1971 America Sings Press/VIP Preview Maquette

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When America Sings opened in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland on June 29, 1974, the attraction took guests through period of America’s musical history via the revolving theater previously home to G.E.’s Carousel of Progress. During its tenure from 1974 through 1988, Sam the Eagle (no relation to the Olympic mascot nor the Muppets character) and his cast of audio-animatronic animals entertained audiences with such classics as “Pop Goes the Weasel,” “Polly Wolly Doodle,” and “Who Shot the Hole in My Sombrero.” The cast consisted of a diverse array of characters such as the Swamp Boys (a gator trio, frogs and harmonica-playing raccoon), coyotes, alligators, porcupines, storks and roosters.

If many of the animals from this retro attraction look familiar still today, it’s because many are alive and well in Disneyland’s Splash Mountain. In 1989, nearly the entire America Sings cast found a new home and are a perfect fit within the 1946 Song of the South-themed thrill attraction.

Similarly, prior to America Sings’ closure in 1986, two of the geese were removed, “skinned” and repurposed as the entertaining G2 queue droids in the first generation of Star Tours, which premiered in 1987.

Pictured is the famous Sam the Eagle maquette given to VIP/press attendees during the America Sings opening premier in 1974. This rare ceramic keepsake was exclusive to invited media/special guests and never for sale to the public. Only a handful are known to exist.

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Original Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Headlight Prop From Disneyland

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On October 5, 1949, Walt Disney Productions released its 11th animated feature, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr.Toad as one of two segments, based on the stories The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, respectively. It was the last of the historic RKO Radio Pictures releases, which also included other early Disney classics such as Melody Time, The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos.

Film production began shortly after the release of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs in 1938. Ironically, Walt Disney was not overly-enthusiastic about the original pitch to make an animated feature film based on what Walt described as “corny” animals. Nonetheless, Walt purchased the rights, but proposed the film be packaged together with another animated feature after he and his artists collectively agreed the anthropomorphized animals in the movie was not to the level of their satisfaction. Originally, it was to be paired with Gremlins and Mickey & the Beanstalk; however, Gremlins never materialized and Mickey & the Beanstalk was ultimately joined with Fun & Fancy Free. Meanwhile, the Adventures of Ichabod Crane was in development and eventually matched with J. Thaddeus Toad and friends.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, one of the last remaining original Disneyland dark ride attractions, is loosely based on Disney's animated production. Voice legend Corey Burton provides every voice at the attraction (except for the usage of audio from the film.)

J. Thaddeaus Toad, MacBadger, Winky and the entire Wind and the Willows crew, coupled with Disneyland’s Wild Ride adventure, continue to be timeless cult favorites both on film and in the Park.

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1987 Original Star Tours Promotional Prop

In 1987, at a cost of $32 million (nearly double the entire cost to build Disneyland in 1955) Star Tours opened in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. The first incarnation of the ride replaced the historic “Adventure Thru Inner Space” and represented the first Disney attraction based on a non-Disney produced film.

Themed as a Star Tours “travel agency”, the attraction is comprised of four military-grade flight simulators (at $500,000 each) where guests ventured through the galaxy with C-3PO, R2-D2 and Rex the Pilot (voiced by Paul Ruebens) aboard the Starspeeder 3000. Hoping to reach the Moon of Endor, there’s a slight detour and we find ourselves jumping through hyperspace, avoiding comets and joining the Rebel Alliance after being caught in a Star Destroyer’s tractor beam. Guests then are able to experience the Death Star trench scenes from the original Star Wars film alongside X-Wings and ultimately destroy the Death Star.

This 16”x20” photograph on cardboard is an original promotion prop from Disneyland in 1987 to promote the new attraction within the park’s ticket kiosks. The print depicts the StarSpeeder, guests and Chewbacca being chased by Tie Fighters near the Death Star trench. A rare and unique look back at the original version of the game-changing Disneyland attraction.

“Thank you for riding Star Tours. Bye bye.”

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35-Year Walt Disney Company Service Award

Service awards have been a staple of Disney’s fundamental philosophy that their employees are the foundation to their success. From Cast Members in the theme parks to animators and producers, service award pins and statues salute an individual’s commitment and employment longevity. From the more common 5-year Donald Duck pin, to the extraordinary 45-year Walt & Mickey, cast member exclusives continue to be truly rare and valuable collectibles.

This particular relic depicts Pinocchio as a boy walking down a cobble stone path with a shining red apple in his hand. Made of solid bronze, the piece weighs an impressive 40+ pounds and rewarded an employee of the Walt Disney Company for 35 years of dedication to the company.

Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Italian children's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It was the second animated feature film produced by Disney, made after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

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1959 Walt Disney Studio Maleficent Rough Animation

1959 Walt Disney Studio Sleeping Beauty two (2) original production animation drawings. These two (2) matching rough animation drawings of Maleficent and her raven Diablo were created by a Disney animator in development of a scene in Walt Disney’s animated feature. These legendary images are drawn in pencil on two (2) untrimmed animation sheets with image sizes of 10” x 8” and 4.25”, respectively. Marc Davis, one of Walt Disney’s master animators, supervised the animation of this scene. Matching pairs of drawings, which overlay in the same scene sequence, are extremely rare. 

 

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Disneyland JuJu- 10 Piece Collectors Set

The limited-time experience which has already come and gone – ending over the Labor Day weekend – was rich in creativity, collectability and outright fun. It also infused a new energy in Adventureland, an area of the park where many of us had thought we already knew every square inch. How’d it work?

First, a definition is in order: Juju's are small, hand-carved artifacts that reflect the ancient traditions and importance of storytelling in Adventureland. Every Juju has a story attached to it, often the story of how it was created. There are check-in points with Cast Members along your adventure to either help you along or to continue to tell a piece of the story for your particular Juju.

At the Indiana Jones Outpost in Adventureland, guests could select a variety of quests to purchase with the promise of a collectible reward in the end. Six of the Juju hunts could be had via a $5.00 ante. There are also three other special Juju's that require you to purchase food items. The Pineapple Juju can be obtained by purchasing the Pineapple Parfait for $7.95 at the Adventureland Fruit Cart, Snake Juju by purchasing Venomade at Bengle BBQ for $7.50, and Tiki Mask Juju by following the Telegram to Trader Sams for the Juju Juice for $7.50.

As only Disney can, adventures begin with immerse passports, newspapers, sealed envelopes, handbooks, etc. – collectibles unto themselves. These informative pieces set guests upon their unique adventure. Succeed and be rewarded with a collectible Juju to commemorate the hunt.

Adventures ranged from simple (5 minutes), to rather complex, requiring trekking beyond the park, taking far longer. Quests led guests to the Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones Adventure, and even Trader Sam’s at Disneyland Hotel. 

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