On September 23rd, 1953, Walt Disney called up his friend, the painter and art director Herb Ryman, and asked him to come down to his studio. “I’m going to do an amusement park,” Disney said when Ryman arrived. His brother, Roy Disney, was set to give a presentation to potential corporate investors that Monday, to show them what the park would look like.
“Ryman said that he was curious himself and asked to see the drawing,” writes Neal Gabler in his 2006 biography Walt Disney. And then came a twist worthy of the world’s leading storyteller: the drawing, as of yet, did not exist. “’You’re going to do it,’ Walt said.”
And so he did. Ryman drew for forty-two hours straight, subsisting on tuna sandwiches and milkshakes, and coached at every turn by a chain-smoking Walt Disney. When he was done, he had the map above—a dreamy, colorful plan for what was, at that point, an imaginary place.
Now, over 63 years later, Disneyland is decidedly built. Some of the map’s features—like “World of Tomorrow,” which became Tomorrowland— are present there, while others, like “Lilliputian Land,” never came to pass. And the map has become an attraction in itself—it’s set to go up for auction next month.
According to U.S. News and World Report, the map, which is “affixed to a tri-fold poster board like a science fair display,” was languishing in a corner of Walt Disney’s office when an employee, Grenade Curran, asked if he could take it home. His boss agreed. About twenty years later, collector Ron Clark bought it from him. With his seventieth birthday approaching, Clark is hoping the auction will provide the map with a more permanent home.
The map will go under the hammer on June 25th, at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, CA, the New York Times reports. Auction house owner Mike Van Eaton called the map “the most valuable Disneyland artifact ever offered at auction,” and expects it to sell for between $750,000 and $1 million—about 10,000 times more than a one-day ticket to the real thing.