Let me preface this by saying there was a time in my life when I looked at tourists, draped in full regalia (backpacks, fanny packs, old school Canon camera with awesomely colored neck strap), and thought “I would die of embarrassment before looking like that in public.” So with that in mind, here is a picture my husband took of me right before boarding Pirates of the Caribbean in March of 2011:
That is what happens when you drink the Disney kool-aid ladies and gentlemen. Behold it in all its nerdy glory.
|I blend in well. I'm a blender.|
You can’t see my lanyard in this particular picture but I am an absolute Disney pinaholic. When I went to WDW for the first time in October of 2008 I saw people walking around with pin lanyards on but I didn’t understand what they were. They just reminded me of how my mom used to describe the pin trading that would go on when the Olympics were in Canada many years back. It wasn’t until our last few days of vacation that I really took an interest in them. I got a nice pink lanyard thinking it would be a great souvenir to keep my keys on when we returned home, and the person who sold it to me (at the pin stand just outside Tusker House Restaurant in Animal Kingdom) suggested I take a look at the pins they had there. I left that stand with Mickey & Minnie in their wedding clothes, baby Pooh with a honey pot, Mickey dressed as a ghost, and Lady & the Tramp. I was officially hooked after that. We were broke newlyweds and as far as a pin budget went we had just blown it, but as it is with any good addiction it eventually became something that I was willing to invest a whole lot of money I don’t have in to!
Now our pin buying routine consists of me purchasing a lot of about 25-30 pins from a seller on eBay about 4 weeks prior to our departure date. Usually these are hidden Mickey pins (pins given to Cast Members to trade in the parks), and there have been a few occasions where I’ve gotten some that were originally part of a starter set. Nothing fancy, but every now and then you get some interesting ones that you wouldn’t typically find on sale in the parks. I usually keep about 10 of the ones from the lot I receive and use the rest to trade in the parks.
If you are interested in buying lots from eBay I have a couple tips. As with any eBay purchase, make sure you’re buying from a trusted seller. I usually go through the sellers other items and reviews and make sure they’re an experienced pin seller to ensure that I’m getting someone who will be knowledgeable about pin trading if I have to make a return for some reason. Also make sure that they guarantee you won’t be receiving Sedesma pins, and that they explicitly state that all their pins are able to be traded at Disney parks. The latter statement constitutes a guarantee by the seller that they can be used for their intended purpose, so if you have a problem at the park and are unable to trade due to a bad pin, with any luck you can get your money back. You can also make sure that they guarantee there will be no duplicates in the lot. This has never been important to me since I always plan on trading all of my pins, and last time I specifically requested a duplicate lot because it made the shipping time faster. So if you don’t care about duplicates, sometimes those lots can be a little cheaper. I’ve never had a problem with any of the lots I’ve bought from eBay.
After all the trading is done and the ears are put up for the season, Dr. Dreiz and I like to display our pins on a cork board we picked up at Staples. We got the idea from some of the Cast Members that participated in the Disney college program when they told us that they frequently have cork boards in their apartments where they showcase the various pins they’ve been given. Here is our latest cork board:
Every one of our Disney pins has its’ own special story. I can usually tell you where I was when I bought or traded the pin, and the significance of its purchase. For example, in the bottom right hand corner of the pin board about three rows up you'll see two baby versions of Belle and Tinkerbell. I traded for these when we took our nieces to WDW for the first time. They're twins, and every time I look at those pins I'm reminded of the magical time we had with them. I’ve included a couple of my favorites and a little story about each one, I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed acquiring them!
2011 International Food & Wine Festival : This is the first special event pin we ever purchased. We bought it right outside the American pavilion from a very nice Italian grandma type who insisted we head over to Via Napoli for their pizza. Turns out she was from the same area in Italy that my husbands grandma was from! We told her that we just found out that we were expecting a baby in June and she was even more insistent that I get some pizza in me. She was one of my favorite conversations from the entire trip. When you start pin trading you meet a lot of interesting Cast Members, especially at Epcot. If it's not too busy it's always fun to engage them in conversation, you may learn things about the park that you never knew!
Star Wars Rebel Alliance: This one is my second favorite pin in the collection. I had seen it on several occasions but for some reason always passed over it. Thinking back, I'm not sure why I didn't purchase it when we attended Star Wars Weekends. I finally decided on our last trip that I had to have it. It combines the two things I love the most in this world (that is until my daughter arrives in June): Star Wars, and Disney! They also have a similar pin symbolizing the Empire although I was unable to find it on the last trip. With any luck I will find it on the next one, and if not they are always in good supply on eBay. If you check out the pin board, you'll see that we have an entire Star Wars collection. My husbands favorite is Yoda holding a Mickey ice cream and waiting in line for a ride he is clearly not tall enough to be on!
Mickey's Philharmagic: This pin is definitely not the most spectacular of the bunch. Not even close. But Philharmagic is my favorite attraction and a pin dedicated to it's awesomeness is a rare find. This is my absolute number one favorite pin. We bought this one outside Space Mountain on a rainy night during Extra Magic Hours, along with a Living With The Land pin. I have a Philharmagic shirt with the same duck butt logo on it, and it's my favorite thing to wear! I can't look at that pin without thinking of all the amazing sights and smells that come with seeing Philharmagic. I would argue that this particular attraction is part of the quintessential Disney experience.
Pirates of the Caribbean cursed treasure: This is definitely in the top three. Nothing fancy, but it's a dead ringer for the ones in the movies, and it's about the same size I would imagine cursed pirate treasure would be. I like it so much because it looks like a legitimate coin and I always imagine Johnny Depp flipping it back and forth between his fingers and taunting Barbosa. There is also a version of this pin that has a Mickey head on it instead of the skull, but I wanted the one that looked like the movie version.
Haunted Mansion Portrait: This is one of my husbands favorite pins. We purchased this one in Frontierland. It's a fairly large pin and requires two back to stay on the lanyard, one of which we always manage to lose! I love looking at this one and thinking "Is this room actually stretching!?" There were other versions as well that featured the scenes from the various portraits and included characters like Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse.
Disney family car decals: these ones are special because they took awhile to find. I was dead set on getting one for each of us, which meant I had to go in search of a man, woman, and two dogs! I found all of these at Epcot, and even received one in the lot I had purchased on eBay. They are hidden Mickey pins, which means they are originally given only to Cast Members and are never for sale, so you can only acquire them through trading or buying them from a second hand source. During this vacation we also bought the matching decals to put on my car when we arrived home. On our last vacation when we found out we (mostly me) were pregnant the hunt was on for the baby decal and my husband even insisted that we get two just in case it was twins! Better safe than sorry I suppose! These mean a great deal to me and I will always make sure to update them as our family grows.
Animal Kingdom Lodge: This one brings back several memories. We first found out we'd be expecting our precious Ryleigh Noelle during a beautiful sunrise in a room overlooking the Arusha savannah. That in itself will stay with me forever, but if you've ever been to AKL you know that when you walk in to Jambo House the intoxicating scent of woodsmoke is something that you won't soon forget. While there we made sure to pick up one of the Happy Birthday buttons and one of the employees was gracious enough to write "Happy Birthday Baby!" on it, so that we would have it for the day when Ryleigh chooses to make her entrance in to the world.
Well that about sums up my pin trading knowledge and experiences. If you're a fan of Mouse Tales on Facebook I'm always happy to answer questions related to pin trading, and on Thursdays at 9PM EST you can head on over to Disney Guru's Facebook page for a Q&A and I would be more than happy to answer your questions there as well, as would my husband Kyle (or Dr. Dreiz as he's known by his fans now!)