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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor
Walt Disney World Pin Events - June 1, 2001

A few weekends ago at Disneyland's pin trading patio, a group of traders and I discussed the differences between pin trading events and programs among the Disney parks. Disneyland Resort regulars are treated to weekly new releases and great pin designs. Traders in Japan have an even larger selection of pins and special collectible lanyards. Disneyland Paris doesn't begin pin trading until this fall, and its current selection of pins is very small. But for pin events, Walt Disney World, we agreed, is the place to be. 

WDW hosts dozens of special events each year, and commemorative pins are often part of the merchandise created for each event. Most pin collectors are familiar with pins created for events such as Soap Opera weekend, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, and Star Wars weekends, but pin events themselves are fairly new. These events are attended by Disneyland collectors who make frequent treks to attend, while they are also certainly popular among Florida locals. Listening to the Disneyland regulars, though, it was clear that most don't know what the WDW events are all about. With the help of the staff of Dizpins, let's look at the WDW pin events.

The announcement postcard for the August event at WDW.
Promotional artwork © Disney. Photo courtesy of Dizpin.

What are pin events? Well, pins are the name of the game, and attendees find a variety of pins to buy. Each event typically includes some form of interactive challenge, such as collecting stamps on a map, following a trail, or deciphering clues. When a challenge is completed, participants earn an event pin as their reward. At WDW, these events are designed to coincide with major new pin releases. Pin artists are usually on hand to sign their creations and to talk with guests. These events are also great opportunities for collectors to meet, show off their collections, and trade with Cast Members and other guests. Everyone gets into the spirit of trading, and you may find lanyards on some unexpected people... maybe even a mouse! 

The largest of all WDW pin events, Disney's Pin Celebration, Pins Around our World, happens from August 9 through 12 at Epcot. To get pin collectors excited, WDW announced a series of monthly "countdown" pin events this spring and summer.

Collectors ran all over Downtown Disney to collect stamps and pins.
Photo courtesy of Dizpins.

The first countdown event was held in March at Florida's Downtown Disney. This all-day event had collectors running around Downtown Disney to get a map stamped at selected locations. When the maps were completed, collectors earned a Downtown Disney event pin as their prize. Eight new core pins were released at the event, along with three limited edition pins. Pin artists Mark Seppala and Allan Davis were on hand to sign two of the pins. Counting the event pin, traders had 12 new pins to add to their collection. As a special treat, guests were given Disney Store millennium pins as they stood in line before the event. 

The second event, held at Animal Kingdom on April 22, celebrated Earth Day. Even though this event began with park opening at 8:00, guests began entering the parking lot as early as 5:00 in the morning! The event offered 11 open edition pins and five limited editions. Pin artists Mark Seppala and Michelle Morrow were again on-hand to sign pins for guests. To control the anticipated crowd, parking toll booth attendants distributed vouchers to collectors arriving for the event. These vouchers allowed guests to purchase up to two each of the limited edition pins, ensuring that more collectors had a chance to buy them.

Follow the map to the pins!
Photo courtesy of Dizpins.

Event guests also received a "Field Guide," in which they had to obtain stamps in order to earn a second event pin. To obtain stamps, guests had to answer trivia questions or trade a pin with a Cast Member.

Unfortunately, the event pin was missing in action on the day of the event, so WDW offered to mail the pin to the guest, or allow them to pick it up in person at a later date. Guests also received another of the Millennium pins when they completed their safari. 

"Pin Production," the most recent event was held at Disney-MGM Studios two weeks ago on May 16, where Disney introduced four limited edition and 10 open stock pins. The event coordinators took the voucher system a step further by issuing wristbands instead of paper vouchers. The color-coded wristbands indicated which pins the guest was eligible to purchase, further helping to make the distribution process fair for everyone. 

Lights, Camera, PINS!
Photo courtesy of Dizpins.

In Pin Production, guests took a "script" around the resort. Answering a trivia question correctly or trading a pin with a CM, earned guests a stamp on their script, with the finished script entitling guests to their prize, a backstage pass pin. Randy Noble and Martha Widener signed the event pins they created. 

The next two countdown events are June 14 at the Magic Kingdom, and July 1 at the Contemporary Resort, leading up to the main event in August. The Disney Auctions Web site posted information about what guests at the August event have to look forward to. (Courtesy of

From the Disney Auction Site, Info on the Epcot Pin Celebration

Pin collectors from around the globe will celebrate the tradition of Pin Trading at the Walt Disney World Resort this August 9-12, 2001.

The celebration will kick off at Epcot's new World Showplace! Here are just a few of the event highlights:

Special Disney "Artist Choice" Pins will be introduced on each day of the event and the opportunity to meet the artists during artists signings.

limited edition Pins will be released each morning and afternoon.

An auction of one-of-a-kind and rare pins will take place on Sunday, August 12th at 7:00 p.m.

New seminars and workshops designed especially for the pin enthusiast.

Pins will be created especially for the event representing Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Seas, Disneyland Paris, and more.

Disney Auctions will be offering a special package that will include exclusive pin purchasing opportunities, private artist pin signing, a private sale of Disney pins that are no longer available, and much more!

Your Passport to pin adventure
Photo courtesy of Dizpins.

While it may seem that WDW collectors have all the fun, Disneyland pin collectors have a few events to look forward to themselves. Disneyland has hosted a special merchandise event for both its 44th and 45th anniversaries. For the 44th anniversary, guests could purchase a "passport," and have it stamped at each of the four mountain attractions - Space, Splash, Matterhorn and Big Thunder. When the guest had "conquered" the four mountains, they collected their prize - a 44th anniversary commemorative pin. Annual passholders also got a special AP pin and a button. Guests could also purchase three pins, celebrating the anniversaries of the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. 

Last year, in honor of the park's 45th anniversary, Disney sent guests on a quest to walk in Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom. Armed with a park map, guests went to the locations of original Disneyland attractions to collect their stamps. The reward for completing this trek was a map pin. APs again received a extra special pin. 

Preliminary details released at this weekend's pin workshop at Disneyland indicate that for its 46th anniversary, Disney plans to send pin collectors on a "cruise" around Disneyland. Once again, guests would purchase a special map, and visit four selected areas around the park to obtain stamps. When the map is completed, guests visit one of three redemption centers to collect their event pin. A special event pin is expected to be available for APs as well.

Disneyland plans to offer seven limited edition pins, for a total of 9 different pins. Guests can purchase two of each limited edition pin with each map they buy. In light of the overwhelming popularity of last year's promotion in which the maps were sold out well before the end of the event, the park is assuring collectors that there will be plenty of maps and pins this year. 

See the park through Walt's Eyes.
Photo courtesy of Dizpins.

As pin trading become more and more popular at the Disneyland Resort, we can only hope that we start to see pin events like the WDW Pin Celebration here at home. In an effort to continue building interest in pin collecting, as well as to obtain feedback from collectors, Disneyland hosted a pin workshop this past weekend in the first of what might become monthly events. Pin traders were invited to attend one of three sessions, where managers from the merchandise and special events departments talked about the pin trading program at the Disneyland Resort.

Becky Carter, manager of pin trading for the resort, took the opportunity of this first workshop to formally introduce the Mystery Pin program. The mystery pin program is another WDW invention, and this one is sure to drive California collectors insane. Over the next 14 weeks, Disneyland is going to release one new pin each week as the Mystery Pin.

Unlike WDW however, Disneyland plans to give no advance warning about when or where the pin is to be released! Only three people in the entire world, all within the merchandise team, know the details of these pin releases -- and they aren't telling. A mystery pin may be released at any time of day, on any day of the week, at any of the 22 different pin location within the Disneyland Resort. Hotels, parks, Downtown Disney - there's no telling where a mystery pin may show up. Each pin is limited edition of 1,200 pins, and only appears at that one location. 

Disneyland's First Mystery Pin
Disneyland's first Mystery Pin.

The first Mystery Pin was released yesterday around 3:00 p.m., and was found at the Downtown Disney pin cart. Apparently the pin was at the location for about 15 minutes before the first person found it. Within 10 minutes, cell phones around Orange County were ringing with the news, and hundreds of pin collectors flocked to Downtown Disney to buy the pin. It sold out in just under three hours.

As pin trading becomes gains in popularity at the Disneyland Resort, let's hope to start seeing pin events like the WDW Pin Celebration here. Becky confirms that the park will continue its mini-pin of the month program, which has been offered over the past 15 months. Based on feedback the special events staff receives at these pin workshops, we might see more special events planned for the future. The preview of new pin releases was fascinating - I can't wait for the musical "it's a small world" anniversary set that's scheduled to be released this weekend at Disneyland. 

For more information on the Epcot Pin Celebration, or on pin trading in general, I encourage you to check out Dizpins. Dizpins is a fantastic resource where collectors and traders can go for the most current information on Disney pin trading. Many thanks to the Dizpins staff, who allowed me to use images from their site for this column. 

Promotional art © Disney


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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