What Disney Parks Merchandise Do You Collect?

This week, I touched on a few recent popular collectibles in the Disney Parks, including Pin Trading, Vinylmations, and MagicBands. But there are so many more collectible items out there that it’s great to see what appeals to different people!

I love the trading aspect of pins (and vinyls). But others enjoy finding keepsakes to represent special vacations, anniversaries, and more. (Pins are great for this too!)

Some options include refrigerator magnets or postcards – items many people have collected for decades.

I have a personal “no breakables” rule (which really translates into a desire for “no dustables” if I can help it!). But others love collecting anything from Olszewski miniature scale models and PokitPals to snow globes to Precious Moments dolls representing Disney characters or park attractions.

In the past few years, Disney has started carrying Christmas ornaments year-round in appealing styles such as princess shoes or characters at park attractions. Some locations in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts will even personalize your ornament with a name or year on it.

A recent instantly popular collectible was the introduction of park-specific Starbucks mugs with the newest addition to be found at the just-opened Starbucks location in Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom. Continue reading


MagicBands – Practical and Collectible!

So I’ll admit to not being totally sold on the MagicBand idea when it was first introduced at the Walt Disney World Resort approximately two years ago.

Before I get into the specifics of why, let me first do a quick rundown of what they are for those who may not have been to the Resort recently.  (For now these are exclusive to Walt Disney World but may get introduced to other Disney Resorts globally in the future.)

Disney had the idea to provide a single wearable alternative for folks who were prone to losing their paperwork or room key or maybe didn’t want to carry anything with them from hotel room to pool when they wanted to go swimming.

This wearable option could open a hotel room door, scan you into the parks, add pictures to your PhotoPass account, pay for your dinner or that souvenir you just had to have.

In conjunction with this item, a plastic-type wristband eventually called the MagicBand (because with Disney you knew they had to get the word “magic” in there, right?), the company developed software that the scannable RFID chip inside the Band would work with.

The app they developed was called “My Disney Experience” – with it, you could link your hotel reservations, park tickets, dining reservations and arrange for a key component: the upgraded “FastPass+”!

FastPass+ was the new electronic version of the legacy paper FastPasses one could get for various attractions throughout the Resort. Instead of running from location to location to get your FastPasses, you could book three per day right on your phone or computer! (This later morphed into the current ability to book successive FastPass+ reservations at kiosks in the parks once you’ve used your first three for the day.)

It was a very “green” idea. By eliminating traditional tickets and FastPasses, a lot of trees could be saved and Disney as a company is big on conservation.

And best of all, the MagicBands were free with your Resort reservation – and sent to you in advance of your trip in a special box!

But that wasn’t all… Continue reading

Disney Trading Flashback – Vinylmation Trading in the Parks

Until recently, the Disney Parks promoted another kind of trading activity besides pin trading: Vinylmations.

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These little painted vinyl figures (originally mostly shaped like Mickey Mouse although later introduced in different configurations), took off as a collectible when introduced in the parks in 2008.

Figures were soon being released monthly or even more frequently. They followed the pattern of pins in representing all kinds of Disney characters, films and attractions. However, they also branched out into random themes such as Circus, Wrestlers or High School. These non-Disney themed Vinylmations were instantly less popular and wound up filling the trade boxes at the parks as people tried to get rid of them in favor of more appealing or recognizable figures.

While Vinylmations (or “vinyls” for short) were traded in the parks, there were generally three ways of trading with Cast Members for them:

  • Clear box trades – generally consisting of a small transparent plastic box with anywhere from three to six figures inside that you could trade 1:1 (These boxes for a time were also found in some Disney mall stores to promote Vinylmation collecting.)
  • Blind box trades – generally consisting of a black plastic box numbered 1-15 where you would pick a number and then trade for the mystery figure inside
  • Hip packs – some Cast Members in stores that sold Vinylmations would occasionally wear a hip pack with around three figures on it that you could trade 1:1.

Guests would also congregate at locations both in the parks and in Downtown Disney to trade with each other. But unlike pin trading which could be confined to smaller areas, vinyls by their very size took up a lot more room to display for trade. Like pin traders with too many pin bags, it is suspected that the visual blight of “spreading out wares” caused Disney to discourage guests trading vinyls in such a fashion – and that this slowing down of guest-to-guest trading contributed to its downfall in popularity.

And over time, the locations of vinyl trading in the Resorts dwindled and finally disappeared altogether. Continue reading

A Different Kind of Entertainment – Disney Pin Trading in the Parks

This article marks my 100th entry for this site – wow! My thanks to anyone and everyone reading along!

And very happily it coincides with a theme week I’ve been wanting to do for a while which is: collecting in the parks.

There are all kinds of things people collect and I’ll be touching on some of the other popular items later in the week.  But for today, I’m going to spotlight my personal vice and money pit: Disney Pin Trading!

When I’m not busy seeing my favorite shows and performers at the parks, a good amount of my free time is spent interacting with Cast Members by running from lanyard to lanyard to try to find pins for my collection!

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It’s a pin Wonderland!

Pin trading in the parks is a super-fun way to add an extra activity to your time at either the Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resorts (some global Resorts also promote pin trading, but not all).

While Disney Parks have offered pins as souvenirs for decades, it wasn’t until 1999 that pin trading really took off as a Disney-sanctioned activity in the Disney mall stores and then in the parks. Reportedly inspired by a Disney executive observing pin trading happening among fans at an Olympic event, the idea caught fire among fans and collectors alike when introduced by Disney.

While the mall stores (and online Disney Store) rarely sell pins anymore, nor promote trading there, pin trading and collecting is still a regular opportunity at the Disney Parks.

The official rules of Disney Pin Trading in the parks include:

  • Tradeable pins are those made of metal (not rubber or plastic or other materials) that bear a ©Disney mark on the back and represent a Disney event, place, location, character or icon (this includes pins from other parts of the Disney company such as ABC or ESPN so long as they also meet the above criteria)
  • Third party pins (aka those from “operating participants”) that show a Disney or Disney Parks affiliation may be traded
  • Disney Cast Service Award pins or Cast Member Costume pins may not be traded
  • Personalized pins (such as those with a person’s name on them) may not be traded
  • Brooch or clasp-back pins may not be traded – tradeable pins have one or more posts on the back of them
  • Pins should be in good, undamaged condition
  • Guests can trade up to 2 pins per Cast Member per day
  • You cannot trade a pin to a Cast Member if they already have the same one on their lanyard

Here are some other basic pin trading Do’s and Don’ts: Continue reading

Show Spotlight: Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

From CARS-themed shows on the West Coast to one on the East Coast – let’s take a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort!

What is Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show?

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Lightning McQueen at the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

This stunt show features cars, trucks and even more cars speeding, swerving, jumping and doing the kinds of tricks you usually (hopefully!) only see in the movies.

There are multiple sequences of incredibly choreographed amazing precision driving done by well-trained professionals. And like the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!, the show also contains an element of explaining “how did they do that?”

Who are the performers?

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Stunt cars, stunt drivers and the “production team”.

The performers include the stunt drivers of the specially-designed stunt cars, along with a “production team” filming the scenes as performed, as well as a “director” who explains the movie magic it takes to capture those high-speed chases and action sequences you see in films. And there is also a very special appearance by CARS favorite Lightning McQueen who gets in on the racing action too!

There is an audience participation segment as well that uses a young volunteer from the crowd who gets to help out the production team.

When and where can I find it? Continue reading

Cars Land Lighting – A Magical Moment in the Park

“Life could be a dream…”

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This is why I love to visit Cars Land right before sunset.

One of the most magical moments in all of the Disneyland Resort happens nightly at dusk in Cars Land in Disney California Adventure.

But even though it’s mentioned in the Entertainment Times Guide, not a lot of people realize that it’s a wonderful chance to gather at the end of “Route 66” and experience this heartwarming scene from the original CARS film as it plays out in real life!

The first time I watched this, it was literally like walking right into the movie. But every subsequent time has been just as amazing and joyous.

However, it can seem such a subtle effect, that some people miss it even as it is happening!

As in the film, the neon lights of the area are turned on to the strains of the classic tune “Sh-Boom”.

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The lights start down at the end of the street by the Radiator Springs Courthouse and then move up Route 66 towards the front of Cars Land, gradually brightening the whole area on both sides of the street.

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I’m not the only one who has the urge to dance in the street as the music plays.  It can be a romantic moment if you’re on a date night at the Disneyland Resort!

IMG_9847 sm wm Continue reading

Performer Spotlight: Patty @ DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive

“’Cause baby tonight the DJ got us falling in love again!”

Patty dancing along to DJ’s music!

Patty dancing along to DJ’s music!

I really enjoy DJ’s Dance ‘N Drive whenever I get the chance to stop and see it at Disney California Adventure. But it’s made extra fun when one of my favorite bundles of sunshine, waitress Patty, is there to participate!

When automobile party car DJ arrives in Cars Land to bring the party to the visiting crowds, Patty, a “carhop” from Flo’s V8 Café is there to help lead the crowd in some fun dance moves.

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Show ‘em how it’s done, Patty!

Her upbeat, bouncy energy is infectious and I simply have to join in when she’s there to cheer on the audience participation! Continue reading