Disney · Omnibus · Trivia

WDW for the Single Guy: an experiment, Part 21 (Mouse Rants #4)

Disney Pin Mania

[DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. If you are confused by any of the acronyms, check out the previous posts. My comments are listed in [ ] – anything in ( ) are all Jerry’s words. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously some things have definitely changed since 2009, and should be used for comparative purposes only, as many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor]

WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment, part 21

Weird Section #4: Collector’s Edition

There’s a group of… let’s call ’em crazies… out there called “Disnoids.” When I say crazies… they make Jerry Skids look like a WDW tourist! Disnoids will literally jeopardize their jobs, their houses, their pride, and their family for WDW. For instance: you may have seen or heard of the Disney tattoo guy [website has been removed, but you can Google “Disney tattoo guy” and see for yourself.] This guy was all over television from “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” to VH1’s “Weird People,” and in the Guinness Book of World Records.

He is known for having his body literally filled with tattoos of ONLY Disney-related material. This includes every landmark, his favorite characters, his favorite resorts, his favorite quotes, and even his favorite cast members!! (The guy shows off like crazy. I met him once right before he got kicked out of MGM for not wearing a shirt, and once more in World of Disney NYC, where he wouldn’t shut up about himself.) He’s also known for his insane house. Every room is themed to Disney, from the shower to the utensils. I don’t find it that bad, but when his 13 year old daughter freaked out and told him she didn’t want the monorail to go through her room, he did it anyway, and she ran away. Later, his 4th wife (the girl’s mother), divorced him and took the kid. The guy is nuts.

Why am I telling you this?

First of all, it’s a hilarious story. But seriously, he’s a Disnoid. Maybe an extreme Disnoid, but a Disnoid none the less. And there are many others like him around the globe. Mickey Mouse is the most recognizable face in the entire world. From Africa to Australia to the U.S. to Europe to probably even Antarctica (yes, Asia and South America too). Disney is somehow the most popular damn company. [And this was written before the House of Mouse purchased Marvel Comics and LucasFilms. Their popularity has increased exponentially since 2009.] And whenever something gains popularity [again, written before Frozen], some nutjob buys everything, and anything related to it. So here are just some of the obsessions people have claimed along some strange ideas and other Disnoid-related things.

PIN MANIA

In October 1999, the Walt Disney Company (Parks + Recreation) launched the Millennium Celebration. With that, they introduced these collector’s pins for $6 apiece. There were only 5,000 of each made to be spread across the parks. They sold out so quickly, that Disney expanded their pin collection and began selling them with no limit. In fact, they created special pins for each park (“Disneyland Millennium Celebration 2000,” “Disneyland Paris Millennium Celebration 2000,” etc.), and people began trying to trade to get all the different pins added to their growing collection. Suddenly, people were selling rare pins on Ebay, and bartering on message boards just to get their long-awaited pins.

Disney noticed this, and began selling lanyards for guests to wear in the park, and were encouraged to trade with other guests. By 2000, the trading fad became so ridiculously popular, that Disney created lanyards for the CMs to wear so the guests can trade with them! They created special cast member exclusive pins that you could ONLY get from the parks, and were not available anywhere else, but a CM’s lanyard. They also started to create Cast Member pins given to them for special events like Grand Openings, completing specialized classes and training programs, participation in Events, etc. These pins are meant for CMs only, and they were not to wear them on their lanyards, but were permitted to trade outside the parks, or in the parks as guests (when they are off-duty). This caused even MORE Ebay trading and selling. By late 2001, a few pin bootleggers joined the battle selling fake pins at poor quality on Ebay to unsuspecting suckers. The parks til this day enforce a policy in which a CM does not HAVE to trade for a “fake” pin, but can if they would like to. Most CMs are disgruntled, so they do not, since they don’t want the ugly replica.

Today, Disney churns out thousands and thousands of pins annually at its resorts around the world. The price ranges from $6 – $17; the more expensive pins are elaborate and sometimes have movable parts, holographic images, or even act as more than one pin. To most pin traders, it’s all about the thrill of the chase; they agree there’s no great monetary gain in the trade, just lots of fun. This camaraderie has, of course, birthed a slew of etiquette rules. Here’s some:

  1. Pins should be in good, undamaged condition.
  2. You can only trade one pin at a time.
  3. The back of the pin MUST be attached.
  4. If you’re trading with a CM, each person can trade a maximum of two pins (two per each family member if the CM is nice). One at a time, but two all together.
  5. Do not touch the other person’s lanyard.
  6. Pins MUST represent a Disney event, location, character, or icon.
  7. You can not trade pins with a CM if they already have the pin you want to give them on their lanyard.
  8. Do NOT try to buy a pin from a CM… (aloud 😉 ).
  9. “Showcase pins are only for show. CMs will not trade them with you.

A showcase pin is a really cool looking pin that many CMs put on their lanyard to make it look cool. But since they can’t give them away, a lot of CMs do it to piss people off. There are also special colored lanyards which mean various things. Mainly, if a CM has a purple lanyard, they are only trading with kids. Why do CMs do this? Because adults will try to cheat the CM, make deals, and bend/break the rules of pin trading. Kids just want to trade for pins that “look pretty.” Otherwise, the standard color is black. (There’s gold too, but that was for the Happiest Celebration on Earth in 2005/2006, celebrating Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary.

Some establishments force cast members to wear lanyards, but most don’t. You can pin trade with CMs at any park or retail establishment, including Downtown Disney. [SPOILER ALERT: we will get to Downtown Disney [DTD] in part 22]. There are also several website and message boards dedicated to pins, pin trading, new pins, and many other pin-related things (the official one was disneypins.com [now redirects to disneyparksmerchandise.com/pins]). They also hold many pin conventions throughout the year that Disnoids flock to. I shit you not.

Pressed Pennies

This odd phenomenon did not start at WDW, nor will it end there. The old pressed penny scam is incredibly popular for some reason. I’m sure you’ve seen this before. You get two quarters and a penny, and a machine will crush it up right before your eyes and stamp it with a fun location or character.

Pressed penny collecting is surprisingly popular! There are designs that have been retired as well as brand new ones that are constantly appearing. WDW has these machines all over the parks (even outside the parks) that stamp your squished pennies with attractions, events, parades, and characters dressed as other characters. It’s one of those “gotta collect ’em all” type deals. In fact, websites have sprung up constantly updating where the machines are hidden — yes, sometimes you have to find it in the weirdest places — and are followed up by short descriptions of the few things each machine will stamp onto the coin. One website even has a picture of each and every one! Honestly, for $0.51, I’d rather save it for food, but some people just LOVE collecting things!

If you want to start collecting the pennies, they can even sell booklets to old them in (also including slots for the very special “pressed quarters” you can get at certain machines). How do you make easy money? Pressed pennies.

CHARACTER AUTOGRAPHS

I’ve already gone into this. However, I had to mention it here, due to its obsessive fans. You buy autograph books, photo books, and get to work. Again, in a later edition, I will get into detail about where to find each and every character, and which ones are the rarest, etc. But for now, happy hunting.

HIDDEN MICKEYS

There’s a great story behind this. When EPCOT Center opened in 1982, it was devoid of all Disney characters. It was to be the educational park, and until Eisner came into power in 1984, was supposed to be separate from all other Disney parks. Many CMs disagreed with this, and had long and involved arguments about it. Sometime in 1983, an Imagineer did something about it. He carved a silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head into a section of The World of Motion’s queue line. It was his way of bringing a little bit of Disney Magic into EPCOT Center. It wasn’t long before other Imagineers began doing the same thing.

Soon these silhouettes and likenesses of Mickey were all over the educational park in hard-to-spot places. It’s not actually on record who the first guest to discover the phenomenon was, or exactly when, but before long people were talking about them, and actively searching them out all around the park. When the Imagineers noticed via word of mouth that their work was being admired, they began adding these hidden silhouettes into their new Magic Kingdom attractions as well as new resorts. After some time, in the late ’80s, they came to be known as Hidden Mickeys.

After a while, Eisner destroyed Walt’s plans by forcing the characters into EPCOT — but by then, the Hidden Mickey craze had already been set. Nowadays, you can find many hidden characters around all 4 parks, the water parks, the resorts, and even in different states. For instance, you can find a Hidden Pooh in Space Mountain, a hidden Tinkerbell in Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and a Hidden Donald, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the Great Movie Ride. But the most common by FAR is the Hidden Mickey.

Steven M. Barrett, author of “The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation” and “Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets” [7th edition published in 2015], has compiled hundreds of Hidden Mickeys locations in his book, not to mention all the possible ones on his website. There are also Hidden Mickeys incorporated into the TV shows and movies – but that started back in Snow White. While in WDW you will, once in a while, see a family only interested in finding Hidden Mickeys – scrounging around until they spot one, log it, and take a picture. It’s a fun treasure hunt with absolutely no cost attached to it. Just as I said with characters …. happy hunting!

COLLECTIBLES

These are the things that are certainly worth money.Usually they come in a limited edition set of some sort, but nonetheless, Disnoids flock to them. There are no interesting stories on how they came to be, but I will name a few of the more popular collectibles.

First we have the cels, which are the most expensive (usually) because of its rarity. Cels are one of a kind, and there is one sad story behind them. Nobody ever thought people would give a shit about these cels, so after a while, the animators and executives just threw them all out. Some artists kept their favorites for memorabilia, and when these things became part of a huge nostalgic phenomenon, finding a cel from any of these old movies were so rare, they became priceless. The only place to find most of these are at auctions — Ebay is pointless; you’ll never find one of these [authentic] rarities. [And with every animated film is being drawn via computers, there aren’t many hand-drawn cels being created for the modern-day “classics.”]

There’s also figurines and big figs. These are little statuettes created by famous artists of different characters, in different situations. A big fig is just what it sounds like – a bigger version of the figurines. These have become a staple in collector’s items, being that they usually create somewhere between 50 and 750 of the same figure, turning it into one of the rare favorites. [I’m guessing that Jerry means that a fig is a 1:6 scale, and a big fig is 1:4 scale model.] At Star Wars Weekend, they sell extremely rare figs and big figs including Yoda riding on Mickey’s back (dressed as Luke of course). and Princess Leia Minnie, as well as many others.

Other collectibles worth money include anything from the parks, including pieces of signage, furniture from the hotels, pieces of attractions, or anything else sold at Disney Auctions. There are many places to find these collectibles. Besides special Disney Auctions, they also have a Cast Member only surplus “store” behind the Magic Kingdom only reachable by car. And of course, the website MouseSurplus.com [closed as of 2013, but they are on Ebay], which sells anything from a car from Mr Toad’s Wild Ride to an old Horizons sign, to an entire monorail car. (I bought a phone from the Animal Kingdom Lodge.)

But there’s more! Countless old (vinyl) records from original pressings of the Main Street Electrical Parade, to odd compilations you’ll never see again. Old videos of old attractions. Toys that have been discontinued and especially the new Walt Disney Treasures: a collection of DVDs (only 7500 available for each one) that showcase the old Silly Symphonies, “Mickey Mouse Club” episodes, old episodes of “Disneyland on ABC,” as well as the animated shorts and rarities. (Also includes “Davy Crockett,” footage of Walt Behind the Scenes, and more.) Most of these can only be found on Ebay. The main point is that Disnoids will pay for ANYTHING to further their collections.

….

[to be continued in Part 22, Downtown Disney]

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