Despite what starry-eyed Disney-philes strolling through Main Street, USA, might think, you can put a price on Disney magic.
Sure, it would seem almost blasphemous to shatter this glittering reverie; after all, many of us grew up falling under the spell of Cinderella’s Castle, soaring on Space Mountain, or at least watching all the VHS tapes and masquerading as one of those iconic characters for Halloween (you know you did).
When Walt Disney opened the doors of his fantastical theme park on July 17, 1955, even the magic man himself couldn't have foretold a future in which a popcorn bag from that wondrous era could end up going for hundreds of dollars at auction in the Tomorrowland future. Now, however, bewitched collectors of Disneyana have been willing to pay otherworldly prices for a piece of the fairy tale. Many rare and extravagant pieces of Mouse memorabilia have gone from several hundred for brochures and souvenir buttons into the hundreds of thousands, and even millions for one-of-a-kind props and limited-edition memorabilia that vanished in a poof of pixie dust.
Be sure to keep your hands inside the vehicle and have your seatbelt on at all times as our ride through 25 of the priciest prop skeletons, bedazzled castles and animatronic dolls from the Magic Kingdom takes off.
Mickey & Donald and Snow White Pez ($600-800)
If you’re looking for some dime-store Disney nostalgia, those plastic wonders that you could stash in your pocket to get your sugar fix on are worth much more than the 25 cents on the box these days. Vintage displays of Mickey, Donald, and Snow White Pez dispensers have auctioned for up to $800 — candy included.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarine porthole ($1,495)
If you were adventurous enough to take the plunge with the Jules Verne-inspired 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride in Disney World from 1971-1994, you probably gazed out one of these into the submerged steampunk-futuristic world of the blue depths. Now it can be the porthole to your childhood if you have a grand (or so) to spare.
Cruella de Ville Disney Store display prop ($8,750)
Ever go to the Disney store as a kid, oblivious to the shelves of stuffed Mickeys and Minnies when all you really wanted to do was climb the props? Guilty. If your sticky hands and grubby feet tormented Cruella, she deserved it, and still does if you have the cash to keep her in prison (aka your living room).
Indiana Jones Adventure attraction animatronic hand ($10,000)
What’s insanely cool about this is that it’s from the final scene of Disneyland's Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride where he eerily waved at you from a smoking cave. What’s insanely creepy about it is that it’s his disembodied hand. For that price, where’s the Crystal Skull?
Authentic Tomorrowland Star Jet ($11,995)
Admit it: You’ve wanted this to be your ride ever since you pretended to pilot it before you even had a driver’s license. Never mind that you could actually buy a new car at this price. The jet’s value blasted into the stratosphere when the last surviving ones emerged from Disneyland’s space junk after the attraction crashed in 1994.
Black Diamond Classic Edition of Beauty & the Beast ($13,500)
This the moment you’re going to regret trashing your old VHS tapes. The Black Diamond editions of some animated classics will now set you back more than renting every single Disney movie in Blockbuster (you know, assuming those were still around, too). Beauty and the Beast rules the kingdom, but The Lion King and Aladdin will also take your wallet for a magic carpet ride.
Original Harper Goff Artwork for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ($20,000-30,000)
My goal in life at age 7 was to buy Wonka’s factory and be forever surrounded by a molten chocolate river, gigantic gummy bears and everlasting gobstoppers. Harper Goff dreamed up Disneyland attractions like the Haunted Mansion and the steampunk-ish Nautilus submarine for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, so his Wonka wizardry is nothing short of delicious. You can still (sort of) own a piece of the sugar coma if you happen to have a goose that lays solid gold eggs instead of foil-wrapped chocolate ones. At least the concept art has no calories.
Original Mickey Mouse Poster ($23,900 )
Some of the rarest collectibles in the Disneyverse aren’t animatronic or covered in crystals. Try paper. Not only are promotional posters often ultra-limited edition, but they can bend and tear and fade so easily over the years, too. But, this Mickey one-sheet from 1932 survived the potential ravages of time as if by magic.
Jack Skellington Head from Haunted Mansion Holiday ($30,000)
If there is one Disney collectible I’d happily sell my depraved soul for, it’s this decapitated head of Jack. Which, it's worth noting actually had a body at one time, when the denizens of Halloween Town swarmed Disney World's Haunted Mansion for the holidays. Grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize with Jack every December, but this is the original. Sandy Claws, take note.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride devil prop ($37,375)
The red devils that once terrorized Mr. Toad in the fiendish finale of the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride attraction that mysteriously disappeared from Disneyland in 1999 are looking for someone else to haunt, preferably a non-amphibian who was obsessed enough with the attraction to not mind the equally fearsome price tag.
Bedazzled Cinderella castle by Arribas Brothers ($37,500)
Every eligible maiden who ever dreamed of snaring a prince with a glass slipper can now have her castle — at a price. This bedazzled and blinged-out limited edition of Cinderella’s castle sparkles with over 28,000 hand-set Swarovski crystals. Who says you can’t buy happily ever after? Not the Disney Store, because you can even get this online (free shipping!).
Enchanted Tiki Room birds ($40,250-$153,400)
The Enchanted Tiki Room was the first attraction in Disneyland with Disney's trademarked Audio-Animatronics, because parrots. You can’t possibly have a Tiki room without an entire flock of talking, squawking robot parrots. How much pirate treasure you’ll need to pillage for these depends on whether they can still talk, like the one on the right. Too bad they weren’t programmed to say anything offensive.
It’s a Small World Animatronic Doll ($41,300)
While this may not be the most expensive piece of Disney memorabilia ever made, it’s certainly the creepiest thing to crawl out of Disneyland. I haven’t been on the Small World ride since 1988, and it still haunts me to this day. Ideal for frightening unwanted houseguests away, Scary Swiss Miss has a few freaky friends that may or may not be possessed.
Author’s note: making this #13 was not intentional, but it could be an omen.
Captain Eo original poster artwork ($47,200)
Disney’s 1986 sci-fi musical, shown at Disneyland and Disney World in 4D with live special effects that included smoke, lasers and seat turbulence, starred Michael Jackson and his crew of misfit alien Muppets. If this is what the poster is going for, you can only imagine what the King of Pop’s space-age studded leather threads from the movie are worth.
Space Mountain Car ($50,000)
Next on the fantasy list of vehicles you wish were your ride is this vintage car from one of my first memories of Disney World, Space Mountain. What my Trekkie dad didn’t realize at the time is that he was creating an embryonic sci-fi geek. I wonder how much extra would it cost to equip this thing with a rocket engine?
Tokyo Disneyland Audio Animatronic head ($57,500)
It actually does get more terrifying than demonic singing dolls—and more expensive. Disney Imagineers created a creepy, robotic framework for Audio Animatronic humans in the ‘70s, which was used to bring this undead-looking silicone zombie to life for the grand opening of Tokyo Disneyland. Silent when eviscerated, he probably starts murmuring on his own at midnight.
Mickey 75th Anniversary Elton John statue ($62,400)
Out of the 75 unique Mickey statues celebrities conjured for a charity auction in honor of the immortal mouse’s 75th birthday, Elton John’s disco-glam rocker wins the Grammy for fabulousness. With his psychedelic sunglasses, Music Royalty Mickey went double platinum, topping the charts with a bid that could buy you an entire library of vintage vinyls.
Series A-1 Audio Animatronics frame ($115,000)
Think of it as a lab skeleton for robot lovers: these artificial joints unearthed from Disneyland are the bones of the Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Haunted Mansion, and basically anything else in the park that moves and isn’t a carbon-based life form. Imagineers standardized production of the parts, so as one became Blackbeard, the next came to life (or the afterlife) as a ghost.
Pirates of the Caribbean Skeleton ($129,000)
Now you know where all the rum’s gone. Fished out of Davy Jones’ locker, this (re)animated ghoul from the original 1967 Disneyland ride could be Jack Sparrow’s skeleton, sword in one hand and bottle in the other. Especially chilling is how the liquor pours right through his ribcage into the treasure he couldn’t take with him after he perished.
Charlotte Clark Mickey and Minnie dolls ($151,524)
If your room is a shrine for all things plush, these velveteen display dolls from the ‘30s — the most expensive Disney toys ever sold at auction — will make your collection of Tsum Tsum jealous. Both mice are sporting satin gloves, and Minnie even wears a silk dress with actual pearl buttons. Designer clothes, designer price.
Mickey Mouse & Goofy 1956 comic ($250,000)
Comics can get expensive. Exorbitantly expensive. Anyone who’s been to a convention and coveted pristine Golden and Silver Age volumes of spandex-clad superheroes would know. Even Spidey isn’t so super next to the most expensive Disney comic ever. This 1956 edition of Mickey and Goofy, complete with original printing plates, must also have supernatural powers.
Signed The Art of Walt Disney Book with Mickey & Donald sketch ($300,000)
This isn’t just any sketch Disney scratched out in his school notebook, though that was something he’d frequently get in trouble for. The man behind the mouse rarely drew Mickey and Donald together (Donald must have been off bothering his curmudgeony rich uncle for more spending money). No wonder it costs almost as much as Scrooge McDuck’s fortune.
The Band Concert film celluloid ($420,000)
Every Disney collection worth its mouse ears needs movie magic. Not only has The Band Concert made music as the most expensive Mickey Mouse celluloid ever, but the fact that it’s from the first color Mickey film (and the only scene with the entire misbehaving band onstage) makes it the most expensive Disney celluloid period.
Tomorrowland PeopleMover ($441,500)
From the '60s through the '90s, nearly 100 million Tomorrowland adventurers would board this retro-cool contraption for a guided tour of the Disneyland universe. While it costs a few hundred thousand times more than a subway ticket, The Tomorrowland Transit Authority is just so much more appealing than the MTA. Your morning commute will never be the same.
Celebration Mickey ($4,000,000)
Walt Disney didn’t get cake for his 100th birthday; he got the largest gold sculpture in the history of everything Disney — and the U.S. It’s 100 solid pounds of gold, gold, gold. If the glare from this 24-karat mouse hasn’t made you put on your sunglasses indoors, its blinding price tag is pretty much a winning lottery ticket. Magical.