Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Love Is Magical Pin Event

The main reason we wanted to go to Disney World in February was that its now a tradition... not sure how many years have to go by before something becomes a "tradition", but this has been our third year, so we'll go with that.

Our time to go usually is right around the last few days of January into the first week of February, but this time around it was a little different.  There was... a pin event.  A Disney Pin Trading Event, which we had heard about but never been too. 

Okay, first, let me tell you about Disney Pins.  They are pins, not pens, and there are by now probably close to 100,000 different pins out there... all sizes, shapes, complexities, characters, and anything Disney related you can think of.  Long story short, you can trade them while you are there.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I choose to wear lanyards with pins adorning the left and right side, but some people carry small (and big) books, put them on hats, vests and any number of personal possessions.  Some people buy them just to trade them, others buy them as collectables only and still others do a combo of both, like us.

It started in Disneyland back in the late 90s, caught on at other parks, and because of Walt Disney World's size and sheer volume of guests every year, it exploded into this huge hobby and pasttime. 

My very first pin.  Its on one of our many bulletin boards,
and will never be traded.
The Lovely Steph Leann bought her first pin on a pre-marriage vacation she took with her mama and sister and family in the fall of 2003, and I purchased mine on our honeymoon in March of 2004.  I just asked her what her first pin was, and she said, "Oh... I dunno... probably a wedding pin or something..." referring to the several Mickey and Minnie bride and groom pins that she picked up.  I, however, know my first pin.  The abominable snowman from Monster's Inc, complete with yellow sno-cones.

Since then, she and I have spent hundreds... oh, who am I kidding, thousands of dollars on Disney Pins.  When I worked at The Happiest Place in the Mall, I got a huge discount at the park, which made buying pins even cheaper, which ended up costing us more money because we spent more than we would have otherwise.

For anyone who has visited The Cabana, they can tell you about our 6+ large boards full of pins, mostly grouped by character, or theme park, or whatever.  She loves classic pins like the princesses and the dwarfs and anything else she finds "cute!", while I have a huge collection of Tinkerbell pins, Incredibles pins and Hercules pins.

So, when I found out that they were doing a pin event on February 5th, I told The Lovely Steph Leann that we were going and our trip was going to be based around that day.  Well, we thought it would be good to go to the event early in the trip, especially since we had some friends coming down later that week, so we arrived on February 3rd (told in this post), and went to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios on Friday, the 4th (told in this post).

Saturday morning, we got our pins together, me in my "pin messenger bag" and she in her "pin backpack".  We could tell that there were a lot of other people there for the event because guests were arriving with suitcases and big boxes and crates literally rolled in on hand trucks and such.  She and I carried with us maybe 50, 75 pins each, these people had 100s of pins with them.

When the gates opened at 9a, I dashed on over and got Soarin' fast passes while The Lovely Steph Leann walked over to the old Wonders of Life Pavilion to get in line, which was good because we ended up being about 10th in line to get in, and the line got rather long behind us as 10am approached.

The theme to the event, featuring Duffy the Disney Bear, who I think is
kind of stupid.

 We go in, finally, handing over our passes--which, by the way, I feel like should more than an email confirmation... I mean, we paid like, $50 each to do this event, and we got a sheet of paper that essentiall said "Let 'em in."  Just like when you buy Annual Passes, I feel like they should be harder plastic, making it harder to mess them up, instead of the paper cards we got.  They dispatch four thousand plastic cards per day for room keys, can they not do something for people who pay $50 for tickets, or $495 for an annual pass?  Just sayin.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, we go in, and get in line immediately for our pre-purchased pins.  There were pins and pin sets you had to order ahead of time to ensure you got them, which we did, and we picked them up right off the bat. 

You know how you are planning for something, but because you don't know alot about it, you kind of have to feel your way around it and actually experience it to "get it"?  That was this event for us... we didn't know what to expect, so when we walked around the corner and saw the rows and rows of empty tables, we weren't sure exactly how to approach it.

Pin traders in action
 We did find a spot to put our stuff down, but again, we only brought a limited number of pins with us, so we weren't prepared to spread out and be real traders.   When you trade with a Cast Member, they have to take whatever you give them as long as the pin you are handing over is one they don't have, or its obviously a pin that isn't from Disney.  With these pin traders, these are pins that are from their own personal collections... so they aren't obliged to take anything you offer. 

There were sourpusses for sure, people that you try to talk to and they wanted to take advantage of you, asking for your best pins for something that you would be able to find elsewhere... and there were nice people to, people who had books of pins that were just their extras, and as long as they didnt have a bunch of the pin you would try to trade them, they were more than happy to help you finish a set.

Pin traders were only part of it, though.  As part of your ticket package, you got four coupons for pin boards, and the pin wheel. 

In the back of the room, they had several cute backgrounds set up with different Disney scenes, including one where several characters were coming out of a mine in a car.

The Tunnel of Love display.  Mickey and Minnie were in a nearby set up.
The Mine of Love, as its called.  This is right near one of the Pin Board lines

There were actually six lines to choose from, and five were just alike, so really it was a crapshoot.  Here's how this works... you get in line, and when you get up to the front, you get to trade two pins off of this big board sitting on an easel.  But the board is facing the other way, so you don't know what it looks like until you get up there... and they trade it out every 20 minutes or so, so its being refreshed with new pins.  The trick is trying to be someone who gets there right after they refresh it, because if you get there right before they bring a new board out, its usually pretty picked over.  Why not wait and take your time?  Because you only get 60 seconds behind the board to choose.

The sixth, though, was something a little different.  It was a pin wheel... we got in this line first, and because we lined up before the pin boards opened up, we were pretty quick to the front. 

Me, making the hard decisions

Its a wheel with 8 covered compartments.  You get there and stand on the X, and spin the wheel.  Whatever compartment comes to you when it stops, the panel opens and you choose out of those pins.  From what I remember, there wasn't much to choose from when I was at the wheel, but I think The Lovely Steph Leann found something cool, though she spun to a different section.

After the wheel, we got in the longer line for another board, this time a regular board. 

Time is ticking away, tick tick ticking away, as The Lovely Steph Leann tries
to choose wisely
This is what took much longer.  We decided to divide into two lines the second time around, and really, it didn't make much difference.   It took both of us forever to get to the front of each line we were in, so after that, we just stuck together. 

This is early in the pin board activity time... it got much busier

I hope you don't imagine all pin traders to look like big'un there in the blue... He is at the front of a long line, about to trade on the board--he should be more excited!  The Lovely Steph Leann, who is third in this line, is ready to sit down.

After the pin wheel and separating for a line, we just stayed together in the other two lines we went into... this part took up most of our afternoon, which is okay because it did start to rain. 

My only complaint was really that there wasn't a food place offered in the pavilion.  Being the old Wonders of Life, they had, even visible, a set up where they could serve food--but only offered desserts. 

For $50, you would think that they would give you a boxed lunch, but that's wrong... but I'd have been willing to pay Disney prices ($9 for a burger and fries) for lunch if it was offered in the buidling.  Instead, I had to leave the pavilion, walk all the way down to The Electric Umbrella, stand in line, get lunch and drinks, then walk all the way back... for those of you who are a little sketchy on what I'm talking about, imagine starting at Test Track--or behind it--then walking halfway to Soarin', getting food, then hurrying back.  No bueno.

Later, though, they did a great dessert buffet.

Don't mistake me.. the dessert was great, but it wasn't lunch
All in all, it was a lot of fun, something that I hope we can do again.  Like I said, some things have to be experienced to truly know what to do next time, and this was a perfect example.  Next time, we'll take more pins with us.  Next time, we'll know how to do the boards.  Next time, we'll be aware of the special pins available for purchase that we didnt even see...

Yeah, forgot that part.  So, off to the side of the big room they had a table set up, selling "mystery pins", or pins in a solid colored pouch for purchase.  There were two sets of pins, each with at least 12 pins in the set, and each set had a companion set that had a "Chaser" or a variation of that pin... hope that made sense.  Anyway, by the time we found out that they were for sale, most of the pins had sold out. 

I guess that is a good thing, though, because we also found out that each mystery pin was $15.95, and I can only imagine how many we would have purchased... because The Lovely Steph Leann found them to be so cute.  And when she thinks its cute, we usually end up going home with those pins.

About to enjoy a big plate of seafood and steak, surrounded by a
bajillion gallon tank (on my right, anyway)
We left the pin event in mid-evening, maybe 6ish, finally rode Soarin' and ended up eating dinner at The Coral Reef Restaurant, which was awesome. 

There is another pin event coming in September, though I'm not sure we are going to it... I would love it, because its called "The Florida Project", and its all about the 40 anniversary of Walt Disney World--but unfortunately, bills have to get paid.  And our AC went out--though it was an easy fix, it makes us remember that we need to have a little more money for emergencies, not pins.

All in all, a great first weekend to our trip, a trip that had an Africa Trek (Sunday), a lunch with an Imagineer (Monday), Melanie (Tuesday), Cirque de Soleil (Wednesday), Harry Potter (Friday) and a ride around Epcot on a Segway (Saturday). 

I'm glad this is the summer of blogging (day four!) because it might take me that long to get to all of it... and then, there's Disneyland to discuss! 

Keep reading!!!


  1. Mike and I have a couple of pins from Disney. I started collecting pins and badges from any trips we went on to put on my camera bag. I hadn't realized pins were such a big deal.

    Mike collects the Star Wars Disney pins. There was one he was actually wondering if you had and we'd trade you on't have a lot of pins. lol I'll have to ask him which one it was he was looking for the last time we were down Disney way.

  2. He just told me - he's looking for the Star Wars Imperial Insignia.


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