Today's story may be hard to believe; at least it's hard to believe today. Tucked into a corner of Tomorrowland where the Little Green Men Store Command is now located was the famed DISNEYLAND Art Corner. Guests were promised exhibits showing how Walt Disney's animators made Disney movies come to life.
Today, similar attractions feature regular Castmembers who have been trained to draw and pricy limited edition animated cels recreated from the originals. That's not the experience Walt Disney provided, however. Guests would frequently encounter a real Disney animator who also moonlighted as the Big Mooseketeer- Roy Williams. Imagine the excitement of running into a real animator who was a hero of millions of kids? Not only did he show the kids how to draw, he also drew them a Disney masterpiece of their very own.
Of course, this being DISNEYLAND, there was a gift shop offering special postcards, lithographs, souvenirs and original animation cels. Yes, anyone could walk out of DISNEYLAND with his or her very own original animated cel in a souvenir sleeve for just $1.50. That's not a typo- the shop charged just $1.50 for cels that had been used in the production of Walt Disney's greatest classics.
At the time, cels were considered a waste product. In lean times, the studio even had employees "clean" them off for later re-use. It never occurred to anyone that these pieces of art would be wanted by anyone else. That the company could sell them for any price at all was considered a surprise.
Eventually, of course, these pieces of movie history became prized possessions. Some cels have received upwards of $25,000 at auction, a huge sum considering many of them were sold for just $1.50. Unfortunately, many of the cels were seen as just a cheap souvenir from a vacation in DISNEYLAND and ended up thrown away by exasperated mothers trying clean up junior's room or stored in less than ideal conditions resulting in damage. However, many did survive and are highly sought after. Not too bad for a throwaway souvenir, eh?