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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.