Disney Pin Trading: Tips from a Pro
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
In my post 5 Activities To Do at the Disneyland Resort Besides Wait in Line, I briefly talked about pin trading at the Disneyland Resort (DLR). Since I am going to be at the parks again in two days, I have spent the past few days organizing all my pins to get ready to trade! I know I am only going to be at the resort for 24 hours, but I will be spending a significant amount of time running from board to board, trading pins.
Like I said, I’ve been prepping all my pins the past few days. Checking to see what I need, what I’m willing to trade, and making sure my pin-satchel is ready to go. I could write an entire post about my personal collection with hundreds of up-close shots of my favorite pins. But, I’m going to dedicate this post to highlighting some tips about trading at the parks, collecting, and just general info about pin trading. And, btw, I’m seriously into pins, but I’m not really a pro… haha.
Types of Disney Pins
1. Open Edition – These pins are available to anyone and everyone and sold in most stores around DLR. They are created and sold until they’re gone or they are discontinued. New Open Edition pins are released all the time. (Top Row, Left)
2. Open Edition Sets / Mystery Pins – There are sets of 7 packs that are great starter packs sold at DLR for $30. They’re great to get started for trading. There are also mystery packs that come in little boxes, with two pins per box, and there is a total of anywhere between 7-12 pins total in a collection, so you must buy multiple boxes to get a full set, these go for 2 for $28. (Top Row, Middle)
3. Limited Edition – LE pins, or limited edition, are pins only released for certain events, reasons, etc. They have a set number made and sold. So, if a pin is LE 250, then there are only 250 pins total. These are very awesome to have! (Top Row, Right)
4. Cast Member Pins / Hidden Mickey Pins – Hidden Mickey pins are released once or twice per year at each park. They normally have 5 sets within a year’s collection that are only provided to cast members to trade with park visitors. These pins cannot be purchased, only traded. But, after a few months, they will be offered in mystery packs. The cool thing about these is they release different pins at Disneyland than Disney World. So, to get a pin from Disney World, someone would have to trade there, then go to Disneyland and trade there. Neat! (Bottom Row, Left)
5. Disney Imagineering Pins - The Mickey’s Of Glendale is based off the store with the same name at the Disney Imagineering campus in Glendale. (Bottom Row, Middle)
6. DSF Pins - Disney Studio Store and Ghirardelli Soda Fountain in Hollywood sell pins. These are normally a character holding an ice cream. They also release pins that compliment new movies that play in the El Capitan Theater next door. (Bottom Row, Right)
Trading Disney Pins with Cast Members
When I first started, I felt really silly walking up to cast members and asking to see their lanyards. Now, when I spot a lanyard, I am at their side in seconds checking out their lanyards. It’s so easy, just walk up to a cast member, and ask, “May I please see your pins.” Unless they’re busy and you just interrupted them, they’re always willing.
It’s good to talk to them about what you’re looking for, too. I’ve had many friendly cast members run to the back, pull pins out of their pockets, and tell me to meet them back in that spot in an hour to get me a certain pin I’m looking for.
According to rules, you’re only allowed to trade two pins with a cast member in a day. So if I ever see more than two that I need on a cast member, I get Dylan to trade with them too. But, if you circle around to a store again in a few hours, it will be different employees, so they don’t know if you’ve already been there or not.
Keep in mind there are two different kinds of cast member lanyards: a blue and green. Blue is or everyone to trade, but green is only for 12 and under. No joke, in January we were walking past the Pooh Bear ride, and I saw three pins I needed on a cast member. I asked a stranger if I could use their child to get the pins I needed. They thought I was crazy, but they helped me out. I then gave that girl the pin she waned that I had. J I know… I know…
Trading Disney Pins with Other Traders
Once you have a good set of tradable pins, you can start trading with other traders. These are the serious types that come to the parks with their binders. Now, I’ve had some luck with these people over the years. I’ll have one or two that they like. But, most of the time my pins aren’t good enough. Cause yes, that’s a thing. A lot of traders hang out outside Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, Aladdin’s Oasis, or Paradise Garden Grill in DCA. Most of these traders are all super nice though, and are more than willing to show off their collections. Just don’t get upset when they turn your trade away!
This is my small binder, it's basically my Pin Satchel. I always have it on at the parks, and because I wear it, other traders will come up to me and ask to see my traders.
My Favorite Trading Stops at Disneyland Resort
The main places I have always lucked out at in DLR is the pin shop in Frontierland, Westward Ho Trading Company, Little Green Men Store Command in Tomorrowland, Ariel’s Grotto Host Stand on Paradise Pier, Embarcadero Gifts in DCA, and cast members throughout the Main Street and Buena Vista Street stores.
Collecting & Saving Your Favorite Disney Pins
When it comes to trading pins, you can literally pick any type of category and go for it. I love Alice in Wonderland Pins, so that’s my main focus. As you can see above, it's my biggest main collection. And, because I focus on it, I have a lot of rare pins that are Alice, so that's what I wear on my lanyard. See to the left! But, I also have a small collection of Up and the Seven Dwarves pins. I also just want every hidden mickey cast member pin ever, so I have tons of those. But, I’ve met people that just collect Walt Pins, I met someone that only collected black and white pins, the possibility is endless.
But, even though I have my focus of pins, I also have tons of other pins I just like. So you don’t have to limit yourself.
Scrapper Disney Pins
So most pins are printed/made in China. From what I understand, it’s like a metal stamp, and once they make the set amount of pins they call for, they throw the stamp away. But, at some point, the stamps were being kept and used to print more pins to sell through Amazon on EBay. So, the pins that are considered scrappers use different colored paint, and the stamps aren’t as great anymore, so the metal won’t be raised. Overall, these are just fake Disney pins. And it’s pretty obvious too. The coloring is always off and they just don’t seem like good quality.
The issue with scrappers is that new pin traders buy in bulk on Ebay, and then trade with Disney Pin Boards at the parks, leaving fake pins behind. This fills up Disney Boards with icky pins. If there’s a good cast member, they won’t even accept scrappers, but not all cast members know about them.
Disney Pins at Home
I’ve seen so many creative ways to display pins over the years. I love mine so much that I consider them art, I’m a Disney Dork, I know. Anyways, mine are displayed in my dining room on corkboards. But, I’m constantly rearranging them as I get new pins.
Disney World Trading
I have never been to Disney World, but from what I understand trading there is on a whole other level. Since there are fewer regulars that go to the parks, cast members are more willing and enthusiastic about trading with park visitors. I am really looking forward to seeing the major differences once I go in March!
Trading pins is so fun to me. I truly love it. I think the uniqueness of each pin and the details of so many are just so cool. It’s sort of an expensive hobby, but it’s my thing.
Do you trade or collect Disney pins? Share your collections in the comments below!