The Disney-fication of Orlando is so thorough that Walt’s second theme park is not just a point of regional pride but constitutes a good deal of Central Florida’s own identity. Landmark moments in Walt Disney World history essentially become noteworthy parts of Orlando’s city history, and Disney collectables become valuable artifacts of the region’s last 50 years.
As true Disney fans know, however, that magic originated from faraway California, at Disneyland in Anaheim. That’s where much of Orlando’s most beloved WDW memorabilia was designed for the first park. So it’s fitting that a massive auction of collectables, called “A History of Disneyland & Walt Disney World” take place just 50 miles away in Sherman Oaks.
That’s where Van Eaton Galleries is hosting an exhibition of the goods to be auctioned through early December. The catalog is split into the two parks, with the Disneyland auction on Dec. 7, and the Walt Disney World auction on Dec. 8.
The 1,500 item collection offers buyers the opportunity to spend ungodly sums of money on Disney history. Considering oneself a local collector ’round these parts is partly saying “I have a bunch of Disney stuff.”
Many of the items are fun time capsules, like promotional posters and visitor badges from the 1970s and 80s that would fit perfectly in an over-decorated family bar and grille (with an “e”) or your grandma’s saturated she-shed.
A chunk of the offerings are not just historical but insider stuff, from employee gear to company concept paintings and maps.
Take the bomb bomber jacket worn by employees of Disney Imagineering, the company’s research and development wing, that’s expected to bring in between $200 and $400. It was worn by a real employee, Candy, whose name is still stitched on the front of the women’s medium-sized jacket which also rocks a resplendently 80s technicolor Mickey Mouse logo on the back.
There’s a mid-90s era World of Disney construction hat ($100-$200), if you want to hit the site in retro amusement park chic, and a collection of security badges and patches ($300-$500) ranging from the 70s-90s.
The decades-spanning memorabilia also includes old-school designs for visitor merchandise. A 70s era off-white (used-to-be-white?) bucket/sun hat ($100-$200) is available and will likely be placed in a collector’s glass case, rather than be used to complete a teenage aesthete’s expensively eclectic wardrobe.
There’s also stuff from previous generations that simply wouldn’t fly today, like cartoonish art of vaguely indigenous people made by a white lady.
Mary Blair, the “Disney Legend,” as the auction brochure calls her, made the murals at the Contemporary Resort and, for $10,000-$20,000, you can have the 1971 template for the culturally nondescript, low-key-minstrel scene of happy brown people.
Sure, Disney World is a sentimental place for nearly everyone in the area, but it’s also just an outpost for the world’s rich kids on vacation, so there will be some cartoony artwork for kids who like cartoons. By contrast, the concept artwork on sale from the 80s-era France Pavilion is comprised of regal stained-glass-style paintings of France, including the city of Paris and an image commemorating the French annexation of Corse.
There’s no sign here of goofy, lazy French caricatures of couples in bonnets carrying satchels of baguettes. If you want the respectful French stuff, it’ll run ya upwards of $2,000.
Disney’s auction also offers a few functioning characters from its park over the years, sure to spark nostalgic wonder. The original, working, eight-foot pair of animatronic birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room is hard to beat, and could cost a cool $100,000. An air compressor is included to operate the show, says the catalog, for the collector who wishes to have an experience “as close to having the Enchanted Tiki Room in your own home as one could possibly have.”
Also in the $100,000 price range is an original stretching portrait from the Haunted Mansion from the 70s, of a woman sitting on the tombstone of her clearly murdered husband, with a look of sheer contentment upon her countenance. It’s wickedly macabre in a way that you can’t imagine a marketing firm today would dare to aspire.
For far less money ($15,000-$20,000), but far more legitimately horrifying, are the well-worn, hollowed-out Figment props of the bulgy-eyed dragon from Journey into Imagination.
And of course, there’s a million items with various likenesses of Micky, Daffy Duck and other Disney-family regulars like characters from Pirates of the Caribean and Country Bear Jamboree.
In 2018, a Disneyland auction netted over $8 million. As always, Disney is going to get their money. If you want to give them yours for stuff they made 40 years ago, the public exhibition is Nov. 12 through Dec. 6, except when the auction house is closed Nov. 28 and 29. Visit vegalleries.com for more information.
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