I started trading pins at Walt Disney World, and then at Disneyland, a few years ago as an excuse to talk to Disney Cast Members and other guests. Because I’m not much of a shopper while visiting Disney theme parks, I also liked the idea of collecting small (thus portable) and inexpensive souvenirs during my trips that would become part of a larger collection at home – one that would be ever evolving.
Trading Disney pins is easy, with just a few rules to follow. And building a collection can be as simple or extensive as each individual pin trader decides to make it. But one of the real joys in Disney pin trading is the interaction.
Disney Pin Trading – The Basics
To get started with pin trading, purchase a starter set and a lanyard (either a neck or hip style worn at the waist). Pins and lanyards are available at various Disney locations in the parks, resorts, at Downtown Disney. Pins and starter sets are even on eBay.
Trading with Cast Members. Just approach a Cast Member who wears a lanyard and offer to trade. Choose one of the available pins, and offer one of your pins for one the one you’ve selected. It’s a one-for-one trade.
It’s as simple as that. Cast Members cannot refuse a trade, so long as it fits within Disney Pin Trading rules (below).
Trading with other Guests. Approach a guest wearing a lanyard and ask them if they are open to trading. If that person agrees, any pin that faces outward on the lanyard – as opposed to other places (e.g. hat, shirt) is generally available for a trade. With Guest-to-Guest trades, there’s a bit more room for negotiation – “You’d like this one? I’m interested in that one.” The flexibility adds to the fun and the conversation.
Disney Pin Trading – The Rules
Disney Pin Trading rules and guidelines for have evolved since trading at the Disney theme parks began in 1999 as part of the Millennial Celebration.
Eligible Disney trading pins should be metal, with a ©Disney mark on the back and in good condition.
Pins that may be traded include the following:
• Disney theme park pin from a place or location, event, character or icon;
• Pins from other divisions of the Walt Disney Company (i.e. ESPN, ABC, DVC); and
• Participating partner pins, so long as they have a Disney affiliation showing.
Some Disney pins can’t be traded:
• Non-metal pins (e.g. plastic or rubber pins,);
• Brooch-style or clasp pins;
• Personalized pins (whether ones with your name or Cast Member Name Tags); and
• Special Disney Cast Member pin (e.g. Service Awards, Spirit of Disneyland Awards, Disney Cast Member costume pins, or Partners in Excellence pins)
For fun, not profit. Disney pins may not be traded for monies, gifts or receipts, nor may these things be included as part of the trade. This applies to both Cast Member and Guest-to-Guest trades.
Make the Trade an Original. Don’t offer Disney Cast Members a duplicate of a pin currently on their lanyards.
One is fun, and twice is nice. Guests may trade up to two (2) pins per Cast Member per day. Trades between Guests don’t have the same restriction.
Disney Pin Trading – Etiquette
Most Disney Pin Trading falls under the “Golden Rule” and common sense – do what you can to make it a safe, fun, enjoyable experience for everyone.
Just for kids. Some Cast Members have lanyards just for trade with children (ages 3 – 12). At Walt Disney World, it’s Cast Members wearing green lanyards. At Disneyland, it’s those with teal lanyards.
Honor the spirit of the trade. Trading pins should be a fun, enjoyable experience for both parties.
• Be sensitive to new Disney Pin traders of all ages, particularly young children who may not understand all the rules.
• Some pins are designed as sets. Don’t break up a good relationship. If a single pin doesn’t create a complete image, trade the pins as a set.
• If a lanyard pin is turned backwards, with the pin back facing out, that pin is unavailable to trade.
Respect personal space. Look, but don’t touch, another person’s lanyard or pins. Oohing and ahhing is acceptable. If you need a closer look at a pin, as the person to show it to you – don’t get grabby.
Safety First. When trading pins, carefully remove them from a lanyard and replace the pin backs to avoid the Sleeping Beauty pinprick. Trade pins one at a time.
Disney Pin Trading – Some Unofficial Suggestions
Collect what you love. For some people, this will mean collecting limited edition pins and only those pins. For others, collecting favorite characters – I’ve seen lanyard dedicated to Tinker Bell or Disney Villains – or color are the focus. For yet other, focusing on Disney attraction pins or Disney movies. Others will focus on finding a set. There’s no “perfect” collection, except the one that makes you happy.
Each pin tells a story. For many people, it’s not the pins that are the primary attraction of the trade. It’s the opportunity to chat with other people. Help make each trade a memorable experience. Offer a story about your trip, about the pins, about you.
Rules are sometimes mean to be broken. On our last trip to Walt Disney World, a young child approached my husband. Fascinated by the pins on his lanyard, but without one of her own, she offered to trade her birthday button for one of his pins. He couldn’t take her button, of course, not on her special day. But he gave her a Princess Minnie pin that complemented her birthday sash and outfit. He didn’t get a pin in return, but a big smile. And we got a story that was in the very spirit of Disney Pin Trading.
For more information in Disney Pin Trading at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Resorts and Disney Cruise Line, see the official Disney F.A.Q.
Kungaloosh! Debra Peterson enjoys seeking out for the interactive, immersive and innovative at Disney theme parks. When not writing for Chip and Company, Debra is the National Disney Travel Examiner. Put on your set of ears and join her in stalking the Mouse.
- Disney Pin Trading 101 – The Basics (livinginagrownupworld.wordpress.com)
- Beginners Guide to Disney Pin Trading (chipandco.com)
Watch our latest Youtube Videos here.