More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Oops! Finding Rare Error Pins

Steven Miller

by , Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Walt Disney World Resort

Since the start of our 10th Anniversary of Disney Pin Trading celebration, I’ve had some time to reflect upon the number of pins we’ve released in the past 10 years. As discussed in a previous article, we are paying tribute to some of the more popular, frequently traded or highly desired pins via limited edition Tribute Collections. But what about those pins that we’d prefer to sweep under the rug? Yes, I’m talking about those pins that are affectionately known as “error” pins. While we aren’t paying tribute to them this year with a pin collection, they are still a part of the Disney Pin Trading story. It’s time to give them a brief moment in the spotlight.

January 2000 and Matterhorn Bobsleds Error Pins

I’m the first to admit that creating quality Disney merchandise is a top priority for the Disney Pin Team. We honestly don’t like “error” pins but have come to accept they will happen on rare occasions. We should have realized that “error” pins were going to be a part of the trading experience on January 1, 2000. It was on that day we released the now infamous “Januray” pin at Walt Disney World Resort . That’s correct – “January” was mis-spelled and it wasn’t caught until after the pin was released for sale. We’ve had a few more of those mis-spellings over the years including a more recent one released in 2009 (yes, I know how to spell “bobsleds” but clearly my spell check device was broken that day).

Are these “error” pins more valuable? I really don’t discuss pin value as I believe that all Disney pins are great (and therefore are priceless). The value of a particular pin will be different for every person. Like many collectible items in the world, value guidebooks exist for Disney pins. These guidebooks aren’t created by us, rather they are published by fans and collectors. We tend to focus on the trading value of pins. In other words, we like giving Guests something that will help them in making future trades with other Guests. At no time, however, do we plan for “error” pins. They are often a surprise to us (it’s probably my least favorite telephone call to receive).

Pre-Production Pin

There are some “error” pins that aren’t errors. They are known as pre-production pins. One step in the development process is reviewing a pre-production or first sample of a pin. After reviewing that pre-production pin, the product developer, a Cast Member who leads the development of pins, may make changes. A color fill or a feature that looked good in the artwork may not look so hot on the actual pin. If a change is made, the pre-production pin becomes unique. In November 2007, we began stamping the backs of pre-production pins with a “PP” mark to help our Guests (and us) identify those pins.

Steamboat Willie Final Pin and Pre-Production Pin

I often use pre-production pins for auctions at Disney pin events like the annual Disney Pin Celebration at Epcot. We’ve offered some unique pre-production auction lots that have given the winning bidder extremely unique pins for her or his collection. A great example of this is the Steamboat Willie pin pictured above. The pin on the left is the final production pin that was released for sale. The pin on the right was the pre-production pin featuring a different color fill. We didn’t like the purple color so it was switched to true black and white. The three pre-production pins featuring Steamboat Willie in purple were sold at auction during Disney Pin Celebration 2006.

So, if you are like me who loves catching those continuity errors in motion pictures (I think I’ve found almost all of them in my favorite film, Tron), keep your eyes open. Hopefully for us, it will be a long time until you see another error on a Disney pin.


  • ALOHA Steven!!!
    As you know I love ALL pins but I do have some very cool “oops” pins as well. Some of my favorite “AP” pins are the three pins “set” in which they are still trying to check out which metal color to use…Gold, Silver or Black. I’m always amazed to see what a huge difference the metal color makes in the way the production pin turns out! I have quite a few of theses “sets” and have actually framed and displayed them like the beautiful artwork they are.

    I don’t know what I can do to top last years event…but I’ll try! Ha Ha

    I love the blog Steven and I hope to see you soon!

    P.S. Crystal says “Hi”!!!

  • I was recently in Disney World for the Verry Merry Christmas Party. While there I traded with a cast member at the Emporium. The pin was of the castle with a dangle that reads Magic Kingdom WaltDisney World. To my surprise it was an artist proof pin of what turned out to be a rack pin. What a nice surprise.

  • I was lucky to purchase the #1 pin. It states One Man’s Dream with Walts birth year 1981. It was a typeO of 1901 I had paid for them when the manager said they were pulled from sale and I still own them.

  • How can you find out for sure if you have an “oops” Pin? we have 2 Tigger pins and one is an off color. Could that be one? *shrugs* A cast member told us it could be…but not sure.

  • I stand corrected!! The “y” is missing on the back of a pin that says Hidden Micke Pin. The pin is a Goofy silhouette pin from 2008.

    • Thelma,
      Great question. Sounds like it could be a production error but without physically seeing the pin it is difficult to tell.

  • Hello Steven! I have a pin that has the “y” missing on the back of the pin where it says Disney Pin Trading. Is this an oops?

  • I have a Sleeping Beauty in her blue dress (rare enough as it is) but she does not have any sleeves colored in (nor marked). The pin has come to be known as “Sleeveless Sleeping Beauty.” And she sits with my other Sleeping Beauty pins with her blue dress collection.

  • Hi Steven,

    I actually met you at M.O.P., it was a great treat. I was wondering besides the event auction lots, what other distribution channels are there for PP’s and AP’s (Artist Proof)? While I do not collect them per se, I find the entire process fascinating.

    Can’t wait util Trade City…

    • Jason,
      Great to see you on the interwebs. I too can’t wait for Disney Pin Celebration 2010 – Trade City, U.S.A. The artwork is turing out great. For those unfamiliar with this annual celebration, see:

      Besides auction lots, I use Artist Proof and Pre-Production pins on trading boards at the hard-ticket events like Disney Pin Celebration.

      In addition to the Hidden Mickey pins I distribute to Cast to use for trading, I include some pins that I call “The Others” (yes, I can’t wait for February 2, 2010). These other non-Hidden Mickey pins may contain an assortment of Artist Proofs, Pre-Production or other pins. There really is no rhyme or reason where or when you would find these pins for trade … which adds to the thrill of collecting. And they really are just one subset of pins to collect.

  • Gosh – I can’t help laughing at those error pins – thanks for the post, Disney!

  • I have an error pin. The Easter series from WDW in 2009 has Minnie holding an egg which opens up. Her nose what not colored in, what would this be called? Pre-Production? Oops Forgot the coloring production?(Would the stamp on the back of the pin read OFTCP?) Thanks!

    • Marshal,
      I would probably call this a “Production Error” (is that PE? Always liked that class).

      You actually bring up a good point that some Disney fans may not know. All pins are manufactured by hand. This means that the coloring is all done by hand. If a pin has a pin-on-pin feature, it is attached by hand. Literally, every pin is like a hand crafted work of art. It is an amazing process to watch.

  • I certainly do own a few error pins and I quite enjoy them, they’re funny to look at! (although, I LOVE owning about 200 disney pins…) but they are rare and a joy to keep!

  • I have an error pin!! A recent film cell series set of pins were released in the UK, and I bought one of each – to find one of the pins had the same frame but a different picture than it should have! I kept it of course and bought the correct pin to complete my series so I have an extra :~)

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