Started back in 1999 during the Millennium Celebration, Disney Parks pin trading has become one of the most popular activities in at the resorts. Disneyland, Disney World, and Disneyland Paris all participate in the program and each have their own unique pins. We received a lanyard with pins as part of a vacation package in the early days of trading and have never looked back! The pins have become our standard souvenir to commemorate each trip since there are always new designs and special issues to mark years, holidays, and events. Pin trading is fun for both adults and children and can be done as a one time activity or, as you may notice other guests wearing clothing covered with pins, a long term serious hobby! Two things that make pins stand out as great souvenirs is they are affordable and also can easily be worn or displayed when you get home. Compare that to a $6 lollipop. Another great thing about pin trading is that it fosters interaction with Cast members. You’ll find some that are really into pins and have a lot of fun trading. Here are the ins and outs of Disney parks pin trading to get you started.
Pin trading is pretty simple. Disney Cast Members will have lanyards or belt pouches displaying their pins. Approach a CM and ask to see their pins. If you see one that interests you, ask to trade. You can offer them a particular pin or let them choose from what you have. If you get a pin that you really like, put it in your pocket if you don’t plan on trading it. Their pins are replenished each shift and they trade throughout the day, so you never know what you’ll find. You can find out what new pins are being released each month on Disney’s website here. Pin trading has been around for many years, so older pins pop up from time to time. Cast members also get special Hidden Mickey pins to trade, so they’ll have pins you can’t find in the store. (see the pic below) Trading with other guests is allowed, but use your judgement. Sadly, there are people who go around trying to trade cheap pins for more valuable ones to sell. This isn’t too common and is pretty obvious when they approach you.
Getting Started and Where to Find Pins
Getting started is easy and affordable. You can buy pins from most any store at the Parks and hotels or even from the Disney Store website before your trip. The most common is to pick up pin trading lanyard which will have a selection of pins, usually themed such as Mickey and Friends. You can also pick up individual lanyards without any pins or even find a custom one from online sellers on Etsy, etc. I usually just bring a bag of pins to trade from my collection each trip and pop a few on my hat.
It is very tempting to buy some cheap pins on eBay before your trip in the effort to save a few bucks, but be warned that most of those 25 or 50 pin bags you see are going to be full of counterfeit pins. You can still find some legitimate pins on eBay, just make sure to find a seller who also deals in single pins and has a good reputation. The best quality finds are usually found in groups of 5-10 (with their card backing) from a good seller who is getting rid of common ins for a good price. If you’re new to pin trading it’s best to stick with retail until you are familiar; there are just too many pin scams out there now.
Once you have your pins ready, there are plenty of places to trade them. Most CMs will have pins. Seek out those who work in out of the way spots, like DVC sales kiosks, etc. You’ll also spot pin trading boards in various locations, like hotel lobbies and boat docks, so keep your eyes open. Watching for pins is a great activity to keep kids busy while waiting in lines.
Disney pins are a great collectible because there is such an amazing amount of unique designs. Characters, locations like hotels, rides, and limited editions for special events or holidays. You may want to decide on a certain character or theme to try to collect before you start. Maybe it’s Mickey or Star Wars, and perhaps you’re a huge Orange Bird fan like me. I don’t really have a theme for my collection, just what ever looks unique or interesting.
Dedicated Pin Shops at Disney World
- Magic Kingdom: Frontier Trading Post (Frontierland)
- Epcot: Pin Central (Center of Futureworld near fountain)
- Disney Springs: Pin Traders (Marketplace area)
Creating a Hobby and Displaying Your Pin Collection
You’ve started pin collecting and now you’re hooked. What’s next? There are a few ways to go from here. If you frequent the Disney Parks, focusing on trading is an option. There are also special pin trading events held throughout the year. Check Disney’s pin website here for details and event dates. If you’re not around the Parks too often, you can buy and sell them on eBay. Like I mentioned before, be particular about who you buy from. Sellers who specialize in good quality pins are obvious. Most common pins will sell for around their retail price, while low quantity limited editions can reach hundreds of dollars. If you’re looking for information on a pin, PinPics.com has been a great source for many years. There are also some blogs and forums where pinners can get together to discuss the hobby and find gatherings outside of Disney events.
What to do with your collection? You can find or make display cases, or even a simple cork board, to show off your collection. I’ve seen serious pinners around the parks sporting vests and other clothing covered with pins. We keep it pretty basic here. My wife likes to wear a pin on her work uniform to reflect the season or mood and I put one on my hat from time to time. If you’re going to wear your pins I highly recommend picking up a bag of locking pin posts. You can find these on the pin displays at Disney. The rubber post holders that come with the pins tend to loosen over time and you don’t want to drop your pins!
Pin Trading Tips
- Be friendly when trading, you may strike up some good interaction with Cast Members
- Some CMs will reverse (hide) some pins to spur interaction, so you may need to answer some Disney questions or sing a song to see it!
- Cast Member recognition, service, or name pins are not tradable.
- New pin releases and dates for special trading events can be found on Disney’s website here.
- Watch out for fakes on the internet. If the price is too good to be true is likely is.
- If you get a pin you really like, put it away so you don’t accidentally trade it.
- Be willing to trade good pins for equal quality. It makes for a better experience for everyone.
- Look for special seasonal, dated, or event pins for an unique souvenir.
- Annual Passholders and DVC members have special pins available at the larger shops.
- When buying pins to get kids trading, make sure they are choosing ones they are willing to trade.
- You don’t have to trade your pins, simply buy them for souvenirs if that’s what you like.
- Always keep an eye out for interesting pins while touring the Parks. You never know which CM will have a good one.
- Have fun!
Have any questions or your own tips about pin trading? Feel free to leave a comment below or post on our social media channels.