October 16, 2008


I was up, ready and waiting when my friends Susan Duncan and Carrie LeBlanc arrived from Toronto around 9 a.m. They came in for a quick break, tea and muffins, before we headed out to Somerset NJ for the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders event called Swap til’ You Drop. This annual pin event starts Friday at 7:00 p.m.  and goes non-stop until noon on the Sunday. I went to this event last year and had such a good time I was very excited to be going back.


We were on the road shortly after 10 a.m. and crossed the border into New York State by 10:30, our first planned stop was the Carousel Mall in Syracuse. We had decided before we left the house that we were going to have a Disney Store marathon on the way. Gary had mapped out the nearest locations all along our route.

We found the Syracuse store, no problem, and made some purchases.  We also decided to have lunch while we were at the mall. After a couple of stops in a few stores on our way out of the mall we were back on I-81 by 2:00 o’clock. 


It was a beautiful fall day and the colors were spectacular. The drive was pretty uneventful and passed quickly as we chatted about the upcoming pin meet and future trips, all Disney related. We followed I-81 all the way down to Scranton and then started east on I-84 to I-80. At Bridgewater we stopped at the second Disney Store and then back on the road to Somerset. We decided that we would get checked in to the Hampton Inn and unload the car before we continued the Disney Store marathon. As we were unpacking the car we ran into Erica and Alex, a couple of other early arrivals. We chatted a bit and then went to our room. 

Disney Store #1 - Syracuse, NY, Susan, myself & Carrie

The room wasn’t what we had expected, there were three of us and it was a small room with two double beds. We went right down to the desk but there wasn’t anything else available so we accepted the fact that we would be rather cramped, it was nothing to lose sleep over. Susan sent a quick email off to Janice, our Travel Agent just asking if anything could be done.


We left with map in hand, destination Disney Store number three! We found it and again bought a couple of items that were on sale. It was getting late by now and we wanted to make store number four before the mall closed so we jumped back in the car and trusting our inner Disney senses flew down the highway to the next mall. Susan picked a parking space by an entrance that was right beside the store, pretty good instincts! We practically ran to the store since we knew it would be closing in minutes. Mission accomplished – 4 Disney Stores in one day!


As we left the store we realized we were starving so we went back to Somerset and had dinner at the Ruby Tuesday’s across the street from the hotel. After dinner we went back to the hotel and as we were walking through the lobby the desk clerk waved us down and told us that they had a suite available and we could move our stuff in right away. Janice had done some magic and we now had a room big enough for the three of us. We got moved, unpacked and settled then sat around chatting for a bit. It was well after midnight when we turned the lights out.

October 17, 2008


Morning came early and we were up and getting ready for our day in New York City by 7:30 a.m.  Once we were showered and dressed we went down to the dining area and had some breakfast, then loaded ourselves in the car and drove to the train station in New Brunswick. We got our tickets and had just walked out on the platform when the train came in. It was another gorgeous day and I enjoyed watching the countryside turn into city as we made our way into NYC. We got off the train at Penn Station and walked to Time Square. After looking around for a few minutes we decided the best way to conquer the city was to board a Gray Line double-decker bus and let them be our tour guide.

Empire State Building

On the double-decker bus.

Statue of Liberty On the Staten Island Ferry
Manhattan United Nations Building (they're in session when the flags fly)
Rockefeller Centre World of Disney Store

We stayed on the bus for the full tour with the exception of the Staten Island stop. We got off and rode the ferry across to the island and back, taking lots of pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the city. Once we got back we boarded the bus again and rode back to Times Square. We got off and walked to the World of Disney Store. We must have spent at least an hour if not more in the store. It was just like being in Downtown Disney. 

A happy shopper at the World of Disney Store

Once we had paid for our purchases we started our trek back to Penn Station, by now it was after 5 p.m., we were tired and it was getting cold. We walked quite a few blocks and Susan mentioned if we see another double-decker bus we should hop on and ride it back as far as Macy’s. I was hoping we would find one and we did. It felt good to sit down and ride those last ten blocks! 


We got to the station during rush hour and some of the trains were delayed.  It was very busy, but we found our track and hopped on the 5:54 p.m. train just as the doors were closing! The ride back was quiet; we may have even dozed off after all the fresh air and exercise.

We quickly drove back to the Hampton Inn, grabbed some take out and ate in the room. We were late for the start of the pin trading but needed nourishment. After we ate it would have been real easy to lie down on those comfy beds and just gone to sleep but we grabbed our pin bags and headed downstairs. There were already lots of traders there, the meeting room was full and the dining room was filling up. We wandered around, visited, did a bit of trading and played some games. It was a great start to the weekend.


We were all tired so we headed back to the room about 11:30 p.m. and spent a bit of time recapping the day and planning the next day. Lights out by midnight.

At the Hampton Inn.

October 18, 2008


It was almost 9 o’clock when I woke up.  Everyone had a slow start but that was okay, it was going to be a long day. We made it downstairs in time for the breakfast and by then we were ready to tackle the pin binders. We had a table in the dining area where we set up our pin bags, but we spent most of the day wandering through the three rooms that housed the 146 pin traders who showed up for the event.

Setting up for a day of trading.

I was able to do lots of trading and the day went by fast. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner so Carrie and I walked over to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner, Susan decided to stay with some of our friends and order in. The trading stopped for about an hour while we all had something to eat.  

John Rick & his wife Sheila

Carrie LeBlanc is eager to trade!

After dinner the evening was filled with lots of fun stuff that people could participate in or they could just keep on trading. The dining area became the spot for various fun things such Halloween costume judging, a gift exchange/steal game, a pin bag scavenger hunt and more. It was after midnight when we finished up the pin bag game so we decided to head back to the room for some shut eye. There were lots that still continued pin trading far into the next day.


We sat for a bit and admired the new pins that we had traded for before turning in around 1:30 a.m.   It had been a great day!

The hotel made us feel very welcome! Donald, Aimee, Susan, Anne & Mike

October 19, 2008


I crawled out of bed about 8:30 and the others followed shortly after.  After we got cleaned up, Susan and I took a load of luggage down to the car. Then we  met up with Carrie and had some breakfast.  After breakfast we finished loading the car and headed for the pin trading room. Many traders had left already for home but there was still a good crowd taking advantage of the last hour of trading. John Rick, the main guy force behind Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders, and one of the organizers of this event, thanked everyone for coming and announced some future events. He and his wife Sheila, along with Janis, from Travel Dreams and her husband Dave put in a lot of time and effort to make this event what it is today, a truly fun pin trading weekend for young and old to enjoy. 


When all the trading was done we went with our friends Ann, Mike, Aimee and Donald for lunch. We ended up sitting and yakking with them until 2 o’clock. We then jumped in the car and made our way back up through New Jersey, into Pennsylvania through New York, across the 1000 Island Bridge and arrived in Kingston shortly after 8 p.m.  The girls had a quick bite to eat ay my house and then made their way back to Toronto. They had to be up early since they were flying to WDW at noon the next day. Lucky them!   I on the other hand, got unpacked, crawled into bed and slept until about 9:30 Monday morning.   It was a great weekend!