Whether you’re a novice or a total pro, there’s something about pin trading … something totally great. It gives you a chance to showcase your personal Disney style, experience the Parks you love through a completely different lens, interact with Cast Members on a personal level, and (of course) tap into the investigator within — you never know what you’ll find when you go searching!
If you’re interested in making swaps and making friends, building a cool collection, and having fun – we’ve got some tips for you from Disney pin expert Steven Miller. As Merchandise Communications Manager, Steven has serious pin know-how (check out his post about Hidden-Mickey Pins!).
Can you share any tips for making trades fun and successful?
My best advice is to have fun and collect pins that show your interests. There are thousands of pins to collect or trade. Picking a theme – whether that be a favorite character, attraction, Resort hotel , etc. – can help narrow your focus.
Is there such a thing as “pin-trading etiquette”?
Saying the phrase, “May I please see your pins?” is a helpful way to start a trade. Don’t forget to smile and say “thank you” after completing a trade (even if you don’t make one!).
What are some venues where you can find exclusive or limited-edition pins?
There are many locations that offer a variety of Disney pins at the Disney Parks. Your best place to start at Disneyland Resort is Disney’s Pin Traders in Downtown Disney District. For Walt Disney World Resort, you should visit Disney’s Pin Traders at Downtown Disney Marketplace. These flagship locations contain a wide assortment of pins including open-edition pins (pins without a finite edition size), limited-edition pins (pins that have only a certain number produced), and trading accessories. Each of the Theme Parks also has a main pin location, and we have trading at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa at Ko ‘Olina, Hawai’i, and on the Disney Cruise Line.
We know that any Cast Member wearing a pin lanyard is open to trading pins with a Guest. Are there any other trading hints for the Parks?
There are a few basic guidelines when trading pins with Cast Members at Disney Parks. The most important is that a pin offered in trade must be a metal pin bearing a “©Disney” mark on the back. Pins should be in good, undamaged, tradable condition. Guests may trade a maximum of two pins per Cast Member, per day. We have thousands of Cast Members trading pins daily so your choices are plenty!
While you can typically find Cast Members in merchandise locations trading pins, this activity can be found throughout Disney Parks and Resorts. Cast Members in attractions, custodial, Disney Vacation Club, food and beverage, and many other lines of business now trade. There really isn’t any one place that offers the “best” trading as it’s an activity that anyone can do anywhere in the “world” or the “land.”
If you are just getting started, then I encourage you to start at Disney’s Pin Traders. There, the Cast get help you find the best tools of the trade such as a pin-trading starter set. These sets contain a lanyard and a certain number of starter pins that you can either keep or trade.
I also encourage Guests to look for Hidden Mickey pins. These small 1.5” pins each contain a small Mickey Mouse icon on the front of the art. They are issued to Cast Members to use for trading. They are a fun item to search for when trading with Cast Members.
If someone wants to attend a pin-trading event, what should they know going in?
We periodically hold trading events – both free and ticketed – throughout the year. Your best way to learn about these events is visiting http://www.DisneyParksMerchandise.com.
These activities are a great way to meet other fans who enjoy trading Disney pins. Unlike Guest to Cast Member trading, Guests aren’t required to trade pins if you are seeking something. So you may want to bring something of interest or duplicate pins if you are looking to start or complete a collection. Fans of Disney pins are great people and many enjoy meeting new fans of the activity.
For our ticketed events, we offer highly themed trading experiences, spacious areas to trade with other Guests, entertainment, games, and unique items created especially for a particular event. We’ve had people from around the world attend these events, like our annual one held each fall in World Showplace at Epcot. Imagine three days of wall-to-wall pin trading! It’s a great event that brings together the Disney pin community.
What are some ways to build your starter collection?
I would pick a theme or an interest when starting a collection. I’ve known folks who have collected pins from the Resorts where they stayed during a Disney vacation. I’ve also known people who only collected Haunted Mansion pins, Tigger pins, or pins that featured the color green. There are thousands of pins and no way to collect them all. A narrowed focus can really help a collection shine.
Another option to building a collection is mystery pin sets. These small sets usually contain 10 different pins. You can purchase a box that contains two randomly selected pins from the 10 in the collection. These sets help because they can foster a sense of completion – “I got every pin in [a particular] set.”
How can pin-traders tell whether another Guest at a Resort might be open to trading, or whether they’re just wearing a lanyard to display their collection?
The best way to tell if another Guest is interested in trading is to ask her or him. Some Guests who wear lanyards to the Parks may not be interested in trading. They may like to show off their collections but may have other pins they are willing to trade. All you have to do is ask.
Can you share some things you’ve learned from collectors that you thought were cool or surprising?
I think the one thing I’ve learned is that everyone has a favorite thing. People enjoy collecting a certain theme as that is a way to express a bit about their personality. This is an activity that is fun for Guests of all ages. I’ve met traders who were 93 and I’ve traded pins with Guests who are five. It’s an easy, fun, and affordable activity.
I’ve seen people display pins in beautiful custom-framed sets or on giant cork boards hung on walls. I’ve also seen Guests create a display in the center of a coffee table under glass.
Any other tips for maximizing the fun of trading and collecting?
I think the best way to maximize fun is to talk with people, whether they be other Guests or Cast Members. The idea of trading really started because we wanted a way at the Disney Parks to create conversations between and with Guests. Trading pins is a great way to create an exchange. You may trade a lot of pins during a visit to a Disney destination, but I’ve found getting to know people you make trades with makes the experience even better.
If this pin-trading primer has whet your appetite, maybe you’re ready for the advanced course! Visit Oh My Disney’s post You Know You’re a Disney Pin Trader When … and see how many you can say yes to. Happy trading!