Have you been in the parks at Disney World recently? Have you been in the parks in the last few years? If so, you may have noticed Cast Members wearing lanyards full of what look like lapel pins. Maybe you’ve noticed signage around the Disney shops with phrases like “Official Disney Pin Trading.” If you’ve been to Disney Springs, you may have also noticed an open-air huge kiosk called “Pin Traders.”
So what’s the deal? What’s with all the hoopla about these pins? And what in the world are they? Simply put, in the parks, you can trade official Disney trading pins with Cast Members and other Guests. There are thousands and thousands of Official Disney trading pins. Some of the pins commemorate a Disney movie. Others are in the likeness of Disney characters. Still other pins are made in the likeness of attractions in the Walt Disney World parks or in the likeness of the parks themselves.
Whether you’re just now hearing about this crazy pin phenomenon or you’re already an avid pin trader, obsessed with finding that one last pin to complete a particular set, here are eight things you need to know that will help you understand the phenomenon or help you understand a few of the ins and outs of your current trading journey.
8. Money is never to be exchanged for pins.
This one is pretty straightforward. Guests are not to ask for money as a part of the trade; nor are Cast Members to ask for or accept money as part of a trade. If you attempt to trade pins with a Guest or Cast Member who asks for money in exchange for one of your pins, stop the trading transaction right there. The only cash that should exchange hands as part of official Disney pin trading is the money with which you purchase your own pins that you will later trade.
7. Make sure your pins are legit.
Why is it that with every fun and positive thing in the world, there is always a tiny group of people who want to mar it—seemingly for some gain on their part? I’m not sure, and you’re not either, but sadly, there is a tiny group of those people when it comes to Disney pin trading. There are people who manufacture pins that look very similar to official Disney pins, but the fakes fall short in several areas.
Look for these things in your pins—and on the pins others propose to trade with you—to know for sure that they are legit: the official Disney Pin Trading logo on the back of the pin, a straight stick pin on the back, tiny little prongs on either side of the stick pin (to keep it from spinning or shifting on your lanyard or bulletin board), serial number, quality colors (bold, not washed out), smooth edges and sharp lines on the pins.
If there are words or letters on your pins, they should be legible, no matter how small they are. If you have a pin with Ariel on it, her hair color should be a bold red, not a muted brown or orange.
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6. You can trade with Cast Members.
This is super fun! As you make your way around the parks and resorts at Disney World, you will no doubt come in contact with staff members—referred to as “Cast Members.” Some Cast Members wear lanyards around their necks with trading pins on them. Others carry a crossbody pouch with pins on it. Never walk up to a Cast Member and reach for his or her lanyard or pouch. Instead, respect their personal space, approach them with a smile and ask, “Do you have pins to trade?” Be sure not to interrupt them if they are assisting another Guest. They will then show you their lanyard or pouch, and you can look to see if the Cast Member has pins for which you’d like to trade. If you see one you like, simply tell the Cast Member that you would like to trade for that one, and he or she will be happy to accommodate the exchange.
5. You can trade with other Guests.
You can also trade official Disney pins with other Guests who are visiting Walt Disney World. Simply keep in mind the same etiquette you used with Cast Members and apply it when interacting with another Guest. And please, as a Mom, I have to ask you not to approach a child about a trade. Instead, ask his or her parent if the child is open to trading pins. Yes, even little ones like to trade! I scored some of my most favorite pins by trading with a 3 year-old little boy and his mom as we were standing in a queue at Animal Kingdom.
4. There are some limits.
While it’s a lot of fun to trade with others while you’re at Disney, it’s important to keep in mind a few limits that have been put into place. First, you can only trade two pins per day, per Cast Member while in the parks, which means you can trade with all the Cast Members you want, but you’ll only be able to do so for up to two pins per each Cast Member with whom you come in contact. Second, another “rule” to keep in mind is this—if you trade with a Cast Member for one of his or her pins, you cannot give him or her a pin that is already on his or her lanyard or crossbody pouch.
3. Don’t drop those pins!
On the back of each official Disney Trading pin, there is a rubber Mickey head that fits over the sharp end of the stick pin. These Mickey heads are great for keeping you from stabbing your fingers on a pin, but they aren’t always so great at keeping the pins attached to lanyards. (I learned this the hard way, and it cost me some of my beloved Walt pins!) If you want to wear a lanyard with pins on it into the parks, first head to a shop inside the parks and pick up a package of metal backs that “lock” the pins on your lanyard. They cost about $10 per package, and the package includes a tiny Allen wrench that will allow you to tighten and loosen the pin.
2. Check for pin boards around the Walt Disney World Resort.
At the Disney Resort hotels at Walt Disney World, as well as inside several shops and Guest Relations locations, you will find boards full of pins. If you see a pin you’d like on a board, simply ask a Cast Member if you can trade, and he or she will assist you. Be sure to check out the pin “board” at Guest Relations inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is actually a pin trading book full of different pins, and each page of pins is categorized by the main color of the pin. The organization of their pin book is impressive.
1. Please don’t tease!
Ok, so this isn’t an official rule of Disney pin trading, but it is a rule I think should be enforced: please don’t wear pins into the parks on your lanyard for all the world to see and fall in love with, if you have no intention of trading them. Please. Don’t be cruel. If you don’t want to trade that gorgeous, huge, limited edition Maleficent pin for which I have scoured the parks, Amazon and eBay, please don’t wear it on your lanyard into the parks, thus dangling the proverbial carrot in front of my eyes. Please.
If you have never entered the world of Disney pin trading, what are you waiting for? And if you’re already a pin trading pro, just remember these 8 simple things about the trading process, and get out to the parks and have a blast! It’s loads of fun to get back to your house or resort after a day of trading in the parks and see all the loot you’ve scored!