This Disneyland map is incredible, but perhaps not what it seems.


If you’ve been green with envy for this Disneyland map that recently went viral, this might bring color back to your skin.

On May 11th, the New York Times broke the news of a “hand-drawn map of Disneyland headed to auction.” In the article, this map slated to be auctioned by Van Eaton Galleries is described as “a hand-drawn map that Walt Disney and a friend, Herb Ryman, created over one rushed weekend in September 1953 as part of a frantic effort to secure funding for Disneyland.” With the item’s value being estimated to be anywhere between $750,000 to $1,000,000, it’s no surprise that this Disneyland map became immediately popular among news outlets and collectors everywhere.

However, as this news has continued to spread like wildfire, some skeptics have revealed that this Disneyland map may not be exactly what we think it is.

In a post by the Friends of The Walt Disney Family Museum Facebook group, an unnamed “Disney historian and author” said the following:

“This is simply 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.”

A representative of Van Eaton Galleries actually responded to this post, clarifying that the Disneyland map is not the original “hand-drawn map” Disney and Ryman created, as many news outlets were reporting it to be. However, they did stress that this map was more than a “big photocopy.”

“We want to be clear that we never were, nor are we now, trying to claim that this is Herb Ryman’s pencil drawing on vellum,” wrote Van Eaton Galleries. “That is in the archives, and we are pretty sure most of us have seen it either in person or in photos. However, there seems to be a misconception about what the pencil drawing on vellum was actually used for.”

“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. 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.”

“We agree that the [New York Times] article could have been a little clearer in the distinction between Ryman’s pencil drawing on vellum, and our presentation map which was taken to New York by Roy. We never intended for it to sound like those were the same item, as they clearly are two separate pieces.”

In other words, while the Disneyland map to be auctioned is surely a historical piece of Disney memorabilia, it’s perhaps not the “original” or “one-of-a-kind” map it was initially implied to be. Whether it’s worth $1,000,000 or not will ultimately be decided by the bidders at the auction, but at least potential buyers will be better informed about what they’re buying.

This item will be featured as part of Van Eaton Galleries’ Disneyland exhibit in Sherman Oaks, California, from June 2, 2017 to June 24, 2017. The auction will be held immediately after, on June 25th.

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Written by TimM
Tim is a video game aficionado who is fascinated by pop culture. He built his first collection in 1999 by catching all 151 monsters in Pokemon Red, and he hasn't stopped collecting since. His work has been featured multiple times on Destructoid.com.