‘Original’ Disneyland Map to Be Auctioned

An “original,” hand-drawn presentation map of Disneyland is one of nearly a thousand Disney-related artifacts to be auctioned on Sunday by Van Eaton Galleries. From the catalog:

This is the original presentation map of Disneyland that was created by Walt Disney and Herb Ryman in 1953. This map was then the main presentation piece for Roy Disney’s meetings with potential investors in New York, which succeeded in getting Disney the financing from ABC that was necessary to build Disneyland. This same map returned from New York and was displayed at the Disney Studio where it was used by Walt in numerous development meetings throughout the remainder of 1953 and into 1954. Later in 1954, this map received newly inked outlines and additional color, and was used as the first publicly released full-image of Disneyland. The significance of this map in the history of Disneyland cannot be overstated.

The auction ruffled a few feathers when it hit the news last month, partly because of media reports attributing the map to Disney himself, or calling it the original map, which it isn’t. Theme Park Insider notes that “[t]he original concept map of Disneyland, hand-drawn by Herb Ryman in 1953, sits safely in the archives of Walt Disney Imagineering. It’s not for sale and likely never will be.” A post on the Friends of The Walt Disney Family Museum Facebook page goes further, calling the map to be auctioned

a large-format photostat or brownline of Herb Ryman’s original drawing, which is safe and sound in the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library. Dozens of these were made to pitch the Park to investors and participants. Shame on Van Eaton for knowingly misrepresenting a big photocopy as a valuable artifact worth a million dollars.

In a comment on that post, Van Eaton Galleries defended themselves by clarifying that the map being auctioned is the original presentation map, not Ryman’s original pencil drawing on vellum.

Vellum is a fragile paper, like a tracing paper. It’s not the kind of paper you would take to New York as your main presentation piece. What vellum is exceptionally good for though, is letting light through during the brownline process, as the “Disney historian” mentioned. The vellum pencil drawing was used to transfer the line work to this map, which was then hand colored, inked, mounted to a presentation board, and taken to New York by Roy Disney to pitch to ABC. The vellum pencil drawing was never intended to be the final product, otherwise Ryman would have drawn it directly onto a more durable paper for Roy to take. It was however, used to create the map that we are bringing to auction.

(The New York Times article on the auction was corrected to reflect that distinction. For other coverage, see ABC News and CNN, among many others.)

Update, 27 June: The map sold for $708,000 to an unknown buyer. ABC NewsBBC News.

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.