One of the most coveted Walt Disney World discounts is the PIN or unique offer code. In this post, we’ll offer info about improving your odds of receiving a PIN code, what they look like, the dates of our most recent code, and why (or whether) you should care.
If you’ve never heard of PIN codes or have not received an email from Disney about a “PIN code,” this all might sound unfamiliar, so let’s start with the basics. PIN codes are the most exclusive of Walt Disney World discounts–they are targeted, non-transferrable discount offers sent to a limited number of recipients that offer deep-discounts for select travel dates or early booking of a special offer.
Part of the reason you might not have heard of PIN codes is because that’s not the terminology Walt Disney World uses these days. PIN codes are now “Unique Offer Codes” (or UOCs) but are still known as PIN codes among many Walt Disney World fans. (I also still call it “EPCOT Center.” I guess I’m old school.) Whatever you know them as, receiving a PIN code email or mailer can feel like the Golden Ticket landing in your hands. Honestly, part of the allure of PIN codes is the mystery and intrigue…
This is in large part because how Walt Disney World unique offer code recipients are selected is a process that is shrouded in secrecy. Some fans speculate that it’s based upon a complex algorithm that takes into account various factors in order to ‘nudge’ certain potential visitors to book a Walt Disney World vacation. The kind of cold and calculated Internet processes that likewise dictate what you see on your Facebook feed or what you see when searching Google.
Others think it’s more random, either determined by a roomful of manatees who push around name and discount balls, or through luck of the draw. If you travel to Walt Disney World regularly but have never received a PIN code, you’re probably disinclined to believe the “luck of the draw” explanation.
Me too. That seems like a fairly quixotic explanation for a company that is technically savvy and leverages data to its advantage. I don’t think it requires much cynicism to realize that nothing Walt Disney World does in the realm of discounts is random. I probably sound like a broken record with my “Walt Disney World does not offer Free Dining out of corporate benevolence” but that’s true, and it bears repeating.
Walt Disney World offers discounts to meet hotel room occupancy targets during times of the year that would otherwise not be as busy, and targeted discount offers like PIN codes are an even more sophisticated approach to offer discounts to certain guests while excluding others.
The goals? Only offer the discount to a very limited number of potential guests, and also (and this is key!) use surgical precision to target those guests who are less likely to book a trip without a discount offer. The discount is a carrot to lure unsuspecting(?) guests to visit Walt Disney World.
Pictured above for illustrative purposes is a unique offer code we received. I’d consider this a pretty good offer, but note the limited travel dates (we also received this around a month in advance of those dates). Again, I’ll reiterate that PINs/UOCs are non-transferrable, so the first person to comment “that code didn’t work” has to wear the dunce cap. 😉
In our experience, the best unique offer code deals tend to be more last minute, with more restrictive dates–they’re basically trying to fill a small number of unsold rooms shortly before the travel dates. Deals with a broader range of dates tend to be slightly better than general public discounts, and targeted as an incentive to those Disney deems less likely to book a trip.
You might wonder how Disney determines who is ‘less likely’ to book a trip. Well, for starters, past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. If you visit Walt Disney World like clockwork at the same time every single year, you’re unlikely to receive a PIN code.
By contrast, if you visit sporadically or express interest in visiting but don’t follow through, you are (statistically) more likely to need to be incentivized. Enter PIN codes.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you are (sadly?) predictable. You visit Walt Disney World often, often at the same time (or times) every year, have an Annual Pass, are a D23 Member, etc. You are an easy denial according to the algorithms. (Darn you, Skynet technology!)
This was my realization several years ago, but not wanting to let those stupid sentient computers defeat me, I started scheming, trying to think of workarounds. Like all inhuman systems, I figured it could be gamed. I started creating new Disney.com accounts, signing up for random things, and really going through the motions to let Disney know I was interested–but without booking any trips.
It worked. For a while, we were receiving about 4-6 PIN code offers per year. This number has decreased dramatically since then, primarily (I think) because I stopped trying to get them. Then last year (ironically as “research” for another blog post–which has coincidentally turned into research for this one), I started doing some of the things that I thought caused me to receive PIN codes in the past, and I started receiving new unique offer codes.
Here are some of the things I did (this is not a step-by-step list of things you must do–all are optional), and what I’d recommend doing if you want to increase your owns of receiving a unique offer code from Walt Disney World:
Go through the resort booking process on DisneyWorld.com while logged into your My Disney Experience account(s) for dates that actually interest you, going all the way to the confirmation screen–but not actually booking.
Make a FastPass+ reservation for a random date (note that you’ll need an Annual Pass or tickets tied to your account)
A few notes on these tips. First, always be sure to use your actual name, email address, and your valid mailing address. Some offers come via email, so are via snail mail. PIN codes are tied to your name, email, and zip code. (Sarah still receives some in her maiden name, and we’ve been unable to use those.)
Second, be courteous when it comes to booking FastPass+ and ADRs. Book unpopular ones and cancel quickly so you aren’t throwing a monkey wrench into others’ planning. (Or don’t cancel: experts agree that ‘wasting’ a Primeval Whirl FastPass+ technically counts as performing a public service.)
If my experience is any indication, booking FastPass+ and ADRs and immediately canceling them should be enough to help “trigger” a PIN code. While I was working on updating our Guide to FastPass+ last spring, that’s what I was doing, and that seemed to work. Around the same time, I was also checking a lot of resort availability for Free Dining (getting far into the booking process for multiple resorts).
Once you receive a PIN code, you can go to this website to enter and view the offer. Another thing you might want to do is call (407) 939-7875 and see if you have any PIN codes tied to your account. There have been times when PIN code offers have gone to my spam folder or paper mailers didn’t make it to us for whatever reason. PIN codes are tied to you, so even if you don’t have the actual code, as long as you provide your info, a reservations agent can retrieve one for you–if you have one.
I should also note that while PIN codes are exciting and there’s a lot of hype to them, they are not always the end-all, be-all of discounts. Sometimes, we receive PIN codes that are amazing–exceptional offers that it’d be insane to pass up. Other times, they are only slightly (if at all) better than a general public offer. Recently, it has seemed like the better the offer, the more restrictive the travel windows. In other words, you won’t always be able to–or want to–take advantage of a PIN code offer, but it’s better to receive a discount offer you won’t use than not receive an offer that you’d like to use!
Do you agree or disagree with our advice about the best ways to increase your chances of receiving a ‘unique offer code’ for Walt Disney World? Do you receive these PIN codes often? If so, are they typically good offers, or do you usually pass on them? Any questions about the PIN card madness? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!