You Can Own a Piece of Disneyland St. Louis


Once upon a time, Walt Disney was thinking about building his next theme park in St. Louis, Missouri. Though Disneyland was a great success, research showed that only two percent of visitors came from east of the Mississippi River. In order to reach that part of the country, Disney figured, he’d have to build a park that was more accessible to them. In addition to St. Louis, the company considered Niagara Falls and Baltimore, but St. Louis is the city they were most serious about, even going so far as to draw up 13 pages of blueprints.

As any Missourian can tell you, the weather isn’t exactly temperate year-round. So, instead of creating an outdoor theme park as he had in Anaheim, Disney planned to construct a five-story building in downtown St. Louis. Attractions would have included a tribute to Missouri’s Meramec Cavern and a Lewis and Clark Adventure ride.

Unfortunately for St. Louis (and all Midwesterners, really), those plans were scrapped. It was long rumored that the park went kaput due to a dispute between Disney and Anheuser-Busch head August Busch, Jr., about serving alcohol. Walt was opposed; you can probably guess Busch’s stance. In reality, other factors were likely at play, including funding—Disney offered to pay for the rides, but wanted St. Louis to pay for the building. When the city’s redevelopment corporation nixed that idea, Disney may have looked a little harder at Florida and decided he liked what he saw there.

But there’s still at least one remnant of Disney St. Louis floating around today, and you can own it: Those 13 pages of blueprints for “Walt Disney’s Riverfront Square” go up for auction on Thursday. This little piece of history is expected to go for somewhere between $5000 and $10,000. Other pieces of Disneyana are also on the auction block, including a stretching portrait from the Haunted Mansion, a ride vehicle from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and shrunken heads from the Jungle Cruise.

Pop Culture
Rare Disney Artifacts From Early Imagineer Rolly Crump Head to Auction

If you’ve ever marveled at the fantastical facades of Disney’s "It’s a Small World" attraction, you can partly thank Imagineer Rolly Crump. Throughout the 1960s, the animator and designer helped bring to life some of Walt Disney Parks’s most iconic attractions, including the "Enchanted Tiki Room," "Haunted Mansion," and "Adventureland Bazaar."

Later this month, some of his original pieces will go under the hammer at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California. The most valuable of the 400-plus lots is Crump’s original model for a clock in "It’s a Small World," which could sell for up to $80,000, according to the auction house. The design was mocked up from fellow Disney artist Mary Blair’s original sketch, and the end result is now a permanent fixture of the boat ride attraction.

A few other items up for grabs are a Polynesian-style shield that Crump sculpted for the "Enchanted Tiki Room," an original devil prop from "Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride," an original "Haunted Mansion" poster, and a costumed character head from "Babes in Toyland." A ticket for the grand opening of Disneyland in 1955 is expected to sell for as much as $5000—although unfortunately it won't grant the buyer entry to the park these days.

In addition to pieces created for Disney, the collection also includes Crump’s original artwork, some of which dates back to his high school years. One such illustration of a colorful character wielding a sword and smoking a pipe was entered into a radio contest in 1947 by Crump’s mother, unbeknownst to her son. He didn’t win, but his consolation prize came five years later when he was hired to work at Walt Disney Studios at age 22.

The “Life and Career of Disney Legend Rolly Crump” auction is scheduled for April 28, 2018.

Disney/Marvel Studios
Success of Black Panther Inspires Disney to Donate $1 Million to Youth STEM Programs
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Since opening in U.S. theaters on February 16, Blank Panther has already defied industry expectations more than once. The blockbuster now holds the records for biggest February opening, biggest standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and highest-grossing film featuring a black cast. To celebrate the film's groundbreaking success, Disney is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Fortune reports.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school programs to young people from low-income households. They offer kids a place to build their athletic, artistic, and leadership skills, but Disney's donation will go specifically toward funding STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The technology of the fictional African nation of Wakanda plays a central role in Black Panther. Shuri, T'Challa's sister and the head of all things tech in the film, has been praised for potentially inspiring young women to take an interest in STEM. "It is thrilling to see how inspired young audiences were by the spectacular technology in the film," Robert A. Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "So it’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use Disney's generous donation to help establish STEM Centers of Innovation in cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, where much of the movie was shot, and Oakland, California, the hometown of Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Ten additional cities, from New Orleans to Chicago, will also be getting STEM centers of their own.

The donation is sure to make a huge impact on communities around the country, but it's just a fraction of what Disney is set to make from the film. According to some projections, it won't be long before film surpasses the $1 billion mark at the global box office.

[h/t Fortune]


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