SHERMAN OAKS—The original map of Disneyland created by Walt Disney to attract investors was auctioned for $708,000 on Sunday, June 25, at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. More than 200 people were present for the auction of 1,000 Disney artifacts, with hundreds participating online.
The minimum bid for the 40-by-68.5-inch map was $500,000 and was predicted to reach about $750,000 to $1 million. An anonymous buyer placed the winning bet for the item. The price set a record for a Disney map, making it one of the most expensive Disney ephemera ever sold, according to Mike Van Eaton, co-owner of the galleries.
In 1953, Walt Disney commissioned illustrator Herb Ryman to draw the map to persuade investors to provide funding for the theme park. The map was the key piece Disney’s brother, Roy, needed to take to New York to present to television networks and banks. ABC gave Disney $5 million in return for one-third ownership of the park, which came into fruition in 1955.
Several years later, Disney gave the map to his assistant and friend Grenade Curran, who was present at the theme park’s opening. Curran kept the map for years, for history’s sake, before selling it more than 40 years ago to a Disney collector, Ron Clark.
The auction, which was devoted to the history of Disneyland, featured about 1,000 collectibles from 1953 to the present, according to reports. The hand-drawn map was considered the event’s showpiece. Other items included a Haunted Mansion sign, which was sold for $25,800, and a Tomb Sweet Tomb prop, which went for $26,550. An original bell from Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland, which was replaced with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, was auctioned for about $16,000. The items were mainly from private collections.
Disney was inspired to build a theme park after visiting Griffith Park in Los Angeles with his daughters. He envisioned a place where both children and their parents could have fun. In 1952, he obtained permission to build his theme park in Burbank, but the site was deemed too small for his visions. He later purchased a larger plot of land in Anaheim and used his own savings to carry out his plans. Construction began in 1954, and Disneyland opened in July 1955, with the opening ceremony broadcast on ABC.
Disneyland has attracted more than 650 million total visitors since its opening day and is considered one of the most visited theme parks in the world.