What’s a Pin Code?

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You may have heard of the term “pin code,” but wondered what it was, exactly.  A pin code is a discount offered by Disney that’s personal to the individual whose name it comes in, and not only the name, but the address must match as well. These codes come out several months prior to general public promotions and are usually room discounts or free dining offers. While they are often an indication of what the general public will receive in the near future, they generally cover a broader span of time. Additionally, room discounts under a pin code are often better and cover more room categories than those offered to the general public.  In the case of free dining, pin codes are sometimes offered in place of a similar general public offer.  For these reasons, pin codes are highly desired.

In the last year, Disney has indicated that it is more interested in marketing directly to certain groups of consumers rather than releasing the broad, general public offers of the past decade. If you look at the most recent free dining offer, for example, the exclusions are surprising: Port Orleans French Quarter and the Art of Animation were excluded from the offer entirely and Riverside, long a top first choice for families of five,  had almost no rooms available under the offer.  Why is this? It’s not because more people are visiting Disney World and because fall has suddenly become a “busy” season. It’s because the pin code that came out several months prior, which did, incidentally include the suites at Art of Animation and Port Orleans French Quarter, did such a great job of filling rooms before the general public was ever offered a discount.  So when free dining was released to everyone, the rooms available under the offer were, for many room categories, scant at best.

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So, we’ve established that you really want to get a pin code. What’s next?  While there’s a lot of talk about how to increase your odds of getting one, the truth is pretty simple: Sign up at the Disney site and then be in the right neighborhood. This is because Disney uses an outside marketing company to blanket certain neighborhoods. So if you don’t get a pin code, does this mean you should blame your neighbors and the fact that they take a lot of Disney vacations?  Maybe.  Disney doesn’t release exactly how they target consumers, but this is one scenario that makes sense.

When you’re planning a Disney vacation, make sure that all the adults going on the trip are signed up at the Disney site. In theory, this increases your odds of getting a code. Conventional wisdom also says ordering the personalized maps available on the Disney site can help.  Finally, if you have a current booking it will not impact your ability to get a code (I have a client who seems to get one at least once a month, others never get them); just apply it to your current reservation if you get one.

One last thing: Beware of emails and mailings that appear to be pin codes but are simply an advertisement for the current general public offer or even full price rooms.  Pin codes have sixteen digits, so any code that fits that criteria is probably good, but that’s not always the case.  Being a smart consumer always means checking your “code” against any current offer or even full priced offers. It can take a little bit more time, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you got the best deal possible.

Have you ever received a pin code or are you one of those unlucky souls (like me) who never gets one? Tell us your thoughts on these discounts in the comments.

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About Christina Wood

For more travel planning articles by Chris, check out her Disney travel blog, Everything Walt Disney World. Chris is also a member of the Mouse Chat podcast team and an authorized Disney travel planner with Pixie Vacations, and visits the parks about 55 days each year. To get free planning and assistance with your next Disney vacation, please call her at 919-889-5281 or email at ChrisW@PixieVacations.com. You may also fill out a quick Disney Vacation Quote form here.
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31 Responses to What’s a Pin Code?

  1. I have NEVER gotten a pin code.
    But I did get a pixie dust upgrade on my cruise in February, so I’m happy with that.

  2. Steve says:

    I think I’ve received pin codes about three times in my life… and in all three cases they were for times in my life we just couldn’t get away for a vacation, so I never got to use one. Luckily we’ve been able to get general public room discounts for the times when we could go.

  3. Irving says:

    I’ve recieved one last year in February and booked my room as soon as I received it cause I always visit Disney between September and October,exactly when the discount was avaliable.This year I’ll be visiting Disney on September but I get a great price(room only) without a PIN Code.

    • Chris Wood says:

      September is such a given for free dining, if you travel then you’re good to go. Still, it’s nice to get that pin code and not have to worry about.

  4. Heather says:

    I used to get PIN codes. Then, one year, my parents went with us to Disney World. When I had our two separate reservations linked, for some reason, Disney used my dad’s name and address (even though I was the one making all of the arrangements and using my own credit card to do so). After that, all of the PIN code offers I received via email came to MY email address but with my Dad’s name and address on them, so they were unusable! After approximately 20 emails and phone calls to Disney to try to get this sorted out, they just stopped sending me PIN codes altogether. I’ve used PIN codes in the past, and would really like to get back on the PIN code “list”, but no matter how many times I explain this to them, it just doesn’t seem to work!

    • Chris Wood says:

      I’m right there with you. Maybe they have a “file” on us or we’re on the “don’t pin code” list? I have a client, I swear she gets one once a month but I never see them. The last one I got only had my husband on it and since he wasn’t on the rez I was trying to make, I couldn’t use it.

      Good luck. Perhaps we can someday get on the good list? :-)

  5. Jay says:

    To be fair, even though POFQ was excluded from the Free Dining promotion, they were part of a room discount % promotion. Of course I don’t think Disney did their poor reservation reps any favors by releasing both promotions the same day but that’s another issue…

    • Chris Wood says:

      True, but keep in mind that when you do the math, the discount at POFQ was only about 5 % most weeks. Not nearly as appealing as free dining and I suspect Disney knows it. They were counting on this to fill up resorts like Caribbean Beach and they were certainly successful. But you know, it’s a business, and a very smart one at that.

  6. Peggy says:

    Hey what about bounceback offers….can you tell me how and when they are available?

    • Chris Wood says:

      Those are released almost a full year in advance. You’ll see them at your resorts but not all resorts get them and they’re not there all the time. I stayed at WDW about 7 times last year and only saw one in my room (one night stay) at the Poly in late November. A friend of mine got one at the Grand Flo last month, but again, it’s always pretty random.

      Just make sure you book before you leave!

      • Crystal Antoine says:

        We got a free dining plan bounceback option for august 2014-september 2014. We went ahead and booked it because we uave such a large family that the free dining saves us around 1200.00 each stay.

  7. Jeanne says:

    Made reservations way back in February for our trip in December. Was hoping to hear about a free dining promo sometime prior to our trip. In the meantime, from cruising around on the internet, I heard about these “PIN” codes. I went and checked on one of my old email addresses that I rarely ever use any more, but apparently had registered with Disney years ago. Lo and behold, there it was!! A PIN code for free dining, AND it included the week we are going!! Since then, they have released a free dining promo, but the week we are going was EXCLUDED from the general public offer! In the past few months, I have received at least 4 more of the same PIN offers via e-mail, and snail mail. They must really want me back, LOL! Wish I could bank them. :o)

  8. Bridget Mader says:

    I received a Pin Code and after waiting on hold for half hour and another 45 for Cast Member to figure out what the code was for, I got told it wasn’t valid for the dates we were traveling. So frustrated and what a waste of time on the phone!

  9. Andrew says:

    Where does one sign up? You mention a site in your article but not where to go!

  10. Courtney Ludy says:

    I receive PIN codes regularly. I am now at the point where I don’t even save the emails or mailings. When I’m ready to book, I just call and talk to a reservation cast member and they look it up for me. I’ve never NOT had one. They do different things though. This is the first time I’ve had free dining at a time not offered to the general public. This is the first time I’m taking all three of my kids to Disney World, so using the PIN saved me almost $2,000 for the 10 days we will be going this year in December. I play around A LOT on Disney’s websites and request maps and DVDs every time we book. I also have a Disney credit card that I use regularly and use to book vacations. I’ve heard that helps too. All these things together, and I get PIN codes every year we go! Good luck!

  11. Andrew says:

    I did some googling… I had 4 in my email inbox.

    Uhhhhh nice?

  12. Ed Kelemen says:

    I’ve been to WDW 26 times and have never gotten either a pin code or a bounce-back offer.

    • Chris Wood says:

      Same here. Well that’s not true. I have gotten maybe one and my husband gets them but for some reason they have him down as a “bachelor” (news to him I’m sure, maybe he can get that new TV he’s been wanting for football season) and I can’t use it because I often visit without him.

  13. Donnie Davie says:

    I live in Northern California about 12 hours from Disneyland, but go every year. I go to Disney World every 2 or 3 years. I’m also a DVC member. How would I go about signing up for a PIN code? Does being a DVC member make it so I am not eligible just like the free dining? Thanks A lot

  14. DM says:

    I think the Pin Codes are a joke. Just so a person will look at all the Disney Websites and get the excitement to go to Disney World.
    What a Joke. “Pin Codes”

  15. Michelle says:

    My husband gets them all the time in the USmail. Every couple of months since we went in 2008. We just got one today and it’s for when we are planning our 2014 trip so I’m very excited. Ironically, I’m the one with the Disney Visa, booked our last trip, and goes on the website all the time, but HE gets them. Weird!

  16. Avaleigh says:

    I received 2 or 3 pin codes in the past before I knew they were ‘special.’ Now I never receive them and we have stayed there twice in the last three years.

  17. Joann Powell says:

    Just confirming the zip code / address theory here. We used to get periodic PIN offers. Then we moved. Our codes / offers completely dried up. Haven’t had one since. Very disheartening. Not sure why marketing targets certain ppl living in certain areas. Seems that good deals would bring in people from any zip code – I mean an address hardly includes ( or excludes) specific demographics anymore. With the ability to telecommute, and globalization in general, the marketing to certain areas is outdated in my opinion. Of course, not getting codes anymore has nothing to do with that opinion. :-/

  18. Monica says:

    Do the PIN codes just come to your email as an email in and of itself?? Or is it in some other marketing email?

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