When Disneyland opened in July of 1955, parents noticed something right away: as LIFE magazine reported, the price of admission wasn’t quite the whole cost of attendance. Children brought to the theme park clamored for souvenirs, and the park’s operators were only too happy to provide them with many options. Now, more than 60 years later, that’s still true—but it’s not just kids who want to stock up.
That feeling of wanting to bring a piece of the park home is one remembered by Mike Van Eaton in an essay introducing the catalog for an upcoming Nov. 19 auction at Van Eaton Galleries in Los Angeles: “Souvenirs of Disneyland.” The auction, a preview exhibition for which is now ongoing until the auction date, features more than 1,000 rare pieces of Disney memorabilia, including the posters seen here.
Since the beginning of Disneyland, posters were used within the park to draw visitors to specific attractions—some of them are known as “near-attraction posters”—as well as manufactured for sale to guests. Some of the artists’ visions of the attractions provide a peek at an their inside knowledge. For example, the Dumbo poster, as the Van Eaton catalog explains, shows a pink elephant, matching the original conception of the ride; however, on Walt Disney’s personal request, the actual elephants in the ride were painted gray rather than pink, to match Dumbo rather than his hallucinations. Other posters reference the American themes that Disney strove to evoke; he loved American trains and the park fittingly gestures at some of American history’s most famous travel posters in the designs for the Disneyland railroad.
Other items in the auction range from more typical theme park fare to surprising finds like a 1965 animatronic hand that was used in a “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” attraction and a tin of Disneyland-branded tobacco from the 1960s.