A look back at our Disney trip — even though it’s years later, trading pins is still the way to go to keep the kiddos happy!
When learning that a trip was planned to Disney World, an acquaintance suggested pin trading for my six year old grandson Eli. So we decided to give it a try. I already knew that pin collecting is extremely popular, but was amazed at how many actually do participate.
It all starts with the Disney Cast Members (Disney employees not dressed in costume) who participate in pin trading. They wear a lanyard with pins or have a pin pouch attached to their belts. There were lots of Cast Members who trade pins, including quite a few of the staff at the stores, those monitoring the lines at the rides and many just walking around.
Want to trade pins?
Just ask a cast member to trade and as long as they are not busy with someone else, they happily oblige. In five days of pin trading we only had one grouchy person who obviously was not enjoying that part of her job. The pins the Cast Members trade include older pins, current pins found at the stores and recent issues.
The problem is Eli also had to have a stock of pins to trade. I knew that buying at the parks could be expensive, so before we went we checked other options. There are numerous online vendors that sell Disney pins; After checking out the options, we bought 30 pins from a vendor selling authentic Disney pins for $1.35 each. No choice, bulk only, but postage was included.
When the pins came in the mail, there was a great assortment of pins, many Eli wanted to keep for himself. But we suggested he take them in case there was a trade he might want more. Perhaps buying 30 pins was a bit much, but it kept Eli busy and happy with pin trading almost the entire time. And at $1.35 a pin, was much cheaper than the $6.95 – $12.95 for the individual pins available at the Parks.
they won’t even realize they’re collecting on a budget.
There were Disney pins everywhere. Kiosks and almost all stores had a selection, with a few stores devoted to pin collecting with literally had walls of pins. Make no mistake about it, Pins are a huge business for Disney and along with thousands of pins, there are also pin accessories. Books to put them in, refills for the books, lanyards of all descriptions, and decorative charms to hang from the bottom of the lanyard.
A Lanyard is a Must
Eli wanted to buy a couple of pins, but after convincing him to wait a day or two, he wound up finding the pins he was interested in during his many trade sessions. We did buy him a Chip n’ Dale lanyard and pendant, along with a small pin book.
Wearing the lanyard signals that one is a pin trader and he was approached by a few other youngsters to see “what he had” for possible trading.
Focus Focus Focus
As with all collecting, it’s best to focus in on a particular theme and character. There are so many categories in Disney pins, that one can easily get carried away. Luckily, the bulk pins we bought had several of Eli’s favorite Disney characters – Chip ‘n Dale. He quickly decided he would look for Chip ‘n Dale pins. There were loads of them, so he wound up with quite an assortment. Two pages worth! He did pick a few other pins, such as the Disney characters with Star Wars costumes.
His favorite pin trade? A Wall-E pin that was selling at the stores for over $12.
The first pin trade is the hardest.
Eli was a little hesitant at first, but quickly got into the spirit. After a few trades he said “my friends who went to Disney World didn’t do this, this is fun. Wait till I tell them about it!” It gave him something to do besides continually checking out all the stores and filled time while waiting in line. It still can cost a bit of money, but there is a lot of bang for the buck when buying pins beforehand.
Tips for Pin Trading
- Focus on particular characters or themes.
- Get a supply of Disney pins before leaving for the Parks. Look online for bargains, but make sure they are authentic. (check seller feedback)
- The first pin trade is always the hardest, once you get a smile and a pin you’re looking for, the rest is easy.
- It might take a bit of time to find the ones you’re looking for, take your time and approach everyone with pins, but don’t feel you have to make a trade.
- Some folks collect only Hidden Mickey pins. A small Mickey head silhouette is on each pin, these pins cannot be purchased and are only available from Cast Member trading, but appeared to be readily available in trading.
- The character lanyards are fun to have, but are certainly not necessary. On a budget? Have a small pouch that the pins can be secured to or bring a lanyard from home.
- There were a few different styles of Disney pin books at the parks, we bought a small one with refillable pages, but it quickly filled up. We’ll probably get a larger book for his pins, but will save money by looking online.
- Want to get in on the fun, but don’t have enough pins to trade? Another option is to look for the mystery packs at Park stores. There are usually two pins in a pack, you don’t know what you’re getting, but the pins are lower in price. Still costly at $5. each, but excellent trade material.
Most important have fun with the collecting. It’s not only for kids, lots of adults were also happily involved in the trading.