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Pin Trading at Disney: An Introduction

Walt Disney World photo
by Jennifer Shorey Arnold, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 02-02-2011
  

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Filed in Articles > Walt Disney World > Making Magic  

While visiting the parks, you can see cast members and guests wearing lanyards loaded with Disney pins and you can browse the park stores looking at the unique but somewhat pricey little items. Perhaps you or your little one has expressed an interest in pin trading but you are hesitant to make such a large investment.


How did this all begin? Disney's Official Pin Trading website explains that pin trading began as part of the Millennium Celebration in late 1999, although pins were available for purchase long before that and many Disney fans were already collecting. Pin trading has developed a life all its own in the realm of Disney and Disney enthusiasts since then. 

Purchasing a Disney lanyard, pins to trade, or even the Disney starter pin set can quickly add up to big bucks. However, there is a secret to entering the world of pin trading without spending $24.95 for a four pin and lanyard starter set at the park shop. If you are a savvy shopper, you can easily find Disney pins on eBay for a very reasonable price (though you will want to avoid suspicious bulk pin lots that just seem too good to be true). However, it is important to make sure that the eBay seller's description of the pins states that they are "official" Disney pins (see picture for an example). Having "official" pins with "© Disney" (or more) stamped on the back of the pin allows you to trade with any Disney Cast Member. (While you can certainly trade pins with your fellow guests, trading with Cast Members is a good way to get started trading, so that's what I'll focus on.)

Buying on eBay will mean you still need a lanyard to bear your pins. Instead of paying $7.95 for a lanyard at the park, an easy alternative is to visit your local hardware store such as Home Depot or Lowes. I was able to purchase a pink pirate lanyard for $1.95 to hold my pins. At that price you can buy two lanyards, which will enable you to use one to hold the pins you want to trade and a second to secure pins that you want to keep for your new collection. During my first trip to Disney participating in pin trading, I was able to trade with Disney Cast Members and compile a group of seven adorable Pirates of the Caribbean pins (pictured above). While on my trip, I discovered these very pins for sale as a box set in the Disney shops for $29.95. On other trips, I've traded with Cast Members for pins that sell in the parks stores for as much as $16.95 each. You just never know what pin you will find during your adventures!

Perhaps it’s not so much the price that’s holding you back from jumping into pin trading. Are you or your little one a quiet person who just doesn’t all together feel comfortable with the idea of approaching a stranger, Disney Cast Member or not, to look at their lanyard? That was me. However, I have found that pins allow even the shyest person a way to strike up a conversation. For your first trade, maybe try trading with a Cast Member working in one of the Disney park shops. All you need to do is approach a Cast Member and simply ask to see their pins. It’s really that simple! Cast Members participating in pin trading are easy to spot, with their brightly colored lanyards. However, some wear a 5" x 5" hip lanyard (a black placard) that attaches to their belt, which can be a bit harder to spot. For my first few trades, I approached Cast Members that worked the cash register at park shops, when they didn’t have any customers. They were more than happy to show their lanyards. Some asked what characters I was looking for and I’ve even had a few call over other Cast Members that they know may have a pin that I might like.



Pin Trading Lanyard photo
Pin Trading Lanyard

Example of Disney Pin Lanyard - photo by Belle*

Asking questions about the pins is a great conversation starter. Ask them about the Hidden Mickey pins. These are pins with a Hidden Mickey placed on the front of each pin and come in what seems to be endless designs (see picture for an example). Even if I don't see a pin on a Cast Member's lanyard that I really want for my own, many times I will trade with a Cast Member simply to keep the pin trading going. For this reason, I bring a second lanyard with me to the park. If I find a pin I want to keep, I simply put that pin on the second lanyard. This way I don’t become flustered during a pin trade and accidently trade a pin that I really wanted to keep. A bonus for the little ones, some Cast Members have specially-colored lanyards (green at Walt Disney World and teal at Disneyland) just for trading with children ages 3-12. Be aware that they only trade with children and will not trade with adults.

The whole process is easy but there are a few courtesy rules you will want to follow and keep in mind when trading with Cast Members. When participating in a trade, always trade one pin at a time and don't touch a Cast Member's pins. Instead of pointing to the pin, simply tell them which pin you'd like to trade for on their lanyard. For the trade, you will need to remove the pin from your lanyard that you wish to trade. Make sure when you take off your pin to replace the rubber back before you hand it to the Cast Member, and they will do the same. Disney does state that a guest can only trade a maximum of two pins with a particular Cast Member per day. Also, they request that when trading you only give the Cast Member a pin that is not already on their lanyard. For more about pin trading and trading etiquette, please log onto the Official Disney Pin Trading site. Each time you approach a Cast Member to see their pins and make a trade, it will become easier and easier, and soon you may be hooked!

Pin trading is a great way to add a new layer of interaction and fun to your Disney trip and also to make the Disney magic last when you're back home. At home, you can display your favorite pins in a shadow box or maybe hang up a lanyard with pins in a prominent place until your next Disney trip. Have fun and happy trading!



Tip: Like Pin Trading? Try Pin Giving!
I am an older adult who leaves her husband and takes a "girlfriend trip" to Walt Disney World each year. Even though my kids are grown, I just love to watch the little ones at the Disney experience the joys of the World. During my last few trips, I have found a fun way to share the magic. I, like many others, love pin trading and (also like many others) buy some of my pins on eBay because they're less costly. It's great fun to keep a spare pin to GIVE to little person who needs a special lift. It's amazing how happy I made one lonely little 9-year-old girl that I met before Fantasmic!, just by giving her a pin. She was traveling with her father and wanted someone new to chat with, so we quickly became friends. Now I make "pin giving" a part of every Disney World visit. What fun! - tip contributed by Cindy

Save This Tip



Official Disney Trading Pin photo
Official Disney Trading Pin

Example of official Disney Trading Pin - photo by Belle*




About the Author:
Jennifer is a professional photographer and Disney enthusiast. She is currently working on a shadow box display of her favorite Disney pins and is looking forward to her next Disney vacation.

Related Links:
Gardens of The World Tour - A Guided Tour During Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival last updated 5/28/2009
Star Wars Weekends - Feel the Force at Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 6/4/2009
Unusual Photo Opportunities - Getting Unique Photos at Disney last updated 6/18/2009
The Osborne Spectacle of Lights - Disney's Hollywood Studios last updated 7/6/2009
Dashing Through The ... Snow? - Sleigh Rides at Walt Disney World last updated 11/30/08




Reader Comments:


Thanks so much for your concise article. My girls (9 & 11) aren't really interested in character autographs anymore:(, but this is something I can see them wanting to do. I think we even have a few pins from trips before they were even born laying around here somewhere! Have plenty of time before December to pick up a lanyard (or four!) and maybe a few starter pins from the internet. It's nice to have the "pin trading etiquette" spelled out for us, now we won't feel so intimidated when we try it.

     vickig on February 3, 2011 @ 10:48 am
While buying pin lots on ebay may seem like a good idea, in reality it's not. What the author of this article might not realize is that many, many of the ebay pin lot sellers are selling counterfeit and bootleg Disney pins or "scrapper" pins which have failed Disney quality control and are meant to be scrapped. These are ordered directly from China from manufacturers who have either stolen or copied the pin dies from the "official" manufacturer. The pins violate Disney copyrights and are, in fact, illegal. Almost all of the Hidden Mickey and mystery pins have been counterfeited.

Those of us who are serious pin collectors are well aware of the problem with these pins and how it takes the fun out of a very enjoyable hobby.

     mom23k9s on February 3, 2011 @ 11:32 am
You are absolutely right about how much fun this is and how great to give the kids something to do to try to get over the shyness and learn how to have a polite conversation with an adult they don't know. My kids were 5 and 10 the last time we went (2009) and loved it. I may have to take you up on your suggestion to get a second lanyard for everyone since it is hard to keep track of the "keepers". Thanks for the cost saving tips too, we spent more money on pins last time than all our other suveniers together! We are going again in Oct and my 11 year old is already talking about pin trading.

     KristinMD on February 3, 2011 @ 11:36 am
Pin collecting has become a fun family pastime of ours. What started as a modest amount of pins on my teenager's lanyard as now blossomed into 4 lanyards, each with it's own theme and large collectible pins that are framed and up on his bedroom wall. I haven't bought a second lanyard yet myself, but I need to! Even my toddler is into the pins, he being the first of the three of us to trade pins with Castmembers.

:santa:Santa surprised the kids with 10 pins each from his eBay "workshop" this past Christmas. All were official Disney pins (at a reasonable price) and pins that my boys won't mind trading. It has opened up a whole new door to our Disney vacations.

Btw...I luv the idea of purchasing lanyards from places like Home Depot. The thought never crossed my mind! smiley for :thanks:

     Lilianna on February 3, 2011 @ 11:57 am
I too am a pin trader and an avid one at that. I have learned many things regarding pins in the few years I have been collecting and trading. One thing I have learned to avoid is buying bulk sets of pins on ebay as many of them state "official" Disney pins but the pin is actually a term in the pin community called scrappers. :mad: These scrapper pins are purchased from factories in other countries for pennies on the dollar. smiley for :eek: The pins are not pins that traders and collectors want. For some great information on scrappers check out pinpics or dizpins on the web.

Happy trading!
elmb1972

     elmb1972 on February 3, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

     Sirbogoff on February 4, 2011 @ 11:53 am
mom23k9s;3557784 >While buying pin lots on ebay may seem like a good idea, in reality it's not. What the author of this article might not realize is that many, many of the ebay pin lot sellers are selling counterfeit and bootleg Disney pins or "scrapper" pins which have failed Disney quality control and are meant to be scrapped. These are ordered directly from China from manufacturers who have either stolen or copied the pin dies from the "official" manufacturer. The pins violate Disney copyrights and are, in fact, illegal. Almost all of the Hidden Mickey and mystery pins have been counterfeited.

Those of us who are serious pin collectors are well aware of the problem with these pins and how it takes the fun out of a very enjoyable hobby.


elmb1972;3558148 >I too am a pin trader and an avid one at that. I have learned many things regarding pins in the few years I have been collecting and trading. One thing I have learned to avoid is buying bulk sets of pins on ebay as many of them state "official" Disney pins but the pin is actually a term in the pin community called scrappers. :mad: These scrapper pins are purchased from factories in other countries for pennies on the dollar. smiley for :eek: The pins are not pins that traders and collectors want. For some great information on scrappers check out pinpics or dizpins on the web.

Happy trading!
elmb1972


So I was amazed at how much my kids got into pin trading during our last visit. Upon our return, I did the Ebay thing and got a lot of 20 pins. Some were very ugly. Some cheap-looking. I imagine it was a "scapper" lot as mentioned. But what about the individual pins for sale on Ebay? I won a few actuions for individual pins and they look much more legitimate (also more expensive, generally $3-5 each). How can I know if my pins are "real?"

     benjiboo25 on February 4, 2011 @ 1:00 pm
The pins on ebay that are individual an priced higher are a better bet than buying a pin lot but still no guarantee. I have a personal friend that will not knowingly sell scrappers. He is 100% honest and is the only person I will buy from on ebay. His ebay id is chip_and_dale! He also has written several articles about scrappers/counterfeit pins on his ebay site. I suggest you check his site out. Happy trading and buying

     elmb1972 on February 6, 2011 @ 9:15 pm
My husband has totally gotten into pin trading at Disney. He is the shy/reserved type and while I willingly and eagerly talk to strangers, pin trading is his way to enter into conversations with CM's and other guests.

I wear a lanyard, too, but each pin represents a memory or moment from previous trips--1 pin per trip. I'm about to run out of room, though.

The husband also created a Pin Tie--read all about it: Williams Family: Todd's Pin Tie

He got quite a bit of attention and has created other ties for our next trip.

Happy trading!

     toddjodybrent on February 6, 2011 @ 9:53 pm
elmb1972;3561746 >The pins on ebay that are individual an priced higher are a better bet than buying a pin lot but still no guarantee. I have a personal friend that will not knowingly sell scrappers. He is 100% honest and is the only person I will buy from on ebay. His ebay id is chip_and_dale! He also has written several articles about scrappers/counterfeit pins on his ebay site. I suggest you check his site out. Happy trading and buying

Thanks for the tip!

     benjiboo25 on February 6, 2011 @ 10:24 pm
I would add a hearty recommendation to spend some money onthe Locking Pin Backs, sold most places that sell pins. You definitely do not want your precious (and sometimes pricey) pins to be lost because they fell off your lanyard, now, do you? smiley for :)

     Pax on February 6, 2011 @ 10:27 pm
I'm a VIP member of the Disney Movie Club. One of the VIP benefits is a free Disney pin per order. If there are no new pins, I order one I have to use for trading.

     Bec on February 27, 2011 @ 1:38 am
Bec;3582429 >I'm a VIP member of the Disney Movie Club. One of the VIP benefits is a free Disney pin per order. If there are no new pins, I order one I have to use for trading.

How do you become a VIP member? I am a member, but am one movie away from fulfilling my contract. Is that when you become VIP? Please tell me more....Thanks!

     benjiboo25 on February 27, 2011 @ 11:31 am
benjiboo25;3582689 >How do you become a VIP member? I am a member, but am one movie away from fulfilling my contract. Is that when you become VIP? Please tell me more....Thanks!



You should become a VIP member when you fulfill your contract. Once you're VIP look under MORE MAGIC & you will find a VIP link. There is usually a VIP weekly deal & the link to the VIP pin store. You can pick the featured pin or one of the other pins. I love the Snow White & Beauty & the Beast pins. They have a collector's case to store the pins & they just came out with a lanyard.

     Bec on March 2, 2011 @ 6:05 am
Bec;3585431 >You should become a VIP member when you fulfill your contract. Once you're VIP look under MORE MAGIC & you will find a VIP link. There is usually a VIP weekly deal & the link to the VIP pin store. You can pick the featured pin or one of the other pins. I love the Snow White & Beauty & the Beast pins. They have a collector's case to store the pins & they just came out with a lanyard.

Thanks! Are they discounted at all from typical pin price points? Or just different offerings?

     benjiboo25 on March 2, 2011 @ 12:44 pm
benjiboo25;3585777 > Are they discounted at all from typical pin price points? Or just different offerings?



They run $4.95 if you pick more than 1. The first one is always free as long as you've ordered a movie. They aren't park related. They are usually a character from the featured movie like they just offered Flower when Bambi was the movie of the month & sometimes they are anniversary pins. The 75th Anniversary Donald Duck pin is still available. They have Disney Movie Club on the back.

     Bec on March 19, 2011 @ 7:00 pm
Bec;3604479 >They run $4.95 if you pick more than 1. The first one is always free as long as you've ordered a movie. They aren't park related. They are usually a character from the featured movie like they just offered Flower when Bambi was the movie of the month & sometimes they are anniversary pins. The 75th Anniversary Donald Duck pin is still available. They have Disney Movie Club on the back.

Free with a movie purchase! They should let people know that is a perk of fulfilling the membership!!!

     benjiboo25 on March 19, 2011 @ 9:11 pm
We just got back from WDW and my daughter found something that helped to feed her new obssession of pin collecting. They sell mystery packs for $10.95 at the parks. This includes 2 pins and the ones that she did not like she traded almost immediately as a matter of fact one pin was straight out of the mystery pack and straight to the CM that was working the register.:p

     kyliesmom1115 on April 12, 2011 @ 2:03 pm
You know what's better about the Mystery packs?

They form sets. And ONE pin out of every set, you cannot buy. You have to find a CM with that pin, and trade for it. smiley for :)

     Pax on April 13, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
pax;3629787 >You know what's better about the Mystery packs?

They form sets. And ONE pin out of every set, you cannot buy. You have to find a CM with that pin, and trade for it. smiley for :)


I had no idea about that! My husband brought home 2 sets that he purchased at the "earport" for our girls and they contained the same mickey pin, just in 4 different colors. We'll have to keep an eye out for the 'missing' pin when we go in August! Thanks for the infosmiley for :D

     vickig on April 18, 2011 @ 10:17 am
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