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Disney pin trading collection pile of pins.

Disney Pin Trading 101

It is as straightforward as it sounds, you trade Disney Pins with the Disney Cast Members and for many, to a lesser extent, with other guests.  While it may not sound all that exciting on the surface, for some it can be really fun. You can think of it as a giant scavenger hunt. There are various collections released, both for sale and some only to cast members.  Personally, my son loves just about anything Pluto – so he is always hunting those pins. We started collecting one set (Pluto ‘days of the week’) that took us 3 different trips to finally find all of them! It becomes one more thing to do around Walt Disney World and often leads to some amazing cast member interactions.

Walt Disneys Enchanted Tiki Room 50th Anniversary pin trading board is on display with several bright colored disney pins.

“The Trading Tradition”

Disney has always offered collectible Disney pins in each of its parks.  With the kickoff of the Millennium Celebration in October 1999 at Walt Disney World, they began a new tradition of Disney Pin Trading. Now thousands of guests trade pins each day with Cast Members and other guests throughout the parks and resorts. Sharing pins is a fun tradition that easily is shared across multiple generations, plus it gives you an opportunity to meet a new friend or start a conversation with somebody!

The 10 years of pin trading poster sign at Disney! The tradition started in 1999 and is living strong!

How Do I Start Collecting Disney Pins?

The easiest way to get started is to pick up a pin ‘starter pack’ at just about any gift shop location.  This will have 3 to 5 pins in it and a lanyard. I’d start by checking your resort gift shop. They’ll have a rack of various pins there, a few different lanyards, likely one or two pins exclusive to the resort, and a couple of starter or trade packs (a multi-pack of pins).  It is up to you if you’d like to use a lanyard or not. My son used to wear one around the park, but as he got more into collecting pins it got a bit too heavy to wear all day. Now he just displays them on a board at home. There are other options for pins that we’ll explore later.

Pin trading station kiosk at Disney is a good place to start collecting pins!

Alright, I Have Disney Pins.  Now What?

Now you get out there and start trading! The easiest is to trade with Cast Members:

  1. Meet a Disney Cast Member wearing a pin trading lanyard, sash, or small bag.
  2. Find a Disney Pin that you’d like to trade for. Some people focus on specific characters like Mickey or Pluto, some to complete series like Hidden Mickey pins, and others just want them all.
  3. Trade your Disney Pin with the Cast Member.  Remember: your pin must be metal and display “©Disney” on the back.  

You don’t have to only trade with Cast Members.  You may, of course, trade with other private individuals and guests around the parks.  The big difference is that Cast Members will always say yes, with a few exceptions (in the next section).  When trading with other guests, there are no rules. We see this breaking down into other casual traders and the more serious traders.  Casual traders are typically those that are doing it as something fun to do and enhance their Disney vacation. They’ll often eagerly show you their pins, but trading can be difficult.  The more serious pin traders tend to be adults approaching this as a serious hobby. You may see them sitting somewhere in the parks with boards or books out. Again, they’ll often happily show you their pins but trading with them, in our experience, has been rare.  Primarily because they’re typically seeking rare or exclusive pins that we just don’t have.  

Disney pin trading rules and how to start, provided by Heyday Travel Company. This image says the 1,2,3 steps of pin trading.

Are There Rules To Pin Trading At Disney?

Yes, beyond your pins needing to be part of the Disney collections, there are a few other things you must follow. 

When trading with Cast Members they’ll accept any qualifying pin offered in exchange for one of theirs. You are limited to two trades per day with the same cast member. That is two trades per person in your party though, so it can be helpful to at least travel in pairs. One caveat is that they won’t accept a duplicate pin in trade.

Beyond Cast Members be sure to ask at Guest Services desks and some store counters for a “Pin Board.”  That is a bit of a misnomer because they’re not always boards. Sometimes they’re stuffed animals with pins or, like in the gift shop after Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, it is a snare drum! The same rules of 2 trades and no duplicates applies, but you can often find some great pins there.  We also often stop by the multiple Disney Vacation Club kiosks that you’ll pass. Not everyone, but many of the people working there will have pins to trade. Usually, if they don’t have any to trade, they know where you can go find some though.

Which Disney Pins Should I Collect Or Trade?

One aspect we particularly enjoy is the amazing variety.  Find YOUR FAVORITE pins to personalize your Disney experience.  Guests of all ages can hunt for favorite characters, attractions, and features.  Whether it’s the Little Mermaid or Mickey Mouse you seek, pin hunting is guaranteed to add thrills to your Disney adventure.  My wife and I like to pick up pins to commemorate our trips, as you can see in this photo.

Our disney pin trading board that commemorates our trips!

We’ll get a pin with the year, the resort we stayed at, and usually a party or attraction pin that was a highlight for that trip.  For example, in 2015 we stayed at the Beach Club Resort and went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. My son likes to focus on collecting Pluto pins and has a pretty substantial collection of them now as you can see below.

My son's Pluto collection board, among many other Disney pins.

A few common types of pins are:

  • Hidden Mickeys: Common pins with small Mickey heads hidden on them that are available in a series and are unique because they’re not available for sale in stores.  These can only be obtained by trading with Cast Members.
  • Characters: Choose your favorite character and trade for as many pins containing that character as you can.
  • Series: These are groups of typically 4 to 8 pins that have a similar theme but are individually different. E.g. Villain ties – all pins are in the shape of a necktie with each one featuring the image of a different Disney Villain.
  • Retro Disney: Pins featuring Disney attractions, characters, and films from years past
Disney pin trading book with dragon collection and chip n dale collection.

A Downside

One downside to Pin Trading is that it can be very expensive.  Individual pin prices start at about $6.99 and only go up from there!  It can get expensive quickly if you are serious about collecting. With some research, you can buy your pins for trading online before you ever leave home and save some money.  You can find online sellers offering pins in bulk for about $1 per pin. This can certainly save you some money, but it is also a bit controversial.

If you buy from online sellers, the pins you receive may be what are called “scrappers.”  These are legitimate pins for trading (primarily with Cast Members) but are usually considered factory seconds or production overruns.  Disney Cast Members will accept them for trades, but serious collectors are unlikely to be interested in them at all.

Scrappers are controversial with some Disney Pin Traders.  Disney itself seems to be indifferent towards them as Cast Members do accept them in trade.  If Disney wanted to put an end to scrappers, they could easily do so by producing the pins elsewhere or instituting different pin trading policies.  In any case, the practical reality is that whether you purchase them or not just participating in trading will likely result in you receiving some scrappers. 

multiple Disney pin boards are displayed on a wall with dozens of colorful pins on them.

This is something that, as a family, we’ve become hooked on!  While it certainly can become expensive as a hobby, it is just tons of fun too!  Sometimes we enjoy looking at the pins and reminiscing, more than looking at some of the pictures.  My son seems to really relish “the hunt” and is always on the lookout for Cast Members with lanyards.  On a parental note, it creates some great teachable moments for him. Allowing us to reinforce manners and how to approach/ engage in conversation with people.

Celebrating Twenty Years of Disney Pins – 2020 Pin Trading Event

If you did the math earlier, you might have noticed that it’s been about 20 years since they started this cool tradition. Although there are not many details out on this yet, Disney will be having a 2020 Pin Trading Event Saturday, August 22 through Sunday, August 23, 2020. Serious pin collectors might want to look into this or you could reach out to a Heyday Travel Company team member that can help you plan the most pin-tastic trip ever!

Celebrating 20 year of Disney Pin Trading logo is green and has a timeline of pinning traditions.
The photo timeline is from Disney.com

Ready To Trade Some Disney Pins? Let Us Help YOU!

Heyday Travel Company can plan a Disney vacation that’s perfect for you. We are a free Disney travel planner with expert knowledge of the entire Disney catalog and Universal Parks destinations. No matter where you want to go, our experienced team is excited to help you make it happen. We provide our service at no charge, so you’ll only have to pay for the vacation itself. If you want help planning a Disney trip that’ll make your dreams come true while also fitting your budget, let’s talk!

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