Disney Pin Trading
If you have ever been to a Disney Park, you have almost definitely seen the displays of pins for sale. You have probably looked through them marveling at the range of designs, and maybe even bought one as a souvenir. But did you know that Disney Pin Trading is not only a ton of fun, but also a great way for your kids to interact with other people at the park? From Cast Members to other guests, your kids will grow their confidence and people skills, all while having a blast and collecting memorable souvenirs.
Disney Pin Trading has expanded to the point that you can now find a pin for pretty much any event, occasion, holiday, topic, or character you want. Some pins have movable parts, some have super cute designs, and some are a part of very limited sets. Below I will go through the details of Pin Trading from a Dad’s point of view, but if you want the quick synopsis, here it is.
I was skeptical. I was wrong. My kids loved it.
How It Works
Disney Pin Trading works just like it sounds. You trade pins with other people. There are three main groups of people you can trade with: Disney Cast Members, other casual traders, and serious pin traders.
The easiest of these three groups to trade with is Disney Cast Members. These are the employees of the park and not surprisingly, they are all over the place. The key thing to know about park employees is that if you ask them to trade a pin, THEY WILL ALWAYS SAY YES! This is great for younger or shy kids who need a bit of a confidence boost. It’s also great if you see a Cast Member with a pin you really want.
The second group you can trade with is other casual traders. These people (mostly kids) are just like you. They are wearing or carrying pins because they want to trade and show off their collections. We found that everyone the boys asked was happy to show them their pins, but trading was a bit tougher because the answer wasn’t always yes. Cole did make a trade with one or two other park guests over the course of our visit.
The final group is the serious pin traders. These are mostly adults who trade pins either as a serious hobby or as a business. They tend to have huge books of pins that they like to show off and then a smaller section of pins that they are willing to trade. Some of the collections we saw were amazing. I can’t imagine how much some of these people have spent on Disney Pins. We didn’t make any trades with serious pin traders, but it sure was cool to check out their pins.
Costs of Trading
From what we saw, pricing for pins bought at a park starts at around $5.95 and goes up, up, up. Prices vary depending on size, colors, texture, special features like moving parts, and rarity. Limited edition pins can get quite expensive.
Like many of you, when I first saw this pricing, I immediately ruled pin trading out as too expensive. But wait, don’t dismiss Disney Pin Trading quite yet. There’s a way in to this game without a high upfront cost.
Bulk lots of pins are consistently available on eBay and Amazon. No, you won’t get the rare, super valuable pins when you buy a bulk lot, but you will get a whole bunch of pins for your kids to start trading with. My wife picked up 50 assorted pins (25 for each kid) for around $30 shipped before we went. Now that’s a cost I can accept. If you decide to take this route, make sure you order the pins with plenty of time to spare. You don’t want to come home to a package of pins that were supposed to be traded on the trip you just returned from.
Places to Trade
The great thing about pin trading is that you don’t have to go to a specific spot to trade. You can trade pins all over the parks. At souvenir shops, at food carts, and even at a few specific pin stores and kiosks.
As you walk through the Disney parks, you will find that most of the Cast Members have a lanyard, sash, or small bag with pins displayed. This includes all of the employees at all of the gift shops, the restaurants, the food carts, and working anywhere in customer service. Depending on the employee, they may have just a few pins, or they might have 20-30. Some shops even had big boards with pins for trade.
One additional twist when trading with Cast Members is that they sometimes have mystery pins to trade. They will have these attached backwards, so you can’t see what pin you are getting until you make the trade. My boys loved the mystery pins. If they got something they wanted, great, but if not, they were happy to trade it away with the next employee they found. Some of the best pins they got even came from mystery trades.
The Pins of Pandora
Since we were there for the media preview of Pandora, Ryan really wanted to get all of the Avatar pins. They were not cheap, but since this would be his main souvenir, we were ok with letting him buy a few. Little did we know how many options there would be.
The cool thing is that he got all of the Opening Edition pins that were available and we even talked the cashier into selling us the Season Passholder pin. Needless to say, we are not Season Passholders. This is a great example of one of my favorite travel mantras: You never know what you might get until you ask.
Opening Day Pin
The one Pandora pin that Ryan really wanted that we weren’t allowed to buy, was the Opening Day pin. Even though they had them in the back, they absolutely wouldn’t sell us one before the official Opening Day of Pandora. We even had our Disney Rep try to get one from a friend of hers who works in the Avatar gift shop, but that didn’t work either. We were down to one final card to play.
Through social media, I knew that one of my fraternity brothers and his wife, another college friend of mine, were in Orlando with their son. They had FastPasses and were planning to visit Pandora on Saturday morning. Perfect! A few messages back and forth and they agreed to pick up a couple of Opening Day pins for us, assuming they weren’t sold out by the time they got to the gift shop.
Luckily, they made it through Flight of Passage and into the gift shop before everything was gone. They picked up two pins, met us at Disney Springs a few hours later, and made my two boys very, very happy. Our Disney Pin Trading was complete.
If done with a little planning and patience, Disney Pin Trading can add fun and excitement to your visit to the most magical place on earth. To keep costs down, it’s important to buy pins in bulk ahead of your visit. Otherwise, the money you spend on pins will add up very quickly. Also, don’t get upset if your kids want to run in to every shop you pass to check the employees’ pins. It will only take a few seconds and will keep them happy as you walk from ride to ride. Finally, accept that your kids will want to buy one or two of their favorite pins to add to their collection. These make great souvenirs that are small, light, and easy to carry around the park.
I honestly didn’t expect my 10 and 13 year old boys to love Disney Pin Trading as much as they did, but I guess I was wrong. A small investment before our trip provided us with endless amusement and a great way to keep ourselves occupied when it was raining. Our family highly recommends that you try pin trading on your next trip to Disney. I know our kids will definitely be taking their pins back to continue trading the next time we go. Maybe if we see you, we can make a trade.