When I was in high school and a season pass holder at Disneyland, I had a friend who collected Disney trading pins. I really didn’t know much about it other than it was something she was excited about. Fast forward to having my own child and gearing up for our first visit to Walt Disney World. I came across a Disney Trading Pin Starter Kit and I knew it was something we’d enjoy doing together. It has quickly become one of our favorite shared Disney traditions
This post was originally published in March 2018 but has been updated to include new information and updated links.
Disney Pin Trading is for all ages but I think children really start to understand and enjoy the concept at around preschool age, and would recommend starting at 4 years old or older. I’ve received a ton of questions over the years about trading pins and thought I’d share everything I know here. So, here goes—all my best tips for Disney Pin Trading for beginners.
This was a sponsored experience, as part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
How to Get Started with Disney Pin Trading
You really only need one pin to trade to get started, but of course you’ll want more because you and your child will be hooked after that first time.
My Top Pin Trading Tips
- Disney sells Pin Trading Starter Sets in a variety of designs, that include a lanyard, pins, and handy “rules” card. We have this Mickey Mouse Starter Set.
- To get started in pin trading, I recommend buying a lot off Amazon or eBay. I purchased a Disney Pins trading lot on Amazon for much less than the pins would have cost individually. Just be sure to read the description and reviews well, and trade these pins at your own risk. You can’t trade fake “Disney” pins (known as “scrappers”)—and a quick Google search will give you lots of great articles on how to spot a fake.
- Pick up a variety of pin backs. DO NOT start collecting without locking backs! Seriously, this is my best tip. We lost several purchased pins using the backs that come with them and that’s always really sad. Disney sells locking pin backs at all of their pin locations, which work really well. I highly recommend these locking pin backs and storage case. Since using these backs we haven’t had any issues with pins falling off. They’re semi-permanent but I haven’t had any issues moving them as needed. I used these to adhere all our “keep” pins on Benjamin’s lanyard as well as my parks purse. For pins we wanted to trade, I use these pin backs. They hold the pins on much better than the original backs, but they’re very easy to remove for trading. I use the case that came with the locking backs to hold all three styles. You’ll likely need to give the original Mickey back to the cast member upon trading, so it’s good to keep those on hand.
- Have a plan. Trading is a lot of fun but you should definitely have a plan, especially with young kids. We keep Benjamin’s trading pins separate from his “keep” pins so that he’s not confused in the moment. At a young age, Benjamin usually just trades for a pin that looks good to him in the moment. Some pin traders have a plan as to the type of pins they’re looking for. For example, my husband likes to trade for the Vinylmation Mickey pins. Benjamin is always looking for pins from the Sugar Skull and Crossbones Booster pin set. I like a variety, but especially collect pins from The Little Mermaid and Alice in Wonderland. We all love Hidden Mickey pins, which are annual limited edition pin sets created specifically for cast members to trade. They have a tiny Mickey icon on them and the back stamp says “Hidden Mickey pin”. We have several that we love!
Who You Can Trade Disney Pins With
We don’t trade with every single cast member we see with pins or we’d be stopping all day long. At this age it’s more guided by me than him, so occasionally I’ll pull them out and ask Benjamin if he’s interested in trading. Pin trading has provided a great opportunity for him to come out of his shell a little more and to use his best manners with strangers. We have to approach the cast member and kindly inquire about trading, then Benjamin looks to see if they have a pin he’s interested in. They’re always really great about letting him trade whatever he wants. To spot cast members who are trading, look for a black cross body bags with pins on it or a board near the cash registers on kiosks and in stores. They are nearly everywhere in the parks.
Cast members are required to trade pins if asked BUT they cannot have duplicates on their boards or lanyards so if you see a pin you have to have its good to have a couple of options to offer in trade. Trading with cast members is a great way to get a much coveted or more expensive pin in exchange for one you may not be so crazy about.
If you see cast members with pins on GREEN lanyards or boards, those are reserved for trading with children only.
How to Display Disney Trading Pins
I mentioned the lanyard that comes with the Pin Trading Starter Sets. You can also purchase them individually at nearly every Disney park or resort gift store.
We recently visited Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and beforehand I ordered this small nylon crossbody purse. It was the PERFECT purse for a day at the park. First of all, it’s just the right size. It’s not too big or heavy, but had 3 decent sized sections for everything I needed. This included my phone, external battery and cord, wallet and makeup. I chose nylon material specifically so that I could display my Disney pins on it, and it was perfect! It was a fun way to display my favorite pins and I received so many compliments on it. I made sure to use the locking pins I mentioned above and didn’t have any issues with pins falling off when my purse was bumped. This purse was super inexpensive and comes in several colors.
We’ve now reached the point in which we have quite the collection and don’t necessarily want to bring all of our pins to the park. We purchase souvenir pins for every new Disney experience—whether it’s a new park we’re visiting, the Disney Cruise Line, resort, or special event. In addition, we like to collect our favorite Disney characters.
We display our “keep” pins on boards and custom lanyards at home. In addition to wearing them or displaying on boards, there are special bags and binders to store pins like this one, or this cute binder. Often times you will see people hauling around huge bags of pins in the parks, and sometimes its fun to ask to see their collections or ask them to trade.
Types of Disney Trading Pins
Disney pins can cost anywhere from $9.99 individually to $199.95 for a Limited Signature Pin Set. You can also purchase themed surprise bags and boxes.
Since Disney introduced pin trading in 1999 they have produced hundred if not thousands of different designs. There are limited edition, limited release, cast member exclusive, retro, and the aforementioned hidden Mickey pins. There are also pins to commemorate rides, attractions, celebrations, characters and so much more. Part of the joy of trading is discovering your favorites!
Where to buy authentic Disney trading pins
As I mentioned above, you want to be careful to buy authentic pins if you want to trade in the parks. Obviously you can get genuine pins at Disneyland or Walt Disney World but also check out shopDisney. In addition, as I mentioned you can often find pins on Etsy, eBay and Amazon but you really need to do your homework.
PIN TO YOUR DISNEY PINTEREST BOARD FOR LATER