DeFore’s Silver Banjo Entrance Sign
From 1957 to 1962, Don DeFore’s Silver Banjo Barbecue was a popular restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland, mainly due to its host: famous film and television star Don DeFore. The banjo-shaped lighted sign that was displayed in DeFore’s home after the Silver Banjo closed, sold for $45,000.
#1 – Original Haunted Mansion Stretching Portrait
An original hand-painted canvas stretching portrait from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World took the auction’s top spot with a winning bid of $72,500.
Fun Fact: The stretching portraits were designed by Imagineer Marc Davis, who first introduced the idea with Walt Disney on the Disneyland television show over four years before the attraction opened at the park.
If you missed your chance to bid at the “Disneyland: The First 65 Years” auction, there’s no need to be grumpy. The “Pop-Culture & Disneyland Fall Auction” is coming to Van Eaton Galleries in November 2020 with rare original film posters from iconic films like “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Forbidden Planet,” and “The Blob,” as well as some of the earliest pieces of Disneyana including 1930s tin toys, early Mickey Mouse dolls, and several historically significant Walt Disney artifacts.
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