The Scoop on PIN Codes and Discounts
Anyone who books a Disney vacations hopes that a discount offer will be released for their trip, or better yet, that they’ll receive one of those elusive PIN codes in their inbox or mailbox.
Most people will end up taking a trip that qualifies for at least one published discount offer, but not everyone (especially those who travel in the summer, when Disney doesn’t need to encourage people to visit).
Those who receive PIN codes should feel especially blessed, because they are extremely difficult to come by, and require a lot of…luck. Yes, luck. PIN codes are indeed generated and distributed randomly. It’s the quantity and dispersion that’s determined by computer.
We’ll tell you how to increase your odds of getting a PIN code further down, but first let us explain the system..and provide a word of warning.
There have been discussions on popular Disney Internet Forums about some 3-digit codes that people have been using to supposedly get Free Dining or other discounts applied to their vacations. The reports were that they just had to “keep calling until they got a Cast Member that would apply one of the codes”, and several people reported that “one of them eventually worked”.
While we are all about discounts, and will do everything within our power to qualify our clients for one, we also have a duty to discredit this type of bad information.
First, if you see a code posted on an internet forum, and that same offer isn’t also posted on Disney’s website or another reputable source (including our website), don’t bother trying to use it. No matter what they like to think, those people posting on the forums were not successful in “convincing a Cast Member to apply one of the offers to their trip.”
The codes they were posting were the in-house codes directly associated with PIN offers, and it was pure coincidence that those people ALSO had a PIN assigned to their name (or to the name of someone in their household, which would explain why it took several calls).
When you receive a PIN code, which is 12-16 characters long, Disney (or Mouse Unlimited) uses it simply to verify that you have been pre-selected for a discount. The PIN number doesn’t actually go into the reservation system – it’s just your unique identifier. Each PIN is tied to a 3-digit discount code (much like the ones they publish with every discount offer), which is what they ACTUALLY enter into the system.
For example (we’re completely making these numbers up), if you call in with PIN code A1B2-C3D4-E5F6-G7H8, the system will first verify that the PIN belongs to you (their records must match your current name and address), and will then show the Cast Member a 3-digit code like AB1. AB1 is what they apply to the reservation, which could do anything from discount the room to add free dining (depending on what your offer was for).
The people posting these codes on the internet didn’t actually receive the AB1 offer, they received a PIN that generated the AB1 offer. Thus, not just anyone can call in and tell the Cast Member they want the AB1 discount, because you would only qualify if you’d received the PIN offer that was tied to that discount.
Clear as mud?
When in doubt, just know that if there is a legitimate discount offer available to the general public, we will post it on our site. The only other way to get a discount is by receiving a PIN offer from Disney. There are no secret codes out there.
You will also hear many people say that they called in and found out they had a PIN offer associated with their name, but never received a postcard or e-mail. Well, that’s because Disney has old information for them in their file. There’s a 99% chance they sent the PIN, but it was sent to an old address or e-mail account.
How does this happen? Well, if you booked with Disney directly in the past, they have a Client File for you. If you moved or changed phone numbers between trips, they most likely ADDED your new information to the system (especially if you traveled during the 90s and early 2000s). Unless you’ve specifically called to update your information, they likely have you listed in their system several times – and the computer thinks each one of your listings is a different person.
And how are you supposed to know if there’s a PIN associated with your name or household? Call Disney. The PIN belongs to you until it’s applied to a trip we’ve booked for you. If you call and a Cast Member tells you they can’t tell you if you have any PIN codes associated with your account “because you’re booked with a travel agent”, they’re wrong . Hang up and call again.
Again, the PIN code is affiliated with you, or your household, until used by us. If you find out you have one, ask them for the details, let us know, and we’ll take care of the rest.
So, how do you make sure Disney has your correct information, and how do you ensure your best odds of getting a PIN?
- If you’ve booked directly with Disney in the past, call 1-407-WDISNEY and tell them you want to update your contact information. Try to remember your previous addresses and phone numbers and see if they can pull you up under any of those. If so, ask them to delete or update those records.
- If you’ve only booked with a Travel Agent (like us), your information would have only gone into their system once you used Online Check-In or provided your contact information at the resort check-in desk. Travel Agents do not provide Disney with your address, phone number or e-mail address (because Disney uses us as their point of contact). You need to make sure Disney has your information.
- Sign up with an account on www.DisneyWorld.com. Be sure to allow them to send you any and all types of promotional e-mails (set up a junk e-mail account, but be sure to check it often).
- Use their quote generator to build some possible trips and save them in your profile. Save some of them using OFF PROPERTY HOTEL as your hotel option. Urban legend suggests that this will prompt Disney to send you a PIN to encourage you to stay on property (we’ve never met someone it worked for, but we read it on the internet).
- Order a vacation planning DVD from www.DisneyWorld.com.
- Check all of your e-mail accounts routinely, including your Junk Mail folders. Disney PIN e-mails are completely HTML, and they come from a generic return address, so they look a lot like Spam to anti-spam filters.
- Open anything you get in the mail from Disney. Lately, PIN postcards have looked a lot like junk mail or generic Disney promotional literature. They bury the PIN code itself at the very bottom, and usually in a font color that’s the same hue as the background (i.e dark blue on light blue). Many people mistake it for some sort of postal routing code, or computer sorting number.
- And the best way, based on our records, of trying to get a PIN: BOOK A TRIP! Seriously. We’re not just saying that because it’s our business. We queried our data, and 90% of our clients who have used a PIN offer had gotten the PIN after they’d booked the trip with us. The other 10% got a PIN before they booked. It’s almost as if your new activity sparks some life in the mystic PIN computer, thus generating an offer.
Speaking of PIN codes, what are the real rules for using them?
- PIN codes are sent to specific individuals, and sometimes to families, at specific addresses. To use the offer, you must still live at the address registered with that PIN (or pretend you do until after the trip).
- No matter who in a household receives the PIN offer, anyone living at that address may book a trip using the offer, but that person must be staying in the first room on the reservation.
- Unless otherwise noted in the offer terms, up to three rooms may be booked using one offer. If you get a PIN and want to take friends or family on your trip, you can (as long as they legally fit into two more rooms at your resort).
Whew! A lot of info – we know. But there’s a lot to know. Not only are Disney vacations confusing to plan and book, but it’s also confusing to discount them. But, that’s why you have trusted travel agents like us here at Mouse Unlimited.
Don’t hesitate to e-mail us if you have general questions, or if you receive a PIN code and would like to book a trip.