Ever wanted to see some of the ride vehicles from the Disneyland attractions up close and personal? Does a original Press Pass from Disneyland’s Opening Day peak your interest? Richard Kraft shares his personal collection of Disney items in a pop-up exhibit followed by an auction in Sherman Oaks, which I had to check out.
On a hot and humid day in California, we ventured out to see what treasures we would be able to catch a glimpse of before they were auctioned off to the highest bidder. After about an hour and a half wait in line, the sliding doors of a previous big box store opened and the cranked air conditioning greeted us with much desired cold air. The That’s From Disneyland Exhibit floor was divided into lands and each contained items ranging from vehicles to models to posters and everything in between.
Main Street USA featured a wall of the history of the Disneyland Maps. Watching the park grow and expand map after map was exciting! In contrast, Disney now must close or remodel existing lands in order to create new ones. Several of the maps contained future planned areas. The names were typed in a basic font to show the locations inside shaded grey areas. Some of them never came to life and others we enjoy today. Pretty neat! Adorning the walls were various things that once hung somewhere on Main Street: the mailbox where guests would mail letters from Disneyland, a sign with the hours of operation and my favorite sign (which I secretly should bid on from the auction), admission prices including the Annual Pass prices. It is still hard for me to swallow the fact that just back in the year 2000, Annual Passes were limited to 2 choices and 2 prices. Boy does that just make me a little nauseous. For real!
Main Street USA had a lot of sketches and props in addition to the map wall. One item that I had no clue existed was a moving van sponsored by Global Van Lines. This van was designed by Imagineer Bob Gurr in the 1960’s. The van was discontinued at the park in 1979 and sold. With the help of Bob Gurr, the van was restored and is currently up for auction. The Disneyland Hotel was also represented in a big way by showcasing the huge neon “D” that once hung at the hotel for all to see. This was a very popular photo-op for the guests, but we were warned not to touch the Big D, for the neon was very hot!
Frontierland showcased a long row of posters from the various attractions, consisting of some current and others which are now retired from the park . Covering the stretch of the floor was one of the canoes from the Indian War Canoe Ride. You could smell the duck water and see all of the people not paddling while on the ride. Do you remember the animatronic dog from the Indian Settlement on the banks of the Rivers of America? He too was there wagging his tail hoping someone would adopt him.
Adventureland was filled with various wonders from many attractions. Jose the Parrot from the Enchanted Tiki Room serenaded the guests and there was a Tiki drummer looking for a new band because he lost his gig at the Park. If you zigged when you should have zagged, you would have missed the organ from the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Sadly, it wasn’t playing a little ditty from back in the day to really take us back.
New Orleans Square was probably the hottest land visited. We stopped to sit on the R.N. Kraft created tombstone in front of the 4 lithographs from the Haunted Mansion’s elevator and snapped a memory. This photo-op was the most popular within the exhibit. The land would not have been complete without a Doom Buggy, which was surrounded by a breathing door and a mirror from the ride as well. A glass cabinet held a variety of other items from Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. I especially liked the clay created maquettes of the table where the all the ghosts sit and celebrate a birthday in the Ball Room scene.
Fantasyland hosted a variety of showpieces. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride had a car that was off track and a huge mural behind it of a scary devil who looked like he was going to posses us all. Not only were there kids enjoying the exhibit, but there were children from It’s A Small World as well. As a kid I liked that ride and enjoyed seeing all the different countries, but now as an adult those children are pretty creepy. After seeing a few of them super close up- they are even creepier. I may never look at that ride the same again. Dumbo also flew in for us to see up close and personal as well as one of the original cars from the Matterhorn Bobsleds. I am not a fan of the Matterhorn’s new seating configuration and it seems to limit the riders to those who have shorter legs. The original, “sit according to height”, is no longer the insurable way to ride this ride. It is still a pretty bumpy ride no matter how you sit or are strapped in. I am just saying. This land also included several sketches and various pieces from rides and restaurants. The strangest was a doll sized Snow White who was a part of a window dressing in the 1970’s, but it looked like her faced had melted. Right next to her was the Evil Queen disguised as the Old Hag with the poison apple. Guess Snow White was not going to be eating any apples in that state.
Tomorrowland was fanned out in the middle of the exhibit floor. There were cars from the People Mover (a ride I miss terribly) and the Rocket Rods, which replaced the People Mover in 1998. A little trivia, the Rocket Rods ride only existed for 2 years since it was plagued with technical difficulties from the beginning and never recovered. This land also had a wall of attraction posters. Only one of the attractions are still in operation today… Autopia has survived. You were able to climb aboard one of the Skyway buckets that once traveled from edge of Tomorrowland (by Tomorrowland’s train station), through the Matterhorn, over Fantasyland and into the station just above the Casey Jones Train. Heights are not my thing, but those Skyway buckets were sure a great way to travel from one side of the park to another. Of course sitting in the bucket was a must do photo-op.
Back before Nemo was swimming in the lagoon just below the Monorail, this attraction was the home of a sea monster and mermaids and was called the Submarine Voyage. The very l-o-n-g sea monster and his mermaid friend were displayed for all to enjoy and capture photos and all without getting wet! From the top of his head to the tip of his tail- he was over 7 feet tall and 40 feet long. Watching everyone move around and settle in to get the perfect shot of this now land locked beast was entertaining. Capturing a photo of the mermaid in her glory was much easier but also a very popular place to be.
An exhibit would not be complete without a gift shop! T-shirts and posters were for sale along with miscellaneous collectables. Of course a Auction Guide was also available which included all of the items exhibited with Lot details and starting bids.
I could write paragraph upon paragraph of everything that was there to see and photograph, but that would be totally excessive. Included here are lots of pictures for you to browse through and see so much more than I shared. The best part of this exhibit was to look at the items and flashback to a time when I was there and remember the awesome memories that Disneyland has brought me.
In conjunction with the Van Eaton Gallery, these items will be auctioned off to the highest bidders and become a part of new collectors assortments. I am sure we will be seeing new photos and Instagram postings of who won these bids. I guess I should start following John Stamos and quick!
Has Disneyland changed? Absolutely! Is it all for the better? Not all of it, in my opinion. Walt however did say, “Disneyland will never be completed”. And he was so right.
Renee lives in a small suburb of Los Angeles with her husband. Each day she crosses the border into Orange County to go to her desk at a large HR outsourcing company. If you catch her in an elevator, she will usually check out your shoes and wonder where you got them. Renee enjoys most things Halloween, taking photos everywhere she goes, bouncing around theme parks and listening to her rock music at very high decibels. FOLLOW @rcsbelle on Twitter FOLLOW her blog: https://rcsbelle.wordpress.com