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"Sometimes, the smallest things in life bring the biggest joys" : Celebrating Disneyland ephemera

"Sometimes, the smallest things in life bring the biggest joys" : Celebrating Disneyland ephemera

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EPHEMERA : Throwaway paper from every day life (eg: advertising, ticket stubs, programs, some booklets and pamphlets, etc.) From the Greek work ephemeron, meaning something that disappears quickly

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Last week, I spent some time in the garage doing some work to our gas dryer. No big deal, but it led me to open a few boxes in search of some items I needed to complete the task. Okay, maybe more than a few boxes…

But among the assorted ephemera, I found a few treasures. At least, they are treasures to me. Treasures associated with memories of great visits to Disneyland with family and friends from a fair number of years, to be precise. But the neat thing is that these items were not all that expensive. Heck, many of them had been (shockingly) free.

Let me share a few with you.


From what I remember, this was one of, if not the first, Disneyland passports I ever used.

As a Magic Kingdom Club member (How many families saved more than a few bucks on Disney admissions over the years with this great corporate program?), this was a real treat. The expressions from other guests as we just waved these passes and did not have to hand over tickets for attractions was priceless. But looking back now, yes, I miss those ticket books …

Or how about this? A tag from the very first Disneyland Guided Tour I ever took.

Sure, it's a bit worn. Flailed around all day in the Anahiem breeze on the string and I caught one of the ears on something so it is torn. But it was a lot of fun following that Disneyland Tour Guide around the Park learning some of the "secrets."

Okay, anyone remember where we parked ...

And how about having to pay two dollars to park in that big lot! If memory serves, that spot should be just about where the ticket kiosks are on the east side of Esplanade today.

Ah, the Giftgiver Extraordinare! And look at that prize I won…

Now that was a thrill. I saw a several people be the big winners after pulling the handle on the machine that took up most of the Hub. One person even told how winning the Geo Metro was how he was getting home that day, as his own car had died on the way to Disneyland that morning.

Okay, this really brings back a memory. When was the last time that you remember that a dinner at the Blue Bayou cost only that much?

Must have been a pair of Monte Cristo sandwiches, two Disneyland Mint Juleps, and even a shared dessert of Fantasia cheesecake. All that and great atmosphere, too!

Finally, an item that was a Disneyland tradition with me.

Starting back on our second trip to Anaheim, I always made a point to stop in and get one of these cards from Fortune Red, in the Pieces of Eight shop, just outside the exit from Pirates. For only twenty-five cents, I was always taken back to that first time I heard that music and watched as the mechanized finger traced its way across the treasure map.

But now, Red seems to have been retired to make way for more retail space. Or at least that's how it seemed on my last visit in July. Too bad as some other guest won't be able to carry on in the same tradition I did.

So, here's today's big question: Can these sorts of ephemera, these free tiny treasures still be found by guests visiting Disneyland today?

Sometimes, the smallest things in life can bring the biggest joys. For me, those joys are memories, family and friends and happy times together. Just doing the kind of things that Walt Disney intended when he opened the doors to us on July 18, 1955.

Sure, these things don't have a lot of physical value. Between them? Maybe a few bucks on eBay. And they spend their days now in boxes, stored away. Maybe another five or ten years will pass before I look at them again. But that won't make them any less special for me.

So what do you think? Does the Disneyland of today still have the sort of free ephemera that will cause guests to look back fondly on their visit to that park in the future?  Or in our hand-held, wireless, "Please recycle" age, is this sort of souvenir disappearing?

To use Jim's phrase: "Your thoughts?"

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  • Hey, I make it a habit of saving at least one unused Fast Pass from my visits ... a great way to remember the date of those past visits. I also remember seeing auction on eBay for a parking stub from 7-17-05 along with other 50th memorabilia.

    Besides, I know a lot of NFFC members who collect ephemera ... from receipts and merchandise bags to wet paint signs and restaurant tray liners. I think this craze has actually increased as more people have become interested in scrapbooking and personalizing their photo albums.
  • Very neat items!  I've never been to Disneyland, so I had no idea about what characters you could park at in the parking lot.  I'm sure that people keep their ticket stubs and the guide maps, maybe receipts...some people may not mean to, but some may hold onto their ephemera for the memories.  
  • I have collected paper childrens menus, napkins, cups and every other piece of useless paper I cam across.  And years later I am so glad I did.  It is amazing how much things change and how well these little pieces of paper help me to remember.
  • My wife scrapbooks, so we hold onto all sorts of odds and ends. It is always fun to look through all the stuff we've collected (ours come from WDW), and remember why we took it. Sometimes its a FastPass to my son's first ride on Big Thunder, or it could be a receipt from the first character breakfast.

    One man's junk is another's treasure.
  • Hmm.. the last time I went I think it was the 25th anniversary. I still have some things from my trips.

    I have a button that says my first trip was in 1985 (grade 2 hee hee), 2 tinkerbell entrance tickets and 1 simba one (me, mom, and stepdads tickets), I always keep my park maps cus things always change, I have my fortune teller stubs like you have but it was a longer piece of paper.

    I also always get those stupid "squishapenny" things that you put in a penny and it presses some disney picture on it?? I LOVE those things I have NO idea why.

    I also got a postcard for Hercules when it was released when I went there it was just coming out to theatres.

    Thats all I can really think of right now, but you get what Im saying.. free things are treasured in my world! xoxox Adele
  • I collect all emphemera from my trips and not only to Disneyland/Disneyworld...they remind me of special times that I will not have again.  I even kept a book I made at a class given at the Disney Institute back in the mid-90s.
  • Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures of your treasures!  I nearly screamed when I saw the link on the main page (at work, how embarassing!) My first trip to Disneyland was 1986, when I was 5, and I remember those tickets clearly.  I still have the pins that I won (another article that I enjoyed mentioned those first pins) and to see those tickets brought back so many good memories.  Thanks for the smiles!
  • Smilee306 is apparently as much a geek as I. LOL!!

    **I nearly screamed when I saw the link on the main page (at work, how embarassing!)**

    I feel ya sister.
  • Ephemera... so THAT's what all that stuff I've collected is called! I have several drawers full of stuff like this, Roger - old guidebooks, maps, and so on, and it's always a treat to find that cool old stuff.  It's like holding a little piece of Disney park history in your hand.

    As far as whether or not you can still find this sort of stuff today, the answer is "definitely"! I still manage to snag a couple of paper goodies every time I visit a Disney park, or I ask someone to snag something for me when they visit. Heck, when Disney came by to do their dog and pony show at the NFFC, I made sure to grab a couple of the napkins with the new "Disney Parks" logo to add to my collection! Pathetic, innit? ;)

    Kudos on another fun article, Roger!
  • Even when it isn't Disneyland, it's all about the time and place:
    Somewhere, in the back of one of my "collection" drawers, I still keep that stamped 4-day ticket (in paper form!) from the pre-Disney Decade 1990 WDW first spring-break trip--
    Just for all the associations that one stub brings back:  Three parks, not counting River Country...Three bus loops, and Epcot->MGM meant going through Fort Wilderness...Making dinner-reservations by video at Epcot...Star-cement ceremonies at MGM...New Year's Eve celebrations at Pleasure Island...And, a keychain from the "off-property" dinner-theater, that had been thrown in on a package tour, since the only way you could get to Disney back then was through something called a "travel agent" who did the paperwork for you...
    One lil' ticket stub.  :)
  • Ah
    My dad (who is 51 now) always saved everything we got from Disneyland.
    I remember at the 35 Anniv they had that big game in the hub, he kept all of the bags, the reciepts, the parking stubs, the park stubs. Everything.

    Glad we're sane now :)
  • Oh, man, collecting this sort of thing is great. I've always treasured the maps that they hand out at DL...they're gorgeous! If I remember correctly they did used to put characters on the tickets in the nineties...those were the best. Unfortunately several pieces of my epherema have disappeared, and that's because while I'm a pack rat, my mother throws a lot of stuff out. So, wherever our old ticket stubs are, brochures, maps, etc. are, they're probably stuffed at the bottom of a trash barge or at the bottom of a file folder in her closet.

    However, this time around I managed to save the beautiful fiftiieth anniversary bags that every purchase came in, and I think from now on I'm going to start a new epherema collection. Although it'll take me quite a few years before they become nearly as magical as your dated ones are, Roger. Great article and excellent pictures! Thanks for sharing.
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