Look at any photograph of our family from our past four Disney vacations, and you’ll notice some or all of us wearing lanyards of Disney Trading Pins around our necks. The proof’s in the picture. In the photograph above, three out of five of us are wearing lanyards!
At this point, you might be asking “Why should I care?” “What are those pins all about?” And “Why in the world are you so obsessed that you’d all wear lanyards of pins around your neck for an entire Disney vacation?”
Well, friends. Let me explain.
You see, this was another one of those things my husband made me do. Collecting Disney Trading Pins was HIS idea. I’m just following his lead, y’all.
But seriously. I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about Disney Pin Trading since we began collecting pins 5 1/2 years ago. Honestly? Because of my husband and children’s love for Disney Pin Trading, I have more knowledge than the average bear when it comes to this subject. So I might as well share the love, right? I might as well share all the tips I have for Disney Pin Trading, so if your family’s ever interested in starting a collection, you know where to begin.
(PLEASE NOTE: This post is NOT for Disney insiders. This post is NOT for the world’s most avid Disney pin collectors looking to up their game. This post is NOT for pin traders who have 100, 200, 300, 500 or 1,000 pins in their collections and want to fill in some gaps. This post IS for families who are interested in Disney Pin Trading. This post IS for families who perhaps have a very small collection started and want to keep it going. This post IS for families who have maybe even collected pins on a couple Disney vacations, but want to up their game and bring their Disney Pin Trading to the next level. This post IS for people who are simply curious about these Disney pins, people who have no clue what they’re all about and want to know more.)
So let’s get at this. Today, I’m sharing Disney Pin Trading Secrets for Families!
Secret #1: Know WHERE to buy Disney Trading Pins, HOW to display them, and HOW MUCH they cost.
WHERE? You can purchase Disney Trading Pins at ALL Disney Parks and Resorts. Typically, you’ll find them in gift stores in the Parks and Resorts, but you can also find them at special pin kiosks around the Parks. HOW? There are several ways to display Disney Trading Pins. You can wear them around your neck on lanyards you purchase at Disney Parks. (This is our family’s preferred method of display. Each one of us has a lanyard; some of us have more than one lanyard.) You can purchase Disney Pin binders, which are kind of like Trapper Keepers only made specially for pins. This method of display allows you to keep MORE pins in one place, but they’re not as readily accessible as they are on lanyards around your neck. People who are really into Disney Pin Trading come up with other clever ways of displaying pins. I’ll show you a couple examples later in the post. HOW MUCH? Pins are color coded for price, and run anywhere from $7.95 a pin all the way up to $15.95 a pin for limited edition. Simpler and smaller pins are cheaper. Elaborate pins with layers and special features are more expensive, which includes special edition and limited release pins.
SECRET #2: When you’re at Disney World, make sure to visit stores that specialize in Disney Pin Trading.
There are a few stores around Disney World that are excellent and prime destinations for true blue Disney Pin Traders. If you’re interested in or getting serious about pin trading and want to see the biggest variety of Disney Pins, you’ll definitely want to stop at these stores. Disney’s Pin Traders at Disney Springs (Downtown Disney). Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom. Pin Station Epcot in Epcot. Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs at Hollywood Studios. These four locations are hot spot destinations for pin traders. All four are worth the stop. Because all four of these locations are Disney pin-centric, they’re all a little “geeked out,” which is pretty cool if you’re into pins (see secret #10 below).
SECRET #3: Trade pins with Disney cast members.
As you walk around any Disney Park, you’ll notice that MANY Disney cast members wear lanyards, around-the-shoulder pin sashes, or have small boards of pins. This is a BIG and BASIC pin trading secret for families. If you’re getting into Disney pin trading, make sure to look at Disney cast member’s lanyards, sashes and boards. As a guest, you have permission to TRADE one of your Disney Pins for one of their Disney Pins. They can’t say no! They have to agree to the trade. So if you have a little pin you don’t love so much and a Disney cast member has an awesome big one you’ve been looking for for a long time, trade it! This makes pin trading a fun adventure while you’re walking around Disney Parks. Kids especially love the trading (so does my husband); it’s a treasure hunt that never ends!
SECRET #4: Look for large-scale pin boards around Disney Parks and Resorts. This is another opportunity to trade pins with cast members!
So I just told you about opportunities to trade pins with ANY Disney cast member, right? Well, there’s another similar opportunity for Disney Pin Traders, but on a much bigger scale! On our last Disney World vacation, we noticed that a few locations had LARGE quantities of trading pins supervised by Disney cast members. We found a large board of pins available for trading with Disney cast members at our resort, Disney’s The Art of Animation. We also found a LARGE garbage can FILLED with Disney Trading Pins at Animal Kingdom. (This one was monitored by 2-3 Disney cast members. They said the garbage can of pins rotates throughout the park every hour.) We also found a few LARGE boards of pins ready for trading in gift stores at Magic Kingdom. You have to be on the lookout for these large-scale pin trading opportunities, but when you find them, it’s pretty cool! You have an opportunity to scan a LOT of pins, and potentially trade several all at once. My husband and kids LOVED the large-scale pin trading locations. A reminder that these boards are set up by Disney, so cast members have to say yes to your trade offer as long as it’s reasonable…one pin for one pin! Occasionally, you’ll find a big or rare pin on these boards. On our recent trip, one of my kids found a limited edition submarine pin on the green garbage can in Animal Kingdom! They were, of course, incredibly excited!
SECRET #5: Look for Limited Edition and Limited Release Disney Trading Pins.
Some Disney Trading Pins are extra special. For one reason or another, Disney has decided to release a limited number of that particular pin. Those pins are labeled as “Limited Edition” and “Limited Release.” Pins come on tiny, rectangular pieces of glossy cardboard. When a pin is “Limited Edition” or “Limited Release,” that label will be printed on the bottom of the cardboard piece, so you know its categorization. Typically, “Limited Edition” and “Limited Release” pins are held behind the counter and cost more so you have to ask a Disney cast member for help. Sometimes, they’re mixed in with all the other pins. It just depends. Holiday pins are often Limited Edition or Limited Release, as are special event pins, such as those released for Epcot’s annual Food & Wine Festival or Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
SECRET #6: Buy locks for heavy and expensive pins.
We learned the hard way our first year collecting Disney Trading Pins back in 2010. Buy locks for heavy and expensive pins. All Disney Trading Pins come with plastic, black, Mickey Ear backs. They work well in most cases. But if you have a large pin, a pin with several layers, an extra long pin, or heavy pin, you might want to seriously consider purchasing a pack of the gold locking backs so you don’t LOSE the pin! There’s absolutely NO need to LOCK every pin. It’s just the occasional ones, here and there, that are simply too heavy or too big, or the one that keeps falling off the lanyard for some reason. In those cases, definitely buy the locking back and get it secure. That way, you don’t have to worry about it falling off and losing it anymore!
SECRET #7: Before you go on a Disney vacation, purchase a bundle of Disney Trading Pins on eBay.
Here’s a little secret for families who have begun Disney Pin Trading, but want to take it to the next level. (Let me remind you once again, this is my husband’s discovery, not mine. He’s the big pin trading fan!) During an eBay search a few years back, he found lots of Disney Trading Pins for sale for a really GREAT price. So before we left on our Disney vacation, he bought one lot of 25-40 Disney Trading Pins off eBay, brought them with us on vacation, and used THOSE pins to trade with Disney cast members at the Parks. When you use this method, you MUST make sure you’re buying REAL, AUTHENTIC Disney Trading Pins off eBay. Take note when you make the eBay purchase. Know what you’re buying. Typically, when you purchase lots of Disney Trading Pins from someone on eBay, they’re selling SMALL pins that high-end traders might not care much about because of their size or style. But remember…these are the kind of pins that make pin trading super fun with little financial commitment! You can come to vacation with 25-40 pins you bought from eBay, and have a week’s worth of pins to trade with Disney cast members for a small total investment of $25-$40. Or you can do a mix, which is what we do. Buy a limited number of special Disney Trading Pins at the Parks, but ALSO buy some off eBay to trade while you’re on your Disney vacation.
SECRET #8: Collect sets.
Sometimes, Disney Trading Pins are created as collections. For example, there’s a collection of Disney Princess Babies. There’s a collection of bowling pins with characters on them. There’s a collection of flags. The collections of pins are endless. The more my husband and children get into Disney Pin Trading, the more I’m promoting collection of SETS. Collecting sets of pins requires a finer eye for pin trading. Collecting sets of pins makes it more of an adventure. Collecting sets of pins brings it to the next level as far as I’m concerned. Through an eBay purchase, my husband landed a few of these orange birds that were part of a collection. So he did a Google search to see HOW MANY birds were in the collection, and on our most recent vacation to Disney World, he spent good effort looking for the rest of those little orange birds on Disney cast members lanyards, sashes and boards! Guess what? He found them, traded for them, and was able to complete his collection of orange bird pins! Collect complete sets. Why not? It’s a fun adventure, especially for kids (and husbands).
SECRET #9: Mystery pin boxes are a good option for kids.
In the bigger Disney Pin Trading stores, you’ll see little boxes with “Mystery Pins.” Sometimes, there’s just one pin in the box. Sometimes, there’s more. The point of Mystery Boxes is that you DON’T know which pins are in the box. On the front of the box, you see the category of pins that are in the box. On the back of the box, you see tiny pictures of ALL of the pins that are in that collection and COULD BE in the box. You know that you’re buying 2015 pins. You know you’re buying Star Wars pins. You know you’re buying princess pins. But you don’t know WHICH ONES you’ll get until you buy the box and open the dark, sealed, plastic bag inside. You take a chance when you buy Mystery Pins. I’m not big into Mystery Pins myself, nor is my family, but I have purchased them very occasionally. Kids are intrigued by the mystery pins. They’d be good for starting a collection and great for beginning pin collectors!
SECRET #10: Get a little geeky about Disney Pin Trading.
If you’re going to collect Disney Trading Pins, you might as well get a little geeky. The best place to get geeky about Disney Trading Pins is Pin Station Epcot. At this location, they have a few shaded tables set up outside the pin store where avid Disney Trading Pin collectors hang out all day, show off their pins, talk about pins and trade pins. Oh yes. It gets a little geeky here. Pin traders sit and talk about pins all day long. They trade pins. They have people look through their huge boards of Disney pins, and their pages upon pages of Disney pins. They get strategic with serious collectors. On our most recent Disney World vacation, I had one collector offer to give me a WHOLE LANYARD of pins for my ONE Limited Edition Cinderella pin I bought several years ago. Sorry, sir! No trade, here! I love my Cinderella pin and don’t plan on ever trading it! But it was certainly eye opening and fun to hear that my one pin was worth a whole lanyard of pins! So why not? If you’re gonna collect Disney Trading Pins, get a little geeky about it.
That’s it, friends. That’s a wrap. This post marks the end of my 31 Days of Disney series! Thanks for reading, and I’m signing off until our next Disney vacation.
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