Mickey's Basement Part Oneby Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
Hello all! Like most of you, I've been spending a good amount of time at home lately. Also, I'm sure—like most of you—I've been missing the Mouse in a big way. In fact, as I sit in my home office writing this, I was originally supposed to be spending the day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, enjoying my first ever rides on Rise of the Resistance and Mickey's Runaway Railway.
This a minor problem in the grand scheme of the world today, but for those of us who are big fans of all things Disney, we like to get our fix in when we can.
Happily over the years, I've built my own oasis for when I need a little dose of the magic. You might already know that I'm a big fan of Disney shopping, and that I like to get my hands on pretty much whatever I can. I first visited Walt Disney World as a small child in the early 1970s and have been hooked ever since, so you can only imagine what I've accumulated over the years—watches and clocks, animation art, figurines, theme park artifacts, crystal, and collectible coins. Some are new, and some are old, but you name it, and I probably have at least one of them.
For about a decade, from the early 1990s through the early 2000s, Disney held the Official Disneyana Convention each year. This was a precursor to the D23 Expo and was a place where fans from all over the world would get together to mingle, hear speakers from the company to learn what was happening, and frankly, buy many things Disney. My favorite venue at these events was called Mickey's Attic. Disney would take all kinds of items that were previously used in the theme parks and put them up for sale to the "ConventionEars." Items included banners, signs, ride vehicles, figurines, and more.
So as I tried to figure out a place to put all my Disney booty that wouldn't overwhelm my entire house, I thought of Mickey's Attic and came up with the idea of Mickey's Basement—I have a finished basement that became the perfect place to put out my collection. I now have a place at home to visit when I need a little Disney magic, where I can look at the things I've gathered over the years and enjoy the memories that each item brings back, of when or how I bought it, of a particular trip, or of time spent with my family.
So... let me take you on a walk-through Mickey's Basement and down memory lane, and call out a few of my favorite items along the way. Hopefully these will give you some Disney smiles, too, at a time when we could all use them.
Before we begin, though, let me give a big shout out to Mouseplanet's own Chris Barry. I've been a fan of his for many years, and the Top 5 and Disney stuff articles he's written for this site are an inspiration for not only today's article, but a lot of what I write on the site. He described us as fellow "Disney accumulators," and I wholeheartedly agree. If you like his current Top 5 articles and/or what I try to do at Mouseplanet, I highly recommend you go back and check out his Disney Stuff classics.
So let's go ahead and begin the tour!
You open the basement door, and bang! Right in front of you, you see three very familiar hitchhiking ghosts beckoning you to go further and down the stairs.
The hitchhiking ghosts are actually on a replica of the classic Haunted Mansion attraction poster, which is part of a set of 12 I bought at the Contemporary Resort's Bay View Gifts a few years ago. The posters are 18 inches by 12 inches, and include the images of many of our favorite attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, the Monorail system, "it's a small World," and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I bought these and a set of cheap frames from a Michaels art supply store and—boom!—a trip down my basement steps is like walking through the train station tunnel at the Magic Kingdom.
I walk down the stairs, taking in images of my favorite attractions, and then, there's the beginning of the animation wall. This is the big—well—wall that lines the basement, and which contains most of the two-dimensional items in my collection: the animation art, posters, commemorative plates, and crafts.
One of the first items that catches your eye as you hit the bottom of the steps is a big image of Mickey Mouse in a sailor outfit saluting you.
This is a giclée I bought on the Disney Dream cruise ship a few years ago by fun Disney arist Greg McCullough. Giclées are generally limited-edition images made using a high-quality ink printer (if you want to know more about it, I wrote an article a few years ago discussing different types of animation art).
I bought this at the Vista Gallery on the ship during a family Disney cruise with my siblings and their families, including all my nieces and nephews, who were all the perfect ages for a Disney vacation. We had a blast on that trip, including the kids' first snorkeling experience on Castaway Cay and more trips on the AquaDuck waterslide than we could count (where one of my nephews got over being scared and wanted to go over and over again). I think of that trip every time I look at Mickey.
Just below Mickey on that same section of wall are two original production cels (actually used in the making of the film) featuring O'Malley from The Aristocats.
I got these cels some time ago at a flea market, and there's a bit of a story behind it. I saw the cel and was immediately interested. True, it didn't have any eyes (sometimes images are layered on top of one another for the final shot), but it was a nice large image. The woman who was selling it explained a bit about it and told me I wouldn't believe how cheap she got it (she wouldn't tell me what she paid). We talked a bit and settled on $90 for the cel, which I thought was a pretty good deal. She put it in a large envelope and handed it to me.
I took the envelope home, and for a variety of reasons, took forever to get O'Malley framed. After probably close to a year, I finally got around to it and took a look in the envelope. There was a second O'Malley cel in the envelope that was actually nicer than the first. It was an image of him laying down with a big smile on his face. To this day, I have no idea if that woman was being nice in giving me a second cel or made a mistake, but either way, I'm grateful—and the two production cels are now framed side by side on the animation wall.
The original production cels have always been very special to me, because they're a real part of Disney history. Besides O'Malley, I have production cels from The Sword and The Stone, The Rescuers, and the Mickey Mouse short, The Prince and the Pauper.
Moving down the animation wall and continuing that theme, I also have a few model sheets—diagrams done for animators to make sure they're consistent in how they draw a character. I have a few of these that date back to the 1930s and 1940s, including the first piece of animation art I ever bought. Animation art was red hot as a collectible way back in the 1990s, and galleries sprung up everywhere. There was one near where I lived (in Huntington on Long Island, though I forget what it was called). I went in and knew I wanted something.
I was with my mom and my sister. We browsed the gallery and my eyes fixed on a model sheet of Mickey Mouse, with multiple drawings and instructions to the animators on exactly how he should be drawn. Multiple photostat copies of these were made for the teams of animators, and this was one of those. My family helped me pick it out, and encouraged me to go ahead and buy it. This was the first of what would be a lifelong collection,.
We are now going to cross to the other side of the basement (next to the Peloton bike) to get a glimpse into my obsession with Disney Parks. I love maps in general and really love any kind of Disney map. For many years, Disneyland sold beautiful full-color maps of the park. I was born in 1968 and got it in my head that I wanted a Disneyland park map from the year I was born.
This was hard to find until a little website called eBay came along. It was early days for eBay, in the late 1990s, and the site was a fraction of what it is now. I kept searching, and eventually, the 1968 map popped up as an auction, that I thankfully won. I had it framed, and for a number of years, while I lived in New York City, it basically served as the headboard above my bed. Now in suburban New Jersey, it's part of Mickey's basement.
My love of two-dimensional theme-park items continued through the years. I was able to visit Disneyland on its 60th birthday, and bought a retro poster of Walt Disney holding Mickey's hand that was designed to commemorate the occasion. I have a simple retro map from Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary, and well as a placard with a commemorative coin from Walt Disney World's 45th. Another favorite is a cast member-only poster from Disney World's 20th. When Walt Disney World reopens, the 50th anniversary won't be far behind, and I can't wait to go down and see what else they create.
Well, this is only half of the tour. You'll have to come back next time for the rest of the tour. If you like three-dimensional items like figurines, crystal, timepieces, antiques and Christmas villages, you won't want to miss it.
I hope you and yours are all safe and healthy. I also want to echo the sentiments of all of us by thanking all essential workers who are going out there each day to keep us safe and healthy.