Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor

One-Stop Searching: Disney Pins

posted on July 11th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


First Disney Parks Blog Pins

Since their debut ten years ago, Disney pins have become the must-have souvenir at Disney Parks. And with the Dateline: Disneyland 1955 – Pin-vited Press Event coming up on July 17 and the 10th Annual Disney Pin Celebration August 27-29 at Epcot, it’s the perfect time to take a look at our past Disney pins and pin trading posts!

Disney pins celebrate special occasions and events.

A Disney Pin Salute … Looking Back at Memorial Day – Take a look back at some of the ways Disney pins have commemorated Memorial Day.

Star Wars Weekends 2010 Pins – These special, limited-edition pins were created for Star Wars Weekends 2010.

Captain EO Pin Coming – We are very excited about Captain EO’s return to the Disney Parks, so what better way to celebrate than with a new pin?

First Disney Parks Blog Pins – This rare pin, created to celebrate the Disney Parks Blog, is not available for sale, but some lucky readers have already gotten their hands on a few!

Disney pins are the product of many uniquely creative minds.

‘I’m Just Making This Up…’ – Julie Young, long-time product developer for pins with Disney Theme Park Merchandise, explained how she turns a rough pencil sketch and an idea into the next highly-desired Disney pin.

Dateline: Disney Ambassador Collection – Quinn Shurian and Danielle DuBois, the 2009/2010 Disneyland Resort Ambassador Team, introduced us to the “Disney Ambassador Collection,” which featured two pins inspired by their Disney experiences.

The Mechanical Kingdom – This pin set featured a first: Steampunk Disney Characters!

There are many opportunities to trade with other Disney pin collectors – both inside and outside the parks.

D-PINZ Reporting to You Live… – Dateline: Disneyland 1955 – Pin-vited Press Event is coming to Disneyland later this week! Take a look at the exclusive pins that will be available at this event.

A Beautiful Place to Trade – Disney Pin Celebration 2010 – Disney Pin Celebration 2010 is just around the corner! See what we’ve got in store for this year.

A Closer Look at Trade City, USA – Even more details about Disney Pin Celebration 2010 coming to Epcot in August.

Pin Trading Outside the Parks – Did you know that you don’t actually have to go into the parks to trade Disney pins?

The magic of Disney pins is more than what they commemorate. Sometimes a Disney pin is special for unexpected reasons.

The Hidden Secrets of Hidden Mickey Pins – Discover the history of hidden Mickey pins.

Oops! Finding Rare Error Pins – Arguably among the most sought-after Disney pins, “error” pins are truly one-of-a-kind.

Best of 2009 – Disney Pins Edition – What makes a pin the “best” of the year? Find out what some of the favorites of 2009 were among Disney cast members.

What Is the Most Popular Disney Pin? – Learn what makes a Disney pin popular.

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Red, White and Blue Disney Pins

posted on July 2nd, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Fourth of July Disney Pins

With the Fourth of July this weekend, I dug into the Disney Pin Vault for a retrospective on pins celebrating Independence Day. I found lots of pins featuring famous Disney characters, flags, stars, stripes and three colors again and again – red white and blue.

There were only a handful of pins celebrating the Fourth of July made prior to the start of Disney Pin Trading in October 1999 (many of them were issued to Cast Members as a form of recognition). In July 2000, Guests saw the release of retail pins at Disney Parks, and the annual Fourth of July pins were born. In Florida that summer, a pin was released at each Theme Park each with an edition size of 7500!

Fourth of July Disney Pins

Throughout the years, many designs featured familiar faces such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Tinker Bell, Stitch and others. I personally enjoy, however, pins that featured characters you don’t see often. Some great examples include Ben Franklin and Amos from 2003; a patriotic looking Cheshire Cat from 2004; Jiminy Cricket also from 2004; and finally Mr. Incredible from 2005.

Fourth of July Disney Pins

One of the more rare Fourth of July pins was sold at auction during Disney Pin Celebration 2008 at Epcot. Could we add any more details to this pin (pictured left above)? I have to admit – it wasn’t our best design (which is probably why it makes it so unique and why I put it up for auction). The final pin from 2008 (pictured above right) looks dramatically different. There is something wonderful about simplistic designs (opposed to adding everything but the kitchen sink).

Fourth of July Disney Pins

Of course, I have a few of my favorites from the Vault. I love the pin featuring Donald Duck painting Spaceship Earth from 2004. I served as an Attraction Manager in World Showcase, and The American Adventure was one of the pavilions I managed. I love that show (and the Voices of Liberty – “That’s the Banjo.”). I even had the opportunity to meet the late Dallas McKennon who voiced Ben Franklin in the show. Awesomeness!

I also like the Disney characters reenacting the famous scene of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Such a classic image! It was a surprise pin released at Disneyland Resort in 2005.

The final pin I chose was also a surprise pin released on July 4, 2003, at the Walt Disney World Resort. While it doesn’t feature the words “Fourth of July” or “Independence Day,” it screams America to me. What is better than Mickey Mouse and those famous colors of red, white and blue?

Happy Birthday, USA!

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A Disney Pin Salute… Looking Back at Memorial Day

posted on May 31st, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


 Memorial Day Pins

Commemorative pins have been a part of Disney Pin Trading history for years. We have created a variety of pins celebrating everything from Halloween to Groundhog Day to even Arbor Day (yes, Arbor Day – we’ve since stopped celebrating that holiday with a pin). There are, however, one set of pins, that hold special meaning to me – the Memorial Day pins. I dug deep in the Disney Pin Vault to give you a brief retrospective at some of the pins we’ve created recognizing this patriotic holiday.

 Memorial Day Pins

While the holiday was officially established in the late 1960s, we didn’t release the first Memorial Day pin until 2001. The pin featured Donald Duck and had an awesome dog tag dangle. It was followed up by two pins in 2002, including the aviator Mickey pin (center above) that was designed by long time Disney Design Group Artist Randy Noble.

 Memorial Day Pins

The holiday itself is a time to remember those women and men who served (and paid the ultimate price) while in service of the military. It is typically held on the last Monday in May (though the date has shifted around throughout the years). Some of the Memorial Day pins we’ve released have featured characters saluting; while other pins are red, white and blue all over (I think Walt Disney said something similar to that once).

 Memorial Day Pins

The White Rabbit pin was released in 2003 at Disneyland Resort and featured a symbolic poppy flower (a traditional flower displayed on Memorial Day). The poppy flower would not return to a pin until 2010. The other two pins pictured above – the ribbon dangle pins – would later inspire a whole collection of open edition pins. The ribbon dangle element is still one of my favorite embellishments for a Disney pin.

So why do the Memorial Day pins have special meaning to me? My father, father-in-law, grandfather and my wife’s grandfather all served in the military. One of my best friends from grade school still serves in the military today. I often think about what they have done in service and for those friends they lost along the way. So this Memorial Day, I hope you will join me in stopping to say “thank you” to anyone who has ever served. I’ll start by saying, “Thanks, Dad.”

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Would You Like to Trade?

posted on May 7th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Trading did not exist at Disney Parks when I started my career on the Walt Disney World College Program. As a Merchandise Host at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island during summer 1997, my conversation starter was a bubble blower. The conversation typically began with either a Guest or me yelling, “Bubbles!” Flash forward 13 years and today Cast Members have a phrase that works even better than bubbles – “Would you like to trade?” That “ice breaker to interaction” phrase continues to be the catalyst for trading pins. Now, the phrase has additional meaning with the introduction of Vinylmation figure trading.
Vinylmation Trading
Vinylmation trading was recently introduced to select merchandise locations at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line and soon Disneyland Resort Paris. The whole Vinylmation “spirit of mystery” naturally lends itself to trading. My goal was finding the easiest method for Guests and Cast Members to trade these collectible figures. We landed on using two different types of tools – an open trade box (pictured above) where a Guest can trade for any figure found in the box, and the Mystery Trade box (pictured below), which continues the thrill of the chase. I did try wearing the 3” Vinylmation figures around the office but I looked like Chewbacca (sans hair) with his bandolier.
Vinylmation Trading
The original concept for the mystery trading involved three small silver boxes. Realizing we would need more variety and choice, the Mystery Box 12 was introduced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, in September 2009. Donald Ferro, the developer for Vinylmation, had Guests trading non-stop for two hours each day during the Expo! We learned three things from that experience – Guests loved trading Vinylmation about as much as they enjoy trading Disney pins; Guests loved trading the Monkey from Park #2 (we had a whole troop of monkeys); and we would need a bigger mystery box. Thus, the Mystery Box 24 was born, and now appears as an extra magical and spontaneous trading experience in select locations.

Vinylmation trading is as easy and fun as Disney Pin Trading. Here are a couple of basic guidelines for Vinylmation Trading. Guidelines are one thing but my best advice is to have fun and collect what you like!

  • The main criteria to judge whether a Vinylmation Figure is tradable or not is that it must bear a ©Disney mark and either a Vinylmation Logo or Art of Disney Theme Parks logo on the bottom foot stamp.
  • Vinylmation Figures should be in good, original, undamaged, tradable condition.
  • Create-Your-Own Vinylmation Figures are not accepted for trade.
  • Guests may only trade for a Vinylmation Figure that is in the same proportion to the one being offered for trade (e.g. 3” Vinylmation Figure for a 3” Vinylmation Figure).
  • Additional items (e.g. packaging, product cards, buttons, etc.) are not required to be offered in trade when trading with Cast Members.
  • Guests may trade a maximum of one (1) Vinylmation Figure per activity, per location, per day.

If you have any trading stories either about Vinylmation or Disney Pins, I’d love to hear them! Happy Trading!

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A Closer Look at Trade City, USA

posted on April 29th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


In a previous Disney Parks Blog article, I introduced you to the town of Trade City, USA. It is this year’s theme for the annual Disney Pin Celebration to be held at Epcot in August 2010. I recently spoke with Disney Design Group Artist Chris Chapman, who along with artist Tyler Dumas, lead the charge for creating the critical component to any event we produce – exciting, unique and fun artwork. Chris shared with me a few stories about this upcoming event.

Trade City, USA

Work on this year’s event actually began months before the last trade was made at Disney Pin Celebration 2009 last June. It takes that long to brainstorm ideas, refine concepts and finalize a storyline. The “city based on trading” theme seemed like a natural fit for this year’s event. We wanted a connection to the 10th Anniversary of Disney Pin Trading, so the idea of “Founder’s Day Celebration” for the town gave us a reason to celebrate with our Guests.

Trade City, USA

But the funniest thing is that we had been building Trade City for the past several years and didn’t even realize it! I still recall the meeting when Jon Bishop, Design Manager with Disney Design Group, made the connection that Trade City could contain Pin Trading University (the theme from Disney Pin Celebration 2008 – Go Pinbacks!) and The Museum of Pin-tiquities (the 2009 event theme). For those of you wondering, we already thinking about 2011 (but that is for another time).

Mayor Mickey

There are two items in particular that I really love, and Chris worked on both of them — the Mayor Mickey portrait and the Trade City Road Signs.

“The natural choice for the Mayor of Trade City was Mickey Mouse,” explained Chris. “We featured him in the main logo for the event, but I wanted to create an image like something you would find in City Hall.”

Chris partnered with senior character artist Alex Maher to create the dignified looking Mayor Mickey image pictured above. It took Chris about six hours to paint the portrait. I think he captured the turn-of-the-century, presidential portrait style perfectly! Back in the day, portrait subjects had to hold still for a very long time (and no smiling –- gosh, I love my digital camera even more now!). This image will be used on the completer pin for the Super Framed Set.

Trade City Road Signs

Chris also worked on a mystery boxed set featuring Trade City Road Signs. He used rough concept art created by Daniel Kaplan, one of our Trading Coordinators. Trust me, we had a ball thinking of road signs that one might find in Trade City. We ended up with way more signs than what we needed. The cool part about this set is the trading boards will feature “completer” pins that will compliment the retail set. In other words, if an event Guest wants the complete Trade City Road Sign set, she or he will need to trade for additional pins from the trading boards during the event. All I can say is, “Look out for falling pins!”

For all of the event details, please visit www.DisneyPins.com. Hope to see you there!

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UPDATED: Vinylmation Live Chat

posted on April 27th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Update – May 14: I just posted the “After the Chat” transcript on Vinylmation.com. This transcript is a “Director’s Cut” of the Live Chat that was held on April 29, 2010. Thank you to the many fans who submitted questions – I was overwhelmed with the positive response and hope to hold another live chat in the future. For now, click on the following link to see if your question was answered: After the Chat.

Vinylmation.com Live Chat

I love the Internet! I probably spend way too much time surfing the net (according to my wife). Yet, computers have been in my life since the early 1980s when I received one as a Christmas gift. As a child, I seriously believed I could write computer programs like Kevin Flynn from one of my favorite movies, “Tron” (okay, I still believe that).

Today, as part of my role as Disney Trading Manager, I manage both Vinylmation.com and DisneyPins.com. See — all that time on the World Wide Web was worth something. So imagine my excitement when Stacy Krugman, my account manager with Disney Interactive Media Group who hosts those two websites, asked if I’d like to participate in a live chat on the Internet. How long do you think it took me to say, “Yes?”

Stacy thought the live chat would be a great opportunity to connect with Disney Fans who love both Vinylmation and Disney Pins (she too just happens to be a fan of both). I couldn’t agree more. Additionally, we just launched a new 3.0 version of Vinylmation.com, so this live chat is in honor of that slightly re-designed website (pictured above).

The live chat will take place on Thursday, April 29 starting at 7:30 p.m. EST / 4:30 p.m. PST on Vinylmation.com. All of the details can be found on this page.

The cool part is there will be a transcript available after the conclusion of the chat. So bring on the questions about Disney Pins or Vinylmation, and I’ll see you on the interwebs!

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Disney Parks ‘Quick Hits’ – April 23rd, 2010

posted on April 23rd, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Florida Farmer’s Market Celebration at Garden Town
We’ve got kumquats this weekend at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. The fruit is part of a special Florida Farmer’s Market celebration “Fresh from Florida” at Garden Town that begins today and runs through April 25. Stop by if you’re enjoying the Festival this weekend.

Also this week, the Walt Disney World Resort is looking for Quick Service food and beverage hosts and hostesses. If food is your passion, visit WaltDisneyWorld.jobs/jobfair for information.

Here are a few more items of interest that didn’t make it to the blog this week.

Where’s Goofy? — The Walt Disney World Moms Panel answers the question, “How can we make sure to see Goofy while we’re at Walt Disney World?”

Disney’s California Food and Wine Fest — Don’t miss the seminars and demos at Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival.

Disney Gardening at Home — Learn the top picks for mixed containers at the Disney Gardening at Home series at Epcot.

Vinylmation Mystery Pin Collection – Urban #4 — This limited release mystery collection features Mickey Mouse in various artistic styles, two randomly selected collector pins and one mystery chaser!

Disneyland Resort Pin Trading Night — Disneyland Resort Pin Trading Night, is tonight, April 23, from 7-10 pm in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel.

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A Beautiful Place to Trade –- Disney Pin Celebration 2010

posted on April 12th, 2010 by Steven Miller, Merchandise Communications Manager


Trade City, USA

Nestled deep in the heart of Trading Valley just off Route 498, you will find the eclectic little town of Trade City, USA. The town has many must see attractions like the world largest ear hat, lanyard and backer card. Sounds like a beautiful place to trade, doesn’t it? That story was the original concept behind the theme of this year’s 10th Annual Disney Pin Celebration (has it been ten years?) which will be held August 27-29, 2010 at Epcot inside World ShowPlace.

“For the design of Trade City, we were thinking Main Street, U.S.A. meets Radiator Springs,” explained Jeanne Lewis, product developer for this event. “Yet we needed a reason for Guests to visit the city, so we created a Founders Day celebration. The funny thing is the town is celebrating 10 years just like Disney Pin Trading is celebrating 10 years. What a coincidence! (laughs)”

Trade City, USA Limited Edition Ear Hat

There will be a variety of specially designed items created just for this event including figurines with pins, a limited edition ear hat with a pin and lots of new (you guessed it) limited edition pins. I’m having lots of trouble deciding on my favorite pin this year, yet I really like this one pictured below. It features a slider element whose contents won’t be revealed until the event. Any guesses as to which pin was returned to Tinker Bell?

Trade City, USA Limited Edition Pin

The event will features a spacious room for trading, trading activities and games, entertainment and a silent auction. We are also introducing some additional experiences this year including a breakfast and a desert reception for a select number of Guests.

On Sunday, there will be the first-ever Vinylmation ticketed event that will take place in World ShowPlace. There will be artist demonstrations, create-your-own experiences, a silent auction and the release of three specially designed Vinylmation items. I love the set below that Thomas Scott, lead designer for Vinylmation, created for the event. It will be a 9” plus 3” figure set and it looks incredible!

Trade City, USA Vinylmation

I’ve been to nearly every Pin Celebration (somehow missed 2003), and it is difficult to describe the “awesomeness” (is that a word?) of this event. I sadly ran out of room in this posting, but look for future articles featuring interviews with the Disney Design Group artists behind this event, and the Walt Disney World Ambassador team who have, for the first time, designed pins for the celebration.

Meanwhile, visit the Disney Pin Celebration 2010 event page for more details. Registration opened on March 31, 2010, for this hard-ticket event via DisneyPins.com.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 28th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


I’d like to say thank you again to everyone who shared their favorite Disney Parks thrill ride (and lists of faves) here on the blog and on Facebook this week. If you missed the original post, we went into the parks to get an idea of what you were thinking.

Here are a few more of the week’s most popular posts.

Springtime in Tomorrowland — Paul Hiffmeyer does it again, this time blending horticulture with futuristic architecture in his latest photo.

Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular
— As one of the longest running Broadway-style shows in the country, there will have been approximately 7,500 total performances and nearly 9.5 million guests will have seen this fantastic show. Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie will make their last appearance on stage in this entertaining show on August 15.

Endangered Sea Turtles Rescued — To help the turtles, the Disney’s Animal Programs team took part in a massive effort by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue more than 4,500 sea turtles impacted by the record cold temperatures.

Extra Time to Dine at Epcot? — Do you like the idea of an extra hour for dining in the evening at Epcot? Give it a try from March 28 through April 10, and let us know what you think — you can book your “extra hour” table at Coral Reef Restaurant, Garden Grill or Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The Mechanical Kingdom — Great news Steampunk fans! On April 1, you can meet Mike Sullivan, the Disney artist behind The Mechanical Kingdom, and have your pins signed at Disney’s Pin Traders from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This store is located in the Downtown Disney Marketplace at Walt Disney World Resort. Steampunk goggles are optional.

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Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap

posted on March 20th, 2010 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks


Fess Parker, as Davy Crockett, receives a tribute window

This week, the Disney Parks family mourned the loss of a legend — Fess Parker. In his role as Davy Crockett, Fess Parker not only helped promote and open Disneyland Park but he also became a hero to many of us, including Walt Disney Company President and CEO, Robert Iger. Blog author and Walt Disney World photographer Gene Duncan also shared a unique photo and touching story.

We also visited the office of artist Don “Ducky” Williams and watched as he created an exceptional Disney character in minutes. For Don, the characters are more than drawings, they’re living, breathing personalities and creating the art “is a way of life.”

Here are a few more of the week’s most popular posts.

Rush HourGarth Vaughan showed us what rush hour looks like at the Magic Kingdom.

Pin Trading Outside the Parks — Did you know you don’t have to go into the parks to trade pins?

Main Street Electrical Parade – 1999 — We found this one-of-a-kind video of the Main Street Electrical Parade road test from 1999.

First Kid to Run Through Sleeping Beauty Castle Now Guards the ResortDisneyland Security Officer Robb Fischle shared his memories of watching Disneyland as it was built and being one of the first children to run through Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Balloon with a View — Paul Hiffmeyer showed a new perspective on Mickey Mouse balloons.

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