Not only does Disneyland in California top TravelBird’s list of the most Instagrammed places around the world, but the #happiestplaceonearth boasts a lead that doubles its nearest rival: the Eiffel Tower. (Disneyland/File)
Fancy a flight on Dumbo? A jaunt on a Space Mountain rocket? Or how about reliving a spooky ride inside a "Haunted Mansion" Doom Buggy, complete with working internal speakers and a remote-controlled lap-bar door?
One of the largest privately owned Disneyland collections is being auctioned off Saturday and Sunday in Sherman Oaks, California.
Amassed by talent agent Richard Kraft over the last 25 years, the collection of approximately 800 items includes rare posters, signage, original attraction vehicles and concept drawings.
Since Aug. 1, a free pop-up exhibit has been held to showcase the assorted memorabilia inside a vacant sporting goods store. According to auction house owner Michael Van Eaton, over 50,000 visitors have come to see Kraft's collection.
People lined up to take photos inside an original Skyway bucket ride vehicle from 1965 or in front of the comically morbid stretching hand-painted canvases from the Haunted Mansion circa 1969.
"Richard wanted to share his passion with the public rather than just list it in a catalogue that only collectors would see. Richard's son Nicky had the idea to make the pop-up exhibit Instagram-able. He told me you really need to have places where people can take pictures and really get into it, because it will really help. I thought he was crazy, but he was right," Van Eaton said.
Kraft has his own ideas about the reasons for the exhibit's popularity. "Disneyland represents the core things we really are about -- love, family and dreams."
"There's so much cynicism in the world, and Disney is sincere. I think people crave sincerity. We've gone through cycles where cynicism was cool. Right now the world is very nervous. Yet every time you go to Disneyland it's the same," he said.
"Even though it keeps being updated, the core values of a Disney movie or theme park don't change, and that's reassuring."
That timeless aspect makes for a great collectible in Van Eaton's opinion. "The beautiful thing about Disneyland is that you will take your kids there, and they will take their kids there, so it crosses generations. Not only does the fan base span worldwide, but all ages. Disneyland is a pop culture icon."
Throughout his long career, Kraft already had Disney connections, with composer clients like Richard Sherman whose best known songs include "Mary Poppins" and "It's a Small World" and Alan Menken known for "Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast," but he only began collecting after his older brother passed away in 1993. As children, the two of them would often visit the amusement park.
"Growing up, a day at Disneyland was the greatest day of the year," Kraft said.
"It was unlike any other experience, and I could only go when my brother wasn't ill. He had Crohn's Disease. So Disneyland was not only Disneyland, it was also the day my brother was healthy."
"I have such strong memories of the fun we had together. All these things were reminders of the good times we had."
Kraft's 4-year-old daughter suffers from a rare genetic disorder, and he plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the auction to the Coffin-Siris Foundation.
"Everything's been in storage for the last five years, so I already sort of emotionally said 'goodbye.' And since I am moving onto other chapters of my life, and the proceeds are going towards charities to help special needs children, it feels like it really is the right time."
Online auction will be open for bidding through Sunday. Details are provided at http://www.icollector.com/Van-Eaton-Galleries_ae2058.
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