HomeCommunity NewsWorld’s Largest Disneyland Collection Up for Auction in Burbank

World’s Largest Disneyland Collection Up for Auction in Burbank

The largest individually owned Disneyland collection in the world, amassed over a 30-year period, will hit the auction block at Van Eaton Galleries in Burbank next week. Disney fans can see a free public exhibition of the rare artifacts at a gallery in the Burbank Town Center Mall through the weekend.

Following the exhibit’s close, The Joel Magee Disneyland Collection auction will kick off on Monday, just in time for Disneyland’s 68th birthday. Bidding will continue for three days and will conclude on Wednesday.

“With over 1,500 items, the auction and exhibition is so diverse, so large and so fascinating that both Disney aficionados and fans who love the happiest place on Earth will be stunned at the amount of items included,” said Caroline Galloway, spokesperson for the Van Eaton Galleries.

The collection was amassed by Joel Magee, known as the “Toy Scout,” a renowned vintage toy collector who has spent his career traveling around the nation, buying, selling and collecting vintage toys, according to his website. Florida-based Magee has been featured as an expert on hit TV shows like “Pawn Stars” and has appeared on dozens of local news programs to tell his story.

“There’re different levels of collectors, but there are some collectors who, once they start, it’s hard for them to stop. Joel is one of those guys. If he’s gonna get one poster he wants to get every poster that was ever made,” said Mike Van Eaton, the gallery’s owner and curator.

According to Van Eaton, Magee’s collection is so vast that the gallery needed to rent a 30,000 square-foot building in the town center to house and display the artifacts, the most popular of which are a 1917 Model T Ford Moving Van from Main Street that Walt Disney created himself and a set of very rare animatronic hitchhiking ghosts from The Haunted Mansion ride which Galloway says is the only set in the world available for private ownership.

“I told him, ‘hey, we could just throw this into a catalog, and that’s fine, it would be great. But really, it’s such an accomplishment to make a collection like this, you should share it with people and let people have a chance to see it,’” said Van Eaton.

“That’s the whole idea of this exhibition we’re doing. It’s a free exhibition that people can come through and just see this collection. It tells a great story of the history of Disneyland from 1955 to the present day, and it does it through maps and posters and ride vehicles and souvenirs from the park, and just a whole wide range of stuff,” he said.

Magee is such a dedicated collector, that while Van Eaton was cataloging the collection, he kept receiving additional boxes from Magee packed with rare collectibles and artifacts.

“I finally had to say stop. Stop buying stuff until I get this auction off the ground because I can’t deal with all this stuff,” Van Eaton said with a chuckle.

The two have long had a close relationship, buying and selling with each other for close to 25 years. After 30 years of collecting Disneyland artifacts, the first of which he bought when he was 13, Magee decided it was time for some downsizing. The two pared down the collection from 6,000 total items to the 1,500 being sold at auction.

“So, he sent it all to me about two years ago. It took three trucks to get it from Florida to out here,” Van Eaton said. “It was really easy to identify big pieces like the ride vehicles, but where the process really gets hard is going through all the smaller pieces. Souvenirs, hats and signage from the park — things like that. It was a process that took us about a year and a half to do, and then we had to photograph everything, describe it, and then check to make sure we’re accurate in our descriptions and not misleading.”

When it finally came time to locate an exhibit and auction site for the collection, Van Eaton said Burbank was the obvious choice.

“Of course, Disney is here in Burbank. Imagineering came up with every ride over the many years here in Burbank and so I thought this was a really fitting place and a great place to have an exhibition because it just it ties into Disneyland so well,” he said, adding that the exhibition building is on a property that was going to be the Disney-MGM Studios originally and was slated for a theme park at one point.

The entire collection is open to the public for viewing through Sunday, and then the gallery will kick off the auction, which will take place Monday through Wednesday.

Other items up for bidding are a Peter Pan Ship Ride Vehicle, a ride vehicle from the Flying Dumbo Attraction, a Haunted Mansion “Doom Buggy” and a very rare set of birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room which have been restored to working order.

While some items are appraised at valued up to $400,000 or higher, there are hundreds of items available at accessible price ranges for beginner buffs to start their own collections.

First published in the July 15 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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