Disney collectibles are an enduring hobby, and part of that lasting appeal is Disney's own attempts to encourage the collector community. Those attempts are sometimes misguided or not thoroughly planned, but they at least try to some degree. Trading Nights are one of the most important benefits Disney provides to collectors.
Similar to the yearly showcase events, like this year's Reflections of Evil, Trading Nights give previews of upcoming products, allow guests to buy a few items of exclusive or early release merchandise, and provide a centralized night and location for mass trading of collectibles. Items featured are mostly pins and Vinylmations, though attendees will sometimes bring other Disney collectibles to swap.
During 2013, Disney has made many adjustments to the trading nights at the Walt Disney World Resort. The first event of the year moved the location to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Unless you were a baseball fan or had a child who competed in certain sports events, the complex was a virtual unknown to most guests. Space seemed barely sufficient, few new items were previewed, and available merchandise included little interesting for Vinylmation fans.
The second trade night added slightly more space, provided a few surprise product previews, and even had a Vinylmation set available a few days before the official release. However, demand had increased, and crowd control policies proved disastrous. To prevent the merchandise line from overcrowding, guests were only admitted a few at a time. Since hundreds of people were waiting trade, many waited in line an hour or more after the event started just to enter. Since the event only runs three hours, this left little time for many people to trade.
At last night's Disney World event, most attendees were prepared for the potential problems, with the line to enter wrapped around the corner over an hour before the event start. However, Disney was also prepared with a new system. All guests would be allowed to enter the building at the same time, but were given wrist bands for the event store. When your particular color was called, you were allowed to buy any desired merchandise and then had to destroy the wristband.
This system worked beautifully and seemed to alleviate most complaints. Anyone just interested in trading was able to start immediately, while still keeping the shopping situation orderly and fair. Only a few items were available, but they were decent offerings. Pin traders could buy an event pin featuring a Haunted Mansion ghost, while Vinylmation fans could buy blind boxes of the new Urban Redux 2 series, set for release Friday.
Product previews were also decent, even though the Reflections of Evil event was only last month. Almost the entirety of upcoming Animation and Cutesters series were revealed, as well as another chance to see other upcoming products. Personally, I'm actually excited for the new Cutesters Snow Day series, even though they're traditionally some of my least favorite. I think it helps that almost all of them are adorable animals, including a narwhal. Who doesn't love a narwhal?
The heart of these events is the trading. The event seemed to have lower attendance than the last, possibly due to past problems, the awkward Tuesday date, or the recent end of tourist season. Those with some trading knowledge were still able to find plenty of great exchanges, and hopefully word will spread about the more efficient crowd control solutions.
As for my wife and I, we didn't do too badly ourselves. Since we've only collected for a couple years, and don't have the resources to acquire lots of rare items, we also don't have the most desirable items to offer. We managed to do well for ourselves regardless, and helped out a few people with their collections as well. In the end, that's the most fun of these kind of spectacles, meeting new people and helping each other with our own little manias.