Public Flocking To See Disney Parks Memorabilia Collection In Burbank Before Auction

The Fantasyland display includes such items as this Dumbo the Flying Elephant vehicle. (© Photo by Ross A Benson)

A free exhibition featuring 1,500 Disney Parks collectibles is available for viewing at the Burbank Town Center and will soon be auctioned off.

“The Joel Magee Disneyland Collection” is “the largest privately owned collection of Disney Parks memorabilia in the world,” per Van Eaton Galleries, the auction house presenting the exhibition. 

Items in the collection include personal desk stationary signed by Walt Disney, the original doors from Disneyland City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A., vehicles from rides like The Haunted Mansion, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures, as well as a variety of vintage Disney parks artwork, toys, costumes, hats, maps and more. Van Eaton Galleries also notes that the showcase contains “the single largest collection of Disneyland Attraction Posters, including some that are the only examples known to exist.”

The impressive trove is only a portion of Magee’s vast collection. He owns a total of 6,000 Disneyland, and Disney World objects that have been gathered from a variety of sources over the past 30 years. 

Mike Van Eaton, the owner of Van Eaton Galleries, selected the top 1,500 pieces. These were then transported to Southern California from Florida, where Magee resides. The tokens that are up for grabs represent the totality of Disney Parks history, as they originate anywhere from 1953 to today. 

Over the course of two weeks, Van Eaton made alterations to the 30,000-square-foot location that previously housed Bed Bath & Beyond and arranged the display in a way that tells “​​the story of Disneyland,” he says. Upon entering, guests are met with the first map of Disneyland made by Walt Disney and a variety of past maps of the park. Next, they can view Main Street memorabilia such as the Global Van Lines moving truck from the 1960s. 

“Walt used to drive it up and down Main Street before the park opened,” says Van Eaton.

The showing continues with keepsakes from Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Walt Disney World. Since June 28, it has been on display for the public. Thus far, a total of 40,000 people have walked through the facility and observed the captivating collection while taking photos and videos along the way. 

Other standout relics are three birds from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in Florida that had been previously thrown away by Disney employees. Magee restored the birds and built a new display for them. Now, while being powered by an air compressor and pistons, the birds together perform the cheery “Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room” song.

A few of the exhibition’s big ticket items are the Disney parks attraction vehicles, as well as an original poster for Disneyland’s now-defunct Casa de Fritos restaurant, which is the site where Doritos chips originated. It has since evolved into another dining spot, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. 

The suggested prices for the pieces range from $50 to $200,000. Starting on July 17, which is Disneyland’s 68th birthday, through July 19, Van Eaton will sell them with an in-person, online, phone, and absentee bidding auction for those who have registered.

Entertainment industry professionals have also taken an interest in Magee and Van Eaton’s partnership, as a crew has been filming the process of preparing the collection for an upcoming docuseries. The series has been bought by Warner Bros. and is projected to be released in early 2024, Van Eaton says.

Magee, who has been dubbed “The Toy Scout” due to his history of collecting retro toys, described the sentimental feelings that have emerged while sorting through his Disney parks mementos. 

“Putting together this collection and seeing it through with Van Eaton Galleries has been very nostalgic for me,” Magee said in a statement. “I’ve spent decades gathering these items, and I have to say, it has gotten a bit emotional for me and seeing it all come to life while bringing back so many memories as to where I found an item, the story behind it, and how excited I was to add it to my collection.”

The collector concluded by stating that he was ready to pass along his Disney Park valuables to new owners before going on to praise Van Eaton’s work.

“Now it’s time for someone else to enjoy them,” Magee said. “Mike and [his wife] Janeen Van Eaton have done an extraordinary job with the exhibition and getting it ready for auction. It has been a great experience.”

While discussing this project, Van Eaton took a moment to recognize the amiable nature of dedicated Disney enthusiasts who have been patiently waiting in an outdoor line each day prior to seeing the exhibit.

“I love the energy. The fans — look, they’re sitting in that hot sun, and they’re happy to do it,” Van Eaton said. “They’re just happy to do it, and that’s amazing. They come in with a smile; they leave with a smile. They’re staying here a few hours. I think it’s fantastic.”

He added, “They’re good people. Disneyland fans, and Disney fans, in general, have a great attitude. You can see there are no troublemakers here. This is just people having fun.”

“The Joel Magee Disneyland Collection” is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until July 16. Its contents will be auctioned off from July 17 to July 19.

The exhibition’s address is:

201 E Magnolia Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91502

Guests may enter from outside the mall by the West Garage.

Here is the auction schedule:

July 17: begins at 5 p.m. Pacific Time

July 18: begins at 11 a.m. Pacific Time

July 19: begins at 11 a.m. Pacific Time

Learn more about the collection here.

    Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center