Monday, December 19, 2016

My Disney Collection pt. 1

I'll admit it. They say that the first step in dealing with a problem is admitting that you've got one.

I'm a Disney addict.

There. I said it. But here's the problem(?): I don't want to deal with it. I enjoy the feeling that Disney and Walt Disney World gives me. It keeps me young. It gives me joy. It brightens me up on my cloudy days. It's more than just a hobby today.

This is something I've been dealing with since infancy. In fact, I have a photograph of myself wearing a onesie as a baby with Mickey on it. Well, I guess start me young... My parents are not huge fans of Disney like I am. I mean, they like vacationing at Walt Disney World every few years, but their enjoyment is more from the distance of appreciation. I'm more bordering on the insane.

Case in point: when I was in 7th grade and got my first email address, I registered the address Disneyobsessor2000 (an email address I still use, in fact). Pretty sad, huh?

Because of my love for Disney, over the years I've accumulated a number of Disney collectibles. Many of these things were purchased in stores, but a lot of it has come from flea markets and one of my other favorite past times, antique stores. A few of my favorite and more valuable (to me) collectibles even came from eBay as authentic props and items from Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts.

A few years ago, my wife and I decided to purchase a set of IKEA bookshelves for the corner of our living room. I am an avid reader and have hundreds of books, but living in North Carolina, we unfortunately do not have a basement to store our things (something I really miss about living in west Michigan). In other words, we needed somewhere else to store all of our junk treasures. I was able to convince my wife to give me a few shelves of the bookshelf to display some of my favorite Disney collectibles.

As a Disney fan, I have some of the requisite figures, but the problem is that Jim Shore and Robert Olszewski works are pretty expensive. The one Jim Shore that I have is of Sorcerer Mickey, while I also have a Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie figurine. When the Lego Disney mini-figures came out a few months ago, I hunted them down at a local Target and splurged the $3.99 price tag to purchase myself one, finding a Peter Pan minifig inside. I also have three Vinylmations: Zoot from the Muppets, Minnie as a Halloween witch, and Minnie as the Statue of Liberty, which I picked up from the Times Square Disney Store during my trip to NYC back in 2014. I also have a figure of Mickey from the Epic Mickey video game that came with the game, as well as stickers to add to the Nintendo Wii console and Wiimotes. For my birthday this past September, my in-laws gave me two Star Wars itty-bittys, sold at Hallmark: Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper.

As a bibliophile (someone who loves books), it is obvious that my Disney collection would include Disney books of all kinds. Some of the books are more common and owned by many Disney fans, while others are more rare.

One example of some of the more common pieces of my book collection are the Disney Imagineering book (written by the Imagineers), the Walt Disney biography by Neal Gabler, the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson, the new Haunted Mansion book (The Fearsome Foursome), They Drew as the Pleased: The Hidden Art of Disney's Golden Age by Didier Ghez, and two of the Marvel Disney Kingdoms graphic novels, Figment vol. 1 and The Haunted Mansion. I also have numerous copies of A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World vol. 1 and vol. 2, for obvious reasons.

Some of my less common books a part of my collection include the 1993 Birnbaum's Guide to Walt Disney World (a book that played a huge part of my childhood), a EPCOT souvenir guidebook from the 1990s, Walt Disney's Story Land collection, a four-book boxed set of The Wonderful World of Walt Disney published by Golden Press, a Bambi storybook from the 1950s, Robin Hood to the Rescue storybook paperdoll playset from the 1970s, the "Mickey and Goofy Explore the Universe of Energy" comic book, as well as various Little Golden Books, including Donald Duck in America on Parade

Awhile back, my parents gave me a glass Magic Kingdom candy dish as a Christmas gift. The dish was sold at the Magic Kingdom in 1971 and is intentionally warped around the edges. At the center of the dish is a blue, green, black and white image of Cinderella Castle, while wrapped around the outside of the dish are images of popular attractions, such as the monorail emerging from the Contemporary Hotel, the Jungle Cruise, and "it's a small world." A few years later, as I was picking through an antique store, I came across a similar candy dish from the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. I quickly purchased the dish. While the candy dish does not feature any of the attractions created by WED for the World's Fair (the seven images include the famous earth globe, the Main Mall, the Monorail, the General Motors pavilion, the US Pavilion, the Heliport, and the Lunar Fountain). However, simply because of the connection of the '64 World's Fair to Walt Disney and Disney history, I just had to have it. I also found another square candy dish featuring Cinderella Castle in the same styling at another antique mall and quickly purchased that as well. The store also had a Disneyland candy dish featuring Sleeping Beauty Castle that I'm now kicking myself for not purchasing.

I also like to collect older Disney things, as well, if they are affordable. A few years ago, while visiting the Shipshewana Flea Market in Shipshewana, Indiana with my wife and in-laws, I came across some awesome finds. One of these collectibles was a red Donald Duck paint box from 1948. This tin box would have held small paint palettes inside for kids to use. Quickly looking on eBay, I've found that a mint-condition, unused Donald Duck paint box has a starting bid of $199.99. Mine would not fetch that much, however: it is slightly bent and has a few rust spots. However, I don't usually purchase my collectibles with the intention of selling, but rather because of the novelty and rarity of them. 

Another one of my Disney treasures is the Walt Disney's Disneyland Electric Tours board game from the 1950s. This board game is similar to Chutes and Ladders or Candyland: players make their way across a colorful and detailed game board, using a spinner. However, there is a circuit board below the game board, triggering a red electric light to track the player's progress. The most special part of the game, in my opinion, is that it features four different game boards: Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland, each complete with images of attractions or the subjects of the Disneyland television show from the 1950s. Another quick Google search revealed that this artifact is going for anywhere between $30 and $65 at online auctions, which does not seem to be very much. However, before my purchase at Shipshewana (at which I found this game pushed back on a top shelf in a booth), I'd never seen this game before, either in person or online.

Many pieces of my Disney collection were purchased or gained during trips to Walt Disney World. For example, awhile back, my wife helped me to put together a shadow box for some of my favorite Disney ephemera (paper collectibles). This shadow box holds my very first Disney World ticket from either 1992 or 1993. It also holds a theme park map from Epcot and the Magic Kingdom from sometime in the 1980s. In 2007, I ran in the Pirate and Princess 5K at Disney-MGM Studios and the Walt Disney World Half Marathon; both of my participation medals are in the shadowbox. I also received a copy of a Disneyland guide map book from the summer of 1969, which was given to me by my mother-in-law. One of my favorite items in the shadowbox is a small red plastic coin that I got from the Walt Disney World Party Gras parade during my first visit to WDW in 1992, which features Roger Rabbit on it. Many of these hard-to-display items are very special to me, because most of them hold a special significance for me.

These Disney collectibles may seem like a hoard or excessive (I do have two large Tupperware tubs and a document box of additional Disney knick-knacks in my bedroom closet, as well). But ultimately, these things bring me joy. My happiness is not rooted in the objects, but rather in what they stand for, the memories they represent. As a hopeless nostalgic, and to a lesser degree, as a history teacher, I am someone who finds my past as something that has heavily influenced the person that I am. Walt Disney World and the culture of Disney heavily influenced me as a child, whether through the Disney VHS tapes I watched at my grandparents' house or the numerous vacations taken with my parents and my brother growing up. I remember riding on the monorail and being fascinated by the fact it was a "highway in the sky" and passed through the Contemporary, so while it is cool to have the small monorail toys in the picture above, what they represent is what is special to me. Growing up, one of my favorite attractions was Journey into Imagination. Therefore, owning the Figment comic is not just a cool part of my collection, but is rather an opportunity for me to relive those important memories from my childhood.

Because, to me, while all of these trinkets could be destroyed in a house fire tomorrow (which truly would upset me), the important part is that (at least for now), the memories that these things represent will not be stripped from me.

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