Most families are happy with a pair of Mickey ears or a T-shirt to remember their visit to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando’s theme parks, but what if you could have an actual sign that used to be on display in the parks, or even a cast member costume? A new store in Lakeland sells those and more.
While there have been a few different stores in the Orlando area over the years that sold theme park props, most have gone out of business. Cast members can buy some used props at Disney’s Cast Connection store, and Universal Studios Florida has the Williams of Hollywood Prop Shop (currently closed during the pandemic) for park guests – but other than that, it’s been slim pickings.
The Lakeland Antique Mall is a large building with many booths inside that are run by different vendors. Vault Collectibles is one of those, and they sell all sorts of Disney and Universal theme park props.
Eric (last name withheld by request), owner of Vault Collectibles, says they work with the parks directly through the appropriate channels to acquire the items they sell. “Many companies have come and gone because they are selling items that have not been acquired through the proper channels, or selling items that are not authentic, but are being sold as park/resort used items.”
Eric got started by selling comic books when he was in the eighth grade, then went on to buying and selling movie props, which led to selling theme park props online starting about 10 years ago. “It’s very exciting when you see a family choose an ornament that was used at the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or other park/resort,” said Eric. “They tell me they just want to bring home a little piece of Disney.”
“While we sell theme park items, we also sell comic books, art prints, original comic art, movie props, and other pop culture memorabilia.”
The Vault Collectibles booth at the Lakeland Antique Mall has been there for a couple of years, but word has just recently spread via some vloggers doing videos from the store. So why open a store in Lakeland and not closer to the theme parks? Eric said, “We love Polk County, specifically Lakeland. We wanted to be just far enough away from the major city, yet accessible to all travelers.”
Although Eric has never worked at the theme parks, he is a big fan. “You couldn’t spend a better day than at the parks,” he said. “Me, my wife and my daughter love the macarons at Epcot. We also love the Beignet balls at Universal Studios during Mardi Gras. The parks are very special and it’s a real honor to bring a piece of that to all of our clients.”
We visited recently and took a few photos to show you the types of things he sells. Keep in mind that most items are one-of-a-kind and once sold, may never be available again. Eric says they add new items to the store and eBay store several times a week.
Notice the Halloween Horror Nights arcade machine prop on the right in the photo above. The chest at the bottom left is from one of Disney’s cruise ships.
Here, there are chairs from one of Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique locations in the foreground and some Disney holiday decorations behind them. The pink seaweed in the upper left are marked as unused props from the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage ride at Magic Kingdom.
Here are some T-shirt signs you may have recently seen at Walt Disney World, a magnet used at Universal Studios Florida for selling the Halloween Horror Nights Amulet of Fear, and plates from Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club.
The orange chairs are from one of the Lion King rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. In the foreground on the left are some deck chairs from Disney Cruise Line. On the left in the middle is a background painting from one of the pull-down beds at Disney’s All-Star Movies resort, and on the right are various used cast member costumes.
You can visit Vault Collectibles inside the Lakeland Antique Mall at 3530 U.S. Highway 98 N., just off I-4, about 40 minutes from Walt Disney World. You can also visit his website at VaultCollectibles.com, and see what he has for sale on eBay. In addition to the Vault Collectibles booth, many other booths in the Antique Mall also sell theme park and Disney items.
If you have a large collection to sell or want to open your own store, the Lakeland Antique Mall is different from most flea markets in that there’s just one checkout for all items in the mall and the booth owners don’t have to staff their booths. You can rent a booth for as little as $130 plus a 10 percent commission. You can also just rent a glass case for as little as $50 per month plus commission. Find out more about the mall at AntiquesLakeland.com.