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Credit: Joel Magee

Retired ride vehicles, posters, even a bi-plane from Magic Kingdom attraction up for auction, but may be on exhibition where you live before that

Joel Magee is known as “America’s Toy Scout,” and for good reason. He loves toys and Disney memorabilia and has spent a large part of his life appraising toys and collectibles, but he also has a massive Disney theme parks collection of his own.

But we’re not talking trinkets and knick-knacks.

Instead, the West Palm Beach native collects Disney theme park relics, such as attractions posters, signage, figures, ride models, costumes, and other items from Disney theme parks over the years.

Magee has collected pennants, hats, lunchboxes, games and tabletop figures from Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Credit: Joel Magee

Magee’s personal Disney collection has been growing for 30 years. His first purchase was in Orlando at a collectors’ event.

“There was a gentleman there that had a whole bunch of cool Disney items. They were from the park, and I didn’t even know that you could get items from the parks,” Magee said. “I bought some of the pieces, and I caught the bug.”

Among his first purchases was a poster for the Haunted Mansion attraction. And Magee paid a hefty price for it.
“I remember giving him at the time $1,000 for it. I’m like, ‘I just paid $1,000 for a poster!” Magee said. “And now that same poster goes for $10,000. I mean, it’s just crazy.”
Magee and his massive collection have been featured on History Channel’s Pawn Stars and on MeTV’s Collector’s Call, and over the years, he has amassed some pretty amazing pieces in the collection. For example, Magee owns the biplane from the “If You Had Wings” attraction that Guests enjoyed at Magic Kingdom from June 1972 to June 1987.
This Week in Disney History: If You Had Wings Opened at Magic Kingdom Park | Disney Parks Blog

“If You Had Wings” attraction/Credit: Disney

His collection also includes a ride vehicle from “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” at Magic Kingdom, a control panel from a monorail, and an original 1971 Hitchhiking Ghosts trio from the Haunted Mansion attraction.
The original three hitchhiking ghosts from Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion are part of Joel Magee's collection. He turned down an offer of $750,000 for them three years ago, he said.

Credit: Joel Magee

But now, Magee says, it’s time to downsize. So he reached out to the co-owner of Van Eaton Galleries in California, Mike Van Eaton, who in turn flew to West Palm Beach to see Magee’s collection for himself–most of which is in Magee’s 9,000 square-foot home. (Well, stuffed into the home, anyway.)
The plan is for Van Eaton to hold an auction just for Magee’s collection, but Van Eaton says before the Galleries hold an auction, they will host pop-up exhibitions across the country. He says the collection is special because there’s a story to it.
Magee has kept ride models, costumes, attractions posters, figures, signs and various other theme park memorabilia in his West Palm Beach home.

Credit: Joel Magee

“The thing that makes this collection great is that it actually tells a story. It tells the history of Disneyland through artifacts, from the clothing that the Cast Members wore to the signage to the props to the attraction posters,” Van Eaton said. “It was not random. It’s thought out, and he focused on certain things.”

Van Eaton’s company has had the experience of hosting a collection belonging to a single individual once before. The auction was held in a space that once housed a Sports Authority store. When the exhibition opened up to the public, the crowd they hoped for ended up being much smaller than the crowd that showed up.

“We were hoping to get a few thousand people, and we ended up getting about 50,000 people, and people were waiting three hours to see this exhibit,” Van Eaton said. “This is in a town where Disneyland is right around the corner.”

Van Eaton thinks Magee’s Dumbo ride vehicle will fetch a lot of cash.

“I can tell you that Dumbo ride vehicle–which the only other one I have seen offered for sale was in 2018–that one went for half a million dollars,” he said.

The auction will host very expensive items, such as the trio of Hitchhiking Ghosts, for which Magee says he was once offered $750,000.

“That was three years ago,” Magee explained. “We turned it down.”

But according to Van Eaton, there are many affordable pieces in the collection as well–some that will run for between $20 and $50 each.

Have you ever been to a Disney collectibles auction or exhibition? Are you a collector yourself? Let us know what you collect in the comments!

About Becky Burkett

I'm an enthusiastic writer who finds joy in random things like cold weather, snow, "I Love Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," journals full of blank paper, countdowns to Christmas, the month of December, "Toy Story," "Sleeping Beauty," my 4 kids, my 4 shih tsus, Disney Parks history, Imagineering and visiting the parks. I think Walt Disney is the standard against which genius should be measured. I love to write about Disney Parks, Disney history, all things Imagineering and PIXAR. I adore the colors, story and art direction of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" (Team Make it Blue!), and "Toy Story" is life (minus "Toy Story 4"). I believe Walt Disney was so much more than an entertainment and theme park tycoon; I believe he was a savant with a vision for life and how it could be if happiness and kindness are strived for. I love Biergarten at EPCOT and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian. You can find me croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room, chillin' on the PeopleMover or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. I'm always looking for Imagineers in the parks, and I'd rather meet Joe Rohde and Tony Baxter than anyone in Hollywood! Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!