Walt Disney’s original map of Disneyland has set a new auction record in California.
The hand-drawn map, which was used during presentations in 1953 to help finance the theme park, sold at the Van Eaton Galleries for $708,000 – making it the world’s most valuable piece of Disneyland memorabilia.
The previous record had been held by an original ride car from Tomorrowland, which sold at the same auction house in 2015 for $471,500.
In September 1953, Disneyland was still a twinkle in Walt Disney’s eye. He desperately needed funding to make his dream a reality, and a number of banks had already turned him down.
In a last-ditch effort to raise the money, Disney turned to the TV network ABC with a proposal: he would create a TV show for them in return for funding.
The network agreed, and the anthology series Disneyland was born. The show ran on ABC until 1961, and told stories from the park’s four sections: Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Frontierland.
Not only did the series attract millions of viewers, but it also served as the perfect advert for the park.
The Disneyland map on offer was created for that very presentation in New York, in a 48-hour flurry of work by Disney himself and his artist Herb Ryman.
It was later inked and coloured, and was used as a reference throughout Disneyland’s development, until opening day on July 17, 1955.
Walt Disney later gave the map as a gift to Grenade Curran, who worked behind the scenes at Disney Studio on productions including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Davy Crockett and the Mouseketeers.
Curran was also present on the opening day of Disneyland, working on the live TV broadcast, and drove special guests around the park in an original Autopia vehicle.
The map remained in Curran’s personal collection, hidden from the public, for more than 60 years before hitting the block at Van Eaton Galleries.
"That an artifact like this, which is so deeply rooted in the creation of Disneyland, still exists today is astonishing," said Van Eaton Galleries co-owner Mike Van Eaton.
"With the discovery of this piece, we have an item that Walt Disney created during a 48 hour period of hard work and imaginative genius, which succeeded in getting him the funding he needed to build one of the most successful endeavors of his career, and which he continued to personally use throughout the entire building stages of Disneyland.
"Without this map, there would likely not be a Disneyland today."