Pin Trading Archives

August 27, 2017

Pin Trading – The Early Years

Gary Cruise banner

Over the last few weeks Carol has been eagerly preparing for the annual Pin Event at EPCOT. As I watched her getting ready I began to reminisce a bit about the early days of Pin Trading.

There weren’t many Disney Pins around before the year 2000. Although the first pins began to appear in the 1950’s, they were only created as keepsakes to commemorate special events or as gifts handed out by Disney’s sponsors like Kodak or American Express.

The first series of pins “official” trading pins issued by Disney was the Countdown To The Millennium series. The set consisted of 101 pins sold in Disney Stores, 7 or 8 each week, from October 1999 to December 2000. That was when pin trading began!

Here’s an article from the Spring 2000 issue of Disney Magazine that describes those very early days of pin trading.

Disney Magazine Spring 2000
Click on the image to see a larger version

There was even a set of 15 photomosaic images you could buy for $3,000.00

Disney Magazine Spring 2000
Click on the image

Somehow it seems that Carol didn’t get the memo and she didn’t buy any Millennium pins, or those expensive photomosaics.

It all started for us a little later, about 16 years ago. At the time Carol’s Disney pin collection consisted of two or three items. There was a pin showing Mickey Mouse skiing that we picked up while enjoying the slopes at Smuggler’s Notch Vermont and a pin from the 2000 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Then one fateful day in the autumn of 2001 she read on the Internet that a new series of pins, 100 Years of Magic, were being sold at Disney Stores, a new batch of pins released each Saturday from September 15th to December 15th. “Let’s go take a look,” she said. If only I had known . . .

We walked into the Disney Store at Limeridge Mall in Hamilton Ontario about noon on October 8th, the very next Saturday. Carol asked a cast member about the pins and she was told, “You’re a couple of hours too late.” The pins were all sold out; they sold out minutes after the store opened!

The following week we arrived five minutes before the store opened and joined a long line of about 30 avid pin collectors!

October 2001

When the doors opened everyone filed in and lined up at the counter to buy the 7 or 8 pins released that week. Each collector was allowed to buy 2 of each pin; Carol bought a single set.

As the weeks went by the pins became more popular and the lines grew week by week. By December we were lining up at 7:30 a.m., a full 2 hours before the store opened and each collector was limited to 1 of each pin. By then I had been conscripted to stand in line as well; Carol had decided that she needed a second set of pins to use as traders.

As we stood in line week after week with the same group of traders a funny thing happened . . . we made some new friends. Before long we were meeting at one of the friend’s homes for “trading nights” and a few of the cast members from the Disney Store joined in the fun.

Carol was busy trading with our new-found friends and buying pins on e-Bay . . . before long she had all the pins from the first few weeks of the 100 Years of Magic series. She was a happy trader!

Two more Disney Store series followed in rapid succession, Magical Musical Moments and 12 Months of Magic. She bought them all.

Before cast members began wearing lanyards with pins to trade there were “Super Traders”. Amy Johnstone, one of five Super Traders at EPCOT described her job in a Fall 2001 article in Disney Magazine.

Disney Magazine Fall 2001
Click on the image

Trading was soon so popular that many cast members at Disney parks began to wear lanyards full of pins to trade and our Disney vacations suddenly had a brand new element added! I didn’t do any trading but I was a “spotter” – it was my job to make sure Carol didn’t miss any lanyards.

A Spring 2002 article from Disney Magazine gave some tips for aspiring collectors.

Disney Magazine Spring 2002
Click on the image

In 2005 Carol went to the annual EPCOT Pin Event for the first time. This is the premiere event in the life of a pin trader. Disney decorates EPCOT’s World ShowPlace Auditorium, located between Canada and Great Britain, with lavish displays that match the special pins created for each year’s theme. Carol was simply blown away by the décor, the pins and the opportunity to meet so many other avid traders.

Over the past 16 years, since Carol started collecting, there have been tens of thousands of new pins created. Needless to say her approach to pin trading has changed; in the early stages Carol wanted every new pin . . . she had to have them all. These days she’s much more focused and much more selective. Her collection of over 4,000 pins is sorted by theme or subject and most of the pins are stored in binders that fill a closet. There are boxed sets and framed sets displayed around the house . . . there are about a hundred “traders” in a bag that travels with Carol to all Disney events!

As you read this Carol has just wrapped up her 13th consecutive trip to EPCOT for the annual pin event. The 2017 theme was “Love is an Adventure”. She’ll be blogging about the event before long – stay tuned for details!

(If you just can't wait for Carol's 2017 EPCOT Pin Event blog, why don't you re-read some of her previous reports! You can find them all HERE

September 18, 2016

Pixar Party 2016 - A Pin Celebration

Carol Cruise banner
Pixar Party Logo

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.

The Good Dinosaur

Countdown Pins.jpg
Click on the image above to see all of the Countdown Pins.

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.

Registration Web Page
Click on the image above to see more registration information.

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.

Old Key West

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.

Disney Springs

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.

Early Thursday morning
The "Canadian Eh! Team".

This annual event is hosted by our friends John & Sheila Rick and Janis & David Lavender from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders.

Artist's breakfast

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.

Artist's breakfast

Artist's breakfast
John Rick, Sheila Rick, Ron Cohee, Quynh Kimball, David Lavender, Alex Maher, Janis Lavender, Matt DeWater, Jes Willis.

Artist's breakfast

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.

Trish and Eric from Ohio
Trish and Eric from Ohio, friends we see every year at the event!.

After the breakfast Carrie and I headed over to the Coronado Springs resort for registration.

Coronado Springs

Event Poster

The line wasn't too bad and we were able to chat with friends and acquaintances that we only see at the event.

A very short line

We were signing for our credentials and merchandise after a mere 45 minute wait.

The Welcome Pin
The Welcome Pin.

Once we had our registration completed we were allowed to enter the pin trading room.

The 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.

Event Logo Pin
The Event Logo Pin.

Every registered guest received a $30.00 gift card specially designed for the event.

Pixar Party Gift Card

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.

Bag check

Even though I didn't attend the breakfast, I did manage to trade for the special Breakfast Pin!

The 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.

Carrie and Andrew
Carrie and Andrew.

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.

My Credentials
Click on the image above for a closer look at my credentials.

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.

The event hall

One of the games

Here I am with Russell

Up Pin

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.

Inside Out

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.

Stinky Pete

Posing with Flik

Carrie with Carl Fredricksen

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.

Scavenger Hunt Clues

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”.

Scavenger Hunt form

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.

Scavenger Hunt Prize Pins
Scavenger Hunt Prize Pins.

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.

Lunch at Rose and Crown

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.

The security dog hard at work

Disney artists
Some Disney artists were on hand to sign the pins they had created.


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.

Nancy and Krissi
Nancy and Krissi.

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.

Silent Auction Displays

Silent Auction Displays

Silent Auction Displays

Time is up

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.

Mickey's of Glendale

Pin Trading Logo

A preview of pins to come
A preview of yet-to-be released pins.

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.

2017 Theme - Love is an Adventure

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.

Gabe - the Mystery Box king
Gabe - the Mystery Box king.

The Good Dinosaur

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.

Goodbye Gift.jpg

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.

A beautiful sunset

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.

The Boathouse

Dinner with friends

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!

June 12, 2016

Pin Trading in New Jersey

Gary Cruise banner

Carol’s pin trading career started about fifteen years ago when she read online about a new series of cloisonné pins being sold through The Disney Stores. It was 2001 and the “100 Years of Magic” series was being sold in small batches every Saturday morning. Since there was a Disney Store only 18 miles from our home just west of Toronto, off she went . . . and as the fishermen say, ‘the hook was set!’

How could we have guessed that fifteen years later her collection would include more than 4,000 different Disney pins? How could we have imagined back then how many wonderful people we would meet through her new hobby?

One of the highlights each year is Carol’s annual trip to Somerset New Jersey for an immersive pin trading weekend!

Back in May 2003 John Rick from New Jersey organized the first “Trade ‘Til You Fade” event, a weekend long affair. It was such a resounding success that he followed it up in October 2003 with another weekend event called “Swap ‘Til You Drop”! The two events have been repeated every year since 2003, one in the spring and one in the fall. John is now supported by an experienced team; his wife Sheila, Travel Planner Janis Lavender and her husband David, who help him plan and deliver a wonderful experience for pin traders from a very wide area.

The CJDPT Team
John, Sheila, Janis, David

Carol first attended the “Swap ‘Til You Drop” event in 2007 and enjoyed it so much that she has been back to at least one of the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders events at Somerset each year.

It’s a six-hour drive for us, about 375 miles from our home in Canada to Somerset - but it’s a trek Carol looks forward to. She knows most of the “regulars” there and of course there are always new faces too!

Comfort Inn Sign

Since we live in Canada you might think that we traveled the furthest to get to the event . . . but you would be wrong. The distance honors for April 2016 go to the pin traders who traveled about 475 miles from Ohio. In previous years there have been traders from as far away as Illinois, Florida and even California.

The weekend itinerary is always full . . .

Event Brochure Pages 1 and 2
Click on the image to see a larger, easier to read version.

Brochure Page 3

Carol is an avid pin trader; I am not. They really don’t interest me much and I know very little about them, but I travel to the pin events with her whenever I can. Over the years we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We make the south-easterly drive on Thursday in order to have a “touristy” day on Friday. That means sightseeing and shopping. Over the years we have taken several trips into nearby Manhattan. We’ve taken the train to Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park, ridden the NYC Subway to Times Square, enjoyed lunch at Carnegie’s Deli on 7th Avenue, taken a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park . . . there’s always plenty to do in the area.

But we always have to be back to the hotel by 5:00 p.m. on Friday . . . that’s when the event kicks off! On a typical Friday night we connect with some of our pin trading friends and enjoy dinner at the Ruby Tuesday’s Restaurant across the street; then Carol grabs her pin bags and heads to one of the trading rooms. The hotel makes three rooms available to traders, the Breakfast Room, the Board Room and a Meeting Room. Before you can say “Swap” the tables are covered with pin books, pin binders, boxes and bins full of pins. It’s a Pin-A-Palooza!

Friday Night Trading

Friday Night Trading

Carol always does some of her best trading on Friday nights. Everyone is fresh and eager; everyone is looking to complete their collections! The traders, at least those I see in New Jersey, are an interesting group. They don’t seem to be competitive; they seem genuinely interested in helping other collectors complete the sets of pins they’re trying to acquire. It’s amazing how well things can work out when people are cooperative rather than competitive!

When Carol returned to the room at about 11:00 p.m. Friday night she was thrilled with the 24 new pins she was able to trade for. Most of them had been on her “Wants List” for quite some time so she had filled plenty of gaps in her collection.

Saturday was all about pins! Nothing but pins!

We enjoyed our first cup of coffee in the room and then headed down to the breakfast room where I enjoyed a fresh Belgian waffle and orange juice while Carol had a bowl of hot oatmeal.

The hotel treats the pin traders very well. Not only do they give very attractive group rates for the guest rooms and provide a complimentary hot breakfast, but they allow the group to bring in their own snacks and beverages. All the traders bring along cans of soda or bottles of water, chips, cookies or some other snack to add to the communal stock of food and drink. There is always a frosty drink of soda or water and a tasty bite available. Just help yourself!

By 9:30 Carol was all set up in the back conference room. I spent much of the day babysitting her three pin bags while she scoured the three rooms filled with traders, looking for the pins she has on her “wants list”.

Saturday Trading

Saturday Trading

As I sat there people would come by, flip through the three bags full of trader pins and then say, “Tell Carol there are three pins in there that I’d like to trade for. My pins are right over there; she can have a look when she gets back.”

Saturday Trading

The traders come from all over; in the parking lot there were plenty of cars with Disney stickers, decals or vanity plates. Those cars came from Ontario, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and of course New Jersey. There were probably other states represented there that I missed.

Saturday Trading

On Saturdays the organizers order lunch and put out a small basket where folks can contribute toward the cost.


At noon that lunch arrived, a six-foot turkey sub, a six-foot Italian sub, two salads and some potato chips. Yummy!


During the day the organizers staged a number of games for everyone. There were Crossword and Word-Search puzzles, Pingo, Name That Toon, Disney Trivia; there was even a 50/50 Pin Game and a raffle for some terrific Disney prizes!


The Raffle table.

By the time the dinner break rolled around at 5:00 p.m. Carol had traded another 32 pins and 2 Vinylmations. That’s a pretty successful day!

We have some good friends who live in New Jersey, about an hour away. They arrived just as we broke for dinner. We relaxed with them in our room and had a few laughs as we spent an hour catching up with each others busy lives. At 6:00 we walked across the road to Ruby Tuesday’s and carried on our visit over a leisurely dinner.

After dinner we spent another few hours in the hotel, laughing and reminiscing about our many adventures together before saying our goodbyes at 10:00.

We missed the “Let’s Make A Steal” gift exchange which always takes place Saturday nights. Everyone contributes a wrapped Disney themed gift (about $20 value) to the gift table then names are drawn in random order. Those who’s names are drawn can pick a new wrapped gift or “steal” a previously opened gift. It’s always a hilarious time as people try to pick up, and hold onto a gift!

After our friends left Carol went back down for some more trading while I relaxed in the room. (Snore!) She was back home at 11:30 to rest up for a day of travel the next morning! Some of the other traders kept right on going until 1:00 a.m.

Carol surprised me; we were both up and enjoying our first cup of coffee at about 7:15 Sunday morning when I asked, “Are you going to do some more trading this morning?”

“Nope,” she replied, “I’m all done and I miss my dogs. Take me home.”

So I did!

We were all packed up by 8:00 a.m. and stopped in the breakfast room for another coffee and a quick bite to eat before we pulled away. We chatted with the organizers and thanked then for a wonderful weekend before we pulled away to begin our 375 mile trek at 8:30.

We made a brief shopping stop near Syracuse New York to pick up a few grocery items that aren’t available in Canada and quickly carried on northbound. We were back in Canada by 3:30, picked up our two dogs at Carol’s mother’s house and were home unpacking by 4:30.


What a great weekend! A total of 93 traders registered for the event. That number included 51 people who live close enough to pop in for a few hours or a full day as well as the 42 of us who stayed in the hotel for the weekend. We had a chance to reconnect with friends and Carol was delighted with the pins she was able to add to her collection!

If you are a pin trader and the New Jersey events sound like something you might enjoy, be sure to check out the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site by clicking HERE. You can find them on Facebook HERE.

If you plan to attend, be sure to book your hotel through CJDPT to ensure that you get the group rates.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

Carol’s next pin trading excursion will be in August when she heads south for the annual Pin Celebration at Epcot. She’s sure to write a blog about that trip, so stay tuned!

March 20, 2016

Disney Fun Around The Country - 2016

Gary Cruise banner

About a year ago I wrote a blog describing several Disney fan events that take place around the country.

Carol and I really enjoy them; it’s an easy way for us to keep the magic alive without making that long trek south!

It’s always fun sharing good times with people who also share our Disney affliction!

Whenever I publish a blog describing one of the Disney collectible or trading events we have enjoyed there is a recurring theme in the comments:

• “I wish I had known about this, I live very close by.”

• “I would love to know when this is next year!”

• “That sounds like so much fun; I’d love to go some time.”

So if you’re looking to spend some happy times with fellow Disney fans, here is an updated version of last year’s blog. It’s a list of a few of those “non-theme park events” coming up in 2016.

These can help you put the maximum “Disney magic” in your life!

1. Trade ‘til You Fade – Apr 29-May 1, 2016 – Somerset New Jersey
This weekend-long event, organized annually by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders, is a fun-filled experience for those who collect and trade Disney pins and Vinylmations.


CJDPT Meeting Room

CJDPT Name That Toon

There are games, raffles and even an optional gift exchange which can be hilarious! Full details are available on the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site HERE.

Read a blog about the 2012 event HERE

2. Southern Ontario “Canadian Disney Addicts”
In June 2015 twenty-four strangers met in a Denny’s restaurant in Whitby Ontario. The only thing we had in common was a love of all things Disney. We spent a wonderful afternoon talking about our happy place, sharing ideas, trading Disney pins and Vinylmations and most importantly, making new friends.

Disney Fans in Whitby Jun 2015

Disney Fans chat about pin trading Jun 2015

Whitby Meet November 2015

You can read about the first event in an AllEars blog HERE.

It was so much fun that we decided to meet every three months. If you live in Southern Ontario please come out and join us at Denny’s Restaurant, 75 Consumers Lane, Whitby from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Upcoming dates are:
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Sunday, Aug 7, 2016
Sunday, Nov 20, 2016

3. Dayton Disneyana – Jun 11 - 12, 2016 – Dayton Ohio
Another wonderful weekend-long event, however this one caters to Disneyana collectors. The Dayton “Plane Crazy” Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club does a terrific job organizing this annual bonanza for Disneyana collectors.

Plane Crazy Logo

A hotel ballroom is chock full of vendors tables overflowing with high quality collectibles. This is not a flea market, these are real collectors selling quality product.

Dayton Collectibles

Lady and the Tramp poster

There are always a few interesting speakers who pass on some fascinating tidbits of Disney history and gossip during afternoon and evening seminars.

Alex Maher and Jim Hill

This year’s event will feature some well known guests:
Margaret Kerry, the original reference model for Tinker Bell
Terri Hardin, a former Disney Imagineer and Puppeteer
Jim Hill, a well known Disney blogger and historian and a very entertaining speaker

A few meeting rooms are set aside so attendees can mix and mingle, there are even some Disney pin and Vinylmation traders.

Busy trading

Full details are available on the Dayton chapter’s web site HERE.

Read about previous events in these blogs:
Dayton Disneyana 2013
Dayton Disneyana 2014
Dayton Disneyana 2015

4. Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet – Jul 9, 2016 – Lynnwood Washington
Carol and I have not attended this annual weekend event held near Seattle, it’s a long way from where we live! But we’ve heard very good reviews from friends who have been there.

Pacific Northwest Logo

There are always some top-notch speakers and interesting activities. Tickets always sell out quickly, so be sure to register early! It's a good idea to book a room at the host hotel for the evening before the event; there are some special activities for those who check-in early!

PNW Speaker Tony Baxter

PNW Photo Spot

PNW Dole Whip

Fellow AllEars blogger Jeanine Yamanaka wrote about the 2014 event, you can read about it HERE.

Arrangements for the 2016 meet are not yet finalized, but you can read more details on their web site HERE:

5. Swap ‘til You Drop – Oct 28-30, 2016 – Somerset New Jersey
Another fun-filled weekend-long event, organized annually by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. The format for this event is very similar to the Trade ‘til You Fade event held each spring. Refer to their web site HERE:

So . . . if you’re feeling blue because you can’t get to one of the Disney parks . . . why don’t you plan to attend one of these locally organized fan events!

Disney fans always make a fun-loving group; imagine how easy it is to make new friends when you are surrounded by kindred spirits.

Maybe Carol and I will see you there!

October 10, 2015

2015 EPCOT Pin Event

Carol Cruise banner

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."

GenEARation D logo

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."

Event Registration Package

Pin Breakfast

GenEARation D Agenda
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.

Stormalong Bay Pool

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.

Hollywood Studios

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.

The Prop Shop
Set up for breakfast in the Prop Shop

The Prop Shop
It was a very popular event!

Happy Traders
Happy traders!

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.

The Artists
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.

The Registration line
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
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.

Mystery Box pins
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 pins
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.

Tabs on the Credentials
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.

Banana Split

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.

Outside the International Gateway
Lined up outside the International Gateway.

The sniffer dog
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.

Lined up for breakfast
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 fare
Breakfast in World ShowPlace.

Breakfast fare

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.

Event pins
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.

The hall was nicely decorated
This is a sample of the decor in World Showplace.

GenEARation D Oswald pin
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 Lewis and Erin Cantalano
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.

New pins

New pins

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.”

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.

Another sniffer dog
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.

Disneyland Paris Pin Display
The Disneyland Paris display.

The silent auction items are amazing and include framed sets of Artist Proof and Pre-Production pins.

Auction items
Items for the Silent Auction.

A framed pin set
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.

Pin signing

Pin Artists
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.

GenEARation D Passholder pin
And here is the corresponding pin.

More decor.

GenEARation D Figment 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
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.

Animal Kingdom

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!

September 27, 2015

Disney Artist - Alex Maher

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One of the things I most enjoy about Disney fan meets is the new and interesting people I meet there. One of those people is Disney Design Artist Alex Maher who I had a chance to meet and speak with a few months ago at Dayton Disneyana.

Alex Maher

Carol had met him several times at events for pin collectors, but this was my first opportunity to make his acquaintance. I’m sure glad I didn’t pass up the chance!

Footloose and Collar Free Print
When Alex signed this print, Footloose and Collar Free, for Carol he told her it was one of his favourite pieces!

This certificate was included with the print.

Footloose and Collar Free Certificate

I wrote a bit about the Saturday afternoon seminar Alex participated in at Dayton, and the many drawings he did that week end, in a previous blog about Dayton Disneyana; you can find it HERE.

Alex Maher and Jim Hill

In this blog I’ll focus on Alex’s Friday afternoon presentation. He began his remarks by telling us he was the world’s biggest fan of Walt Disney; then he spent an hour proving beyond a doubt that his claim was true!

Before I describe the seminar, let me tell you a bit about Alex’s background and how he landed his dream job with Disney.

Alex is a “Florida Cracker”; that’s a term people born and raised in Florida use to describe themselves! As the short Disney biography pictured above says, Alex spent his early years in Miami where his father was a writer and artist. His first memory of Disney dates back to his days in kindergarten; during a visit to the school library he picked up a Disney book . . . he couldn’t read, but in his words, “I was mesmerized by the pictures. Since that day I’ve been a fanatic about Walt Disney.”

In those days, before the Internet, writers spent countless hours in libraries doing research. Alex would often accompany his father on those library trips and while Dad researched his latest project, young Alex would read everything he could find on Walt Disney. He began to sketch Disney characters and his father, also an artist, would provide constructive criticism. “That’s really good Alex, but do you think it might be better if you . . . ?”

One truly amazing fact he shared with us – Alex has had no formal art training. In addition to being the world’s greatest fan of Walt Disney he is also a gifted artist! His talents include drawing, painting, sculpting and the ability to conceive and design original works. And it’s all self-taught!

A print by Alex Maher

After finishing high school Alex joined the US Navy; as you might expect, sketches of Disney characters adorned many area of his ship! He left the military in 1983 and returned to Miami where he worked in several “Mom and Pop” graphic design shops. He became a member of the National Fantasy Fan Club (also known as The Disneyana Fan Club) in the early 1980’s. Naturally he followed the help wanted ads and applied for every Disney job he saw. No job resulted, but he just kept on applying.

By 1987 he was Art Department Head at a small college near Miami. Most days, during his lunch hour, you could find Alex in the college library. He searched every issue of the New York Times from 1901, the year Walt Disney was born, until 1966 when Walt passed away. He photocopied every article that mentioned Walt in any way and painstakingly organized the news clippings in a series of binders. Of course, while Alex was assembling this life history of his idol, he continued to apply for any job he could get at Disney.

In 1991 he made a daring decision. He felt that if he was ever going to land a job at Disney he would have to be closer to the action. So, with no guarantee of a job, Alex decided to press a little harder to follow his dream. He and his wife sold their home and moved, with their two children, to Orlando.

He finally managed to get a job interview; they were looking for bus drivers . . . it wasn’t the creative job he was looking for, but it would be a foot in the door. He made it to the second interview and was hopeful, until the department manager asked, “Your background is all related to art. Why do you want to be a bus driver?” Alex replied honestly, “I’ve heard that Disney promotes from within, so I’m hoping that if I start here it can lead to an art-related job in the future.” It turned out that the manager wasn’t interested in spending the money to train a driver, only to have him move to the art department . . . Alex didn’t get that job!

He did find work at another theme park, just down the road, but in Alex’s words, “It was fun, but it just wasn’t Disney.”


Through his membership in the National Fantasy Fan Club he knew the names of a few accomplished Disney artists. One of them was Don “Ducky” Williams. Alex explained it this way, “I didn’t know him personally, but read many articles about him in our club newsletters. When I moved to Orlando, I tried to meet him but he was on vacation at the time. But I did meet his boss who said ‘Come back tomorrow and show me some of your work.’ I got busy that night and did three drawings, Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. I met the manager the next day; he liked my work, but said there was nothing available in his department. He suggested I try the merchandising division. The next day I visited the creative department of the merchandise division and luckily they liked my work. I was hired on as a freelance artist.”

Finally Alex had a job at Disney and it wasn’t long before they saw his potential. On December 6, 1993 he became a full employee rather than a freelance artist. It was a long struggle, but Alex was finally a very proud Disney cast member!

Tinker Bell

So what does a Disney Design Artist do?

The short answer is, pretty much everything, other than animation. Their work revolves around merchandise, any kind of merchandise, and you can see it on shelves all over the parks. If you buy a coffee mug, a print, a figurine, a t-shirt, a cloisonné pin or a Vinylmation the concept for the piece sprang from the imagination of a design artist. Figurines and other complex pieces require a “four position drawing” showing the piece from four different viewpoints.

Alex was one of the original members of the “Pin Team” established in 1999 to design trading pins and those cloisonné pins still make up a large proportion of the designs he creates.

Here are a few pins from Carol's collection that Alex Maher designed.

Boxed Pin Set
This boxed set is a Limited Edition of 1400 from the 2006 Pin Celebration at EPCOT

Signed Pins
These two pins are also from the 2006 Pin Celebration at EPCOT. Alex Maher has signed the back of each pin as well as the backer card it is mounted on.

What are the challenges for a Disney Design Artist?

According to Alex, new characters are a challenge. It’s tough to design a t-shirt or a coffee mug if you don’t understand the character. Everyone is familiar with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald. How they will react in a situation or what expression you will see on their faces can be easily imagined. But new characters, like Joy or Anger from the recently released Inside Out aren’t so easy; the creative people don’t yet fully understand the personality of the character. The artists often see a “rough cut” of the movie long before its release, but they sometimes have to submit their concept art to the manufacturers as much as 18 months before the merchandise is available for sale. Sometimes the movie can change appreciably and the personalities of the animated characters can transform in that time.

Characters in costumes are challenging. When designing a figurine featuring a character in an African costume the artist has to be very careful with the choice of colours. Colours have very strong meanings in African culture. Posture, position and gestures are important too. In North America the “thumbs up” gesture means ‘All right’ or ‘A-OK’ but in many foreign cultures it’s a definite no-no.

Scuba Diving Mickey

I’m pretty sure that the job of a Disney Design Artist isn’t always fun and games, but Alex sure makes it seem that way. The pride he feels for his work and for his association with the Disney Corporation shines through in everything he says and does. He is a great ambassador for Disney!

Now, let’s get back to that Friday afternoon seminar I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. If you’re not convinced yet that Alex Maher is the worlds biggest fan of Walt Disney these next few paragraphs should drive the point home!

Alex presented a slide show he prepared quite a few years ago, titled The History of Walt Disney. All the information he gathered from all those New York Times articles was combined with knowledge he gathered from other reading and from conversations with Disney family members, Disney executives and Disney Legends. He sifted and organized the data into an hour-long presentation.

As Alex spoke he used the computer slides to illustrate key points and places in Walt’s life. Alex began his story with Elias and Flora, Walt’s parents, and their 1888 marriage in Kismet Florida, about 50 miles north of Walt Disney World. He followed the family to Chicago where Walt was born in 1901 and showed us pictures of that house as it looked then and contrasted that with a picture of the house as it looks today.

You see, Alex Maher has made a pilgrimage . . . actually a series of pilgrimages. He has visited every significant location in the life of his hero and he took photographs everywhere he traveled. His research took him to Chicago IL, Marceline MO, Kansas City MO, Los Angeles CA and many other places. Most of those places he has visited several times, always eager to find out more and more about Walt.

Uncle Robert's garage
This is the garage behind Walt's Uncle Robert's house where Walt and Roy first operated their animation studio.

The same garage at Griffith Park
That garage is now located at Griffith Park

The stirring story Alex wove for everyone followed Walt’s life from cradle to grave; we heard of his school years, his years on the farm near Marceline, delivering newspapers in Kansas City, driving an ambulance in World War I, through to his early days of animation, partnering with brother Roy Disney and long time friend Ub Iwerks. The Alice Stories, Oswald, Mickey Mouse, animated movies, live action movies, Disneyland and Walt Disney World were mingled with stories of Walt’s family life, his triumphs and his tragedies.

Alice from the slide show

It was all illustrated with pictures from the Disney Archives and pictures Alex has taken during his frequent research trips. There were pictures of Walt’s many homes, the schools he attended, churches, animation studios, the garage where the first animation cels of Mickey Mouse were created, Main Street in Marceline, the Marceline train station which is now a museum dedicated to Walt Disney, and even the carousel at Griffith Park where Walt conceived the idea of Disneyland while sitting on a park bench watching his daughters.

Garage where the first cels of Mickey were created
Walt and Roy built identical pre-fab homes in 1927. Walt's house is shown in the upper right and the bottom picture is Walt's house as it looks today. The first animation cels featuring Mickey Mouse were created in Walt's garage in 1928, a year after the house was built.

Alex’s eyes got a bit misty a few times during the hour and his voice almost failed him a time or two; I was feeling the same way and I suspect that almost everyone else in the room was too! The depth of Alex’s reverence for Walt Disney came through loud and clear!

Alex has delivered the presentation we saw at Dayton Disneyana to people from all levels in the Disney organization; senior executives, the legal department and the Imagineers have seen the presentation in their boardrooms. Cast members from many other departments have enjoyed the show in their lunchrooms and members of the National Fantasy Fan Club have seen it at their local meetings. I’m sure glad I had the chance to experience it at Dayton Disneyana!

Let me wrap up by showing you a few more of Alex’s creations and then giving you a glimpse of what will be hitting the store shelves soon.

Prints of Alex Maher's painting of Elsa are flying off the shelves!

Elsa by Alex Maher

This one is selling well too!

Mickey by Alex Maher

After the Friday seminar someone asked Alex what his favourite creations were; he mentioned two. The first was a jumbo pin, a limited edition of 750. It shows Mickey riding on Walt’s backyard steam engine, the Lilly Belle, with Walt’s red barn in the background. The train slides back and forth on the track. Alex is proud of this one because every member of the Disney family was given one when it was released in 2007.

Walt's Train Pin

The second was his painting for the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland. Artists were asked to create a series of six paintings, one to commemorate each decade in the park’s history. Alex designed and painted the 1955 – 1964 canvas. Below is a print of that painting that he signed for Carol in Dayton.

Alex Maher signed print

He described what we can look for in the future. Most of these items will début at the D23 Expo in August and some may make it to store shelves by the time this blog is published!

Look for a large figurine of Goofy, dressed as Bert from the Mary Poppins movie in his one-man band outfit. Based on the gestures Alex made, it will be about 18” tall.

Alex designed the logo pin for the 2015 D23 Expo

D23 EXPO Logo Pin

He created these 8 pins which are part of a 16 pin Mystery Box Puzzle Series. Pin collectors buy boxes containing 2 wrapped pins and then trade pins in an attempt to get one of each of the sixteen pins.

Mystery Pin Set

Once traders have all 16, the pins combine like a jig saw puzzle to form Sleeping Beauty Castle.

D23 EXPO Mystery Pin Frame

Look for this 14” tall figure of Jingles, the carousel horse from Mary Poppins. This version will be sold at Disneyland. In Florida Jingles will have a rider, Mickey Mouse dressed as a Dapper Dan.


This Three Caballeros figurine is 14” tall.

Three Caballeros figurine

Alex and his family took a huge risk in 1991; they packed up and left everything behind to follow his Disney dream. Today both Alex and his wife are happily employed by Disney, their 30 year-old son is a film producer in Hollywood and their 25 year-old daughter is a sketch artist at Disneyland.

Just like Walt said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

August 2, 2015

Dayton Disneyana 2015

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It’s a long drive from our home in south-eastern Ontario to Dayton Ohio, 615 miles to be exact! That’s about 10 hours of driving but it was a trip we had been looking forward to for quite some time!

This was our third trek to Dayton for the annual Disneyana Show & Sale hosted by the Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club.

Dayton Disneyana Logo

This year's event was held in a new venue, The Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn, and the organizers had lined up a great list of speakers. For Carol and our son Rob, it’s all about the collectibles and the trading; for me it’s the speakers and seminars!

There’s something for everyone in Dayton!

Friday June 12, 2015
We pulled away from home at precisely 6:00 a.m. and made great time for the first couple of hours; then we hit Toronto at rush hour and slowed down! Once we were through the city, traffic moved steadily again. We crossed the Detroit River on the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the U.S. Border in Detroit at noon.

Ambassador Bridge

By 12:45 we had crossed the Ohio State Line; Rob and Carol needed some retail therapy so we made a brief stop at the Disney Store in Toledo. I thought they would be able to waste an hour, but they were back in only 45 minutes, hardly time for me to have a decent nap!

We arrived at the Holiday Inn just after 6:00 p.m. and by 6:30 we were unpacking in our rooms. We had agreed to meet Rob in the lobby at 6:45 to head out find a grocery store and have some fast food for dinner.

Holiday Inn Lobby

Before leaving, Rob urged us to go take a look at the big shark on display outside the ballroom! It was Bruce from Finding Nemo.


While we were taking pictures one of the event co-chairs, Anita Schaengold, tapped me on the shoulder and invited the three of us to join them for dinner. It was a special dinner for people who had attended the seminars that afternoon. All the seminar attendees and the speakers were there! The speakers were author Bob Welbaum, Tom Tumbusch, of Tomart Publications, noted Disney historian and journalist Jim Hill and Disney Design Artist Alex Maher. We were quick to accept Anita’s kind invitation, filled our plates at the buffet and took our places at a table with families from Maine and Ohio.

Friday night dinner

We chatted over dinner, then listened as each of the speakers described a magical Disney moment from their past. At the end of the evening there were draws for door prizes.

Drawing for door prizes

Rob won a calendar from Disneyland Paris and Carol won a Pirates of the Caribbean themed Post-It Note holder. There was a prize for almost everyone there . . . I was one of three attendees who struck out. Anita didn’t want anyone to leave empty-handed so she asked Alex if he would do three quick sketches and he immediately agreed.

Alex drawing Goofy

It was the best prize I could ask for, a sketch of my favourite character, Goofy, drawn just for me by a very popular Disney artist!

Alex Maher

After dinner a lady came over and said, "Hi Gary, I'm Terri and this is my husband Dan. We're here because I read your blog after last year's event." Not only were Terri and Dan "first-timers" at Dayton Disneyana, they were volunteers as well. They manned the silent auction table most of the weekend. It was great to meet them; I'm glad they took the time to say hello.

We made our way to the car and tracked down a grocery store. It was the only opportunity we’ll have for Carol to pick up a few products we really enjoy and cannot find in our Canadian stores.

We were back to the hotel by 9:30. I settled in for the night, tired after a long day behind the wheel. Carol went down looking for pin traders but there weren’t many there yet. She made one trade and was back to the room before 11:00. We weren’t long heading to bed - Carol had to be refreshed and recharged when shopping started at 8:00 a.m. the next morning!

Saturday June 13, 2015
Morning came early! Carol and Rob had paid a very small fee to be among the 50 “Early Bird” shoppers. This gave them entry to the sales floor 90 minutes before the doors opened to the general public.

Dayton Disneyana 2015 Sign

An eager shopper

Carol thought that it started at 8:00 so they were both in line at 7:45. Unfortunately, the scheduled start was 8:30! Since the two of them were at the very front of the line, they stayed put and held their lead position.

I went into the room where the vendors were setting up and got some “pre-sale” pictures. Once again there was an amazing variety of merchandise. Naturally there were pins and Vinylmations.




There were collector plates, mugs and ornaments.

Collectible treasures

More collectible treasures

There were figurines and dolls.

Theme Park Connection display

There were books and movie posters.

Tomart books

Movie posters

Erin and Robby from Morehouse Collectibles, pictured above, came all the way from Anaheim California! That's about 2,200 miles; I guess that makes our 615 mile drive seem like a walk in the park!

A wide variety of goodies

Vintage games

Wow, look at those vintage Disney games! I knew that Carol would enjoy browsing through all the great old collectibles!


Kitchen sinks and popcorn buckets

When the doors opened at 8:30 she and Rob were waiting anxiously.

Rob and Carol
Don't they look like hitchhiking ghosts?

They were the first through the door!

Let's get shopping!

A shopping frenzy began!

Carol is an avid collector of Disneyana and son Rob has a smaller collection, but he understands his mother’s taste very well so he acts as her eyes and ears!

Rob shops at Theme Park Connection

He has a knack for spotting things that Carol has missed! He bought a few things for his own collection and spotted several “treasures” for Carol.

A cheerful vendor

The Tuppers are retired teachers and now operate Toyland Treasures, pictured above. They drove in from Maine with a truckload of vintage Disneyana.

A happy shopper

I took a few more pictures of the crowd of early-birds and then headed to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.

After breakfast I returned to the banquet hall and picked up Carol’s first load of treasures which I hauled up to our room.

By the time I joined Carol again at 11:00 she was all finished her Disneyana shopping and proudly showed me the rest of her purchases. Her most prized acquisition was the complete Walt Disney World Christmas Village by Department 56.

Department 56 Disney Village

The set includes five buildings and a group of accessories and figurines. She has admired it at a gift shop in Salisbury Beach Massachusetts but they were asking waaay too much money for it. Today she got a bargain!

She spent the rest of the day in the Pin Trading Room.

Pin Trading

The hotel had a table set up just outside the ballroom where they sold fresh sandwiches. They were tasty and reasonably priced! When lunch time rolled around Carol enjoyed one of those sandwiches at the trading table while she carried on making pin deals.

I spent the afternoon listening to the seminar speakers; they kept me occupied from 1:00 until 4:30. The first speaker was Jim Hill, a well known journalist and Disney Historian who gave us a healthy dose of background on the New Fantasyland. Jim is a very entertaining speaker and always shares some little-known insider information.

Jim Hill

Jim concluded his presentation at about 2:15 and Disney Design Artist Alex Maher joined him on stage. Alex had spent the first part of the afternoon at an easel in the back of the seminar room where he worked on several sketches.

Alex Maher and Jim Hill

As soon as Alex joined Jim onstage they began a very interesting interview. Jim asked Alex about his background and the nature of his work with Disney. The dialogue was captivating; we heard that Alex was a Disney fan from the age of five. Long before he began to work for Disney he was a member of the Disneyana Fan Club. In fact, there was so much interesting information during that fascinating hour that I may have to write a blog about Alex Maher and his career with Disney.

Alex continued to sketch

At the end of their interview Alex returned to his easel and we watched him sketch for another few minutes while he and Jim fielded questions from the audience.

Rob took some time off from pin trading and joined me for the final speaker of the day, Disney Legend Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy for the past 28 years.

Bill Farmer

Being a Disney Legend is a big deal, a really big deal! There aren’t very many Disney employees who have been honoured with this title, and even fewer non-employees. Bill is not a Disney employee; he and all the other voice artists are independent contractors, members of the Screen Actors Guild, who are hired on a job-by-job basis.

Have you ever heard of The Annies? The Annie Awards are the "Oscar equivalent" for the animation industry and Bill has been nominated as Best Actor three times.

Annie Award Winner

This year he won the prestigious Best Actor Award for his work on Goofy's Grandma. He performs the voices for both Goofy and Grandma! Watch the cartoon by clicking the red arrow in the image below!

Bill told us a bit about his background, how he began his long relationship with Disney, some of his fondest memories and some of his biggest blunders! As his tale unfolded he kept us all in stitches by playing short video clips and relating his life story using a variety of characters and voices. He was Goofy, Yosemite Sam, Pluto, Doc, Bullwinkle, James Cagney, Walter Brennan, Walter Cronkite, Richard Nixon . . . and many more characters. It was a wonderful session and everyone was delighted that it ran a bit overtime!

Signing autographs and pictures

When the seminars were over Rob joined me in the hall adjacent to the auditorium and before long Bill was there to sign autographs and pose for pictures. What a treat to shake hands with a real Disney Legend! We even met his wife Jennifer!

Bill Farmer's Autograph

Acting goofy with Bill Farmer

By 5:00 Carol and I were back in the room and relaxed for a short while before heading out for dinner. We had signed up for the group dinner, featuring a terrific guest speaker; it was Bill Farmer one more time! After cocktails and appetizers we enjoyed a very nice buffet dinner, then the voice of Goofy took the stage again for his sequel.

Bill Farmer

Although there was a bit of overlap with his afternoon presentation there was also a great deal of new information and insight. The new material was fascinating and even the few gags which were duplicated were hilariously funny; I laughed just as hard the second time around! It was a wonderfully entertaining evening!

Bill Farmer and Darth Goofy

The conference organizers presented Bill with a token gift, a Darth Goofy developed for the most recent Star Wars Weekend event. Bill had not yet seen one and was delighted with the gift!

After Bill's presentation there were some draws for door prizes; no wins for the Cruise family this time! I would have loved the grand prize, a large sketch of my favourite character, Goofy, drawn that afternoon by Alex Maher and signed by both Alex and Bill Farmer . . . but it went to a very good home!


Alex did quite a few sketches during the day, including Elsa pictured above. They were all included in the following day's silent auction with the proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House.

Check to Ronald McDonald House

That part of the night wrapped up at 9:00 and I headed to the room to watch the Stanley Cup Playoff hockey game. Chicago defeated Tampa Bay 2 - 1 to take a 3 - 2 series lead! Hooray!

Carol picked up her pins and Vinylmations and struck out for some more trading.

Busy trading

Busy trading

She was back just before the game ended and we were soon off to bed. Tomorrow would be another long day; Carol would trade all day. Rob planned to spend the morning browsing the merchandise and then join me at noon for another seminar.

We planned to pull out to head home by approximately 1:30 . . . which would get us home sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. Ouch!

Sunday June 14, 2015
The Vendor displays in the ballroom opened at 10:00 a.m.

Still plenty of goodies on display

New arrivals were still checking in; many people come for just one day, or even for a few hours. Attendance is very reasonably priced!

Admission prices

The shopping traffic was slower Sunday morning, compared to the big rush when those 50 “early-birds” stormed in on Saturday! While Carol and Rob browsed I took time to chat with a few vendors.

Lady and the Tramp poster

Gary & Gary Collectibles come to Dayton every year. When I heard that they were from Missouri I said, “I know a couple in Blue Hills Missouri who would like that Lady & The Tramp poster.” Gary took it down and held it so I could get a good picture!

Lady and the Tramp salt and pepper shakers

His business partner Gary said, “I bet they’d like these Lady & the Tramp salt and pepper shakers too!”

“Yes. They would!” the Gary behind the camera replied!

Like many of the vendors, they have a wide variety of quality merchandise. Everything is reasonably priced, and it seems that on Sunday the vendors are more flexible in their pricing. They prefer to sell it rather than pack it up and take it home.

Bargains waiting for buyers

Gary & Gary Collectibles will have a big sales booth at the D23 Expo in Anaheim this August! Be sure to look them up!

Carol looks for deals

At noon Rob and I headed off to the auditorium to listen in on one final seminar before beginning the long drive.

Jim Hill

Jim Hill gave us some fascinating background information about Disney’s animated feature Alice In Wonderland which was released in 1951.

Jim took us back to 1934 when Walt first considered the idea of an Alice production, and the various concepts that the project went through over the years. At age 41, Mary Pickford, a co-owner of Disney’s distribution company, United Artists, really wanted to portray Alice in a live-action feature to kick-start her fading career. A screen test was completed in 1934 but middle-aged Pickford didn’t come off too well as a young girl; the project was shelved!

Along came Ginger Rogers in 1944. Another screen test and again, young Alice wasn’t portrayed particularly well by a 33 year-old dancer, but an audio recording of the Alice stories, with Ginger as the voice of Alice, did hit the market and sold well!

Jim described how Disney artists tried very hard to remain true to the original illustrations done by Sir John Tenniel for the first publication of the Alice stories in 1865.

Jim shows the original art

More original art

More original art

More original art

He described how what we now consider to be a Disney classic was panned by critics in 1951 when it was first released; it did very poorly at the box office. Jim told us how Disney worked to hard to reinvigorate the feature and make it the success we know today.

Any true Disney fan will be fascinated by the kind of background Jim Hill and his peers can provide.
I strongly urge you to attend fan gatherings like Dayton Disneyana to hear some of these fascinating stories!

There was one more seminar scheduled for 2:00 p.m. but alas, it was time for us to go!

Tinker Bell by Alex Maher

Alex was still sketching

We said our goodbyes as we watched preparations for the silent auction. We heard later that Alex Maher completed 11 large sketches and ten of them were raffled; the sketch of Goofy had been awarded as a prize Saturday night. Proceeds from the sketches were added to the other silent auction items and a little over $2,100 is now on it's way to Ronald McDonald House. Outstanding!

Chip and Dale by Alex Maher

Our friend and fellow Canadian “Disney nut” Gabe is a huge Chip & Dale fan. He was leaving the same time that we did, but he left instructions with a friend who was bidding on his behalf. Gabe is now the proud owner of the Chip and Dale sketch pictured above!

We were northbound on I-75 just after 1:30 and spent the entire afternoon dodging construction and thunderstorms. Temperatures bounced between 80º and 65° again and again as the storm cells passed.

We left the Interstate in Detroit and crossed the border into Canada at 5:45. There were still occasional showers, but traffic moved well on the Canadian freeway, Highway 401. We made a couple of stops for fuel, coffee and a bite to eat and pulled into our driveway at 11:45, tired after a long, but fun-filled weekend.

The 2015 event in Dayton was bigger and better than ever. Rob, Carol and I accounted for 2 of the more than 50 rooms that attendees occupied at the Holiday Inn that weekend. Over 500 dedicated Disney fans and collectors browsed through the merchandise which 21 vendors had displayed on 78 tables. There was an amazing variety of product to choose from; there were vintage Disney figures from the early 1930's and there were brand new popcorn buckets introduced just a week prior at Disneyland! New and old, large and small; it was a collectors paradise!

The vendors came from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I spoke with vendors who had driven to Ohio with fully loaded trucks and vans from California, Maine, Florida, Colorado, Missouri and Illinois.

Dayton Disneyana is a "must-do" event for Disney fans and collectors!
Why weren't you there?

Carol was thrilled with her 25 pin trades. The treasures she bought are pictured below, Rob's are there too!

Free gifts and draw prizes
These are all free gifts and draw prizes!

Rob's purchases
Rob's purchases.

New Disney Village
Carol's new Disney Village. It'll look great when she gets it accessorized for Christmas!

Carol's purchases
The rest of Carol's purchases.

If you are a Disneyana collector you would really enjoy this event. Even if you’re not a collector, just a Disney fan like me, you would get a lot out of the seminars and the speakers. I just love hearing the “insider information”, the historical background and of course the hints as to what might be coming to Disney next!

Event Co-chairs Pam Phillipe and Anita Schaengold together with their committee have once again done a terrific job! Dayton Disneyana just keeps getting better year after year!

As I said at the beginning of this blog, there’s something in Dayton for everyone!

Next year’s event is scheduled for the weekend of June 10 – 12, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn.

Go to your calendar, right now, and mark your trip to Dayton on it!

The event web site will give complete details as they become available! Check the web site HERE.

Their Facebook page is HERE.

March 15, 2015

Disney Fun Around the Country

Gary Cruise banner

Several times each year Carol and I attend Disney-related events which do not take place in the theme parks. For us it's an easy way to keep the magic alive without making that long trek south! It's always fun sharing good times with people who also suffer from our Disney affliction!

Over the last few years I have written several blogs describing some of the Disney collectible or trading events we have enjoyed. In almost every case there has been a recurring theme in the comments people make after reading the blogs.

- "I wish I had known about this, I live very close by."

- "I would love to know when this is next year!"

- "That sounds like so much fun; I'd love to go some time."

So if you're looking to spend some happy times with fellow Disney fans, here is a list of a few of those "non-theme park events" coming up in 2015. These can help you put the maximum "Disney magic" in your life!

1. Trade 'til You Fade - May 15-17, 2015 - Somerset New Jersey
This weekend-long event, organized annually by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders, is a fun-filled experience for those who collect and trade Disney pins and Vinylmations.


CJDPT Meeting Room

CJDPT Name That Toon

There are games, raffles and even an optional gift exchange which can be hilarious! Full details are available on the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders web site here: CJDPT

Read an blog about the 2012 event here: Trade 'til You Fade 2012

2. Dayton Disneyana - June 13 - 14, 2015 - Dayton Ohio
Another weekend long event, however this one caters to Disneyana collectors. The Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club do a wonderful job organizing this annual bonanza for Disneyana collectors.

Plane Crazy Logo

A hotel ballroom is chock-full of vendor's tables overflowing with high quality collectibles. This is not a flea market, these are real Disneyana collectors selling quality product.

Dayton Collectibles

Dayton Collectibles

There are always a few interesting speakers who pass on some interesting tidbits of Disney history and gossip.

Dayton Speakers

Tables line the halls outside the ballroom for pin and Vinylmation traders.

Dayton Pin Trading

Full details are available on the chapter's web site: Dayton Disneyana

Read about previous events in these blogs:
Dayton Disneyana 2013
Dayton Disneyana 2014

3. Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet - July 11, 2015 - Lynnwood Washington
Carol and I have not attended this annual event held near Seattle; it's a long way from where we live! But we have heard very good reviews from friends who have been there.

Pacific Northwest Logo

There are always some top-notch speakers and interesting activities.

PNW Speaker Tony Baxter

PNW Photo Spot

PNW Dole Whip

You can read an blog about the 2014 event here: Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet 2014

The 2015 meet will be held at the Lynnwood Convention center in Lynnwood, Washington on Saturday, July 11, 2015. Speakers have not yet been finalized; keep an eye on their web site to confirm further details: Pacific Northwest Mouse Meet

4. Swap 'til You Drop - October 9-11, 2015 - Somerset New Jersey
Another weekend-long event, organized annually by Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders.


The format for this event is very similar to the Trade 'til You Fade event held each spring.
Refer to their web site here: CJDPT

So . . . if you're feeling blue because you can't get to one of the Disney parks . . . why don't you plan to attend one of these locally organized fan events!

Disney fans always make a fun-loving group; imagine how easy it is to make new friends when you are surrounded by kindred spirits.

Maybe Carol and I will see you there!

October 5, 2014

EPCOT Trade Celebration 2014

Carol Cruise banner

When I last wrote it was after the annual EPCOT Trade Celebration of 2013, Disney had announced the theme of the 2014 event but not the dates. Well the dates were announced earlier this year and registration opened April 22, 2014. The dates were September 5th, 6th and 7th and the event was described by Disney as:
"Make an entrance when you arrive in style at our award-worthy Imagination Gala - A Magic Carpet event! Join us as we honor our 'bests' in Disney films, storytelling, characters and attractions with an Imagination Award, represented by none other than a Golden Figment."

Imagination Gala Logo

The usual pre-event activities occurred; I sat at my computer on registration day, waiting for the clock to strike 1:00 p.m. E.S.T. when the link to the registration form opened on the site. I signed up for all the event options. The breakfast options sell out so you have to be quick. This is what was available:

Event Packages
(Click on the image for a clearer view)

Tuesday September 2nd
My adventure began very early as I headed off to my 10th EPCOT Pin Event - 3 o'clock - in the dark early. I had a 7:30 a.m. flight out of Syracuse which was great since it got me into Orlando by 10:00 a.m. and I had a whole day to play with my friends from Canada who had arrived earlier, on the weekend. Everything went smoothly, I picked up my rental car and texted my "roomie" Carrie that I had landed. Gabe drove her over to the All Star Movie Resort to meet me just as I finished checking us in.

All Star Movies lobby

We dropped our stuff off in the room then went to the food court for a quick bite and checked out the store. After that we hopped in the car and headed over to the Magic Kingdom, it was about 2:00 p.m. and we wanted to see the 3 o'clock parade.

Monorail sign

We met up with Susan and Allison in front of the Trading Post in Frontierland and had a great view; the only problem was the heat. Oh my goodness is was hot!

Daisy & Donald

Parade Dragon

After the parade we all went to the Sunshine Tree Terrace for a Citrus Swirl, it was so refreshing and gave us the strength to move on. Carrie and I wanted to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train so we got in the line and waited about an hour for the ride. It is very cute but I wouldn't wait an hour for it again. We then made our way down Main Street and over to Downtown Disney where we had dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

Earl of Sandwich

A quick trip to the Character Outlet and Publix finished off the evening.

Wednesday September 3rd
I got up and strolled over to the food court to get coffee for Carrie and myself. After our coffee we packed up and loaded the car and drove over to the Beach Club Villas to check in for the rest of the week. It was another very hot day and we had decided to spend it enjoying the pool and relaxing in preparation for the marathon of trading that would start the next day.

Our room was ready so we were able to unpack and settle in; once that was accomplished we headed to the pool, stopping at Beaches & Cream for lunch first.

Beaches & Cream

After a great lunch we wandered around the pool scouting out a good spot to set up for the rest of the afternoon. We swam and even went down the water slide; it was great fun and a wonderful relaxing afternoon.

Beach Club pool

We had dinner plans, so after getting cleaned up we started making our way to Olivia's at Old Key West, but first I had to make a quick stop at the Meadows Trading Post in Fort Wilderness to pick up a couple of new Fort pins that you could only get there. We met our friends by 6:00 p.m. and had the best dinner and an enjoyable time talking and laughing with Susan, Allison, Gabe, Sandy, Jenn, Ann, Mike and Carrie.

So much fun that I forgot to take a picture of our group. After dinner we went back to Board Walk Villas, had a quick swim and got ready for the next day.

Thursday September 4th
The day started very early, we had to be at Hollywood Studios for 8:30 a.m. to meet up with the breakfast club. This was the 4th Annual Artist Breakfast that is organized by Janis Lavender and John Rick from Central Jersey Disney Pin Trading. It is not a Disney event but the guests of honor are design artists from the Disney Design Group. I have attended this breakfast every year and I have to say that this was the best one yet.

The breakfast gang

CJDPT Breakfast Group

We all met just outside the gates, then a cast member came and escorted us into and through the park to our special venue. This year the breakfast was held in the Backstage Prop Shop. It was so interesting, sitting there among the props and remembering where we had seen them in use years ago.

The Prop Shop

The Prop Shop

The food was very good and there was lots of it, more than we could eat. The artists entertained us with stories of their experiences and answered questions from all of us. All too soon it was time to move on.

Organizers & Pin_Artists
The organizers and artists: Left to right - Ron Cohee, David & Janis Lavender, Derek Lesinski, Alex Maher, Quynh Kimbell, Sheila & John Rick

Carrie and I decided to spend a little time at the Studios before going to registration.

Oaken's Frozen Funland

We wandered through Oaken's Frozen Funland and Trading Post, rode Toy Story Midway Mania, and saw the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

Anna & Elsa

After that we made a quick stop in the Art of Animation store where I had a little visit with Ink and Paint artist David Rippberger and ended up buying another cel.

Event Itinerary
(click on the agenda)

The early registration for the event was held at Coronado Springs and we were receiving texts that the line to pick up your merchandise was up to 2 hours, so we were in no hurry to get there. The registration opened at 10:00 a.m. and would stay open until 7:00 p.m. We arrived around 2:00 p.m. and the line wasn't too bad; we only waited about and hour to get our merchandise.

Welcome Gifts
These are the welcome gifts I received when I registered. The Figment vinylmation is a Limited Edition and the pin is a Limited Edition of 1100.

Aimee & her buttons
This is Aimee with the buttons she made for our group, depicting the "Supporting Actors" from Disney animated films.

Everyone was disappointed this year about the mystery boxes not arriving on time. Apparently there was a mix up with the shipping instructions and they did not get to the event on time. The Mystery Boxes are always a fun part of the trading process. Each box contains 2 pins; one pin is a limited release and the other pin may be a mystery chaser, Limited Edition 250. When everyone has opened their boxes the trading begins and you try to complete the set.

The Trading Room

Half of the conference room was set up with tables for trading and there were lots of traders there, with both pins and vinylmations. This year the trading room was only open to registered guests, no public hours, and it closed at 7 p.m., earlier than previous years. For me, I liked the change. After the trading our group headed to Downtown Disney for a tasty dinner at Earl of Sandwich.

Friday September 5th
We hit the ground running. It was a quick walk to the International Gateway and our breakfast started at 8:00 a.m. We thought that if we got to the line around 7:30 a.m. all would be good. No so; as we came down the hill to the entrance people were lined up and not moving. There was no security and the cast members were not letting anybody in. I would say there were about 250 very unhappy people in this line.

The line didn't move

Eventually security and the sniffer dog showed up and they started letting us enter the park.

Security dog

Once through the security and ticket area we headed towards World Show Place where the event is always held. We expected to be able to get in a single line that would take us through the gates and on to breakfast, instead we hit a mob, trying to get by 4 cast members with clipboards manually ticking off our names.

Another line

Tricia & Eric from Cleveland
I ran into a couple I had met the previous year, Trish & Eric, from Ohio. They had enjoyed themselves so much last year that they brought some friends along to join in the fun.

Early morning mob

Whatever happened to technology? Why couldn't we just show the credentials that we had to wear?

Pin Event Credentials

Eventually we got into the venue and they announced that they would extend the breakfast and event by 15 minutes to compensate for the disorder that we had endured.

Breakfast Gift Pin
Everyone at the breakfast received this special pin, a Limited Edition of 500.

The breakfast was okay, but the main benefit of going to the breakfast is to get an early start at the trade boards. We all do this to get the special "event pins" that you can only find on the boards - they are not sold anywhere.

Board Pins
These are the six special "event pins". Each one is a Limited Edition of 1000.

We always spend a lot of time standing in lines! Once you have all the special pins, there were six this year, then you can concentrate on looking for pins that fit into your collection. There were plenty of great pins this year, many Artist Proofs and Pre-productions pins to be found.

After the special breakfast ended at 9:45 a.m. the doors opened to the remainder of the registered guests. The lines grew longer and the average wait to get to the boards was 2 hours.

Some of the decor - Figment

More decor

More decor - Mickey

A pin trading board

We left the event at 6:00 p.m. and wandered back to Beach Club Villas. We dropped our stuff off and decided that since it was raining and miserable out we would just go over to Sweet Tomatoes for some dinner and call it an early night.

Saturday September 6th
Saturday was much like Friday; the only difference was that the event didn't start until 9:30 a.m. so we got to sleep in a bit.

Saturday morning line
The line prior to opening stretched from the rose garden all the way to the World Showplace entrance, between Canada and the United Kingdom.

Pin displays

The displays pictured above and below showcased some upcoming pins and vinylmations from Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, Walt Disney World and the Disney Soda Fountain.

Vinylmation displays

We met Alice on our way to lunch
We met Alice on our way to lunch at Rose & Crown.

Lunch at The Rose & Crown
Carrie, Kelly and I took a break and had a wonderful lunch at Rose & Crown


Jeanne Lewis
Jeanne Lewis took the stage to announce what was coming in 2015!

The pin portion of the Trade Celebration concluded at 6:00 p.m. Overall it was a successful event although the lines were much too long and I am not sure that will ever change.

Parting Gift
Our parting gift for the Pin Event was this 4 Pin Boxed Set, a Limited Edition of 1100.

I was disappointed in the décor, it was less elaborate than previous years. Also, in years past there were groups of entertainers who wandered the floor interacting with traders. There was no interaction with characters this year; all of the entertainment took place on the stage and that got tiresome after the first hour of the first day. It seemed like they had a couple of hours worth of material and they just repeated it over and over and over again during the three day event. It quickly went from entertaining to annoying!

I really liked the surprise pins this year, better than previous events and I found that the boards had a much better selection of pins. The merchandise was good, although the mystery pin debacle was disappointing. The food at the breakfast was better than previous years. As in past years there were good things and not so good things that happened but it was still a fun time and an opportunity to spend a couple of days with good friends who share my interest in pin trading. I am already planning my return next year.

We finished the day off by going to Hollywood Studios for a quick bite at Min & Bill's Dockside Diner. We shopped a bit and then watched the Frozen Fireworks display. It was wonderful! I hope that they keep them going for a while; I would love Gary to be able to see them in October when we are back.

Sunday Sept 7th
This day was the vinylmation portion of the Trade Event, my favourite part. I admit it; I have fallen in love with these little guys and prefer trading and collecting them, for me it's more fun than pins.

Vinylmation Event Credentials

We were signed up for the breakfast so we got to the entrance about 7:30 a.m. There was a line but the dog and security officers were on duty and things were moving. We were manually checked into World Show Place and immediately proceeded to a trading line.

Breakfast Vinylmation Gift
Everyone at the breakfast received a gift, this Limited Edition Minnie vinylmation.

There were several lines set up, most had a mystery box and an open box and you could trade one from each. There were 2 lines that had spinner boxes where you could trade only one. We stuck to the "double trade" lines.

Vinylmation trading

Vinylmation display

The big challenge this year was to find the surprise cast chasers; there were four. Blue Hat Chip & Dale were the easier chaser to find while the Orange Hat Chip & Dale were rarer. The lines were not too bad during the breakfast hour and a half but at 9:30 a.m. when the rest of the registered guests arrived they got a bit longer, on average about a one hour wait (better than the pin boards).

While we were in line they announced some special releases. A Figment eachez and a Clarice eachez. What "eachez" means is that the vinylmation release is limited, they are in a blind box, and 1 in 10 will be a variant. Of course everyone wants the variant but sometimes I think the regular vinylmation is better looking. Carrie and I decided to stay in the lines while about 1000 people opted to go get in the merchandise line to try and buy one of the special releases. This allowed our lines to move faster and we were both successful in getting our chasers.

Event Vinylmations
The four Chip & Dale vinylmations are surprise cast chasers, Clarice is an echez.

Once we had achieved the goal of getting our chasers we continued trading in the lines. If we got lucky enough to be close to the box when they did a refresh we were pretty much guaranteed to get a good trade. They refreshed the boxes about every 25 to 35 minutes. Once I got a few good pulls from the box I headed into the back room to see what I could trade for. This is where you can actually trade for vinylmations that you want to add to your collection.

Thomas Scott
Thomas Scott, Graphic Designer, took the stage to announce new vinylmations we could expect in 2015!





The event closed at 6:00 p.m. and I walked away a happy camper. I got lots of good vinylmations to add to my collection; I was able to trade for one of the special release vinylmations, Clarice (Limited Edition 1000). I got one of the 900 regular version not one of the 100 variants. I wasn't able to get a Figment.

My thoughts on this portion of the event are the same as the pin portion of the event, the entertainment was lacking. It was actually the same as the previous 2 days so by day three it was very annoying. The food was good and the cast members were great but the lines were long and it would be nice if they did a few more refreshes of the boxes. I really liked the surprise chasers and that there were four, in previous years there was only one. Overall it was a good event and I look forward doing it again.

2015 Theme - genEARation D
The theme for the 2015 event was announced - genEARation D ! No dates yet!

Steamboat Willie
There will be a "genEARation D" pin released each month leading up to next year's event. Steamboat Willie was the first of the series, released at the event, a Limited Edition of 500.

Carrie and I were both tired and had to go pack so we said our goodbyes to the gang and slowly walked back to the Beach Club. We dropped our stuff off and went down to Beaches & Cream for dinner. We finished off the evening with ice cream.

Beaches & Cream

Monday September 8th
We were moving slow; we had time to enjoy a coffee and then finish off the packing. Carrie was catching the Magical Express so we said our goodbyes. I had the day to hang around so I took my luggage over to check-in for my flight and then decided I would walk over to EPCOT.

World Showcase

I wandered around a bit but it was very hot so I decided to go to Downtown Disney and have lunch at Earls. After lunch, I wandered around for a while and decided I might as well head to the airport and sit there.

My flight home was uneventful; Gary was waiting in Syracuse to pick me up. Another event come and gone, time to start planning next years - as soon as they announce the dates!!

September 14, 2014

Dayton Disneyana 2014

Gary Cruise banner

Last year Carol and I, along with son Rob, made our first trek to Dayton Ohio for the annual Disneyana Show & Sale hosted by the Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club. Everyone enjoyed it so much that we just had to return this year.

There was one issue . . . Rob decided to test the strength of our garage floor a few weeks ago. He dove from the top of a step ladder to the concrete slab 8 feet below. The final score was Concrete Floor 1 - Rob's Shoulder 0.

Friday June 13th
By 5:55 a.m. Rob had found a comfy position in the back seat; his shattered left shoulder, held together by a few steel pins and plates, was supported in a sling and resting on the center armrest. We were a bit apprehensive - would he be comfortable throughout a 10 - 11 hour drive?

We hit the road about 5 minutes ahead of plan and drove through a few heavy showers for the first few hours. Once we passed Toronto skies cleared and we made great time.


We crossed the US border at Detroit and pulled off at Monroe Michigan for lunch.




By 2:00 p.m. we had pulled off in Toledo Ohio where Carol and Rob visited the Disney Store. Traffic was light for the last leg of the trip and we pulled into the Windham Garden Hotel at 5:15. Rob had endured the trip quite well.

We relaxed for a few minutes, then struck out once again; Carol needed some Retail Therapy. The Christmas Tree Shop, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and WalMart followed in short order as I waited in the car with my book!

We had a quick bite for dinner and headed back to the hotel for the night. By 9:00 I had settled in the room to watch the Stanley Cup final game (Los Angeles Kings won the championship in the second overtime period) while Carol and Rob headed to the foyer outside the ballroom to trade Disney pins and Vinylmations.

Carol was back to the room and trying to sleep by 11:00 - the game carried on until 12:30 when I fell into bed exhausted after a long day.

Saturday June 14th
We were up before 7:00 a.m. and enjoyed the hotel's complimentary hot breakfast; we finished just in time for "early entry". Carol and Rob had paid $15 for the privilege of shopping for 90 minutes before the "official opening".



I was allowed into the vendor area before the doors opened and I enjoyed a few quiet minutes, wandering the aisles and snapping a few pictures. The entire ballroom was filled with tables, racks and shelves! Everywhere I looked it was overflowing with an amazing variety of Disney collectibles. The vendors had merchandise well organized and nicely displayed.

I was excited . . . I could only imagine how Carol would react!





At 8:30 Carol, Rob and the rest of the 50 "Early-birds" charged through the door.


Vendors had donated quite a few draw prizes for the early-birds, some were included in the swag-bag each of them received and some were set aside for a random draw. Early-birds all received a long strip of draw tickets which they could drop in the red Solo Cup in front of each vendor's "special" prize. If you really wanted the prize you could drop multiple tickets to improve your odds. Once all the cups had been located and the tickets were dropped, the early-birds all got busy shopping! Carol and Rob were lucky, Carol won one draw prize and Rob won two in the draw which took place later in the day!


See the red Solo cup, in the picture above, beside that collector plate? Rob won the plate!

There was an incredible variety of merchandise! To paraphrase Ariel, "There were gadgets and gizmos a-plenty, there were whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? There were twenty!"



There were movie posters, VHS and DVD videos, LP's, CD's and video games.

There were plates and spoons, cups and glasses, clocks and watches.

There were comic books, magazines, coloring books, toys, framed pictures, animation cels, figurines, games and collectibles in varieties too many to mention.



As you might expect, there were pins and Vinylmations! Very important to Carol!




Tom Tumbusch from Tomart Publications showcased their Disneyana and Pin Trading catalogues and the pin traders were delighted to pore through the surplus pins Tomart have used in the production of their books.



Brian from Theme Park Connections brought a truckload of interesting Disney merchandise from their Orlando store, near the Florida Mall, a 937 mile trip.


They were selling some very interesting items, like this piece which holds the chains on the railing for the queue inside the Haunted Mansion. WOW!


How about those signs from the Polynesian Resort? They were very popular!




I spent some time watching Carol and Rob "work" the banquet hall. They each have different collections and different tastes, but each one understands very clearly what appeals to the other. They work as a team, each one searching for themselves and scouting for the other as they circle the hall again and again!


Just after noon I dashed out to pick up lunch for the collectors, they were too busy combing through all the treasures to even consider leaving the hotel!

They settled at tables in the hall outside the banquet room and ate lunch, then stayed there for some pin and Vinylmation trading. About once an hour Carol or Rob would take a lap around the vendor's tables . . . as more items were sold the wares were spread out and they could spot treasures they had overlooked earlier!

By the time I returned with lunch the speakers had begun their presentations. The first speaker was Mark Henn, an acclaimed Disney animator. Mark was born in Dayton and in 1980 his dreams came true, be became a Disney animator.


I underestimated the popularity of this hometown hero . . . when I returned with lunch the meeting room where he was speaking was jammed to capacity and the door was closed. I missed his presentation - Dang! I did catch up with him later and spent a few minutes chatting. He is a gifted animator, painter and sculptor. Here Mark is pictured with art from some of the Disney projects he has worked on over his 30 year career.


Next to speak was Jim Hill, a noted Disney historian.


Jim talked about the history of Disney Parks and delighted us with a few little-known facts and with several humorous stories about some unusual attractions that were never produced. It was a very relaxed and enjoyable session.





The trading and browsing continued until 5:00 when the vendors closed up shop for the day. We enjoyed a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant and I retired to the room to play on the computer and watch TV while Carol and Rob resumed trading pins and Vinylmations in the foyer.



Carol was back to the room by 11:00 p.m.

Sunday June 15th
The ballroom didn't open until 10:00 a.m. so we had a leisurely morning, coffee in the room followed by a late breakfast in the restaurant. Carol and Rob made a few more rounds of the ballroom. They like Sunday shopping since the vendors seem to be a bit more flexible with prices. It's so much easier to sell something than it is to pack it up and take it home.







Soon they had set up outside, in the foyer, and did some more pin and Vinylmation trading . . . with occasional laps around the vendors tables. The vendors are all very friendly and easy to deal with - kindred spirits who love Disney just as much as we do!


Here Rob chats with Gary Smith from Missouri. He is a partner in Gary & Gary Collectibles.








Although the event carried on until 4:00 p.m. we had to face the long drive home before then. We said our goodbyes and thanked the organizers at noon. The Dayton "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club, who host the event annually, deserve a lot of credit for a job well done! They describe this event as "Dayton Disneyana Collectible Expo & Disney Pin and Vinylmation Trading" but it is actually much more than that. It's more like a convention for Disney fans. Everyone who attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy the chance to mix and mingle with so many other people who share our passion for anything related to Disney! Special thanks to Anita Schaengold and Pam Phillippe who co-chaired this year's event committee.

By 12:05 we were northbound on I-75. The trip was uneventful, light traffic and sunny skies. We made very quick stops for lunch and gas and arrived at the Canadian border at 4:15 where Rob met this distinguished gentleman at the Duty Free Store.


Traffic was even lighter once we crossed the Ambassador Bridge and hit the Canadian freeway. We stopped at Carol's parents, picked up the dogs and were home at about 10:30 p.m. after a great weekend.

You are probably wondering, "What did they bring home?" Well here's a picture of some of it.


Carol's favourite items? Those three collector plates belong to a set she began collecting in the 1980's. Back in those days she could only afford to buy one a year and they have been long out of production. Now she is only missing two! That coffee mug is a classic - It's Musket Mickey. He's dressed in a coonskin hat and carrying a musket. In these days of political correctness Mickey carries a walking stick, so when you find him with a musket it's definitely a keeper. Rob bought the Christmas Carollers as a birthday gift for Carol. They are standing on top of the red box. Mickey plays the piano and Goofy sings while Donald covers his ears!

Rob's favourite? The bobble-head Goofy in the blue box which he picked up at Gary & Gary Collectibles.

If you are a collector of Disney art or memorabilia, you really should plan a visit to Dayton Disneyana. Next year's event will be held at the Holiday Inn Dayton/Fairborn I-675, 2800 Presidential Drive, Fairborn, OH June 13 - 14, 2015.


Check the Dayton Disneyana web site for more details HERE

Like them on Facebook HERE.

October 6, 2013

EPCOT Trade Celebration 2013 – Part 2

Carol Cruise banner

To conclude my report on the annual EPCOT 2013 Trade Celebration I want to share some photos of the gifts and merchandise that I brought home from the event. If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, this year started last September with the first pin of the month being released at the 2012 event. I purchased the broken mirror pin that had the picture of Cruella in the background. At that time I was undecided whether I would keep the pin or trade it based on the fact that I didn't think I could get all 13 pins and I wasn't a particularly villainous fan. However, with the help of some friends, a few trades and purchases of my own I did end up with all 13-Refections of Evil pins. The last pin was made available on the event Random Selection Process. The "RSP" is a sort of lottery used to allocate Limited Edition pins which are sold in small edition sizes.


I was lucky this year and got all the pins that I put on my Random Selection Process order.


Every year there are mystery pins and this year was no different. Each attendee could purchase up to 6 boxes. Each box contained 2 mystery pins and if you were lucky one of those pins could be a chaser. The Villains are limited release and the chasers, bricks to go with each Villain, are all limited editions of 213. I got a chaser in every one of my boxes.



When you picked up your goods on registration day you also got the items from the Vinylmation Random Selection Process.



There were also registration gifts for each event.



On Friday, the "Club 13" Day, I spent most of my time looking on the pin boards and in Vinylmation boxes for the event Vinylmation chasers and the event Mystery Pin mirror shards. I was able to find them all.



There was a merchandise store with Limited Edition items specific to the event or items released early to event attendees. There were also a few items left over items from the Random Selection Process and a 13- Reflections of Evil completer pin, a Limited Edition of 500.



During the event they brought in cases of the not yet released Nightmare Before Christmas 2 Vinylmation Series. Registered guests could purchase these before they went on sale to the public. I bought 2 boxes and I got the chaser . . . lucky me! This series is scheduled to be released at D Street in late October, just in time for Halloween.


We received our lunch in this nice insulated lunch bag.


At the conclusion of the Club 13 Trade Day (Friday) we received a parting gift, the Reflection of Evil mirror and a pin.



The Saturday Villainous Breakfast gift pin.


I purchased a mat from the merchandise store that I can display my pins on.


At then end of the pin trading event we were all given a boxed pin set that contained Villain prospects from Pixar.


The Sunday morning Villainous Breakfast gift is one of my favourites, the Evil Daisy Duck.


I mentioned in my blog that I was able to make some good trades with the chasers I got from the blind box, this is my favourite. It is the chaser from the Vinylmations Classic Collection, released November 12, 2012.


That pretty much summarizes why my suitcase was almost overweight on my flight home!

September 29, 2013

Epcot Trade Celebration 2013

Carol Cruise

It was a beautiful day as I drove over the 1000 Island International Bridge; my destination was the Syracuse Airport where I had a 4 p.m. flight to Orlando. It was the start of my annual trip to Walt Disney World to partake in the Epcot Trade Celebration. I really enjoy this opportunity to spend time with friends who share my interests and I always enjoy the spoils of a Disney event.

The Event logo!

I had lots of time so I had lunch at the Destiny Mall and wandered through a couple of the shops. I then headed over to the airport, found a parking spot in the covered parking garage and proceeded to check in for my flight. Everything was on schedule and I arrived on time in Orlando. When I got to the main terminal I went directly to the car rental station and got my paper work done. There was no one in the line; everyone was still waiting for their luggage. I back-tracked to the baggage claim area just as my suitcase was coming down the belt. I was doing my best to save time since my friends were waiting for me at The Earl of Sandwich. The "Canadian Contingent" had all arrived at different times and this was our meet-up spot. I texted them as I was about to leave the airport. There was no traffic and I actually arrived at Earls just as they were about to reach the counter. We all enjoyed a delicious sandwich and got caught up. After dinner we wandered through some of the shops, I went to Guest Services to pick up my MNSSHP ticket and get my Premier AP fitted with the RFID technology. All went well so then Carrie, my roommate and I headed to our home for the week, Old Key West.

Since this blog is mainly to focus on the "Event" I will quickly summarize my activities for Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday we went to Typhoon Lagoon, Carrie had never been before so this was a first for her.


After we had enjoyed enough sun and surf we went to the Character Outlet, and later to the Magic Kingdom to meet up with the Canadian Contingent for dinner at The Plaza.


Carrie and I stopped at the Fire Station right at 4 p.m. and we were the first to receive the special MNSSHP Sorcerer Card.


After dinner we got in line to buy the first release of the Halloween Party pins. Once we had our pins we rode Haunted Mansion (the only ride I rode the entire week). We watched the parade, the fireworks, the castle show and we got lots of candy.



This year the popcorn bucket was a must have for me.


Wednesday was a lazy day relaxing at the resort until it was time to head over the Studios. We met up with a dozen or so of our pin trading friends and had a wonderfully fun dining experience at Prime Time Café. To finish the evening off we wandered through the Art of Animation and a few other shops.

Thursday was the day we hit the ground running, first up was the 3rd Annual Breakfast with the Artists.

The Canadian Contingent waiting to go to Norway

This is a non-Disney event organized by our friends from Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders. John & Sheila Rick and Janis & David Lavender have, for the last three years, hosted a breakfast that includes a panel discussion with artists from the Disney Design Group. This year we met at 8:30 outside of Epcot, then we were escorted through the empty park to the private upstairs room over Norway. We enjoyed a hot breakfast and then spent an hour or so asking the artist's all kinds of questions.

John, Sheila, Mike, David, Ron, Janis & Quynh

The panel included Ron Cohee, Mike Sullivan and Quynh Kimball. It was interesting to listen to them tell us how the pins and Vinylmations that we would be getting at the event were designed to tell the story of the 13-Reflections of Evil. The Evil Queen cast a spell and her mirror was the portal to evil; she summoned the Villains and the 13 of them gathered, then she broke the mirror into 13 pieces so there was no escape back through the portal. This plan was overheard by Figment and he went to Sorcerer Mickey; with the help of Mickey and his friends, the mirror pieces were found and good was restored.

After breakfast we immediately left Epcot and drove directly to Coronado Springs Resort, it was time for event registration.


The line was very long and actually flowed into another room, but it move quickly. It is a very well organized process by Disney.


Once I got to the registration table I was given my credentials and event gifts. I also received the merchandise that I had ordered through the RSP. I had registered for all 3 days so all 3 days "stuff" was in my package. This included coupons for gifts at the event, gift cards for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and my breakfast coupons for Saturday and Sunday. Friday was a special limited event this year called Club 13 and included a lunch that we could preorder when we signed up.

After I signed off that everything was in order I went over to the other side of the room where the tables were set up for trading. This year there was another change, only registered guests could enter the trading room and it would close at 7 p.m. In previous years at 7 p.m. the room opened up to the general public and trading carried on until 10 p.m.


Our group gathered at a table and started trading. On one trip out of the room I heard a voice ask, "Did you write a blog for AllEars?" I turned and introduced myself to Tricia and Erik from Cleveland. This was their first event and they told me that they had read my blog and it helped them decide to come.


I looked for them later in the weekend to ask what they thought of the event but there were so many people I didn't find them. I sure hope they enjoyed themselves.

At 7 o'clock Carrie and I left and headed to Downtown Disney for ice cream, then back to our room so that we could get organized for the morning.


Friday the doors to the event didn't open until 9:30 so we didn't have to rush.


We got to Epcot, had our bags sniffed by Tommy the sniffer dog and headed towards World ShowPlace; as we rounded the corner we could see that the line stretched all the way from Canada over to the bridge at International Gateway.


We got in line and when the doors opened proceeded into the fog-filled room where the Villains were waiting for us. The decorations and theming always amaze me and this time was no different. It was awesome!





The day was labelled "Club 13" and admittance was limited compared to the other two days. Other differences with Friday's event were that it included a lunch that was delivered in a nice take home lunch bag. Some of the trading lines were for pins and some were for Vinylmations. There was a stage show with the 13 Villains and then the villains wandered through the venue for several hours posing for pictures and mingling with the crowd.




The event store offered some select pieces of merchandise not available anywhere else. There was a silent auction and displays set up by the Disney Partners showing upcoming pins and Vinylmations that will be released from now until the end of the year.

Each year there is a mystery pin set and a chaser Vinylmation released that can only be found on the pin boards or in a Vinylmation trade box. This year there were six pins that, when put together like a puzzle, made a mirror. Each piece has a character holding a shard of the broken mirror. There was Chip & Dale, Donald, Mickey, Minnie, Figment, and Goofy. The chaser Vinylmation was black with the number 13 on its front. I was able to find all these items so that took the pressure off, now I could study the pin boards for limited edition or artist proof pins.


At the end of the day we all received a fairly large box that contained a framed mirror that reflected the "13". I personally would have preferred a boxed pin set or jumbo pin. Having to find space in my luggage for such a large piece was a bit of a problem. Since this whole day was a change from any previous Epcot Pin Celebration my expectations were pretty high when I arrived. I really enjoyed the day and all, but I didn't find it to be a whole lot different than other year's events. Am I complaining? - maybe a little. Will I go back again next year? - you bet!


We left the World Showplace at 5:30 with the plan to head over to the Studios for the Friday the 13th Limited Time Magic. As we made our way towards the Studios the traffic stopped and was backed up on every road. At first I thought there was an accident, then it sunk in, everyone was heading to the Studios. We were able to get out of the mob and decided to go to Downtown Disney then back to the resort for a relaxing swim. We made the right decision; we were able to get good nights sleep. We had to be back at Epcot early.


Saturday started with the Villainous Breakfast at 8:00 a.m., of course there was a long line to get into this too, but once the doors opened it moved quickly.


Everyone who purchased the limited breakfast did so, so they could get into the event an hour and half before the rest of the event participants. There was also a limited edition pin given to each of the breakfast attendee's. The lines for the pin trade boards filled quickly but you could get through them at least three times before the event opened at 9:30 a.m. There was a nice breakfast available for those that wanted to take the time to eat. Carrie and I did have a quick bite and it was very good.



Since I had already found the six mystery pins on Friday I spent my time looking for pins to add to my collection at home. I was pleased with the pins I found and I even got some good ones to put in my trader bag.

A Piece Of Disney Movies pins in the silent auction.

Carol and Madam Doomsday

The event offers you the opportunity to purchase a bagged lunch but Carrie and I opted to go across the way to the Rose and Crown for lunch. It is good to take a break from the event for an hour and a relief to sit down. Standing in lines for 12 hours takes its toll on my poor old legs. We didn't want to stay too long, at 1 p.m. Jeanne Lewis, Merchandiser Disney Pins, was going to be giving her presentation.


They requested that we not take pictures or videos so I can't show you what is in store, but there are some really awesome pins coming out in 2014.


There will be a "Nightmare Before Christmas in July" event at Disneyland and an Epcot Trade Celebration at Disney World, a date was not announced.

The rest of the day, for me, consisted of standing in lines for the pin boards, wandering around the back room looking at people's trade books and watching the stage shows and games.



The winners of the silent auction were announced and then it was time to pick up our event gift. This day's gift was a boxed set of potential villain prospects, all of which were Pixar characters. I was much happier with this gift than the mirror. At 6 p.m. they drew three names as winners of the three grand prizes, I didn't win. Before we knew it they were announcing that it was time to leave. It was another great day and I was very pleased with my pin finds.

Our group decided to walk over to The Land and have dinner at Sunshine Seasons; it was a great way to finish off the day. Good food and good friends. When we were finished Carrie and I dragged ourselves to the parking lot and headed back to Old Key West for a hot tub, swim and good nights sleep.


Sunday was Vinylmation day. Just as the day before, we arrived at Epcot for the 8 a.m. Villainous Vinylmations breakfast.



We stood in lines for the "blind box" and "open box" trades and ate some breakfast.


We all received a very nice limited edition Vinylmation for attending, and all of this occurred before the event opened to regular attendees at 9:30 a.m. I got a couple of really good pulls from the blind box, two variants and a chaser. That meant I had a good opportunity to go in the back trading room and trade for some Vinylmations that I really wanted. I made some trades and then went back to the lines.

Carrie, Allison and I went for lunch at Rose and Crown and enjoyed a nice break.


We returned just in time to listen to Thomas Scott, Team Leader for Disney Theme Parks Vinylmation line, tell us what was on the drawing boards for 2014.


There are going to be some really great Vinylmations come out in 2014 and I was pretty excited about some of them.


At the conclusion of Thomas Scott's presentation he announced the theme for next year's event, with dates not yet finalized.


I find myself enjoying the Vinylmation scene more and more. That's not to say that I am shifting away from pin collecting, but I have become much more selective in what pins I buy and want than I was a few years ago.

The day seemed to fly by and I was very happy with my finds and trades. All too soon 7 o'clock rolled around and it was time to say goodbye to everyone. Carrie and I had to go and pack since we were flying home on Monday. We stopped at Downtown Disney for our last dinner at Wolfgang Pucks, and then drove back to the resort. We managed to get everything packed and then had one last soak in the hot tub and a swim before calling it a night.

I was worried that my luggage would be over weight and I had my carry-on so full that I was afraid the zipper would split. I went to the airline check in at Old Key West to check my luggage and get my boarding pass. My suitcase weighed in at 50.5 lbs, the attendant laughed and said it was OK. He printed my boarding pass and then off we went to the airport. We made a quick stop on the way for a breakfast sandwich at Earl's and a final walk through the Pin Store.

So that concludes another annual event. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed the venue immensely. As always, I had a great fun with friends I seldom get to see and came home with lots of new pins and Vinylmations.

Did I decide to keep the Pins of the Month - 13 Reflections of Evil? Of course I did!

P.S. - Stay tuned for more - I'll be preparing another blog to showcase some of the special gifts and merchandise I received at this event!

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About Pin Trading

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in the Pin Trading category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

My Yard Goes Disney is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.