Rare Disneyland Artifacts Bring $1.8 Million at Auction

One of the reasons for the success of Disney Parks worldwide is the artful balance of nostalgia and new magic to discover. While theme-park loyalists usually aren't happy to see their beloved rides and landmarks retire, the parks have propelled their popularity forward by keeping things fresh for younger generations to discover.

What Happens to Theme Park Artifacts When Attractions Are Reimagined?

Out with the old and in with the new is a common practice at the Disney Parks, but what happens to the pieces of old attractions that have been retired?

Some of the theme park artifacts are sold at Disney auctions and make their way to private collections. Heritage Auction House in Dallas, Texas, recently held a two-day Disney Theme Parks Auction, with rare items spanning the parks' fascinating evolution. The auction brought in $1.8 million and sold items from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney Stores.

And yes, that means there's someone out there who now owns a piece of the iconic Monorail, Dopey's Car from Snow White's Scary Adventures, and more.

The Heritage Disney Auction

One lucky Disney fan rode off into the sunset with a one-of-a-kind piece of Disney nostalgia: a stagecoach. This bidder was among many who can now make a place in their home for Disney vintage items like Monorail cars, Skyway Gondolas, life-size Disney Character figures, and much more.

This 2023 Heritage Disney event follows 2022's record-breaking $2/2 million Art of Disneyland auction. These events were timed to coincide with both the 100th anniversary of the Walt Disney Company and the 50th-anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World, also known as “The World's Most Magical Celebration.”

“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 Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach Out in Front

Many younger Disney fans may not remember the stagecoach, which sold for $84,000, which was the highest price paid for a lot in the entire auction. The nine-passenger Overland Stagecoach was part of the Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach ride from Disneyland's earliest years.

The stagecoach ride opened at Disneyland in 1955 as part of the original lineup of Frontierland attractions. This attraction closed in 1959 and is known as one of Disneyland's iconic “gone but not forgotten” attractions.

When the attraction opened in 1955, it was called “The Stagecoach Ride.” It adopted the name “Rainbow Mountain Stagecoach Ride” in 1956, but it continued to be called “The Stagecoach Ride.”

An Authentic Frontier Stagecoach

This stagecoach was not simply part of a theme park attraction; it was an authentic frontier stagecoach that made its last run from Tombstone, Arizona, to Sacramento, California. The stagecoach once belonged to a friend of Walt Disney's, fellow Anaheim Businessman Ben Hathaway, who owned Tiffy's Restaurant, originally located in the Disneyland Hotel. There are so many facets to the history of this item, both inside and outside of Disney.

Very few authentic frontier stagecoaches still exist, making this a rare piece of Americana and 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.”

Other Notable Disney Items Sold at Heritage Auctions

Other notable Disneyland items sold at the Disney Theme Parks Auction include two Autopia cars from Disneyland, circa 1967-1999, and a rare, original Skyway gondola from Tomorrowland.

The top lot from Walt Disney World was an original Mark IV Monorail cabin, which sold for $36,000. All doors still open in close, and all windows are intact. A park-used vehicle from Snow White's Scary Adventure sold for $33,600.

Disney Store Merchandise Made a Great Showing

The first Disney Store opened in 1987 in Glendale, California. By 1997, more than 700 Disney stores had opened globally. These stores brought a bit of the Disney theme park experience to local shopping centers.

The stores were decorated with large fiberglass statues created by Disney artists. Character statues graced store entrances and were seen throughout the stores.

“These statues were so popular that people constantly asked to buy them,” says Lenz. “This led to the creation of ‘Disney Big Figs' as collectible large-format versions of your favorite Disney characters.”

Disney’s Big Figs at Auction

Big Figs' popularity exploded and were available at Disney Parks, Stores via mail order, and, eventually, Disney online auctions. This Heritage auction offered the single largest collection of actual character figures to decorate the Disney Stores.

A life-sized Mickey Mouse figurine went for $20,400 at the Heritage Auctions. A one-of-a-kind life-sized figure of Sully and Mike from the movie Monsters, Inc. sold for $15,600.

These sales just scratch the surface of the weekend-long Heritage Disney event. Complete results can be found at HA.com/7314.

More About Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Hong Kong.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Jill is a Wealth of Geeks travel editor and an expert writer focusing on family and adventure travel as well as practical tips to help travelers get the most value out of their vacation experiences. In addition to Wealth of Geeks, Jill has written for Business Insider, MSN, Tripsavvy, Matador Network, Canadian Traveller, and Travel Awaits. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and sons but she's usually somewhere else.