The Story of Disneyland is a remarkable exhibition closing tonight at the Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. It culminates with a live auction this Saturday and Sunday. More than 850 items are on display expressing the profundity of Walt Disney’s little amusement park, and they bring to life the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created Disneyland. From fantastical concept renderings, to construction drawings, to a secret file literally marked “Project X” this extraordinary collection (assembled by one enlightened superfan over 30 years) explores the hearts, minds, and souls of the creative geniuses who made that happy place come to life.
The collection celebrates the overwhelming and powerful themes that evoke such emotion from those of us who love Disneyland. Birth (Enchanted Tiki Room), and death (Haunted Mansion), the origin of species (Primeval World), where we’ve been (Frontierland), and what lies ahead (Tomorrowland). The It’s A Small World figure reminds us not only of the artistry of Rolly Crump and Mary Blair, but of the technological achievement of audio animatronics, and of Oscar-winning songwriter Richard Sherman, who summarized the human condition with his thoughtful lyrics (go back and listen, it’s beautiful) and his brother’s catchy tune. These profound ideas are as important as they were 60 years ago when the park opened and their shelf life is a lot longer than new attractions based on hit movies.
Go pay a visit and behold the grand vision, the fine art, and the American history that was made when an orange grove in Anaheim was transformed into the happiest place on Earth. Maybe you’ll decide to take a piece of it home.