This is the Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading You Need
I caved. Yep, I let my guard down and began the Disney hobby of all Disney hobbies – pin trading. A monster to learn, yet a fun and thrilling experience, the pin trading phenomenon is one that you must enter knowing that it is addictive, consuming, and in some cases, expensive. I love my pin collection. I love looking at them between trips and remembering the fun of finding that one elusive design that may or may not be one that will be heavily sought after. I love that this activity is great for everyone in the family and not just for children. However, even with all great traditions and activities, there will always be those who take it to the next level with strategies, focuses, and in some cases, scams. Here is our no-fail tips and tricks and Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading, ensuring you get the most out of pin trading while at the parks, lower your cost, and tips on how and where you can find the best pins for your ever-growing collection.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Fun Pin Facts
So the last time I went to Walt Disney World in Florida, I joined the craze. I bought a lanyard with trading pins and met some really lovely people who gave a us a few of their doubles to test our luck with finding some treasures. Upon researching and learning the ropes through personal experience and getting the facts, we quickly became rather seasoned pin traders who knew where to find them and what types of pins to look for – not to mention how to spot the inevitable scrapper (more on those further on). Pin facts always are fun to know prior to diving into the hobby. So here are a few quirky facts about the Disney pins that you just may find intriguing:
- The pin trading activity began in the year 1999 as a positive way for guests to interact with cast members and with each other. With the popularity growing exponentially, the craze continued and is now in its 19th year.
- Over 120,000 pins are available to trade and collect! Mind you, some are worth more than others and are quite rare, but that is the fun in the activity.
- There are fun pin trading events held across the globe, where special edition pins are released along with others specially for these events.
- Pin prices start at $9.99 in the parks and go up to $15.99 depending on the details, intricacies, and limited release of the pin.
- Jumbo pins are also available in limited quantities and pricing can be as high as $120 per pin. (Yep, we saw a limited edition Star Wars Jumbo Pin at Hollywood Studios January 2018 fetching this price).
- Lanyards, medals, and pouches are available in most souvenir stores. If you need trading specific items, pin albums, bags, and accessories can be bought at specific pin trading shops.
- Pin of the month collections have launched at Disney and offer various sets through the year.
- There are different types of pins you can buy including resorts, open releases, limited releases, and event specific. There are others, to which I will elaborate upon below.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Types of Pins
So there are several types of pins out there for you to trade. Some are quite easily obtained, while others are much more obscure with limited numbers or exclusivity to particular people or groups. Here are the types of pins out there to collect and trade:
Open release pins are those readily available at the Disney Park shops, online, and wherever Disney pins are sold commercially. They are perfect to show off on your Disney Pin Trading bag! Racks upon racks of pins are available at the parks and these, for the most part, are open releases. However, once all quantities are exhausted, they will no longer be for sale.
As the name sounds, these pins have limited time on the shelves and/or have very small quantities available. These guys are sought after more and are favoured over open release pins when trading and collecting. Limited released pins are offered by Disney directly in the parks at selected shops, at events where exclusive attendees receive a commemorative pin, celebratory for anniversaries and other milestones, and also for exclusive groups – i.e. Disney Vacation Club, Annual Passholder, Pin trading event pins, holiday event pins at the parks, and other special occasions. It is exciting when you find one on your collecting travels.
I bet you have heard rumblings about Hidden Mickeys. This term is used for various activities throughout the park, but when it comes to pins, they are pretty special. Hidden Mickey pins are those you cannot buy. They are pins that are released by Disney and tradeable with cast members only. You can easily spot a Hidden Mickey pin as the silver mickey symbol will be located on the pin front and it will say “Hidden Mickey Pin” with the number within a series etched on the back. Cast members will have lots of Hidden Mickey pins available to trade at the parks.
These are pins that start off differently from the ones that get released. If you end up trading for one of these, keep it well and avoid trading it! These are in such limited quantities that they are very valuable.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Scrappers
It is a shame that the word Scrapper and Disney Pin are used in the same sentence. The evolution of these shammy pins has put an unfortunate damper on the once fun and interactive activity. Now don’t get me wrong – pin trading is still very popular and thousands of guests partake in the fun activity. Plus, the hobby still warrants special pin shops throughout the parks. But scrappers being in the equation have put a slight damper on it and has limited the practice in a few ways by the public and on Disney’s part.
What is a Scrapper?
Scrappers are a polite way to describe FAKE pins. They are produced in China by the same company who manufactures the authentic pins, but have flaws. The sad part of all this is that these imperfect pins are being sold alongside the authentic ones. And, on top of that, fake pins are being created to sell to novice collectors. This has caused an influx of fakes being traded away, and received through third party sellers. There’s nothing worse than receiving your purchased pin from Ebay or Amazon and discovering that it is a fake one; as well, imagine trading away a pin that you just don’t want anymore and receiving a scrapper in return…MAD FACE.
Do your due diligence and research sellers. It is a good bet that sellers with stellar reputations are selling pins that are not scrappers. However, it can slip by and it is important to inspect your pins when received and report fakes as soon as possible.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading- Authenticity of Pins and What to Look for
These are the signs you have purchased (through third parties) and/or traded an authentic pin:
- The edges are smooth
- The copyright date is clear
- The pin comes with a Mickey rubber backing
- The colours are rich like those sold in the Disney Parks
- The paint is smooth and not flaking off
- The pin is NOT magnetic
These are the sheer signs you have received a scrapper in a trade or through a third party purchase:
- The copyright looks like a clump of metal and not a CLEAR Copyright symbol and year
- The colour looks faded and not rich like the authentic pin
- The paint flakes off
- The edges are jagged and catch on clothing.
- They don’t come with a rubber backing shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head.
- The copyright doesn’t match the authentic pin’s
- The character does not look correct. Eg: Snow White’s hair is not black as ebony.
- Do the magnet test. Not 100% accurate, but pretty darn close. If the pin sticks to the magnet, you know that it is a FAKE.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – How to Trade & Proper Etiquette
You may be thinking – crikey, I thought Emily Post’s instructions were vintage and not in use anymore. Well, my friends, you do need to practice some etiquette in how you pin trade. There are too many pinners out there who do not follow these courtesies, making it not fun for the rest of us. Here are the basics to pin trading for those who are just starting, and a kind reminder for the seasoned “pinthusiast.”
- First of all, cast members with pins will have a lanyard or pouch with approximately 10 pins. As cast members, should a guest wish to trade, they are obligated to do so. The one stipulation is that you offer an authentic Disney pin to trade with an official rubber backing.
- Some pins cast members have will be turned around – these are mystery pins. You must be willing to trade a pin for one of these and should you not want the one you have received, accept it and find another place to trade. You cannot trade it back to the same cast member.
- To make it fun, some cast members will do trivia questions or give you a challenge and then offer a mystery pin. They usually have unique ones worth the effort!
- Guests are allowed to trade 2 pins max with the same cast member, or pin station board.
- If you see a cast member wearing a green lanyard, this means that they only trade with children. Do not pester these cast members to trade with you!
- Be patient. If you are wishing to trade with cast members, do wait until they are available and not assisting somebody else. Nobody likes a pushy pin trader!
- You can trade with other pin traders in the parks! This was one of the main reasons the hobby was created. Just make sure you are aware of what you are trading and that what you are receiving in return is not a scrapper.
- Also, make sure when trading with other pin traders that you do some preliminary research with the pins you have in your collection. You would hate to trade off a valuable pin and receive something easily obtained or of low value. Can you imagine if you traded an Artist’s Proof and receiving an open edition in return, or worse, a scrapper? Save the pain of this costly mistake and know before go which pins to keep and which to trade.
- On my last trip I noticed that many of the pin boards and staff lanyards were very picked over with the same collections available over and over again. In the pin trading community it has come to our attention that dealers have been heading to the parks early (perhaps with breakfast reservations to gain access before everyone else) to look over the pins, grab the good ones released, and replace them with those nobody wants. (I think I counted 200 of those car decal ones, though not the elusive pig one!) It is sad and sort of makes it unfair to the rest of us. Hopefully Disney will catch on to this practice and limit the number of trades by these specific people.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Where to Find Pins at Walt Disney World
Although fewer than before, there are still quite a few great places to trade pins on top of cast members’ lanyards. Here are a few hot spots showcased in our Disney Pin Trading guide for you to check while in the parks.
- Guest Relations on Main Street USA – This is a great spot to check as they have a large book of a over 100 pins to trade with guests. Remember, you can only trade 2 pins per day from them.
- Guest Relations on Liberty Square – lesser known, but the Guest Relations office in Liberty Square beside the Hall of Presidents also has a great book of pins to trade from. This one is a little better, as fewer people know about it and the pins are less picked over.
- The Emporium Shop on Main Street USA – this shop has a great little pin board to choose pins from though when last there, the board was not available to guests. They told me they were refurbishing it so stay tuned as they may be adding unique pins.
- The popcorn pin cushion at the Big Top Store in Dumbo’s Circus area.
- The Oven Mitt at the Main Street Confectionary
- Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland – this is Pin trading heaven!
- Pin board near the Resort buses – a more obscure spot, you may find pins that aren’t picked over so much.
- Momento Mori- This shop carries quite a bit of Haunted Mansion merchandise! Plus has a pin board for pin traders to check out.
- Mickey’s Pin Traders – in Tomorrowland, this is a great spot for trading pins as it has a full cart to offer.
- Town Square Exposition Hall – 2 pin boards for traders to check!
- Sir Mickey’s – a sword and shield covered in pins
Pro Tip: Many pin traders have wondered what happened to Scoop Sanderson on Main Street USA. Scoop was the reporter for Main Street. He had wonderful pins – mostly artist proofs and limited editions for guests. If he thought you demonstrated exceptional pin etiquette, he even awarded certain traders with his special pin to Continue the Tradition (CTT). As of 2015 he no longer pin trades. This is a sad loss for the pinning community, but he can still be seen now and then around Main Street USA.
- MouseGears shop has a massive pin board they bring out daily at various times.
- In the World Showcase, check out the large pin board in Norway
- In the Italy area, there is a pin board at Kidcot where children get their passports stamped.
- In the American area, check out the pin hat in the gift shop.
- In Morocco there is a pin board at the Kidcot area.
- The large gift shop in Japan has a selection of pins to choose from.
- China area has some limited edition pins you can only purchase there for the Grand Opening and 1st anniversary of Shanghai Disney while supplies last.
- In the Africa section, there is a great pin trading shop and they have a pin book to look through.
- Stroller rental at the front of the park has a stroller covered in pins to trade from.
- Almost all the ice cream carts have a pin board to browse throughout the park.
- Guest Relations has a book to look through.
- Flame Tree Barbecue has a pin board by request. If they are really busy, they may not bring it out though.
- The pin cart between Africa and Asia has a pin book to look through.
- The various restaurants in the park have pin boards to view.
- There is a special chest of pin near Kali River Rapids. Sometimes it is not accessible.
- The Outpost between the park entrance and the parking lot has a vest of pins to view.
- Look for the cast member holding a trash can of pins right after you scan your magic band. You may find some unique pins!
- There is a special pin drum in the gift shop near the ride photo area of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster ride.
- The Tower of Terror gift shop has pins to look through
- Guest Relations has a great selection of pins.
- After you scan your magic bands, check out the parking cone with pins.
- Several gift shops on Hollywood Blvd. have pin boards.
Resorts, Disney Springs, and other Good Spots
- Every resort gift shop has a pin board of sorts to trade from. Ask the staff to have a look at what they have to offer. At the Art of Animation resort, they have three – one at each cashier.
- Disney Pin Traders at Disney Springs – this spot has one of the largest selections on Walt Disney World property. Certain times during the week they also unveil mystery boards for pin traders.
- There are several other spots in Disney Springs that have pin boards. Just ask around and they will advise if they have one to browse.
- Cast members at certain restaurants, monorails, and custodians sometimes have less picked over lanyards.
- The staff at the Disney stores in the Orlando Airport have lanyards and will trade with guests.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Where to Find Pins at Disneyland California
If you are travelling to the California parks, there are great spots to trade pins in both Magic Kingdom and California Adventure as follows:
- Guest Relations – just like at Walt Disney World, the Guest Relations office on Main Street USA has a book for guests to view.
- Emporium – this shop similar to the one at Walt Disney World has a pin board for traders to look through.
- Frontierland – Westward Ho Trading Company – this is a great spot to get limited edition pins, accessories for your collection, and to browse some great boards.
- Pioneer Mercantile – check out their board or pick up a few open releases.
- Tomorrowland – Little Green Men – here you can find limited releases that nowhere else carries in the park.
- Tomorrowland – Star Traders – Check out the board here and the cast members’ lanyards.
- Toontown Gag Factory – These guys have some pin boards for guests to look at.
- Pooh Corner – They have a pin board to look through!
- Buena Vista Street – Check both the Big Top Toys, and the Guest Relations booths.
- Rushin’ Rivers Outfitters – they have open release pins and a board to trade from.
- Paradise Pier – check out the shops here. Some have boards to trade.
Downtown Disney and Resorts:
- Disney Pin Trading Hut – They have a great selection of pins and every cast member has some to trade.
- D- Street – check out the Vinylmation trading box!
- All resorts have offerings – ask the concierge or gift shop staff.
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading- Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Aulani, Cruises
The USA parks aren’t the only spots to get some really cool pins. Here is where to look for the other parks around the world as well as the cruises and Hawaiian resort of Aulani.
- The main shops World of Disney and the Emporium are great places to start. When you travel to Paris, they give you a map with the pin areas marked for you.
- Pueblo Trading Post is another great spot to get some limited release pins.
- Disneyland Paris is known for its pin trading events where some exclusive designs are given to attendees. If you are a staunch collector, you may want to plan your trip around an event so you can attend!
- There isn’t a pin trading community at this park. There used to be, but due to unforeseen circumstances, they had to stop the practice. That being said, you can still buy a few really neat pins in the parks and shops as well as win some unique ones at select spots.
- Disney Studio Store – they have a great pinning selection of specialized characters! They don’t have every character like many of the other parks, but if you like particular films featured, this will be a gold mine for you. Also, if you order a special sundae, you may get a limited edition pin for your consumption.
- There aren’t too many specialized spots that have pin boards to check, but you can get exclusive Shanghai pins at the various shops and resorts on site.
Cruises and Aulani:
- Check the many shops on both the cruise and resort of Aulani. The staff and the shops will have a great selection to choose from!
Ultimate Guide to Disney Pin Trading – Final Recap Tips
So I have divulged the spots for traders to look in the parks beyond lanyards and pouches. I have given you the lowdown on pin trading etiquette and how to detect a scrapper. Here is the recap checklist:
- Start small with a couple of characters to focus on. As there are over 120,000 pins, it is too easy to overwhelm yourself with so many.
- Store your pins in a nice book or display them creatively.
- Trade with Cast Members at the Parks. Maximum 2 per cast member per day and not those with green lanyards solely for children.
- Politely ask the cast member to trade – do not touch the pin or the lanyard.
- Ensure you have a Disney pin to trade with the rubber Mickey backing.
- Check out the shops that have trading boards to browse.
- Inspect pins for signs of being a scrapper.
- Remember that some Disney Stores outside the parks also trade. So keep them in your carry-on luggage.
- Do some research so that you don’t trade away a valuable pin like an Artist’s proof or limited release.
- Keep this blog post bookmarked to reference while in the parks around the world!
- Keep checking back for other pin articles coming soon including where to buy pins you can be assured are real, unique ways to display your collection, and pin resources that are sure to keep your “pinthusiasm” at great heights.
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We were a guest of Walt Disney World. All opinions and points of view in this and subsequent posts are our own and were not influenced in any way.
We do not work for or and are not affiliated with Disney in any way. All our opinions are our own and based on our own experience or extensive research.