Disney Pin Trading : A Beginners Guide

Disney Pin Trading : A Beginners Guide Tips 1

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.

Whether you’re trading with cast members or just for fun, I’m here to share tips, help spot the real from the fake, and show you where to find the best trades. So make sure to always look for cast members and proudly display your pins to trade.

So, let’s dive into this enchanting universe of Disney pin trading together!

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, new attraction, favorite ride, etc, and they are made from hard enamel.

They’re sold individually or in sets. You can purchase pins online, in the parks, and even at the Orlando International Airport in the Earport, which is a Disney store. 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 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 Disney pins 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 Disney trading pins for us and we like to trade a little bit when we see something extra special on a cast member.

French Quarter Pin Trading

When Did Pin Trading Start?

The inception of Disney Pin Trading dates back to the Millennium Celebration at the Disneyland resort. Since then, Pins have skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the foremost merchandise and collectibles at Walt Disney World resort.

This trend has extended beyond, with Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and other Disney locations also embracing pin trading. The only potential contender in popularity might be Vinylmations, which are currently experiencing a surge in interest.

Where Can You Buy Pins?

Engaging in Pin Trading can potentially be costly, with individual pin prices starting at $8.99 and often going higher. When we initially delved into Pin Trading, it was a relatively budget-friendly endeavor.

However, for serious collectors, expenses can escalate. The good news is, there are ways to mitigate costs.

By doing some research beforehand, you can purchase pins for trading at a fraction of the cost compared to buying them at the park. Both eBay and Amazon have sellers offering pins in bulk for approximately $1 each.

When you contrast this with the starter sets available at Walt Disney World, you’re saving roughly $8 per pin. This cost-saving strategy becomes even more significant when you consider purchasing 25 pins ahead of time, as opposed to acquiring them at places like the Main Street Emporium or World of Disney at Disney Springs.

Disney Pin Trading Controversies

Despite the fun and excitement of pin trading, there’s a bit of controversy that we should address.

Disney pin trading has become hugely popular, but it’s not without its share of pin trading controversies.

  1. Scrappers: These are unofficial Disney pins that some pin traders use. They’re cheaper, but aren’t official Disney merchandise.
  2. Fake Pins: Some traders have been known to trade fake pins, which can be disappointing for serious collectors.
  3. Cast Member Trades: There’s some debate about whether it’s fair to trade a pin with cast members, as they usually aren’t as knowledgeable about pin values.
  4. Trading Ethics: Some traders have been accused of being overly aggressive or unfair in their trading practices.

Maximizing Pin Trading Enjoyment

In my experience, with a bit of planning ahead, you can maximize your pin trading enjoyment and create a memorable adventure out of it. Pin trading is a fun and interactive way to immerse yourself into the magical world of Disney. It’s not just about collecting, it’s about the thrill of the hunt and the joy of the trade. Following a guide to pin trading is a great way to start your journey.

When you’re at the park, don’t hesitate to trade pins with cast members. They’re always happy to engage and it adds a wonderful layer of interaction to your visit. Remember, maximizing pin trading enjoyment is about making it your own unique experience. So look for Disney cast members to trade with.

As a beginner in this exciting hobby, embrace the fun, the adventure, and the magic of pin trading!

Disney Pin Trading Types and Uses

Now let’s dive into the fascinating world of pin types and their uses, a crucial part of your pin trading journey. Collecting pins is a fun and interactive way to commemorate your Disney adventures. Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of pins you’ll encounter:

  1. Character Pins: These pins feature your favorite characters from classic and contemporary films (i.e. Mickey Mouse).
  2. Theme Pins: These pins revolve around a specific theme, such as holidays, movies, or Disney parks.
  3. Limited Edition Pins: These are rare finds, released in small quantities. They’re highly sought after by collectors.
  4. Hidden Mickey Pins: These pins have a small Mickey icon somewhere on their surface and are typically traded with Disney cast members.

You can wear these pins, trade them with others, or use them to decorate lanyards or pin trading boards.

Have fun exploring the world of pin trading!

Disney Pin Trading Locations

After exploring the different types of pins, let’s delve into the various pin trading locations where you can engage in this fun activity.

It’s easy to locate a cast member with a pin at various sites, including the theme parks, Disney resorts, and even on the Disney Cruise Line. The key is to keep an eye out for lanyards or hip pouches laden with shiny pins. These cast members are always ready to trade pins with guests.

Check out the Frontier Trading Post in Magic Kingdom or the Pin Traders store in Disney Springs, two of the most popular trading spots. Also, guest services at Epcot (as well as most of the parks) is a very popular spot as well.

This beginner’s guide to Disney pin trading wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the special pin trading events held regularly.

Fake Disney Pin

Scrapper Pins

I did mention scrapper pins a little bit earlier, so let me touch back on that. You may have heard the term “scrapper” used by a Disney guest before. Some guests say they are not real 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 pins. If anything they’re more of an unofficial Disney pin.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a scrapper 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 pins do. With time scrapper and authentic 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 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 scrappers, so be careful on eBay as well.

Trading Pins With Cast Member

Trading pins with cast members

Pin trading with cast members at Walt Disney World is super easy. If you’re on the hunt for 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 belt 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 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 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 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 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 pins.

Pin Board 1

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 pins since I was a teenager and I finally got my daughter to start collecting Disney pins 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.


Heather Noyes, the visionary behind this website and a former Disney travel agent, has woven her lifelong passion for Disney into the fabric of her daily life. Nestled just 3 miles away through the enchanting trees lies Cinderella's Castle, a magical neighbor to Heather's everyday adventures. From her earliest days, Disney has captured her heart, and this enduring love has translated into the meticulous planning of numerous trips for her family, friends, and cherished clients, all destined for the enchanting realm of Walt Disney World.

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