Disneyland Fan Amassed A Collection Over 25 Years. Now It's For Sale

Aug 24, 2018
Originally published on August 24, 2018 12:07 pm
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NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. We have a lighter story for you now. Most people who visit Disneyland bring home, like, souvenir Mickey Mouse ears. A man named Richard Kraft brought home some of the actual rides. Now, he has a warehouse full of stuff, and he wants to sell all of it. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: It's a world of laughter, a world of tears at a former sporting goods store in Sherman Oaks. Here's where we find Richard Kraft's vast collection - vintage posters, a Matterhorn bobsled, more than 800 keepsakes he amassed over 25 years. The Hollywood agent admits he was obsessed.

RICHARD KRAFT: I'm like a heroin addict. I don't remember which alley I bought the heroin in. I just remember the experience. And so I am trying to remember where most of this came from, and it's a big blur.

DEL BARCO: Kraft can recall how he scored his favorite - Dumbo. When one of the 700-pound elephant ride vehicles went up for auction, he took his life savings - $10,000 - and competed with an anonymous bidder on the phone.

KRAFT: There was a rumor I was bidding against Michael Jackson.

DEL BARCO: Kraft made the winning offer - $35,000.

KRAFT: Now, the problem is while I'm feeling ecstatic, I'm also in a complete and utter panic because I do not have the money to pay for it.

DEL BARCO: So he put Dumbo on his credit card.

KRAFT: Then, it arrives, and I can't get Dumbo through the front door. His ear span is 8 feet. So I sold my house to find a house with double doors.

DEL BARCO: Kraft and his son Nicholas kept everything at their suburban LA home, which they dubbed the happiest place in Encino.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE TIKI, TIKI, TIKI, TIKI ROOM")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room, in the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.

DEL BARCO: Jose, the animatronic bird from the enchanted Tiki Room, sang from Nicholas' bedroom. The 48-foot-long sea serpent from the Submarine Voyage ride lounged by the swimming pool. And Nicholas says Dumbo ended up suspended from the living room ceiling.

NICHOLAS: It really was the furniture in our home. You could sit and watch a movie the Mr. Toad car. I remember sitting in the Astro jet. It used to be in my room. We'd have parties at the house. We always enjoyed just sharing it with people.

DEL BARCO: But once Nicholas grew up and left home, Richard Kraft says he had empty nest syndrome.

KRAFT: An empty nest with a Dumbo in it. It was borderline pathetic walking around by myself in this home filled with all the memories of collecting with my son, so I put everything in storage.

DEL BARCO: It would have stayed there. Then four years ago, Kraft found himself a father again. His daughter Daisy was born with a rare genetic disorder.

KRAFT: And so I thought if I auctioned this off, I could give a portion of the proceeds to charities that help special need kids like my daughter.

COMPUTER-GENERATED VOICE: All aboard. Let's go.

DEL BARCO: Before the auction, thousands of fans are visiting the free pop-up exhibition, waiting for hours in the hot sun to get in, just like at Disneyland.

MANDY RAMIREZ: Yeah, pretty much (laughter) but well worth it. It's amazing.

DEL BARCO: Visitor Mandy Ramirez came for the memories, so did 8-year-old Lily Rio and Naya Bowers, who's 7.

Can you guys imagine having Dumbo in your living room?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Wow.

DEL BARCO: Dumbo is expected to fetch as much as $150,000. Someone online has already bid $175,000 for a Peter Pan Flight vehicle. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE TIKI, TIKI, TIKI, TIKI ROOM")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room.

FULTON BURLEY: (As Michael) I sing so beautiful. I should sing solo.

WALLEY BOAG: (As Jose) Si, so low we can't hear you.

ERNIE NEWTON: (As Pierre) My voice may not be so marvelous, but my profile is out of this world. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.