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Disney Pin Trading


I can still remember when Lisa and I saw our first Pin Trading cart at Walt Disney World in 2000.  “What is this?” we wondered.  We read the signs and browsed the selection of pins and thought it was an interesting idea, but not really one that appealed to us.  Over the next decade, we would buy pins on each trip as collectibles, but we never wore them or tried to trade for pins in the parks.  It wasn’t until our daughter showed an interest in it on our last trip that we experienced the magic of Pin Trading.

my modest pin collection

For us, the Disney pins were collectibles.  We tended to buy our favorite attractions and characters, and we tried to find the pin from each resort we stayed at.  Our daughter, Isabella, had a small collection that we had bought for her over the years, but none of those were pins that we wanted her to trade.  So, we bought her a starter set, and supplemented that with some random pins we had obtained from a DVC event we attended.

She started out slowly and needed some prodding and help in locating Cast Members who were wearing pins to trade.  Before long, though, she was hooked.  At only 5 years old, she quickly caught on to the concept of asking to see a Cast Member’s pins and picking out the one she wanted to trade for… it was the selecting of a pin to trade from her own lanyard that was the stumbling block.  Eventually, she got the hang of it, and was constantly looking for trading opportunities.

I will admit that I cringed on occasion as I watched her trade away a pin that she had only just obtained a few minutes before, or a pin I thought was really cool was traded for something I didn’t care for.  But I withheld my objections and let Bella trade away.  She was really enjoying it and it certainly added extra magic to her vacation.  She was disappointed when we left that the last few Cast Members we saw did not have pins to trade.


some of Bella’s pins on display in her room

Needless to say, Bella is very excited to pin trade again on our next trip.  As we plan, we are thinking of ways to make that experience better for her.

Firstly, we want to keep this affordable.  We’re going to try and stock up on pins before we go to WDW.  We’ll look online at the Disney store site for sales, we’ll check our local Disney store, and we may get out to a nearby Disney outlet if the opportunity arises.  I’ve seen the lots on sale on Ebay and I am hesitant to buy a bulk lot like that out of fear that I’ll get fake pins, or “scrappers”, as I’ve seen them called.  As pin trading “newbies”, I think we’re going to play it safe and not delve into the pin trading “black market”.

Next, we’ll have to devise a trading strategy.  Last trip, we only traded with Cast Members and I think that, unless another family approached us about trading, we’ll probably just stick to Cast Members again on this trip.  I’d like Bella to be able to trade throughout the trip and not do all her trading on the first day, so I think having a plan or limit on how many pins she can start with each day could help stretch it out.

One problem we ran into last year was that Bella’s pin backs kept falling off and she lost a pin from her lanyard on more than one occasion.  We were using the basic mickey head backs.  I noticed they sell “locking” pin backs, but I am not sure if they work as advertised.  If anyone has experience with this or any tips on keeping the pins secure on the lanyard, we’d love to hear your suggestions.


locking pin backs sold at Disney Store

From our limited experience last year, we saw just how much fun Bella had interacting with Cast Members and trading pins.  Each interaction was unique, determined not only by what pins the Cast Members had to offer, but also by their personalities.  Some transactions were very business-like, but others turned into lengthy conversations about our vacation and Bella’s favorite attractions.  If you’re looking for ways to make your Disney vacation a little extra magical for yourselves, or for your kids, then Pin Trading can be a great Disney hobby to pick up… as long as you understand that the price of buying pins can add up quickly and that it can become addictive…  Take it from a couple of former Pin Trading skeptics.

If you’re completely confused by what Pin Trading is and how it works, here are some resources I found helpful.  There are so many pins out there, and many guides to current pins available and retired pins, as well as guides on pin trading etiquette.

Are you a Pin Trader? Curious about Pin Trading? Totally obsessed with Pin Trading?  As pin trading newbies, we’d love to hear your thoughts, tips, and comments!

And be sure to check back on Wednesday when we’ll be talking about some ways to show off your pin collections!

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Thursday 3rd of April 2014

My daughter enjoyed this last time too. This August we have more pins to trade but have pulled aside a few dated and extra special ones from our 2011 trip to keep. I bought a mixed lot of them from Ebay quite cheaply so we now have tons of pins to trade while in parks. Cheap family fun.

Jo Segers

Saturday 5th of October 2013

My oldest really got into pins on our last trip. She's been talking about what types of pins she wants to get when we go again. I'm so excited she's into them. When I was younger, I did pin trading. I don't know what happened to all the pins I bought. I wish I would have saved them!!


Sunday 13th of October 2013

Thanks for the comment, Jo! Isn't it amazing how we look back and wish we had saved more of the stuff from our past! I think having a good place to display your pins might help!

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