Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Heather
I constantly am asked how can I start collecting pins at Disney World? How does Disney pin trading even work? Well, those are great questions and I’m going to answer them today. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World you’ve likely seen Disney pins and if you’ve never traded before it can be a little bit confusing. So, I’m going to tell you all about Disney pin trading and some tips and tricks. Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’re going to have the tools and knowledge you need to start your very own pin collection. Heck, maybe continue one that you’ve been working on.
When Did Disney Pin Trading Start?
Walt Disney World started pin trading by launching the Millenium Celebration in October of 1999. Since then you can find places to trade Disney pins at all of their parks and resorts around the world.
What are Disney Pins? Where Can You Find Them?
For starters let’s talk about what Disney pins are and where you can find them. Disney pins are just as they sound it’s a pin that has something Disney on it whether it’s a character or maybe a castle, something with Disney.
They’re sold individually or in sets. You can purchase Disney pins online, in the parks, and even at the Orlando International Airport in the Earport. Disney pin trading is a very personal experience, some guests like to decide which pins are their favorites buy them, and then maybe hang them up somewhere.
It’s a great way to collect and there are some of us who are so enthusiastic about Disney pins that we actually keep the backs of a lot of the pins that we get so we can remember all of those magical moments. If you’re interested in keeping the back of your pins which really makes for a nice design you should know that it does take up extra space if you’re thinking about hanging them up on a pin board in your home.
Some other people like to buy trader packs or buy a less expensive pack of pins at Disney. Then you trade those pins for what you would consider to be an upgrade. Maybe trade with a cast member then you get a pin that you really want.
But for many Disney fans like myself, it’s a combination of both. We like to buy a few that are extra special for us and we like to trade a little bit when we see something extra special on a cast member.
How Does Disney Pin Trading Work?
Now that we know what Disney pins are and where you can find them let’s talk about Disney pin trading. It’s extremely easy to trade, you have the option to trade with cast members or fellow guests. We’ve never really traded pins with other guests. First of all, I don’t want to accidentally pick up a scrapper pin or give one away accidentally. I’ll get more into scrapper pins in a minute. But I also don’t want to be involved in a bad trade.
There are some guests at Walt Disney world who are totally legitimate. Maybe they’re wearing a few pins they want to trade with other guests and that is totally fine and can be a lot of fun I’m sure. But there are also a lot of guests you might see in the parks that might have a large binder or maybe even pin boards that are interested in trading with you.
It’s not actually Disney pin trading, it’s more of selling a pin. Walt Disney World does not allow you to sell anything on property, so stay away from these (professional pin trader) guys, because they know the value of pins and you don’t. (Well most of us don’t)
Obviously, not all guest pin traders are like this. There are many guests who walk around with a lanyard full of pins or a vest full of pins or a hat and they’re willing to talk about their pins. Maybe they’re willing to trade, but if not that’s okay too they can say no because that is a guest, not a cast member.
I did mention scrapper pins a little bit earlier, so let me touch back on that. You may have heard the term scrapper pin used by a Disney guest before. Some guests call them fake of Disney pins but since they’re so common at Walt Disney World and cast members are willing to accept them as a trade, I don’t think I can call them fake Disney pins. If anything they’re more of an unofficial Disney pin.
The easiest way to tell the difference between a scrapper pin and an official Disney pin is to look at the paint. If you notice that the colors are a little bit weird or it’s kind of sunken in a little bit then you know it doesn’t really have that deep look to it as official Disney pins do. With time scrapper pins and authentic Disney pins have been getting closer and closer. So in my opinion, if you like a pin or if it looks good to you then trade for it. Don’t worry if it’s a scrapper or not just enjoy the Disney pin trading.
If you think you have a scrapper whether you traded it for it or accidentally bought it no need to worry. Disney is really good about the policy that they will trade for that pin, they just want you to have fun and I really appreciate Disney for that policy.
Now with all of that being said, if you’re a longtime Disney enthusiast like me and can tell a scrapper pin just by glancing at it. Then under no circumstance do I recommend you knowingly buy or trade scrapper pins just so that Disney can take them out of circulation if they so choose. I’ve also made the mistake of buying pins in lots on eBay only to find out they were scrapper pins, so be careful on eBay as well.
Trading pins with cast members
Disney pin trading with cast members at Walt Disney World is super easy. If you’re on the hunt for Disney pins and you see a cast member with a lanyard or a sheet of pins and you want to see which pins they have. Then all you have to do is politely ask them “may I see your pins, please”. They’d be more than happy to show them to you if it’s a lanyard it will be worn around their necks and if it’s a sheet of pins it will be a small fabric sheet hanging from the cast members’ belt loop.
Most of the pin sheets and lanyards that you see on cast members are black but if you see one that’s green that one’s meant for children only. That means that children have exclusive trading rights to that green pin, sheet, or lanyard.
Once you see a pin that you like all you have to do is say “I’d like to trade this pin that I have for the pin that you have” and sure enough an exchange is made. You get a brand new pin and the cast members are required to trade with you so there’s no reason to worry about value. It’s actually a great way to save money, you can buy a less expensive pin and then give them that one and get a more expensive pin or at least one that you find more valuable.
Cast Members Can’t Have Duplicates
One thing to be aware of is that cast members can’t have the same pin on the same lanyard or PIN sheet so if you have the exact same pin that they already have they won’t accept that. So make sure you have a few with you so you have a few different options to trade with them.
After you get used to Disney pin trading more and more, you might notice a trend where you see some of the same pins over and over again. That’s not a bad thing it’ll just make you a better eye at looking for the right pin for you.
Types Of Disney Pins
Disney has all sorts of different pins; limited edition, limited release, cast member exclusive, retro, and even hidden Mickey. There are all sorts of different Disney pins that you can find. Which ones to collect is totally up to you; that’s actually part of the magic. You get to choose something that’s really important to you, maybe something that has a story that you can relate to it.
After you’ve collected your favorite Disney pins everyone has their own favorite method of presenting them. Some on cork boards and some on pin boards that will be featured in a home office, etc. which is a great way to show off your favorites. Putting them in cork board is not the only way to show them off to friends and family.
You can also wear them around maybe on your favorite hat or have a vest full of pins. Maybe on your own lanyard or even in a book to show them off to friends and family. No matter where you put them you do want to hang on to your favorites and I have two tips to make sure that you never lose one of your favorite Disney pins.
Tip 1: Pin Boards
If you decide to put your favorite pins in a corkboard as I do then I recommend once you find the perfect spot for it you push it in the cork and then you don’t take it back out. The reason for that is once you take it back out it kind of loosens that cork a little bit and it kind of falls apart.
Of course, there are other materials that you can use nowadays rather than just a corkboard. Maybe styrofoam or a different type of foam board that I’ve seen before where you can keep putting them in and taking them out or change them around. It’s not a problem at all with those kinds of boards so there are all sorts of options.
Tip 2: Pin Backs
If you’re thinking about wearing your favorite pins maybe on a lanyard or a piece of clothing then the last thing you want to happen is to notice that any of your pins are gone at the end of the day. One thing that I’ve noticed is that these mickey backs for the pins won’t hold on there if it’s a strong pull that maybe pulls the pin back.
If you’re thinking about wearing your favorite pin out to show to the world I recommend using what’s called a locking pin back. A lot of times you’ll see motorcyclists use these to hold their pins on when they are going 65 miles an hour down the road. So they are rather effective.
I’ve been collecting Disney pins since I was a teenager and I finally got my daughter to start collecting on our last trip as well. Yes, it can be a little bit addictive, but it is absolutely worth the memories that these pins carry for me personally.
I hope you found this post useful and that you check out some of the other posts on the site while you are here. Also if you are considering planning a Disney vacation please fill out the form below so that I can help you with your planning for free.