Disneyland Pin Trading
While some visitors go to the Disneyland Resort to enjoy the rides, food and parades, others have a very serious agenda: pin trading! Pin trading at Disneyland began in 1999 and has become an obsession to many frequenters of the park. With the thousands of pin choices available, it’s easy to see how addictive this experience can be.

Disney-themed pins span all of the movies, characters, park features and rides. There truly is a pin for every aspect of Disney, including commemorative pieces celebrating park milestones. All pins are stamped with valuable information on the back which details the year, collection, origin and edition size.

Pin trading is an interactive collection phenomenon. You buy a starter set and then approach pin stations across the park to trade with the pin attendants. They wear lanyards laced with a variety of pins (or “flair” as I like it to call it!) for you to choose from, and they have books filled with pins as well. It’s common practice for the guests to wear lanyards, too.

There is definitely etiquette to adhere to when trading pins, especially when you’re dealing with Disneyland Cast Members. Because trading is interactive, the most important thing to keep in mind is respecting the people who you come in contact with. Here are some guidelines to follow for an easy-breezy trading experience:

  • Be absolutely sure that your pins are in good condition. That means that the backing is intact and pins are undamaged. Many pins have obtained scratches over the years. There’s a bit of allowance for these flaws, but be reasonable.
  • Even if you have a handful of pins that you’d like to trade, only present one at a time. This keeps the chaos to a minimum! *If you’re trading with a Cast Member, there is a 2 pin limit and they cannot be duplicates of each other.
  • Keep your hands to yourself! It may be tempting to reach out and touch the pins on someone else’s lanyard, but even though those pins are up for trade it’s not okay to invade someone’s personal space. You can always ask them for a closer look and chances are that they’d be happy to accommodate you.
  • Cast Members wearing teal colored lanyards only trade with children ages 3 – 12. Try to be mindful of this restriction and only approach these Cast Members if you have a child with you.

A child trades pins with a Cast Member with the help of his mom!

Pin prices can really add up. My friend has a Disney Visa card that accumulates points as she spends in her daily life. She cashes in her Visa points every few months and buys sets of pins with them. It’s a system that works really well for her and her young son. If that’s not an option for you, peruse eBay for large lots of pins. This is my favorite option because you end up with an array of collections from various years and destinations.

If you’re wondering what to collect, here are a few ideas:

  • A specific character – There are countless Mickey Mouse pins from countless collections. Try to get your hands on every Mickey pin you come across!
  • A specific collection – Try to collect an old pin collection that isn’t available to purchase anymore. Chances are that these collections have been split up over the years, so make it your mission to track down all of the pieces.
  • Holiday pins – Do you love Valentine’s Day? Collect every “amour” themed pin you can find.
  • Origin – One of my personal favorites to collect are pins from France. I think it’s so exciting know that these pins have traveled from Disneyland Paris all the way to California for trading.
  • Vintage – Check the stamped backs for dates and only collect pins that were made in a certain year or decade. I would love to own all of the 1999 pins!
  • Animals – A little boy who I know absolutely loves dogs. He collects Pluto, the Dalmatians, Goofy, Fox and the Hound, Lady and the Tramp, etc.
  • Colors – You can always go for a color theme. This is a great option for small children who are just learning the ropes.
  • Moveable parts – There are special pins which are actually small pins within a large pin. The smaller parts are moveable and the entire effect is really fun! These pins are pricy, though, so finding someone to trade with may not be as easy as with the simple pins. Hey, sounds like a good challenge!
  • Artist Proof – AP pins are extremely rare and are quite a treasure to enthusiastic collectors. These are the very first pins produced in the collection and there are typically less than 20 in circulation. “AP” will be stamped on the back, so look carefully.

*Secret: Cast Members wear special pins that they’re not allowed to trade, yet sometimes they trade them anyway! I have one secret pin and, while the pin itself isn’t all that exciting, I love that I have a piece that’s so unique.

I was actually against pin trading for years. I thought that it was a dorky hobby and just didn’t get it. Yet, as a California resident, I found myself needing more entertainment options for my frequent trips to the park. I was in danger of getting burnt out on Disneyland, so I challenged myself to find more to do during my visits. Now I’m a proud dork to who loves to trade pins every few trips or so (I’m currently collecting villains)!

Do you trade? If so, what collections have you completed, and what are you looking for right now?


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