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The Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading

The Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading

If you’ve ever visited Walt Disney World, chances are you’re familiar with the popular activity of pin trading. Disney pins are located pretty much everywhere around the Disney theme parks and resorts. On one of my more recent trips to Disney Springs, I finally decided to buy a few for myself and have since gone down the rabbit hole of pin trading. If you’re looking to get started with pin training, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading for the ultimate guide to Disney pin trading!

What is Disney Pin Trading? 

Disney pin trading is an interactive experience that allows guests to swap their pins with other guests, as well as Cast Members.

While it’s now grown in popularity, pin trading has actually been around for years. Pin trading was first introduced in the parks in October of 1999 as part of the parks’ Millenium Celebration. Now, more than 20 years later, pin trading has become a mainstay of the Walt Disney World experience. Not only are there pin-trading events both on and off property but there’s even an entire website dedicated to it called Disney Pins Blog, which provides a list of all upcoming pin-trading events.

Pin Trading Prices

While it’s free to trade pins with other guests and Cast Members in the parks, pins are categorized into four price points when purchased brand new:

  • Green/Silver: $14.99
  • Blue/Yellow: $12.99
  • Pink: $14.99

The more expensive the pin is, the more intricate or popular the design may be. The good news is that you can trade for any pin you like, so if you have a green pin but want to trade it for a pink one, you can. This is a great little trick to getting more expensive pins at a reduced rate. Just remember, you may have to wait a while to find the one you’re searching for if you choose to not buy it outright.

While this is the current price point of most pins throughout the parks, these prices are, of course, subject to change without notice.

Pin Drum at Rock n Roller Coaster
Pin Drum at Rock n Roller Coaster

How Many Pins Should I Bring to Disney World?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but most pin traders agree that 50 is probably the best number. For starters, this gives you a nice enough selection to bring into the parks so you won’t have to worry about duplicates.

Also, 50 pins can easily fit inside a ziplock bag in your backpack. Second, it gives you enough flexibility to trade during the duration of your vacation.

How to Pin Trade at Disney World

If you’re ready to start pin trading at Disney World, the first thing you should know is that there are countless pin trading stations scattered throughout the parks. As such, your first step will be knowing where to look. 

The easiest way to find pins up for trade is to look for a Cast Member wearing a pin lanyard. When you see them, walk up to them and ask to see if you can check out what they have available. If you find one you like, you can trade one of yours with them. If they don’t have any pins you’re interested in, no worries. 

Disney Pin Trading Rules

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Like with pretty much everything in Disney World, pin trading does have some rules. First and foremost, you should only swap authentic Disney pins. Unfortunately, there are a lot of counterfeit pins that have popped up on sites like eBay, that sometimes make their way into the parks. Flip your pin over to see if it has a copyright logo on the back. Official Disney pins will also have a Mickey Mouse head backing (but more on this later). If you genuinely didn’t know you had a counterfeit pin, a Cast Member will still let you trade.

Second, all pins should be in good shape before they’re traded. This pin isn’t going to be staying with the Cast Member; it’s being given to them to be traded with another pin trader. Pins should be clean and free of any cracks, chips, or missing pieces.

Here are some additional pin trading rules:

  • You can only trade two pins per Cast Member per day
  • All pins should be affiliated with Disney
  • Disney name pins (i.e. – Courtney or John) can’t be traded
  • Guests will not be allowed to trade for “showcase pins,” which are solely used for pin-trading demonstrations

Do not touch the pins on the board or lanyard. Instead, point to the one you’d like to see and the Cast Member will grab it for you.

How to Pin Trader With Other People on Vacation 

While visiting Walt Disney World, it’s going to be very easy to spot another pin trader like yourself because they’re usually either wearing a lanyard or a see-through backpack full of pins. If you spot this person and want to pin trade with them, all you have to do is go up to them and ask if they’re interested. 

If they are, the two of you can take a look at what you have and if interested, swap them with one another. If they’re not interested, that’s okay. There’s no harm in asking!

That being said, there is some etiquette to pin trading with others on vacation: 

Etiquette for Pin Trading With Other Park Guests

When you’re pin trading with other park guests, remember that the trading experience is a two-way street. Trading only works when both of you have something you want to trade for. Like Cast Members, there is a time and place to inquire about someone’s pin. Don’t ask them while they’re eating or mid-conversation if you can avoid it. Remember, extend the same courtesy to them as you would want to be extended to you.

The takeaways: 

  • Don’t touch someone’s pins without permission
  • Only bring authentic pins on vacation with you that are in good shape
  • Don’t ask to swap more than 1 or 2 pins at a time
  • Bring something valuable with you if you are interested in swapping it for something more valuable 
  • Be friendly!

As you can see, the rules for pin trading with vacation guests are very similar to those with Cast Members. With these golden rules, you’ll be well on your way to an excellent pin trading experience. 

Pin Trading Tips

If you want to give pin trading a try but aren’t ready to fully commit yet, we recommend buying a starter kit. A starter kit is usually themed to a certain design or movie. For example, I ended up buying a mystery pack of themed balloons for around $20.00 These packs don’t cost a lot of money and can be a great introduction to pin trading around the parks. Keep in mind that these kinds of pins may be easier to trade with Cast Members than other park guests due to how common they are.

Why Bother Pin Trading When You Can Buy?

As I briefly mentioned earlier, I went ahead and bought my first set of pins at Disney Springs. That being said, what is the benefit of pin trading if you can just buy what you want anyway?

Here are a few of the reasons why pin trading is worth it: 

You Can Still Get Hard-to-Find Pins

Why bother pin trading when you can just buy? Well, the answer is that you actually can’t always buy what you want….at least sometimes and for an affordable rate. 

As I said, Disney pins have been around since 1999. That’s over 20 years’ worth of pins that are no longer sold in the parks. Furthermore, there may be limited edition pins like the Scar in green flames pin that features the iconic Walt Disney Imagineering logo. This pin, for example, was released in 2016 and there were only 250 copies made. 

By pin trading, you’re able to find pins you normally wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. That scar pin? It sold on eBay for about $2,000. Simply put, not everyone may realize the worth of the pins they carry around (or care) So it’s not out of the realm of possibility you’ll find something rare without the multi-thousand dollar price tag. 

It’s a Free Souvenir

Sure, you may have paid money for the pins on your lanyard, but on your current Walt Disney World vacation, pin trading allows you to get something that’s brand new without paying a dime for it. 

Pin collectors absolutely treasure their pins. As such, pins are actually one of the best souvenirs they can bring back from their Walt Disney World vacation. Finding something you love at no cost to you? Sign me up!

You Have More Say Over What You Get

When I went to Disney Springs, I bought a few mystery pin packs of my two favorite rides in the parks: the Haunted Mansion and the Tower of Terror. Sadly, I wasn’t a big fan of either pin I got. That’s the downside to mystery pin packs. 

However, the upside to pin trading is that it gives you way more control over the pins you collect. While I am okay with these pins being in my collection, I would have preferred something different. By pin trading, I can swap for a pin of the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror I genuinely like, instead of just accepting whatever I opened up. Having more control over what’s in my collection makes the collection more meaningful. 

Pin Trading Spots Throughout the Parks

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The good news is that there is no shortage of pins throughout the parks. I’ve broken down the pin trading locations by each Disney park:

Pin Trading Locations in Magic Kingdom

There are nine pin trading stations in Magic Kingdom:

  • Main Street Theater
  • Frontier Trading Post
  • Space Mountain gift shop
  • Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop
  • Memento Mori
  • Sir Mickey’s 
  • The Emporium
  • Fantasy Faire & Big Top Souveniors
  • Ye Old Christmas Shoppe 

Which one is best? It depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the most options, a visit to the Emporium is best because they have the most Cast Members. For a variety of pins, look no further than the Frontier Trading Post.

Pin Trading Locations in Hollywood Studios

There are 10 pin trading locations in Hollywood Studios:

  • The 5 & 10 Store on Hollywood Boulevard
  • Rock Around the Shop
  • Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs
  • Crossroads of the World
  • Frozen Fractal Gifts
  • Sid Cahuega’s One-of-a-Kind
  • Movieland Memorabilia
  • Tatooine Traders
  • Jessie’s Trading Post
  • Tower Hotel Gifts

Which is the best place to trade pins at? In terms of the pin trading spots at Hollywood Studios, most agree that Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs is the best. This area just gets overlooked by a lot of people, so there tends to be a less picked-over selection.

Pin Trading Locations in Animal Kingdom

There are three pin trading locations in Animal Kingdom. These are located at: 

  • Africa Pin Station
  • Garden Gate Gifts
  • Discovery Trading Post

In terms of the best, you really can’t go wrong with any of these pin-trading locations in Animal Kingdom. They all offer something unique!

Where to See the Largest Collection of Disney Pins…EVER!

While you’re at Animal Kingdom, be sure to head on over to Disney “Pins of Extinction” over in DinoLand, U.S.A. Though this isn’t a pin trading location, they have a huge selection of pins on display that you can marvel at. 

Just be sure to visit this before DinoLand, U.S.A. goes extinct…

Pin Trading Locations in EPCOT

There is only one official pin trading location in Epcot, which is located at Pin Traders.

Pins have been spotted here and there in the World Showcase, but it’s not consistent enough where you could really plan ahead. If you are looking around for pins to trade in the World Showcase, your best bets are at any of the carts located in each pavilion.

Pin Trading Locations at Disney Springs and Resorts

Guests will be able to trade pins at Pin Traders in Disney Springs. This is where I started my very own pin collection!

Most resorts on property also feature a pinboard, however, this will vary from place to place. If a pinboard is available, it will usually be prominently displayed in the lobby. However, you may also find it near check-in/check-out, or the gift shop.

Read more: Best Pin Trading Spots at Disney World

Can Cast Members Decline a Request to Trade Pins?

Technically, yes, but probably not for the reason you think. Cast Members will usually decline a request to trade if they already have your pin on their existing board. This is because they don’t want duplicates.

Furthermore, Cast Members are required to inspect the authenticity of pins before accepting them. A Cast Member won’t be allowed to turn your pin trading request down if you’re giving them something they don’t like. However, the same can’t be said for trading with park guests.

Which Disney Pins Are the Best Value

Since pin trading is so popular, some pins are worth more than others, and as such, more coveted among collectors. This usually always includes limited editions, like the Disney Auctions Masterpiece Series featuring Ariel and King Triton. Only 100 of these pins were released, making them truly rare among the pin trading community. This goes for several hundred dollars. 

Another Disney pin that holds a high value is the Super Jumbo Maleficent Dragon pin which was released in 2015 as part of the ACME Studio Art Archives. Like the Little Mermaid one mentioned above, there were only 100 of these unique pins released. Furthermore, it was only released at Hong Kong Disneyland. Simply put, if you stumble upon this one at the US parks, snatch it up! Otherwise, you’ll have to put out around $2,000 bucks for it. 

Let’s switch gears though, because value doesn’t just mean those Disney pins that are really expensive and limited. It also refers to what is the best value for your money. In my experience, the mystery packs offer excellent value for the $34.99 pack. The options are usually popular, as they offer the most mainstream characters, so you’re bound to get something you love. Plus, since each mystery pack contains five pins, it’s the perfect way to get started on your collection. 

Which Disney Pins You Should Never Trade

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As mentioned above, you should never trade anything fake, especially if you know it is. Doing so breaks proper pin trading etiquette. 

More so, you should never trade a pin that you’re unlikely to come across again. Of course, this is up to you, but you should always have careful consideration on whether or not to trade these pins away because they may be difficult to replace, especially if it was a limited edition or discontinued. 

Likewise, you should never trade a pin you genuinely like. There can be pressure to trade pins, especially if the person looking to trade with you is demonstrating a strong interest in what you have. Far too often people may feel pressure to give away something they love and that’s not what pin trading is about. 

If you want to avoid an issue like this, try putting all the pins you definitely want to trade on one side of your lanyard and those you’re still thinking about on the other. You can always change your mind, but it can save you from making a decision you’ll wind up regretting. 

How to Tell If a Disney Pin is a Fake

Just like anything out there on the market, you’re bound to come across some fakes now and again. And pins are no exception! In some cases, spotting a fake pin is very easy. 

Traditional Disney pins are a bit on the heavy side. They have some heft to them. Fake pins, on the other hand, are usually lighter because they’re not typically made with the same kind of metal. Furthermore, traditional pins have smooth edges, whereas fake ones may be a bit rougher. 

Another easy way to tell if a Disney pin is fake is to look at the color. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the vibrancy of the pins, but rather the colors the fake one uses to mimic the real ones. For example, if you’re buying a Princess Tiana pin, you may notice that her dress is a pretty light green, but more muted in the faux version. If the colors of your pin look more washed out, then it’s like a fake. 

Though not the last way to tell that a Disney pin is fake, one of the most common is to check out the shape of the hidden Mickey on the back. If the Mickey is clearly defined, it’s real. If it’s not, it’s fake. After all, Disney isn’t going to phone it in when it comes to everyone’s favorite mouse!

Though Disney does try to do a good job of sorting out fake pins, you might catch a fake one on the boards once in a while because sometimes those dupes are just really, really good. Or, the Cast Member hasn’t realized it’s a fake. The same goes for pins around lanyards. Sometimes people may not realize their pin is a fake. If they try and trade a fake pin with you and you don’t want to, just politely turn them down. Pin trading is all about collecting what you want! 

Where to Find Out About New Pin Releases

Walt Disney World will actually announce all upcoming pin releases for the year on their website. Just click here to view all of the ones they’re currently promoting. 

Here, you’ll also find out what kind of edition it is, how many there will be in circulation, and details about its size. 

You can also check out ShopDisney every Tuesday. While these don’t necessarily offer pin release announcements, they do feature new pins for you to add to your collection. Find these every Tuesday at 8:00 am Pacific Time. 

Unique Ways to Display Your Disney Pins After Vacation

Once you’re home from your Disney World vacation, you’ll likely want to display your new pins. And the good news is that there are so many unique and easy ways to display them throughout your house. Here are some of my favorites: 

A Pin Board

A pin board is a tried and true classic and depending on how big it is, an easy way to display a large number of pins at once. 

That being said, there are several ways to decorate your pin board. The first is to just put all of the pins on there in a randomized order. The second is to craft it to a theme. This option is more suited for the pin collector, who may have a large number of pins in one category, such as all Mickey Mouse or Stitch. 

Whatever you choose, a pinboard is a great option for displaying your pins safely and efficiently. 

Restored VHS Tape Boxes

Do you have those old Disney VHS tapes lying around? Since you’re (probably) not going to use them, why not repurpose them and turn them into themed pin boxes? 

To get started, remove the videotape from the box and then measure the interior dimensions and cut out some corkboard. You can buy slabs of corkboard at your local craft store. I use these from Joann’s. Once you have your corkboard cut out, add some glue to the interior of the VHS box and lay your board inside. 

Let it sit for a few minutes until the glue has had time to settle. Like the pin boards, you have two options for these. The first option is to just add random pins, or you can customize them based on the theme of the VHS. For example, Toy Story-themed pins can go in a Toy Story VHS box. I have this and it’s a fun way to display my nostalgic VHS tape and keep my pins safe. 

In a Shadow Box

Like tickets to your favorite concert, putting something that’s chockfull of memories in a shadowbox is a great way to keep things at the forefront of your mind. Plus, shadowboxes are pretty cheap to buy! 

In addition to your pins, add your tickets or MagicBand to the shadowbox to document your trip. 

On a Lanyard Hanging Off Your Rearview Mirror

If you don’t have a lot of pins, you may want to keep them on the lanyard and hang them off your rearview mirror. This is a fun way to add some Disney magic to your drive. Keep in mind that some states prohibit this, so just make sure it’s legal where you are to avoid getting a ticket. After all, you just came back from Disney World…do you really want to spend even MORE money? 

Many pin collectors display their pins on a corkboard. These are really easy to customize, as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I’ve also seen people add them to shadow boxes, backpacks, handmade mouse ears, denim jackets, and even frame them. 

Read more: The Best Disney Pin Display Ideas

Final Thoughts

Pin trading is a lot of fun and something that once you do, becomes slightly addicting! Plus, it’s another way to have fun in the parks, and who can say no to that?

Do you collect Disney pins? Let us know what your grail pin is and if you have it in the comments. And don’t forget to follow WDW Vacation Tips on Instagram for all your Disney tips and trips!