Disney 101: Beginner’s Guide To Pin Trading At Disney World

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.Are you a Disney Pin Collector or just trying to learn how to get started? Either way, Walt Express has the information you need, right here in: Disney 101: Beginner’s Guide To Pin Trading At Disney World.

Pin Trading At Disney World

Pin Trading History

Pins have always been a souvenir option at Disney World but in 1999, during the Millennium Celebration, the art of pin trading was introduced.  Since then it has spread to most of the Disney World Parks across the world and is still a growing hobby. (It’s also one of my favorite things to do at Disney!)

What is pin trading?

Pin trading is when guests trade collectible Disney pins with either other guests or cast members. You signal that you are “pin trading” by wearing a lanyard and attaching the pins you want to trade to the lanyard. (Don’t attach any pins to your lanyard that you want to keep.)

It’s a fun, interactive activity that allows you to trade off pins that you don’t love and cultivate a collection of pins that you do. Below, we’ll discuss the “rules” of pin trading, as well as pin trading terminology and how you can get started on this fun Disney tradition!

Pin Etiquette

There are some guidelines set forth by Disney that are super handy. Here are a few:

  • Pins must be official Disney pins with the “©Disney” mark.
  • For safety, trade one pin at a time, from hand to hand with pin backs attached.
  • Refrain from touching anyone’s pins or lanyards. Ask for a closer look if needed.
  • Pins should be in good condition and undamaged.
  • Guests can make up to 2 pin trades per cast member per day.
  • Pins must be exchanged for pins and nothing else.
  • Have fun!

Words for the wise: Cast members will always trade pins. Guests can AND will trade, but sometimes can AND will say no. You can opt to just trade with cast members (at least to start) but some of our favorite interactions at Disney have started by trading with other guests.

If your children are new to pin trading, supervise any pin trading interactions with other guests. While most guests will be ethical, my niece was flustered during her first few pin tradings with other children and she just gave away her pins without “trading” – because she felt guilty asking for what she considered a “special” pin in return. Once she got comfortable with the concept though, she had a lot of fun!

Pin trading should be super fun, easy, and fair. Guidelines are there to make sure everyone has a great time. (Check out the official site for full rules.)

Required Materials

  1. First, you’ll need some pins.

One downside to Pin Trading is that it can be very expensive, some individual pin prices can start around $8.99 and only go up from there! However, you don’t need to spend that much to get started.

Starter packs can be purchased from Disney Parks for anywhere from $16-32. These packs contain a few pins (all with a specific theme) and a lanyard.

Alternatively, you can purchase “bulk packs” of Disney pins on eBay and Amazon before you leave for your vacation that often work out to about $1 or less a pin. When comparing the starter packs at Disney, you’ll be saving anywhere from $4-8.00 a pin – but note, sometimes the pins you get from these sellers are not legitimate Disney pins. Sometimes, they are misprints or duplicates entered into circulation by the companies that Disney hires to make their pins – and sometimes, they are counterfeits – called “scrapers” by avid Disney pin collectors.

For our first “pin trading” trip, I purchased our pins from eBay and only allowed my daughter to pin trade with cast members. I was honest and told them that I welcomed their feedback if any pins were counterfeit so I could remove those from her lanyard. Most didn’t care, only one took the time to point out a few of our pins that were probably counterfeit – but funny enough, two of the counterfeit pins were procured by trading with other cast members!

Another alternative is purchasing at Disney Outlets – these are located in Orlando and Anaheim and are a bit of a drive from the parks, but you can often find official, out-of-season pins for less than $2 a pin. This is a better option if you don’t want to purchase potentially “scrapper” pins but don’t want to invest a lot of money to see if pin trading is for you.

Personally, my daughter and I don’t care if any of our personal pins are counterfeit – she just cares that they are pretty or part of a collection she’s working on. Fellow guests can refuse to trade for any reason, regardless if you purchase your pins directly from Disney or from another seller – so don’t take it personally if someone opts not to trade with you. They may only be looking to trade for specific pins/characters/collections.

  1. The next thing you’ll need a lanyard.

Again, wearing a lanyard with some pins is your way of signaling to other guests or cast members that you are pin trading. If you’re not comfortable trading with other guests yet, keep your lanyard tucked away and just bring it out when interacting with a cast member wearing a lanyard.

Let me just go ahead and warn you, there’s about 2,453,654,224 different kinds of lanyards. (Okay.. I may have exaggerated, but there’s seriously a ton that you can choose from.) You can purchase a lanyard before your trip on a site like eBay or Amazon, but I think this is a fun thing to purchase at the parks – and for a small upcharge, park lanyards come with a collection of pins to match your lanyard.

(A “bare” lanyard is often $7-10 while a lanyard with pins is anywhere from $16-32, depending on the collection and number of pins included.)

We’ve purchased several lanyards at the parks – my favorite is our Stitch lanyard while my daughter is (of course) obsessed with her Small World-themed lanyard.

  1. Next, you’ll want something to “store” pins in at the parks.

This can be as simple as a ziptop baggie – though we often use a second lanyard that we don’t wear and just keep in our backpack. This is where you store pins that you want to keep and not trade.

Remember, only wear pins on your “pin trading” lanyard that you are willing to trade.

  1. Optionally, you can purchase something special to display your pin collection at home.

I bought my daughter this pair of heart-shaped corkboards from Target to display her pin collection over her desk.

I’ve seen some wonderfully creative ways that people have opted to display their pins at home – from shadow boxes to creating a picture frame using the pins and putting a special picture from a Disney vacation in the frame. There are also lots of cute ideas on Etsy.

Some people simply transfer their special pins to their backpack or a denim jacket and wear them at the parks.

Disney also sells soft-sided display “cases” (like a soft laptop bag) to hold your pins – but I don’t think these are nearly as fun as a display option.

Where & How to Trade

At Walt Disney World you have some options on where you can trade Disney Pins.

You can trade at any of the four parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or Epcot), at your resort or at Disney Springs.

At your resort, the pin trading “board” is typically at the concierge desk. Simply approach the cast member at the desk and ask to see the board. If you spot a pin you’d like, the cast member will either select a pin from your lanyard or encourage you to pick one to trade.

Epcot is home to a premiere pin trading station called Pin Central, and there is a large pin trading hub at Disney Springs called Disney’s Pin Traders!

At all of the Disneyworld Parks, there are numerous cast members and guests floating around all of these locations that are available to trade pins. You’ll be able to spot them wearing a lanyard or a side satchel (the kind Indiana Jones wore). Again, just approach them with your lanyard and ask to trade.

At Disneyland (California), pin trading isn’t as big of a tradition but there are still several spots where you can participate:

  • Westward Ho Trading Co in Frontierland
  • Fantasyland Stores
  • 20th Century Music Company store
  • Le Bat En Rogue in New Orleans Square
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission Breakout Gift Shop
  • Off the Page Gift Shop
  • Elias and Co Gift Shop (California Adventure)
  • Gift Shop across from Soarin’ at Grizzly Peak (California Adventure)
  • Disney-owned Stores in Downtown Disney

Many cast members (if not most) at Disneyland have pins to trade so that is your best bet for trading at Disneyland.

How to Trade Pins

 This is where the fun begins, and it’s really simple! All you have to do is approach a cast member or guest who has pins and say something like, “Do you wanna trade?” or  “May I see your pins?” Now there is a big difference in trading with a cast member and then trading with a guest. If you approach a cast member and ask them to trade with you, they will NOT tell you no and you can choose any pin you like. If you approach a guest and ask them to trade with you, they have the option to decline your offer. Don’t let that intimidate you though, because you won’t know until you ask!

SOMETIMES, cast members will “reverse” a pin on their lanyard or satchel. You cannot ask to see this mystery pin – cast members can opt to ask you a trivia question in order to reveal it, or it’s a “blind trade” – as in, you either want it or you don’t! It’s often rumored that these pins are “special pins” but I don’t find that to always be the case. (You can also do this on your lanyard although you don’t often see guests doing this.)

Disney Pin Collecting Terminology

A fair amount of traders will use the following terminology when trading.

OE – Open Edition. This refers to pins that have several copies.

LR – Limited Release. These pins are slightly harder to find.

LE – Limited Edition Size. These pins are very hard to find, with only a set number made.

Grail – This is the pin that you’d love to get, but can’t seem to find.

Scrappers – These are counterfeit pins.

Make it a Game

Once you have the hang of pin trading, it’s fun to make goals with your pin trades when heading to the parks.

For my family, we will either pick a character or a type of pin that we are trying to find and trade for. My daughter is obsessed with the Magic Teacup Pins (featuring different characters’ faces on tea cups) while I am always a fan of a Stitch or Marie pin. Whoever finds that pin on a given day gets to make a special decision – whether that’s where we eat for a quick service meal or what our next movie night will be once we get back home.

Be creative and make your own games out of pin trading! It’s an inexpensive thing to do at the parks that results in some fun memories and great souvenirs!

Last but Not Least … Have Fun!

Pin trading is a great way to not only gather up some sweet collectibles, but also to experience the Parks in a new way and maybe even make some new friends in the process! We have actually made friendships from pin trading that have continued outside of the parks – and as a fun extra, we often send each other pins in the mail – we’re pin pals instead of pen pals!

So what are you waiting for? Step into the magic and begin your pin trading journey!

Have lingering questions about pin trading that you’d like us to answer? Let us know!

Are you looking for more fun and games in Disney World? Check out the guide to the Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom!

Don’t forget to check us out on Instagram too! We are always showcasing and sharing our pins that we find!

The following is a video my friend Paten made to explain Pin Trading in our Walt Express Facebook Group:


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