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The Fine Art of Disney Pin Trading

The first time I visited Disney World was about 12 years ago.  Fiddledaddy brought me across the country to honeymoon in Florida, and a year or so later, we moved here.  One of the things he promised me if I agreed to move, was season passes to Disney World.  He also promised me a tan, but I have yet to see that come to fruition.

Since moving to Florida, and the addition of three Mouseketeers to our Season Passes, we visit the happiest place on earth every chance we get.  Which is actually a lot, since we homeschool and can justify visits as field trips.  AND the best time to go is during the week during the school year.

I get a good number of e-mails asking for Disney advice from moms who are planning a family vacation to Disney World.  And I love to answer those questions to the best of my ability.

And I answer questions that haven’t even been asked.  Yes, the toilet seat covers turn into paper mache when you are hot and sweaty.  And if you’re not careful, you will be spotted wearing it outside of your clothing for the remainder of your visit.

Really, it’s a wonder the people at Disney haven’t asked me to be an official tour guide.

I’m learning something new nearly every time I visit the theme park.  Just last year I was introduced to pin trading.  I had seen people wearing lanyards about their neck bejeweled with all manner of sparkly decorations, but frankly, they just looked like they would make you more HOT and SWEATY.

Menopause, you do like to play cat and mouse with me.

But alas, my daughters began spotting other park patrons wearing PRINCESS PINS on their lanyards, and they began campaigning to begin their own pin collection.  We asked for advice about this whole pin phenomenon, and some very nice cast members (aka Disney employees) helped us navigate the pin trading protocol.

First of all, if you want to begin a pin collection, you can buy a set of less expensive pins (usually 5 or 6) for about $29.00.  Gulp.  The lanyard is generally included in the price.  Then you look for cast members wearing lanyards and you can “trade up.”  That is, if you see a more desirable rhinestone Sleeping Beauty pin, you can trade it for your less desirable Alvin & the Chipmunks pin.

Before you know it, you’ve got a nice pin collection started.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.  There are a few rules you must abide by.  The pins must be official Disney pins (not old earrings out of your grandmother’s jewelry box) and if you see a cast member wearing a green lanyard, he/she can ONLY trade with children 12 and under.  This gives the little guys a chance to score some nice pins.  Because evidently there are adults out that get serious about the pin trading business.

Not me.  Did I mention, HOT & SWEATY.  Occasionally I have to wear Jensen’s lanyard while he goes to the bathroom because HE HAS TO RENDER HIMSELF COMPLETELY NAKED and frankly, I can live without the whole pin trading lanyard around my neck. Forever.

Another issue we’ve faced is that sometimes the pins fall off and certain children of mine don’t notice until much later and a good deal of sadness ensues.  We’ve bought a package of the “locking backs” but nearly lost a beloved Troy of Highschool Musical pin.  So Fiddledaddy did some online research and found a GREAT website all about Disney info and tips called Allears.net.  From there he learned a few tricks to keeping the pin backs in place.

For example, “as you start to put the black rubber back on, push the “handle” part of the back to the side, so that the “stem” pushes through at an angle, and sticks out the side of the handle part of the back. This really locks them into place.” We tried it and it seems to work.

Also, sometimes if I’m bored at WDW, I’ll make a game out of looking at the ground to see if I can spot any extra black rubber pin backings (they are shaped like Mickey ears).  I’ve never seen a stray pin on the ground, but I have found at least 6 or so pin backings so I have extra on hand.

This is where you might be thinking that I need to get a life.  And you would be right.

Okay, there’s one more pin trading recommendation that we recently tried.  Pins can be pricey.  But just recently we bought a larger group of Disney pins on e-Bay.  We ended up paying less than a dollar a pin.  And we’ll dole them out to the offspring a little at a time.  They should be arriving any time, so I’ll take a picture and let you know how that purchase turned out.

I’m a little excited about that!  Not enough to wear a lanyard around my own neck, but excited for my kids who forget all about turning themselves inside out with shyness when it comes to pin trading.  They are learning to speak up with a nice polite voice and ask to see cast members pins.

Any budding pin traders out there?  And if so, what has been your very favorite find?

And for more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head over to Kristen’s at We Are That Family!

19 Responses to The Fine Art of Disney Pin Trading

  • I am a huge Disney geek… but I never got in to the pin trading. I knew I’d never be able to truly give it the commitment it needs, and I’d never be able to collect enough to make it with the rank-and-file collectors, let alone the serious ones. So despite the fact that I have a few precious pins to my name, I keep it at that.

  • We recently went on our second Disney vacation. Driving from TN with a camper, to stay at Fort Wilderness Campground was an adventure in itself. We really liked the campground, but seriously… unless you are a Florida resident, living near enough to hold and USE season passes, staying at you don’t see much of your living quarters at DW.
    I wish we had taken a few days to enjoy just the campground. Did I mention it was nice?
    Plus, this was the year we discovered pin trading. It was so interesting to see my son, aka the tightwad, shelling out his hard earned buck-a-roos for pins to trade. My daughter went through her money in about five minutes. We all found a collection to start. And of course, we will be buying a “lot” from ebay before we go again, cuz that would be a huge savings. (but I knew that before you mentioned it, lol)
    Besides, I have some letter pins to collect.

  • We started our pin collection here at the Hong Kong Disney. I’ve been collecting interesting “chinese” looking ones while we are here, but I’m not sure you can trade internationally. Do you know?

  • My kiddos have gotten into the trading pin craze recently too. Wow! Not cheap! The problem I am having is that the kids want to buy the pins they want…. but then don’t want to trade them. Eventually, they want to go through the act of trading with a cast member and don’t always make a good trade. (example, my oldest traded her beloved Belle pin for a Pluto pin on Monday).

    New rule: Mommy supervises all trades very closely now!

  • My best friend and his girlfriend do this and love it. I have wanted to get some for my son but couldn’t spend the money. Last night I won an auction on ebay for 30 pins, shipped for less than $1 a pin! 🙂 Can’t wait to get them and get him started!!!

  • And then they get older and develop a taste for “limited edition” and will only trade pins with golden Mickey ears… luckily this is a daddy/daughter activity in our house. I just don’t care enough to want to talk “pin strategy” with them.

  • My dd noticed the pin trading but we didn’t have a clue what it was, so we played dumb and it worked. Cri$i$ averted. For now.

  • That’s so neat to know! I haven’t been to Disney in 20 years but having kids now I know that my husband is really wanting to go!

  • We started pin trading last year on our trip. I, like you, did not care for the lanyard around my neck, but my girls loved it. We also noticed how good it was for them to introduce themselves and talk to different people. It was good for my oldest especially because she tends to be very reticent. We loved the pin trading! But goodness, we were there in late October and it was over 90 every day. You people need some air conditioning down there for the fall!

  • This was a minor part of your story but my husband used to get naked to use the bathroom as well. My MIL loves to tell that story. She said this went on until some point between 8 and 9 yrs old.

  • I actually work part-time for the mouse now! I would love to trade pins with visitors, but I can’t if I’m in a safety area (I work Space Mountain). I would only be able to do it as greeter or fast pass return.

  • I love pins! But my husband and I go and find pins we love and don’t trade them – because we picked them for a reason! 🙂 The lanyards do get sweaty at times, so I have to take them off and rest. I’m kind of annoyed that my husband wants nothing to do with them but buy them for me! He never wants to wear a lanyard.

  • My older three loved pin trading. The older two love Hidden Mickey pins and the 5 year old wants anything Tinkerbell.
    My son also has a whole laniyard devoted to the “baby” pins.

  • Love, love, love Allears.net, great web site for all things Disney, and much of Orlando.
    Have a great day!!

  • I have in my possession bags and BAGS of these trading pins (never opened.) My FIL used to work as a security guard in Downtown Disney. He had all kinds of stuff he would get. We had some great trips to FL when the kids were little! Alas, he quit his job and moved to Crawfordsville, IN with wife #7 (she wanted to be close to HER grandkids.) All that to say, when he moved he gave us all his Disney stuff. Which I proceeded to shove into rubbermaid totes to “someday” sell on ebay. They still sit there. Years later. Sad, but true.
    It must just be because I’m bitter that now that he’s moved up here to nowhere Indiana, we can’t afford to go to Disney. Of course, we might be able to if I sell all that stuff!

  • I’ve had to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the whole business, I know me well enough to know once I started there would be no stopping. Who wants to go to Disney with a mom that doesn’t want to do anything but trade pins! 😉

    We buy special pins and hide them away to keep them safe. I had to rescue one of these special pins. My youngest pulled out her Passholder Sneek Peek pin and lanyard from Mt. Everest and wanted to put it on her hat she wears all the time. We had a little “talk” about limited editions!!! 😀 She “got” it and the pin and lanyard are safe! Whew!

  • I totally need to talk with you about disney advice…..and a round of words with friends too!! 🙂

  • Please, please promise me that before yo make your next trip to WDW you will purchase your pins on ebay! Before we came on this visit, we purchased 200 for $132!! The kids (and me, I’ll admit it) are having a great time collecting. We did just make a big, regularly priced purchase–one of those cool pin cases from the Pin Trading Center at Downtown Disney. I’m sure I’ve had the most fun of all organzing our various collections, etc. in it.

  • Oh, and sorry–I missed your last paragraph. I see you have already discovered pins on ebay! So much cheaper! The only pins we pay full price for now are resort pins; we buy one at each resort we stay at. Plus…on this trip we found a Boardwalk Resort pin on the ground. Then later that day we found a backing on the floor. Lucky day! 🙂