Tiki Treasures from The Story of Disneyland Exhibition & Auction at Van Eaton Galleries

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Right now, the two-room space at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks (LA area) is so full of Disney treasures that it may be the next best thing to visiting The Happiest Place on Earth itself. (Also, it’s free and you’re probably less likely to catch measles.)

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It’s all part of The Story of Disneyland: An Exhibition and Sale, one anonymous person’s massive collection that will be auctioned off piece by piece on February 28 & March 1, 2015. A substantial portion of the items are on view to the public through February 27, Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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The colorful castmember uniforms ($400-$600) from Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room were so popular that the fabric was sold in Adventureland stores. There were a few different patterns, with my favorite being the one featured here on the left (closeup on Instagram). On the right is a vintage hostess costume ($900-$1200) complete with nametag from the now-defunct Tahitian Terrace restaurant. In the middle is an original Enchanted Tiki Room attraction poster ($10,000-$12,000).

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The Adventureland piece with the highest bidding estimate — $20,000-$30,000 — is this animatronic member of the Enchanted Tiki Room’s chorus from the 1970s. It was apparently purchased from an Imagineer who worked on the Tiki Room and it still has all the original hardware inside.

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The same can’t be said for this feathered friend, so he’s valued a little lower at just $18,000-$20,000. How did this little birdie fly away? A cast member received it as a retirement gift from their supervisor! (Sure beats a gold watch.)

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Recognize this? It’s the finial that sat atop the A-frame ticket booth at the entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room. According to the catalog, an Imagineer rescued this one-of-a-kind piece ($15,000-$20,000) from demolition when the bamboo and wood structure had to be torn down in 2000. Later, renowned carver Leroy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts was commissioned to make a wooden base for it.

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Not everything will cost you beaucoup bucks, though. There are lots of things in the $100-$200 range, like these Disneyland Moai salt and pepper shakers from 1956. (These seem to appear on eBay for less every now and again, but the attention for this particular auction will surely drive up the price.)

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Now this face I really couldn’t place. Turns out it’s one of three handpainted “Nature Tree Masks” ($2,000-$4,000) that adorned the trees near the loading area of the Jungle Cruise for a few years around 1956.

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There are also six “Tangaroa-Ru Babies” that descended from the flowers of the Tangaroa tree of life at the end of the Enchanted Tiki Room pre-show. Disney Legend/Imagineer Rolly Crump designed these based on Polynesian carvings. They’re estimated to go for about $3,000 each. The deep-pocketed collector could be well on their way to building their own authentic Enchanted Tiki Room.

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Rolly Crump also designed these smaller ceramic versions ($200-$400) that were sold as souvenirs at Disneyland. The catalog notes that they’re rare finds.

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Many of the artifacts were once Disney property or official souvenirs, but there are also stashes of visitors’ personal slides and photographs from over the years. I adore this picture of these ladies posing with the Marquesan tiki that used to be in Adventureland. It’s part of a bundle of 10 amateur photos at Disneyland circa 1956-1959.

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You can browse through the entire collection in the 300-page online catalog, which is also available for purchase in a soft-cover version ($30) and a hard-cover edition ($95, including a complimentary soft-cover copy). (There’s a section dedicated to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort starting on page 287.)

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Which of these items would you bid on if you had unlimited funds? I’d love this flower boat ($12,000-$15,000) from Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room as the centerpiece for my own tiki room. Or perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean skeleton ($60,000-$80,000) guzzling liquor for more of a Smuggler’s Cove style…

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The Story of Disneyland
Van Eaton Galleries
13613 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
818-788-2357

Try Your Hand at Audio-Animatronics at the Walt Disney Family Museum – San Francisco, CA

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“It’s like a trip to Disneyland itself…It’s the third happiest place on the planet, behind Disneyland and Disney World.” That’s what Tom Hanks said about visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum when researching the man behind the mouse for “Saving Mr. Banks” — and I think many Disney fans would agree.

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First off, it’s located in a gorgeous historic building, a restored 1890s army barracks in the Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. I highly recommend getting a snack and coffee from the cafe and enjoying the views out on the veranda when you need a break between walking through the exhibitions.

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After buying your tickets, the first room you’ll enter is filled with various awards, including the honorary Academy Award (and seven little Oscars) that Shirley Temple presented to Walt Disney in 1939 for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” It’s such an iconic moment in Disney history so it’s neat to see these statuettes in person.

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The non-profit museum, which opened in 2009, was co-founded by Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller and chronologically narrates his personal and professional history. “My kids have literally encountered people who didn’t know that my father was a person,” she told The New York Times. “They think he’s just some kind of corporate logo.” (Here’s the Disney family leaving Honolulu on the Matson Lines‘ SS Lurline after a Hawaiian vacation.)

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Walt Disney led a pretty interesting life even before he became a household name. While he was still a teenager, he lied about his age so he could enlist for World War I. These were the little souvenirs he brought back from France where he drove trucks and ambulances after the armistice.

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Another random piece of ephemera that caught my attention was this handwritten list of Walt Disney’s favorite foods that he’d made for the housekeeper. (The paper was rediscovered decades later tucked in a magazine at the house.) Spam and eggs with biscuits and honey, FTW.

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A centerpiece of the ninth gallery, “The 1950s & 1960s: The Big Screen & Beyond,” is the 12-foot model of “The Disneyland of Walt’s Imagination.” He considered the park to be an ever-changing entity and the map features original attractions as well as ones that were in the planning stages during his lifetime. If you look closely you can see Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Tahitian Terrace.

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New to this section as of this year is “Pepe del Presidio,” a replica of the “Barker Bird” that used to beckon guests outside the entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room. (It made its debut at a tiki-themed Animate Your Night! party presented by Tiki Oasis and Smuggler’s Cove — I bet there will be more of these in the future as the first two seem to have been pretty successful.)

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After a few minutes of video on the history of Audio-Animatronics, guests can use the joystick to control the bird’s movements and make it open its beak, nod and turn its head, move its body forward and back, and puff out its chest. Such a fun, interactive element!

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Naturally, a stop at the gift shop is a must. In addition to numerous books, pins, jewelry and shirts, there were Kuku and MarqMarq mugs designed by Tom “Big Toe” Laura for Tiki Farm.

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It was all I could do not to collect all of these Enchanted Tiki Room charms: all the parrots (Jose, Fritz, Pierre and Michael, plus the Barker Bird for $6.95 each), two designs for the tiki drummers and totems, and an E ticket ($8.95). They’re exclusive to the Walt Disney Family Museum, just in case you needed another incentive to make a visit.

Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
415-345-6800

New “Adventureland” Tiki Merchandise at Disneyland

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Disneyland recently released a boatload of new Adventureland-themed merchandise that includes tons of tiki items. I found this trove of glasses, mugs, pillows and plates at the World of Disney store at Disneyland but all of these items (and still more that I haven’t shown here!) are available to purchase online at the Disney Store. Search for “Adventureland” and you should be able to find it all.

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It’s a bit odd that some of the items feature the tiki mascot from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which is a Disney World hotel and not part of Adventureland at all (or even the Magic Kingdom park). However, there is a precedent, as this little interloper also snuck in via the Polynesian Luau Party Bowl (by Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily) that was part of the Enchanted Tiki Room’s 50th Anniversary merchandise.

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I liked this Enchanted Tiki Room parrot plate ($14.95), but the lightweight bamboo material and raised screen print made it feel a bit cheap to me. (Same goes for the Poly plate above, which is the same material.)

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On the flip side, the Aloha appetizer plates ($12.95, available in red, blue and green in addition to yellow) are made with sturdier ceramic. (Though they’re still not dishwasher safe — aside from the coffee mug, none of this stuff is.)

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I was also pleased with the quality of the Enchanted Tiki Room appetizer tray and bowl set ($39.95), and I loved how it highlights each of the birds by name. That’s not something I’ve seen all that often.

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The purple scorpion bowl ($24.95) showed some promise but ultimately I was disappointed with how smudged the sculpt appeared in the finished product. I looked at a few other specimens to compare and they all had the same issue. (I’m guessing these weren’t manufactured by Tiki Farm, the company that’s previously produced several mugs and bowls for the park and Trader Sam’s. Their designs have nice, sharp details that these lacked.)

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This hefty green tiki mug ($16.95) features the graphics from the four shields that hang under the A-frame of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. Still, this one was also missing the “wow factor” for me for whatever reason.

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Much more to my liking were these glass tumblers ($12.95), which come in two designs: the Enchanted Tiki Room tikis and the parrot logo (based on the 1963 art for the attraction).

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Another distinctive Adventureland design is this collage of logos, which Disney has printed on coffee mugs and afghan throws. Like I said, there’s way more tiki merchandise where this came from so I suggest you go check it out!

Related Posts:
Enchanted Tiki Room Easter Egg
Recreation of the Original 1963 Brochure for the Enchanted Tiki Room
More Disney & Tiki Connections