Last September at the annual EPCOT pin celebration the 2016 event was announced, the theme was “A Pixar Party” and we left with the first of 13 monthly countdown pins. Every month throughout the year a pin would be released at the Disney Pin Trading store in Disney Springs that would create a collection of pins leading up to the upcoming event. The order of the pins released followed the order of the Pixar movies released. The first pin released in October was from Toy Story, the November pin represented A Bugs Life and so on. Each of the monthly releases took us up to August and the Inside Out pin. The final pin was part of the events RSP, it was the Good Dinosaur.
Registration for the event opened up at 2 p.m. (ET) on Thursday April 28, 2016. That was also when you could register for the “Little Chef” breakfast that included a breakfast buffet, trading time inside the Pixar Party venue and a limited-edition commemorative gift pin. I wasn’t in a big hurry this year as I had decided to not attend the breakfast; I was told it did sell out minutes after the registration went live. I did my registration for the event in a calm and civilized manner this time.
The date of the event took a lot of us by surprise, it has normally been held the weekend after Labour Day; we were surprised when Disney announced August 26th – August 27th. That meant we had to do the RSP (Random Selection Process) earlier than usual, the deadline was 11:59 p.m. (ET) Thursday July 14, 2016.
Similar to last year, early registration was held on Thursday August 25, 2016, you had to indicate on your initial registration that you would be attending on the Thursday, otherwise you would have to wait until the Friday to pickup your credentials and merchandise.
Wednesday August 24th
I had booked an early flight, a really early flight so we were up at 3 a.m. Gary was driving me to the Syracuse, New York airport for my 7 a.m. flight. Everything ran like clock work and I was in the rented car in the parking lot at Old Key West by 11 a.m. waiting to meet up with my roommate and friend Carrie. We met up in the lobby, registered and got our purple magic bands.
Our room wasn’t ready so we decided that lunch at Earl of Sandwich sounded good. It was my first trip to the new Lime parking lot and I found it to be a breeze.
We had our lunch then made a few stops, stocked up at the grocery store, checked the outlet store and visited a friend at Fort Wilderness. After all of that our room was ready so we got settled and unpacked. Dinner was back at Disney Springs, we met up with a couple of fellow Canadians and had pizza at Wolfgang Pucks followed by dessert at Ghirardelli’s.
By then I was tired, so we said good night to Susan and Alison, headed back to the resort and called it a night.
Thursday August 25th
We had to be up bright and early to get to EPCOT for the 6th Annual Breakfast with the Artist’s.
This annual event is hosted by our friends John & Sheila Rick and Janis & David Lavender from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders.
This year it was held in the private room at the Living Seas. The panel of experts from the Disney Design Group had a mix of familiar faces and a few new faces and included: Alex Maher and Ron Cohee – Character Artists, Matt DeWater – Character Artist/Show Artist, Jes Willis and Quynh Kimball – Graphic Designers and Erin Catalano – Product Developer.
There is always plenty of spirited discussion as the artists answer our questions about pins and other merchandise. The Artist’s Breakfast is always an excellent way to start the pin trading weekend.
After the breakfast Carrie and I headed over to the Coronado Springs resort for registration.
The line wasn’t too bad and we were able to chat with friends and acquaintances that we only see at the event.
We were signing for our credentials and merchandise after a mere 45 minute wait.
Once we had our registration completed we were allowed to enter the pin trading room.
This room is open for registered event guests from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is where we go to check out our merchandise and open mystery boxes and start trading. The mystery boxes are usually the highlight of the day, everyone wants to complete their set. There are 8 limited release pins and 8 chasers in the set, the chasers are LE400. I wasn’t all that fussy about the pins this year so I only bought 3 boxes.
Every registered guest received a $30.00 gift card specially designed for the event.
I walked the room several times and made some good trades. I also ran into lots of pin friends that I only see once or twice a year so it was a good to have this time to catch up. After a few hours Carrie and I were getting tired and hungry so we packed everything up and headed back to the resort. We decided to go into Olivia’s at Old Key West for dinner.
It is a wonderful relaxing restaurant and the food is always good. After dinner we went back to the room to rest for a bit then headed back to Disney Springs for a couple of hours of shopping and browsing.
Friday August 26th
This was the first year that I didn’t register for the event breakfast and it seemed odd not having to rush to get in line. We took our time getting to EPCOT, entered through the special bag check area for our event.
Even though I didn’t attend the breakfast, I did manage to trade for the special Breakfast Pin!
We got in line at World ShowPlace around 9:30 a.m. to wait for the 10:00 a.m. opening. While standing in line we chatted with our neighbours and met another Canadian pin trader; Andrew lives in Quebec but frequents a Canadian Pin Traders Facebook page, so we knew he was going to be there.
Our credentials were the same as last year; they had tabs along the sides that allowed us to go to the pin boards/games. Each person got 4 tabs per day and the tab was exchanged along with 2 of your pins for the opportunity to take 2 pins from the boards. At the bottom of the credential there were 2 more tabs that you tore off in exchange for your parting gift and the scavenger hunt gift.
When the doors opened we immediately got in a line for a pin board. As I waited for my turn I looked around the room. The decorations and themeing were excellent this year, everything was Pixar.
I noticed that there were fewer boards this year and more game-type trading activities. For example, the Inside Out line, which turned out to be my favourite, had five small doors. Each trip to the game you could open two doors and trade two pins.
This activity was easier for me to focus on what pins were in front of me and I was lucky enough to be close when they did the refresh so I got some awesome pins this year.
“The refresh” is when they remove the used boards and replace them with new boards that have had new pins added to them. The fun pins to get are the AP (Artist Proof) and PP (Pre-Production) pins. The Disney event people go into the vaults and bring out all sorts of wonderful pins from the past and future. There were also a lot of Hong Kong Disneyland pins, several that were parts of puzzles or sets. The boards are generally refreshed every half hour.
New this year was the scavenger hunt. When we registered we were each given a paper from the Marine Life Institute that we had to complete. Throughout the venue there were clues to help us complete the quotes.
Once we had filled in all the blanks we took our paper to a designated area to use the decoder. We placed the decoder over our sheet and various words were revealed that gave us the message, “Dory says: Just Keep Swimming”.
We took the completed quest to the front of the building to receive our set of pins; we also handed in our tab from the bottom of our credentials.
At noon Carrie, Alison and I headed out to the Rose and Crown for lunch. This is a standing tradition that I started many years ago. I always make Advanced Dining Reservations at Rose and Crown for both days.
It is good to take a break and get out of the building, plus you need to have a good meal to help you through the very long day.
When we went back into World ShowPlace after lunch we used our last two tabs and then went into the back room to trade. We still had a good amount of time left before the day ended at 6:30 p.m. so I wandered around and looked at some of the pin traders’ books. I was hoping to finish a couple series but didn’t have any luck finding what I wanted. I noticed a friend sitting there who had a couple of tabs left on his lanyard. He wasn’t going to use them so I traded a couple of pins for them and off Carrie and I went for another go at the boards.
After that we decided to leave a bit early and went over to The Land. I had fast-passes for the new Soarin’ ride and we had decided to have dinner at Sunshine Seasons. Just as I was getting up to go towards the ride I heard my name. It was a friend having dinner with her son; it was great to see Cindy and Jonah. It really is a Small World.
After we rode Soarin’ we started to make our way to the parking lot via Mouse Gear and the Pin Station. It was a long day and we were tired so we decided that we would just relax in the room and call it an early night.
Saturday August 27th
The second day of the event was pretty much the same as the first day; we arrived at EPCOT, went through the special security area, got in line and entered the venue at 9:30 a.m.
I was thrilled to have my good friend Beci join us for lunch at the Rose and Crown, it was a very enjoyable hour spent catching up and laughing.
I made some new friends and did some great trades with them; Sarah from Louisiana helped me with the Main Street Mystery pins I was looking for; Krissi from Albany NY and her friend Nancy from Atlanta GA helped me with the Disneyland It’s A Small World Mystery pins.
It was fun chatting with these ladies and realizing that they have read my previous pin blogs.
The silent auction ended on this day at 3 p.m. There is always a flurry of activity around the auction displays.
Once I had used my 4 tabs I took some time to visit the Pin Partners kiosks. There are some awesome pins coming out over the rest of the year.
One thing that was missing this year was the Pin Talk. In previous years there has always been an hour-long talk by the Disney event organizers and pin designers with lots of overhead projections and information about what to look forward to in the coming year. The only clue about next year’s event was a slide that was periodically flashed on the screen throughout the day.
There wasn’t a pin released to start a monthly countdown either.
I decided to wander the back room again to fill in some time. As I was looking through some of the books Carrie ran up to me with two tabs in her had. Gabe, another member of the “Canadian Eh! Team” had given them to her, so off we went for one last line. We got lucky; they did a refresh right in front of us so we ended our day with two really nice pins each.
At 6 p.m. they announced the closing of the event, it is always a bit sad when it is over. We said some goodbyes to a few people that we wouldn’t see again until next year then cashed in our last tab to pick up our Goodbye Gift.
Carrie and I made our way over to France and had dinner at Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles; it was yummy. After that we wandered slowly around World Showcase until we got to Norway. I had fast-passes for the Frozen ride and neither of us had seen it yet.
The sun was going down when we came out of Norway and we continued our walk to the car. Again, we were too tired to do anything but go back to the room and relax.
Sunday August 28th
We had lots of plans for the day. We started off going to Animal Kingdom and wandered over to Expedition Everest. We walked through the single rider line and directly onto the first train that pulled in. When we got off the ride we weren’t sure what we wanted to do and it was too hot to really enjoy the park, so we made our way back to the parking lot. We drove over to Disney Springs and had lunch at Earl of Sandwich. From there we went to the Hotel B and spent a couple of hours at a pin trading meet that was being held there. After a few trades we made our way back to Disney Springs and met up with a bunch of our friends for a wonderful dinner at The Boat House.
After dinner we went back to Animal Kingdom to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark. I found it to be a waste of time – it was too dark to see anything. We planned to watch the Jungle Book light show, but it was just too hot and we were both tired and still had to pack. We headed home early again.
Monday August 29th
I was up early and drove my suitcase down to the Bell Captain to check it in and get my boarding pass. Once I had done that I went back to the room, picked up Carrie and we were off to the airport; we both had morning flights. We had a coffee at the airport then said our goodbyes. Carrie was flying into Toronto and I was headed for Syracuse.
It was another great weekend and a wonderful event.
I hope to be able to do it again next year!