When I left the event last year I left with the knowledge that the 2015 EPCOT Pin Event was going to be themed GenEARation D. I also had a Steamboat Willie GenEARation D pin in my hand, the first of a series of 13 pins, one to be released each month leading up to the September event.
"GenEARation D is a chance to pay homage to the key moments in Disney history that made an impact on the lives of Disney fans, both young and young at heart. The content for the 2015 event will span the decades from 1901 to today."
The official dates had not been announced so for several months I kept an eye on the event page of the Official Disney Merchandise Blog. On January 29th the announcement came "Please plan to join us for the GenEARation D Pin Trading Event on Sept. 11-12, 2015 at World ShowPlace in Epcot! Registration for this year’s pin trading event will take place on April 22, 2015."
Click the image to see a larger version.
The challenge I faced was trying to obtain each of the limited edition of 500 monthly pins. I had a couple of trips to Walt Disney World planned so I was able to get three of the pins myself, then thanks to several friends who could do the pick-up for me I was able to go to the event only missing two of the pins, which were only released at Downtown Disney in the pin store. I had purchased a few doubles so I had some trading power and was able to complete my set quite easily. The final pin was released at the event using the Random Selection Process (RSP) system and I was lucky enough to get it too.
This is a quick recap of my annual trek to the world of pin trading, an adventure that I look forward to every year.
Tuesday Sept 8th
I was up just minutes before the 3 a.m. alarm sounded. We hurried to be out of the house and on the road by 3:40 a.m. Gary was driving me to the Syracuse airport so that I could catch the 7 a.m. flight to Orlando. It was clear sailing; he dropped me off at the airport at 5:45 a.m. My flight was on time and I landed at Orlando 5 minutes early. Rather than stand and stare at the empty baggage carousel I dashed down to Alamo and registered for my rental car. Then I went back upstairs just as the luggage started to come out. All was done and I was on the road to the Beach Club Villas by 10:10 a.m. I picked up my roommate Carrie at Old Key West and then headed over to Fort Wilderness to meet a friend and pick up some of the pins she had bought for me. We decided to have lunch at Port Orleans French Quarter and then proceeded to the Beach Club Villas to check in. Our room wasn't ready so we slipped over to the grocery store for some supplies; by the time we got back the room was ready so we unpacked and got settled.
It is always extremely hot in September so our plans usually keep us from the usual running around that most are accustomed to when going to Walt Disney World. We simply headed over to Earl of Sandwich for a sandwich, wandered through a few shops and then back to the resort. It was an early night for me after a very long day.
Wednesday Sept 9th
We spent the day relaxing. I like to arrive at the event a day early so that I do have some down time before the marathon pin trading begins. We were slow getting up and enjoyed a couple of cups of coffee. Carrie was doing some work so I went out for a walk around the resort before it became too hot. It is a beautiful place, and very peaceful in the morning. By the time I got back to the room Carrie was wrapping up with work so we walked down to Beaches & Cream for lunch; after lunch we went to the pool for a couple of hours.
Even lounging beside the pool was just too hot for us so we went back to the room. Carrie worked some more and I had a short nap. Then it was time to meet up with a group of our pin trading friends and celebrate a birthday at the Captains Grill. It was a fun time with a dozen of my friends and a really good meal. It was the first time I had eaten there and I would definitely go back.
After dinner we went back to the room to get organized for the next day; there would be no more relaxing this trip.
Thursday Sept 10th
We were up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door headed to the Studios by 7:45 a.m.
I always start the event with the Breakfast With the Artists. This is a non Disney event, organized by Janis Lavender and John Rick from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. This was the 5th annual breakfast and was held back stage at the Prop Shop.
Set up for breakfast in the Prop Shop
It was a very popular event!
There are usually 4 to 5 artists that participate but this year we had 6 artists from the Disney Design Group and Erin Cantalano, Merchandiser and Trading Advocate, Disney Theme Park Merchandise. The artists that attended this year were: Maria Clappis, Derek Lesinski, Alex Maher, Tim Loucks, Jess Willis and Quynh Kimball.
Jess Willis, Erin Cantalano, Alex Maher, Tim Loucks, Derek Lesinski, Maria Clappis & Quynh Kimball
We had a wonderful breakfast followed by an hour of open dialogue with the artists. Lots of interesting information was exchanged and many questions were answered. A question I had for Erin was "What is happening with Vinylmations and why are they not included in this year in the event"? Her response to me was that when they first marketed Vinylmations, Disney considered them a collectible and did not anticipate the trading frenzy that would evolve. They have taken a step back and are now re-positioning the product back to the original intention, a collectible. So Vinylmations are not going away, they will continue to be available on a more focused basis, such as Eachez for special events and occasions. They will no longer be included in the pin events.
After the breakfast a few of us decided to ride Toy Story Midway Mania on our way out of the park. You can't come to Disney without riding at least one ride! We then wandered over to the new pin merchandise area. Now that the Big Hat has gone, they have moved the pins over by the food court area on Sunset Boulevard. By then it was getting very hot so Carrie and I made our way back to the parking lot, hopped in the car and headed over to Coronado Springs Resort to register and pick up our event merchandise.
We arrived at the resort around 12:30 and walked in anticipating the usual long line, but it wasn't too bad.
In line for registration.
Everything was well organized and we were signing for our credentials and pins within 45 minutes. Once we had everything we headed into the big trade room. This was a Disney Pin Trading room for all registered guests.
The Trading Room.
I immediately started wandering around the room, looking to trade for the two missing GenEARation D pins - Ariel (Little Mermaid) and Rapunzel (Tangled). I got lucky and was able to find them both. Once I had that feat accomplished I sat down to open my event Mystery Box pins. I like to have the complete set when they are event pins! There were 16 pins, 8 limited release and 8 chasers limited to 250. I had purchased 8 boxes and I was very lucky, I was only missing a couple and was able to trade for them over the next 2 days.
The complete set of Mystery Box Pins.
I did a bit more trading and checked out the pins that I had been able to get with my RSP. There were a couple of them that looked better in the catalog than they did up close so I decided to return them; you have until Friday 6 p.m. to return any merchandise that you don’t want.
My purchases and trades from the first day.
I also noticed that the trade room was much less crowded than previous years. I think that attendance was down this year. There were several changes implemented this year that may have contributed to that. The big change that many complained about was the bag restriction; you could only bring one trade bag into the event. The bag had to fall within the guidelines as far as size goes. This didn't bother me as I only take one small pull bag, but I have seen people show up with Costco grocery carts filled with bags and boxes of pins. The new guidelines included this prohibition: Suitcases, coolers or backpacks, with or without wheels, larger than 24” x 15” x 18” (61cm x 38cm x 46cm) in size.
The other change was that you could only go through the lines 4 times each day; our credentials had tabs and each tab entitled you to two trades at the board.
My event credentials; tabs for the pin trading board lines are on the sides.
The idea behind this was it would reduce the number of people in the lines and thus reduce the wait times to get to the boards. Guess what - it didn't work.
And I think the other change that many were disappointed with was the removal of the Sunday portion of the event that had been designated as the Vinylmation Trade Event. There are still a lot of us out there who want to trade Vinylmations!
Carrie and I decided that we would leave about 5 p.m. and head back over to the Beach Club and try our luck at getting into Beaches & Cream for dinner. We were successful and as an added bonus I got to sit with some good friends that I hadn't seen in a while. It was great having some time to visit with Georgie and Joe.
After a very good dinner, and a shared banana split, we went back to the room.
Friday Sept 11th
We hit the ground running; it was time to get in line. The next 2 days would consist of standing in lines and it started outside of EPCOT at 7:30 a.m. for us.
Lined up outside the International Gateway.
Rowdy, the security dog, at work sniffing our pin bags.
This year there were no troubles or communication breakdowns; the cast members and security were ready for us. We got through security by 7:50 a.m. and got in line for our breakfast that started at 8:30 a.m.
The line for breakfast.
We had been given special orange lanyards to wear so that we could be easily identified as paid breakfast attendees and when they opened the doors we were able to just march right in.
The breakfast allows you to enter the event 1 ½ hours early and it sells out almost instantly.
Breakfast in World ShowPlace.
It isn't about the food, although it was pretty good this year, it’s about getting in line for the pin boards that extra hour and a half with fewer people. I was able to get through 2 lines before the doors opened to the rest of the guests. You also did not have to use any of your tabs during the breakfast.
Another change this year was the event pins that are usually on the boards; this year everyone received a full set at registration, so there was no need to hunt for them.
It was a relief that we didn't have to search the boards for these pins!
This was a good change for me; it allowed me to focus on other pins on the boards instead of just looking for the event pins. I was able to get some really nice limited edition pins for my collection. There were lots of Artist Proof pins and Pre-Production pins as well.
The day consisted of standing in line, taking a break for lunch at Rose & Crown and then standing in line again. There was a box lunch option that could be ordered at registration, but I like to leave the building for an hour.
This is a sample of the decor in World Showplace.
This is the pin that mirrors the decor pictured above!
Each line’s wait for the board averaged 1 ½ hours. I also did a bit of trading in the back room. While we were in line, at 11 a.m., Jeanne Lewis and Erin Cantalano took the stage to talk us through a presentation featuring the up and coming pins for 2016.
Jeanne and Erin
This is always an exciting presentation as we get to see our favourite characters up on the big screen, displayed in a new pin.
This is also when they announce the theme for the next year’s event and for 2016 it will be “Pixar Party - It's a Celebration.”
We left the event at 6 p.m. and walked back to the Beach Club where we dropped off our bags and then hopped in the car. We had dinner at Sweet Tomatoes then made a quick stop at D-Street so that I could pick up the Halloween Eachez Vinylmation. I bought 2 and got one of each. Successful mission! Then it was back to the room; we were both ready for bed.
Saturday Sept 12th
We didn't have to get up quite so early! We left the room at 8:30, got in line for the security check and then entered EPCOT to get in the line for the event that opened at 9:30 a.m.
Rowdy at work again.
As soon as we got through the door we went directly to a line. After we got though the first line we wandered around looking at the displays and silent auction items.
The displays this year were Pin Trading Disney Parks, Pin Trading Disneyland Paris and Pin Trading Disney Hollywood Soda Fountain. Each of the groups had displays set up that included upcoming pins for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.
The Disneyland Paris display.
The silent auction items are amazing and include framed sets of Artist Proof and Pre-Production pins.
Items for the Silent Auction.
A Framed Pin Set in the Silent Auction.
When the winners are announced they do not divulge the winning bid but I know several of them were in the thousands of dollars range.
The Pin Artists were on hand to sign their pins!
After our little tour of the rooms we got back in line for one more trade off the boards before we went to lunch at the Rose & Crown. While we were in line we did some trading, by this time of the day everyone has some very nice pins from the boards and you can easily trade for pins that you want for your collection. I was able to complete the Mystery Box Alphabet series.
As I mentioned earlier, the final GenEARation D pin was available through the RSP process and the first pin of next years Pixar Party - It’s a Celebration event was also available by RSP. I was able to purchase one Olaf pin and one Pixar pin, so I completed my GenEARation D series and started the next year’s series.
Here is another example of the decor.
And here is the corresponding pin.
And another matching pin.
We spent the rest of the afternoon using our final 2 tabs for the trade boards and visiting and talking with friends. We also picked up our exit gift. We thought about leaving once our tabs were used but there was a draw for some grand prize's and the you had to be present to win. Neither of us won but our good friend John Rick did so we were very excited for him.
The Trading room.
We walked back to the Beach Club and dropped our bags off; neither one of us wanted to go anywhere in the car so we walked back to EPCOT and had a delicious dinner in France at the Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. We then walked over to Mouse Gear and the Art of Animation before returning to the room.
Sunday Sept 13th
In previous years the event has always carried over to the Sunday however this year there was nothing. That's where our good friends Janis Lavender and John Rick from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders stepped in; they organized a pin meet at the Yacht Club Convention Center. It started at noon so after a leisurely morning of coffee and pastries we walked over with our trade bags. We spent a fun couple of hours wandering around looking at pins, chatting and trading. I was able to make some good trades. We left about 3 p.m. and walked back to our room to drop off our bags. We had decided to go to the Polynesian Resort for dinner at Kona Café; we were able to get a 5 p.m. reservation.
After an excellent meal and a huge portion of 'Ohana bread pudding we hopped on the monorail and went to the Magic Kingdom. We wandered down Main Street but it was so hot that we decided to go into Philharmagic to watch the show and cool down. When we came out it wasn't any cooler; we decided it was just too uncomfortable so we got back on the monorail and got off at the Contemporary Resort to wander through the shops. Then it was back on the monorail to the Polynesian Resort and to the car. It felt good to be back in the room and out of the heat, plus we had to pack for the trip home the next day.
Monday Sept 14th
After my coffee I walked my bags over to the airline check in desk, checked my luggage and got my boarding pass. I went back to the room to meet Carrie and we gathered up our carry-ons and headed to the car. We drove over to Animal Kingdom and met our friends Susan and Allison at the entrance to The Festival of the Lion King.
After the show we walked over to Yak & Yeti and had a late lunch before heading off to the airport.
Both of our flights were on time, Carrie's to Toronto and mine to Syracuse. Home we went, another successful event behind us. Can't wait to do it again!