Disney Stuff - Disneyland Tobacco Shop Matchbook

by Chris Barry, contributing writer

Welcome back to another Disney Stuff.

You never know what you might find when you're searching through the various boxes, drawers and shelves that contain my Disney collection. I've still got things that I've been meaning to write about even after six years here on MousePlanet. Then there are things that I have that I've completely forgotten about. Whilst searching for a subject for this very article I stumbled across one of those small bits of Disneyana that I acquired somewhere over the years and filed away in one of many storage boxes.

Unlike many of you readers out there, I did not grow up going to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. We won't even discuss the fact that I still have yet to set foot in Walt's first park. So, despite the fact that I'm fairly well versed in Disney lore and history as a fan, there are lots of things that you just don't realize existed in the parks unless you've spent a lot of time there over the years. For instance, imagine my surprise to find out that Disneyland had a Tobacco Shop on Main Street. I never really gave that particular factoid a thought until I found this book of matches at a fellow collector's table during MouseFest at Walt Disney World several years ago.

The Disneyland Tobacco Shop matchbook back cover. ©Walt Disney Productions.

Yes indeed. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World had a Tobacco Shop. The Disneyland version was there on opening day in 1955 and stayed open until 1991. The Magic Kingdom's Tobacco Shop closed earlier, in 1985. Once inside you could purchase handcrafted pipes and tobacco from all over the world. Cigars and cigarettes were also available more discreetly under the counter. This was, of course, at a time when Americans were smoking a whole lot more and the Disney parks were no exception to the norm. Once smoking started to carry more of a stigma, the sale of cigarettes was ceased in the Disney parks and smoking areas became few and far between.

However, while the shop was open and while smoking was a much more accepted and common practice just about everywhere, Disney catered to their smoking guests and handed out free books of matches. Never one to shy away from self-promotion, the matchbooks at Disneyland and Walt Disney World had many different things emblazoned on them. The book that I found was promoting America on Parade. In 1976 everywhere you went in America there was a celebration of our nations bicentennial. The Disney parks were no different and from June of 1975 through September of 1976 America on Parade joined in on the celebration. During that time America on Parade served as both the afternoon and evening parades on both coasts. The parade itself featured very few Disney characters. Instead, the "People of America" populated the parade route. I've seen some photos of these giant doll-headed characters. In my opinion they seem a little creepy. Perhaps in person they were more likable.

The Mickey, Donald and Goofy as the Spirit of '76 logo on this matchbook cover could be found just about everywhere. I've seen it on Coca Cola glasses, programs, stickers and lunchboxes just to name a few items. It's no wonder it was even emblazoned on the matchbooks.

The America on Parade matchbook front cover. ©Walt Disney Productions.

After poking around a little on the Internet I came across many different Disney matchbook covers. I've seen books with everything on them from The Polynesian Village logo, to the Disneyland Hotel, to Epcot's San Angel Inn restaurant. Matchbook collecting is a very big thing. I just can't say that I ever equated Disneyland or Walt Disney World with matchbooks and smoking, but we do live in a different world now, don't we? At one time, smoking, a Tobacco Shop, and free Disney matchbooks were quite the norm.

If you get your hands on any of these, hold onto them. They're not exactly a jackpot sort of collectible. They only go for a few dollars on eBay. But, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll never see these made again, and that makes them a cool thing to collect and hang onto. I was surprised when I found this one and equally surprised years later when I opened up that box of collectibles and found this matchbook sitting there next to some Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Matchbox cars.

I think I'll put them out on display for a while to always remind me that you never know where that next cool piece of Disney Stuff is going to come from.

I guess there are a lot of you out there that remember the Disney tobacco shops? How about these matchbooks? Do any of you still have some of these lying around? As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below; let me hear your thoughts and I'll see you next time with more of that great Disney Stuff.