Interview with Marc Pianko, CEO Theme Park Connection

Theme Park Connection

How would you like to own something from the Disney parks that was actually on display? A limited edition item that had only been given to cast members? Or maybe a unique Disney object that’s hard to find? Look no further than Theme Park Connection… a great place to Buy, Sell, and Trade Disney Items.

Lucky for me, my wife found this site before my last Birthday and purchased some amazing presents. In her experience Theme Park Connection had the most extensive Disney collection out there. Not only were the items great, but packaging was done with a lot of care, and items arrived in a very timely manner. With their exceptional customer service and variety of objects for sale, Theme Park Connection is the place to go! Just be ware…your collecting may turn into an obsession. If we see on you hoarder’s, Disney version, don’t blame us!

After such a great experience we had to get to know who was behind this company. Below is our interview with Marc, owner of TPC. After reading Marc’s interview, be sure to enter the giveaway for a $40 gift card for their new online store!  Entry form is available at the end of the interview.  

Question: What year was the Theme Park Connection started and why did you decide to open this type of store?

Marc: TPC kind of evolved in the late 1990’s when we sold Disney items at Flea Markets. When eBay was developed it opened a worldwide market for us. In 1999 we started listing Disney pins on eBay. It was an exciting time because we could literally help people around the world purchase Disney items when in the past they would have had to come to Florida or California. So basically it started with Flea Markets, then evolved into eBay selling, and a couple years ago we had the “aha” moment and opened the retail store. Over 500 people waited to get into our store and the local media showed up to cover the store opening. It was awesome. After the retail opening we grew from 3,000 square feet to over 10,000 today. It’s been 15 years in the making!

Question: What are your top selling items?Theme Park Connection 1

Marc: Props and Signs are always the best items to find, and some attractions bring more attention than others. Haunted Mansion is probably one of the most sought after attraction items. We also find that the more original park items from Magic Kingdom or Disneyland are more popular than say Animal Kingdom. But what is unique about our company is we try to connect people no matter what items or park they collect. We offer a huge variety of collectables, and we try to make sure we can find items for just about any Disney fan or collector. We even started offering items from Disney Movies. Our store though is known for our “$3.00 pin wall,” and just the endless different items we sell, from Park Maps, buttons, figurines and more. We appeal to someone who is just looking to spend $1.00 or to those who are more serious collectors and want a prop or even an entire ride vehicle.

Question: You’ve procured some amazing items. I’m sure objects have come your way that you would rather keep, than sell. What object stands out as one you would have rather kept (or did keep) for yourself?

Marc: Always, it’s tough for all of us who work at Theme Park Connection because all of us have that passion for Disney. So if you asked any of our employees, they would each have many items they would like to keep. It’s so much fun to be around so many items but I look at it like this: I have had all these in my collection at one point, I just haven’t kept them as long as I’d like. All of us who work here though have our different areas that we get excited about. We have one employee who loves vinylmations, another who loves the Disney movie items we get. And I’m like some of the others who love props that really show the history of the park…like a sign that brings you back. The one I really still to this day would love to put in my house is the Main Street Bicycle sign we have. It’s just too large for me but someone will have a way to display it and enjoy. Growing up I rode and raced bicycles so it just reminds me of Disney and my childhood together in one sign, and even better is the fact that it actually hung in the park. There is always a connection somehow to our objects, whether it’s a memory or a story from childhood.

Theme Park Connection 2Question: What is the strangest item you have sold in the store?

Marc: Well, probably pieces and parts to character costumes because when you’re looking at Tigger’s hands but nothing else, or even pieces of an animatronic leg or arm…that can be a little strange. And seeing the Small World doll heads with no costume (just the head with no eyes) is different.

Question: Any interesting future plans for the store?

Marc: We are always thinking to the future and most importantly how we can connect more people, faster to Disney. We want to make it easy for people to find us, to sell items, and connect them with the magic. This past month we just opened an online store at http://www.themeparkconnection.com/ and our retail store is always developing and growing. We have plans to build more unique sets at our store, and maybe grow to more locations. We love the fast response to our customers we can get through facebook and twitter as well at www.facebook.com/themeparkconnection and www.twitter.com/tpcdisney . Maybe have a mobile AP someday to offer to our fans. We also take into consideration what our fans want for future purchases. It’s always important to change and grow in order to meet the needs of our customers. It is our main goal to be your connection to your Disney collection. It’s really something we take seriously, by developing ideas and opportunities… like opening our retail store 2 years ago.

Question: What one item at the parks today would you love to get into your store?

Marc: It’s hard to come up with one because there are so many I’d love to get in our store! We have had some amazing items, like the Timothy Mouse that was on top of Dumbo, a Carousel Horse from Disneyland, and certain ride cars. But if I truly had to bring one item to have at our store I would probably go with something from the Haunted Mansion, like the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Or maybe an entire fully dressed Doll from It’s a Small World. Here I go, not being able to just say one. We get a lot of WOW items, so it would have top those. If I think of something that would top what we have already had in our shop…I’d have to go with the Hitchhiking Ghosts.

Question: What theme park character are you most like and why?

Marc: I love Figment as a character because when I see him it brings me back to my first visit to Disney with my family. I love to get items into our shop from the original Figment attractions, Dreamfinder stuff, as it all has to do with imagination. It has taken imagination to make everything you see in the world today. I imagined this business to be the number one place to find unique Disney items in the world. So it’s having that imagination to see it through, and then actually doing things to make it happen that have made our store what it is today. Being creative and all is what Figment is about.

Question: What is your favorite theme park?Theme Park Connection 3

Marc: Love Disneyland. I like the feeling it gives you when you realize that you’re walking in the same place Walt walked, and had a hand in designing. It’s just an amazing feeling.

Question: What is your favorite theme park ride?

Marc: I was most impressed when I first rode “Countdown to Extinction” (now Dinosaur) when it first opened in 1998 because it was the first of its kind I had ridden. Now-a-days it’s the classics: Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and of course Space Mountain. Interesting enough, Space Mountain is a wild ride with the lights off but I had opportunity to ride with lights on and you would not believe the difference. It’s not as thrilling because with the lights on you can anticipate where you are going. But with the lights off it’s awesome.

Question: What is your favorite theme park food?

Marc: I always have to have a Dole Whip, and what is great is they are actually starting to pop up in more parks around the US, and even the Polynesian offers them now. I always head right to the Dole Whip in Adventureland when at the Magic Kingdom though.
Huge thanks to Marc for answering our questions and offering up such a great giveaway for our readers!

You can find the Theme Park Connection at the following locations:

Website: http://www.themeparkconnection.com/ – Visit our online store and eBay auctions through this website
Facebook: www.facebook.com/themeparkconnection
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tpcdisney

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