Pin Releases at the New Disney Studio Store

Written back in 2014, the Disney Studio Store continues to experiment with different ways to improve the guest experience, especially when it comes to pin trading.  They are still EXTREMELY popular and for Rogue One they even did an online pin sale.  We will see how they will continue to do them in the future.

If you haven’t been to the new Disney Studio Store and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain you need to go.  Not only do they now feature Ghirardelli chocolate everywhere (including on their famous hot fudge sundaes), but the Studio Store itself has undergone some changes as well.  The most notable difference is in how pin releases are being conducted.  From my understanding, Disney was working on this issue prior to the refurbishment and had already made vast improvements but it seems at the time of the opening of the store, they have got it down to a science.  Gone are the fights, arguments, and unruly behavior that seemed to mar these events in the past.  Instead, a new system that does not favor those who sleep overnight (or three) is in place that allows everyone a fair chance at getting the pins they want.  Some complain because they have the time and the energy (and apparently the bladder control) to wait for days on end for pins and want “justice” instead of “grace.”  These also tend to be the people who resell the pins nearly immediately (and sometimes in “pre-sales”), but for those of us who simply love pin collecting this is a great new system.

What Disney has done is announce that if you are in line by “x” time on “x” day (Friday at 7am for example) then you will receive a wristband.  Each wristbanded guest is handed a random line-up number.  Whatever number is on your card is your number in line.  People are let in according to their number and everyone gets the opportunity to purchase one of each pin available.  It’s possible you might be the first person in line and get number 546 and not be guaranteed a pin, but this method is equitable, fair, and easier to implement.  When people began lining up all night long (and in some cases days before hand) this created problems – liability and otherwise.  Plus, it discouraged casual fans (or even enthusiastic ones who had jobs) from coming out. The aim of the pin releases is to open up the world of pin trading to more and more people – not reserve it to the few resellers who take their purchases and hock them on eBay for 3 to 5 times the face value of the pin.

The Disney Studio Store has also increased the number of pins and decreased the number you can purchase at any one time. Most releases are LE 400 instead of the LE 300 they once were and each person is limited to one per person instead of two.  Originally, people were allowed two so they could keep one and trade one, but when it because obvious that too many people were keeping one and selling one or simply selling both, it took away from the intent of the pin releases and so the smart folks at Disney Studio Store changed it.  A few complained but most are pleased that at least now the wealth can be spread a little farther.  The increase in the number of produced pins also means they are not as “rare,” but honestly DSS (Disney Studio Store) has some of the smallest release numbers anywhere.  Compared to the often 500, 1000, or 2000 LE releases at the parks (which also sell out), a LE 400 is still very rare.

The inside of the new soda fountain and store.
The inside of the new soda fountain and store.

To top it off, the folks at Ghirardelli treated us all to FREE hot cocoa while waiting in line!  How cool is that?  The good ol’ Disney guest service experience was alive and well at least on that cold morning I was there!  And boy was that cocoa GOOD!  Overall, the experience at the new Disney Studio Store is a wonderful one.  It still means waking up early and trekking to Hollywood for some pins, but at least it is more fair, fun, and friendly like it used to be.  People were jovial, sharing stories, playing games, and enjoying the time while waiting for pins.  It really is much more in the Disney spirit.  So if you’re thinking about attending a pin release, be aware of the caveats, but go knowing that the experience is much better and more positive than ever before.  And the pins are still among the most well made around.

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