A Disney World vacation is all about magic. It’s an escape from reality in the purest sense, and every aspect of the Disney experience, from ride theming to cast member etiquette, is designed to maintain that atmosphere. However, even the best vacations still take place in the real world, and every Disney visitor shares the parks with thousands of other guests at a time.
We’ve talked before on Theme Park Tourist about cringeworthy habits of some Disney parkgoers. What about the flip side though? What about the people who, perhaps without even realizing it, make other guests' vacations even more special, all while simply having their own Disney day or doing their job? These oft overlooked rock stars deserve a salute.
We want to spotlight five of the best people you meet at Disney World. Have you met one of these?
1. Pin trader Santa Claus
Pin trading is, quite possibly, the most addictive activity one can imbibe in at Disney World. Obsession with tracking down the next pin trade can vary from “I just need one more,” to “The spice must flow,” levels of compulsion. While adults are often the most obvious pin junkies, kids can get positively hooked on this pastime too. The look of triumph on a kid’s face when they score a new pin is fun enough, but there’s a certain type of Disney guest who really makes this activity shine for guests around them.
Pin Trader Santa Claus.
Who is Pin Trader Santa Claus? These are guests—often a mom, or old man or woman-- who always keep a few pins on hand to give random kids they might run across. Now, I do clarify, this is not done in a creepy or disconcerting way like “Heeeeeyyy kid. You want some pinnnnsssss?”. These aren’t people weirdly stalking kids to give them pins. Pin Trader Santa or Mrs. Santa knows the appropriate times and etiquette for surprise-gifting a pin to a bright eyed little one, and they know how to do it with grace and just the right amount of Disney magic.
Maybe they’ve been standing in line next to a family for two hours waiting for Frozen Ever After, watching the kids melt into goo from the seemingly eternal queue. Maybe they’ve been sitting with a family on the bus, listening to a little girl recount how much she loved meeting Chewbacca for the first time. Often, it’s just that a kid sees their lanyard and lights up with curiosity. Pin Santa takes this opportunity to give a pin to these kids. They’re courtesy masters, and they know to include the parents in the moment, making sure the parents are okay with it. For some kids, it may be their first and only pin of the trip.
I’ve seen this exchange happen several times, and it’s always adorable, especially when it starts with two kids from different families showing each other lanyards during a long wait. Seeing a kid light up at getting their first pin (or just their first guest-traded-pin) is a heartwarming moment. We salute you, Pin Santa. May your lanyard be ever shiny and jingling.