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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor

Epcot Annual Pin Trading Event

Special event brings families together for pin gathering

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
by Nancy Scala, MousePlanet contributing writer

What a difference a year makes! I have always been an avid Disney fan and I was previously a cast member for 4 years, so I thought I knew all about Disney pin trading - boy, was I wrong! Last year was my first pin event and I learned a lot, so I thought this year would be my chance to shine - to help others learn about the event and share my knowledge. Instead, I realized how much I have yet to learn.

The banner at the check in tables. Photo by Nancy Scala.

The Weather Gods were smiling on Disney pin traders this past weekend. The annual event, held at the World Showcase Pavilion at Epcot started on Thursday, September 9 and ended Sunday, September 12. Or as Floridians judge time, right after Hurricane Frances and right before Hurricane Ivan.

The entrance to the pin trading event. Photo by Cathy Scala.

This year's registration was online, as was the Random Selection Process (RSP). Guests were instructed to view potential pin purchases online and then make their choices, of up to four of each pin. Once at the event, you could purchase more of a particular pin if it was still available.

This year's event was $75 per person, $22 more than last year's event. What I didn't know at the time of registration is that included in the price were two meal vouchers good at any of the fast food pavilions in any country during lunch or dinner.

Meal choices included an entrŽe, a side, a drink and a desert ranging in prices from an $11 lunch in France to a $15 dinner in Mexico. Tie that in with Grandma's Sweets & Treats Reception on Saturday with free ice cream, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and lemonade and my clothes are suddenly tighter.

Guests fishing for mystery pins. Photo by Nancy Scala.

The theme for this year's event was “A Family Pin Gathering.” Around the perimeter of the pavilion were games of chance, like putting for a hole-in-one or throwing plums into mason jars. Guests turned in one coupon for a chance to play and always came away with at least one pin. New this year were the “Mystery Pin Trading” booths, in which collectors blindly pulled out a sack or fake fish that had a pin inside of it. “Speed Pin Trading” was a booth where a cast member would spin a rack or table and then stop it randomly. Once it was stopped, you had 30 seconds to spot a pin you wanted.

The games and boards were most likely created to lessen the lines at the traditional pin boards, but that didn't always happen. While fun and distracting, the lines at the pin boards were always longer than the lines for the games.

As in previous years, there was a kid's zone where young collectors could trade on their own boards in a separate area for “serious” collectors. People would spread out their collections - bags, boxes, and tables full of pins to trade and view.

Many thanks to all the folks including the girl group of Cathys from Milwaukee Florida. These two ladies made the event truly enjoyable. Every time I saw them, they had a smile on their face and they loved trading with everyone around them. To me, they epitomized what the event was all about - meeting new people, sharing their love of the “sport” and parting their knowledge to anyone who asked. I learned a lot from these ladies and it was a great pleasure to meet them.

Upcoming pins from Disneyland Paris showing the 75 Mickey Statues depicted in pins, and the “Cuties” series. Photo by Nancy Scala.

There were 5 of Disney's “Pin Partners” available to show off new and upcoming pins. Once guests visited the partner's table, they got a stamp on their Passport and a free pin. There were exciting new pins to preview from the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Resort Paris,, and Disney Catalog/ There was a note on the Passport itself that coming soon was a “New Disney Pin Trading Destination Hong Kong Disneyland.”

More upcoming pins from Disneyland Paris. Photo by Nancy Scala.

One of the biggest surprises of the event was the appearance of Disney's Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto) Characters milled around the event, making themselves available for pictures and general fun.

Mickey plays a game of chance with a young collector. Photo by Nancy Scala.

Many thanks also to Bonnie for her unwavering patience in helping me understand even more about Disney pin trading. Upon meeting her at the airport, she asked me how many times I traveled to WDW. I said, “Two to three times a year,” and she replied, “That's all?”, that's when I knew I was in for the education of a lifetime. I learned all my brain could handle on pin trading on the plane down and even some valuable information on the Disney Vacation Club. Every time I spotted Bonnie at the convention, she greeted me with a sly, “Did you get anything good?” and on the plane ride home, we discovered that we had local friends in common. What a truly Small World.

Mickey and Minnie pose for pictures with pin collectors. Photo by Cathy Scala.

There was an auction held on Saturday with pieces ranging from framed pin sets, to one-of-a-kind pins, to artist proofs. Although the 65 lots available to bid on were 25 more than last year, the prices really kept most collectors out of the game. Most items seemed to range around a couple of hundred dollars, but some went for much more. Stitch seemed to be the favorite this year, with wild bidding on anything Stitch - the biggest auction taking place was the Stitch pin that sold for $1300. ONE pin! It was a pin showing Stitch holding his alien transport unit and inside was Tinkerbell. It was a jumbo version of a popular pin from Tink's Summer Pin Quest and had an edition size of five. People were talking about that one all weekend.

Some of the event pins and special artist proofs up for auction. Photo by Nancy Scala.

I am happy to report that I got every pin I wanted this weekend. I probably gave up something valuable in the process, but to me its all about collecting what I like and for me that's Belle. I learned a lot from everyone I met and look forward to next year's event, which will truly be A Family Gathering for me.

A silly suitcase located outside the pin event provides more theming for the event. Photo by Cathy Scala.

Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Nancy through our Mailbag here.

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Nancy Scala lives in upstate NY with her 2 cats, Belle and Nikoma. She was previously a cast member at The Disney Store for four years, and has been to Walt Disney World over a dozen times. She has been buying and selling Disneyana on eBay since 1997 and currently works for Mercury Web Solutions.


Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.


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