On Saturday, March 25 a lucky bidder rode off into the sunset with a one-of-a-kind original stagecoach offered by Heritage
during its two-day Disney Theme Parks auction. The Art of Disneyland: From Stagecoaches to Monorails
and More! spanned the Parks' fascinating evolution and brought in $1.8 million, with 100% of lots sold and some significant results for rarities from Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Stores and more.
This Heritage Disney event, the first of 2023, follows last year's record-breaking $2.2 million Art of Disneyland auction, and it just happened to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company and the 50th anniversary celebration for Walt Disney World.
"This event showcased every aspect of the Parks," says Jim Lentz, Heritage's Director of Animation Art. "More than 850 lots spread over two full days offered collectors precious slices of Main Street, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and more."
The most unusual lot yielded the top result at $84,000; it reached back into Disney Parks history with something that kicked off Disneyland itself: the original full-size, nine-passenger Overland Stagecoach that evokes the "Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach" ride from Disneyland's earliest years. This real stagecoach (its last run was from Tombstone, Arizona, to Sacramento, California) belonged to a friend of Walt's, fellow Anaheim businessman Ben Hathaway, who owned Tiffy's restaurant originally located in the Disneyland Hotel. Very few authentic frontier stagecoaches still exist, making this a rare piece of Americana as well as the inspiration behind the iconic Disneyland attraction of the 1950s; the "Stagecoach" ride defined Disneyland's opening years and preceded the famed Monorail. "This authentic frontier stage harkens to Disneyland's early portrayal of America's past and the ultimate transition towards a vision for the future," says Lentz. "The winning bidder of this remarkable piece of American history instantly attained exclusive bragging rights."
Another top lot on the move: An astonishing Autopia Mark VII car from Disneyland circa 1967-99, professionally restored to drivable condition, sold for $48,000. Autopia's vehicles were designed by Imagineer Bob Gurr, who fashioned this car with a front inspired by the Corvette Stingray, and the back inspired by an Opal GT. Another Autopia car in this event, a Mark VI park-used vehicle body, brought in $26,400. Also from Disneyland: the Skyway ferried guests over Disneyland for some excellent views, and Heritage sold an exceptionally rare original Skyway gondola from the era of Tomorrowland, with its iconic rounded design, for $48,000.
From Disney World and its famed Monorail: An original Mark IV Monorail cabin was a top attraction in this event and sold for $36,000. This particular cabin hummed into service at the park in 1984; its doors still open and close, and all of its windows are intact. Also from Disney World, this park-used vehicle from Snow White's Scary Adventures (it's Dopey's car!) sold for $33,600; the ride took guests through the dwarves' diamond mine and cottage, crashed through the castle's walls, and made an escape through the forest.
An impressive published original painting by Disney legend Charles Boyer titled "The Disney Evening Post", a parody of a 1956 issue of Saturday Evening Post, sold for $45,600, and a nostalgia-soaked Disneyland Main Street bench sold for $18,600.
In 1987, the first Disney Store opened in Glendale, California, and by 1997 more than 700 Disney stores had opened globally. "The thought was to bring a bit of the Disney Theme Park experience to your local shopping mall," says Lentz. "The rafters, walls, and entrance displays were decorated with large fiberglass statues created by Disney artists for the stores." The statues were so popular people constantly asked to buy them, which led to the creation of "Disney Big Figs" as collectible large-format versions of your favorite Disney characters. Big Figs' popularity exploded and were available at Disney Parks, Stores, via mail order and and eventually Disney online auctions. This Heritage auction offered the single largest collection of actual character figures used to decorate the Disney Stores, as well as Big Figs. A Big Fig that performed particularly well was a life-sized Mickey Mouse at his most iconic at $20,400; a Disney Store set of display figures of Scrooge McDuck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie also went for $20,400. Another seriously charming one-of-a-kind lot that soared well past any estimate was a pairing of life-sized Sully and Mike from the movie Monsters Inc. These incredibly detailed character displays bring the dynamic duo right into a lucky winner's home, and sold for $15,600. Legendary veteran Disney artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, based in Southern California, brought their 30-year collection of Disney creations and prototypes to auction for the first time for this event. Widely known to collectors and enthusiasts for their craftsmanship and attention to detail, "Kevin and Jody" have created sold-out collectibles and Disney Parks items for countless characters and attractions. This Song of the South 60th Anniversary Big Fig production sample sold for $4560; this large original "Production Crew" mural featuring 17 characters made for the Hollywood Boulevard Disney Store sold for $4320; and this Disneyland Monorail Mark I Blue 50th Anniversary replica sold for $4080. This charming "Kevin and Jody" hand-painted 3-D maquette for the Haunted Mansion hatbox ghost sold for $3840.