DISNEYLAND: Sweet, Sweet Music

One of the best ways to spread the magic of DISNEYLAND was through music. As any DISNEYLAND guest going back to the very first can tell you, music is an important part of the magic in Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney knew that guests would want to take some of the music home with them and he wanted them to do so, knowing that their guests would hear the music and want to make their very own trek to California to experience the park for themselves. Oddly enough, the record labels who used to eagerly agree to release Disney soundtracks were not eager to take a risk on releasing music from this ‘themed park’ out west. It was a big mistake; the lack of interest would inspire Walt Disney to start up his own record label- DISNEYLAND Records- which would take over the release of all Disney soundtracks from them until now. Not only would the outside record labels miss out on the huge business in DISNEYLAND albums, they would lose all opportunities to release Disney soundtracks. 

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When Walt Disney was trying to finance DISNEYLAND, he enlisted various companies who weren’t necessarily interested in owning part of a theme park, but were investing solely to get access to other things they wanted. ABC, for example, invested in DISNEYLAND because it wanted a television show from Walt Disney. Western Publishing invested to get the lucrative license to produce books based on the Disney characters and DISNEYLAND. As part of the deal it produced several board games that featured the park’s various lands. The games were hugely successful in not only making money, but in spreading the magic of DISNEYLAND around the world. Many of these games made their way into classrooms and into the hands of children who would dream of one day visiting Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

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The rarest kind of DISNEYLAND souvenir is one that depicts a building inside the park that is not the castle. That today’s souvenir depicts a park building that is no longer there makes it even more special! The Skyway Chalet stood guard over Fantasyland for decades, providing a delightful station for the Skyway attraction. This replica provides a Disney spin on an age old device that predicts the weather. The real life Chalet ended regular use in the mid-1990’s after the removal of the Skyway itself. The passage of new accessibility requirements for disabled access made it impossible to use the building in regular operations and it was eventually removed.

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DISNEYLAND: Cel-ebration

Back in the golden age of animation, studios used clear plastic sheets called cels to produce the animated classics that we all know and love. Today, these cels are highly sought after pieces of animation history. Back then, hard as it is to believe, they were seen as waste, thrown out or cleaned off for re-use after the film was completed. Walt Disney Productions was no different from the other studios back then, discarding these magnificent pieces of art. A San Francisco gallery owner- Guthrie Courvoisier- saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and became enraptured with the beautiful artistry on display. After doing some research, he became convinced that cels could be sold like any other piece of art. He was able to convince Walt and Roy Disney to let him sell some of the pieces to gauge audience interest and the first animation art was released to the masses. When DISNEYLAND first opened, it provided the company with direct access to millions of guests and it decided to sell animation art out of a gallery located in Tomorrowland where the Buzz Lightyear attraction is currently located.

This page from the DISNEYLAND Merchandise catalog advertises framed original cels for just $3.95. Unframed cels were just $2.25. Such cels regularly fetch upwards of $1,000 these days depending on condition. If a lucky guest purchased either of the pictured Sleeping Beauty cels back then and kept them in mint condition, they (or their heirs) could probably sell them for at least $10,000 and probably much more than that. Once the market for animation cels took off, DISNEYLAND began selling them for much more than they were selling them for here. Today, most of the cels found in the parks are replicas and not originals and they sell for $250 and up.

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DISNEYLAND: Wish You Were Here!

When DISNEYLAND first opened, Walt Disney knew that he would need help in spreading the word about his Magic Kingdom in Anaheim. A way to do this while generating revenue that could be used to expand the park was to sell souvenirs. T-Shirts, books and other souvenirs could be eagerly snapped up by his guests who would share them with friends and family back home. In its early years, the park was able to put together a stellar lineup of merchandise that is highly sought after even today. This week we’ll take a peek at an early catalog of treasures that could be shipped around the world direct from Walt Disney’s One and Only Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney was approached by a publisher who wanted to have him write a book about his life. Pete Martin was supposed to ghost write it for him, but since Walt’s daughter had just been married, he wanted the book to be “written” by her so that she would earn his share of the royalties. Diane wasn’t too keen on the idea of claiming full authorship, so the ghost writer was given a writing credit; a rarity in publishing. Of course, DISNEYLAND would sell the book but how could they make it special? By having both Walt Disney and his daughter autograph the books. A special treasure indeed! The signed books are extremely rare and worth quite a lot nowadays.

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