Little girl with ice cream mustache

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 Sign

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.

Tigger pin trades with guest

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr (license)

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.



We took our four-year-old niece to Disneyland during their Halloween events. She was very, VERY excited to meet Jack and Sally. The line to meet them was predictably long, and of course there is always concern about monopolizing a character's time. When it came to our turn, Niece was chattering away about how much she liked them and how she visited their 'house' (Haunted Mansion Holiday).

Conscious of time, I tried to get her to pose for a photo. Jack looked at me and said, "No, it's okay. Let her talk." He and Sally spent a long time kneeling at my niece's level talking to her, then posed for several photos with her and our whole group. They made her feel like the only person in the park, and she was bubbling the whole rest of the day. It was wonderful! They really made our visit magical.

What a great article!
I never have a problem giving up my seat (I'm a 45 yr old male) on any transportation for a more deserving person, I never thought my actions would mean so much but you are right about the infectious behaving - good breads good! :-)

This report also really made me appreciate my wife and mom of our 3yr old daughter as she keep her happy and entertained by going equipped with crayons and paper so that whilst I might be riding ToT or Space Mountain they will both be doing colouring, making paper fans to hand out to the next princess we visit during a Meet & Greet etc. And it stops me feeling that ever-so-guilty about going on rides whilst they wait patiently for me when I see how much fun they have had by keeping themselves occupied (or course the odd Mickey Ears ice-cream helps!)

So yes, well done to those super parents! :-)

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