I was nervous to start pin trading, but as soon as I did I fell in love with it. It’s simple to do, but be warned – it can be addictive! Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
8. Purchase some pins to trade
You can certainly buy pins in the parks to use for trade; however, this can get pretty expensive. There are a few less costly options. My favorite option is to purchase pin sets, and then break them up for trading. They might be costly in the parks ($15-$30), but if you look online before you go, you can find sets for sale on eBay and other sites. If you purchase the sealed sets, you can be relatively sure you are getting genuine Disney pins. Just as with any item, sometimes people buy things on sale and resell online. Other people sell pins online that they traded for in the parks but don’t want anymore. At a few dollars each, this is another good way to go. However, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! If you find a deal for “pin lots” where the pins come out to less than $1-$2 per pin, be wary. These are very likely “scrappers.” Scrappers are pins that have been made from unauthorized sources. They aren’t “fake”, per se, because they are made from the actual molds that Disney uses for its official pins. Molds are sometimes taken by factory workers and used to produce duplicates. Scrappers are often lighter in weight than the “real” pins, or have coloring that is slightly off. There are many scrappers that look like the genuine article, too. Understand going into pin trading that the trading market is full of scrappers, and know that you may end up getting a few. It is good pin trading etiquette to not contribute to this growing issue by not knowingly putting more scrappers into the market.
7. Learn a little about pins
I enjoy pin trading a tremendous amount, but I am not very knowledgeable about different types of pins (and luckily, you don’t have to be). I know there are different types- Hidden Mickeys, Limited Edition, etc, and I realize that different pins have different values. That being said, I am not concerned about what “type” of pin it is; if I like it, I trade for it! Hidden Mickey pins are very common, but fun to look for. These pins have a tiny Mickey Mouse head symbol on the pin itself, and are released in sets. They can’t be purchased in gift shop. They are distributed to Cast Members, so the only way to get them in the parks it to trade for them! Usually a Hidden Mickey set has several pins in it, as well as a silver colored (not painted) pin called a “chaser.” It’s fun to try to complete a whole set!
You should know generally what your pins are worth. It would be a shame to trade away a special event or limited pin for something very common. If you are planning to do more serious trading, please educate yourself first!
6. Be realistic and trade for fun
You are not likely to find rare, expensive pins through trading in the parks. If you are looking for special things, you’ll want to look online or go to specific trading events. Pin trading in the parks should be done for fun; if it becomes stressful because you can’t find the perfect pin you are looking for, it’s time to stop. It’s fine to be on the lookout for certain pins, but you have to be realistic and know you may not find them. Also, know that there are plenty of scrappers (see #1) floating around, and don’t let it ruin your fun.
5. Enjoy the social aspect of trading
Pin trading allows you to strike up conversation with Cast Members, and sometimes other park guests, around a common interest. Talking with Cast Members is usually quite enjoyable, so make sure you enjoy your time chatting with folks. Of course, you can just ask for a trade and not speak further if you are a bit more shy. Pin trading is also a fun way to reinforce manners and social skills in your children.
4. Know the etiquette
There are certain “rules” about pin trading in the parks. While you are certainly welcome to ask other guests to trade with you, understand that they may not oblige your request. You should not approach a child to ask for a trade- approaching the family is fine, but be ready to scram if they are not interested. Cast Members, on the other hand, will accept all trade requests (unless your pin isn’t a Disney pin). A nice way to initiate a trade is to greet the Cast Member, and ask if you can see his or her pins. Do not grab or reach for the pin lanyard. The Cast Member will hold the pins out for you. If you see something you like, you can request the pin or point to it. The Cast Member will remove it for you, and you can select any one of your pins to trade for it. Generally, you can trade up to 2 pins with each Cast Member. Special tip for kids- if you see a Cast Member wearing a green lanyard, they are exclusively trading with children. Adults, leave these lanyards for the kiddos!
3. Location, location, location
Where can you find pins to trade? Just about anywhere on Disney property! You can buy pins at gift shops, which can be kept for your collection or used to trade. In addition to the pin lanyards that Cast Members wear, you can find pin boards at the resorts and in many gift shops. There’s a shop called Pin Traders at Downtown Disney devoted exclusively to pin trading. My favorite place to trade is at the World of Disney Store, also at Downtown Disney. There are SO MANY Cast Members there that you could easily trade 20 pins in a matter of minutes. And remember- Cast Members come in all types. I’ve found some really neat pins on the “managerial type” Cast Members (note their dress slacks and white shirts) as well as on custodial Cast Members.
2. Decide what to collect
This isn’t necessary, but it will help you have a bit of a focus in your pin search. When I first began trading, I just traded for anything I liked. Remember, you can always trade for something and then trade it again later as you refine your collection. Now, I look for specific characters that I enjoy. You might also like collecting pins from special events you attended. Only you can decide what your collection will be!
1. Display your collection
There are lots of fun ways to display your pins. You can hang your lanyards up at home, or invest in an album with pages that you can poke the pins through. You might also enjoy hanging a cork board and displaying your favorites that way.
Are you thinking of getting into pin trading, or are you already swimming in pins? Share your favorite trading locations and tips with us!