October 19, 2016 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

How to Pin Trade Like a Boss at Walt Disney World

How to Pin Trade Like a Boss at Walt Disney World

Ever wonder how to trade pins at Walt Disney World? Here’s all you need to know, including pin trading etiquette, where to find inexpensive pins, and the best pin trading locations in the resort!

We’ve been to Disney World multiple times as a family, but it wasn’t until our latest trip that I discovered one of the most fun Disney experiences we’ve had yet:  PIN TRADING.

If you’ve visited Walt Disney World, you’ve probably noticed lots of Disney pins and pin lanyards for sale in all of the Disney gift shops. What you might not know is that there’s more to these pins than meets the eye. Look around the next time you’re in the resort and you’ll notice cast members wearing Disney pin-filled lanyards or hip packs. Occasionally, you’ll even spot a cast member carrying a large bulletin board filled with pins. Any cast member with these Disney pins will trade one of their pins for one of yours — As long as you have an authentic Disney pin in good condition, cast members cannot say no to your trade! What’s more, cast members have special ‘Hidden Mickey’ pins to trade that aren’t available in stores, making the quest to find all the pins in a particular Hidden Mickey set super exciting.

The night before we left for Walt Disney World last month, I surprised my kids with ten Disney pins each on their own lanyards, as well as these official pin trading guidelines from the Disney website. The kids were excited about pin trading, but they didn’t really know what to expect– For that matter, neither did I. When we arrived at the Caribbean Beach Resort the next day, they immediately noticed that all the cast members working in the resort gift shop were wearing lanyards… and the pin trading began!

At first, the kids were nervous about asking cast members to trade pins, but every single one of the cast members was so nice about it that my children soon overcame their shyness. In fact, most cast members seemed downright thrilled about trading pins. They were genuinely interested in the pins the kids already had and were happy to answer questions about the pins they had on their own lanyards. My kids’ favorite trades were for ‘mystery pins’ — Often, cast members would turn a few pins backward on their lanyard for guests to choose from, and the payoff could be very exciting.


Pin Trading At Disney
Not only was our week of pin trading really fun, it also had some benefits I wasn’t expecting. For one thing, it gave my kids many opportunities to practice their manners and, as I said earlier, overcome their shyness around adults. My son is very shy about talking to grown-ups he doesn’t know, and was initially afraid to approach cast members on his own — By the end of the week, though, he was a pro at it. SCORE. Pin trading also helped us out several times when the kids’ energy was flagging and they needed a break. We’d go somewhere quiet and shady and look for cast members with pins to trade — The excitement of trading pins renewed their spirits and energy every single time.

When we started our week at Disney, we knew next to nothing about pin trading, but by the end of the week, we had a good handle on it. Now, I’m sharing all I learned with you to give you a headstart on the pin trading action. Here are the questions I had about pin trading, ANSWERED. Happy pin trading!

How to trade pins at Disney

Where do I find pins to trade?

Pins are for sale EVERYWHERE within the Disney resort, but most of the pins for sale are more elaborate (and more expensive) than the ones commonly traded by cast members. I let my kids each buy one souvenir pin when we were at the resort that wasn’t a ‘trade’ pin.

The best way to get started with trade pins at the resort is to buy ‘mystery’ packs of pins, which come in packs of two and sell for a little less than the other pins on display– about six dollars per pin. It doesn’t matter what the pins are that you buy, because you’re going to be trading them! My kids used some of their souvenir money to buy extra packs of mystery pins while we were at Disney, so that they’d have more pins to trade.

Another idea I’m eager to try the next time we’re in Orlando is Theme Park Connection, a shop that sells all things Disney, from movie props to vintage cast member costumes– to loads and loads of pins!

You can find large lots of pins for very little money on eBay and Amazon, but MANY of these pins are fake or factory rejects (known as ‘scrappers’) and a Disney cast member will refuse the trade if they can tell it’s a fake — EMBARRASSING. I’ve read that Mouse Pins Online sells real Disney pins  (although I haven’t seen them for myself) — Their grab bags start at $16.50 for ten, which is a great price and a nice number of pins for a child to start out with.

I would advise you to buy your lanyards ahead of time– They are ridiculously expensive at the resort and since you’re not trading your lanyard, it doesn’t really matter what kind of lanyard you’re wearing or where you got it.

One more note– I recommend you buy an extra pack of pin backs when you arrive at the resort– You’ll find them at any gift shop selling pins. A pack of pin backs is only about $2.99. With all the pin trading going on, we were CONSTANTLY losing pin backs, so it was very helpful to have extras on hand.


Pin Trading Guide Disney

Can adults trade pins too?

Yes! Any visitor can trade pins with a cast member or with another guest who’s willing to trade. I read before our visit that cast members wearing green lanyards will only trade with children, but we only saw one cast member with a green lanyard during our entire visit. I will say that the adults I saw with lanyards all wore very elaborate pins and looked very serious about  pin trading. I had more fun watching my kids trade pins, and helping them find cast members with pins to trade.

Although pin trading between guests is allowed, I didn’t actually see it happen during our visit. Most guests prefer to trade with cast members.


Rules to Pin Trading Disney

Okay, my kids have pins and a lanyard. Now what?

Be sure to go over Disney’s pin trading etiquette with your children before they start trading pins. There are several rules to follow, including not touching the cast member’s pins on their lanyard and removing your pin and reattaching the back to the pin before presenting it to a cast member in your open palm for trade. Pin trading etiquette is a bit of a ritual and it was fun watching my kids solemnly follow the rules of pin trading.

Once you’ve got the rules down, don’t be shy about asking cast members with lanyards or pin pouches to see their pins — and make sure your children know there’s nothing wrong with NOT trading if they don’t see anything they want on a cast member’s lanyard. My kids seemed to think a cast member’s feelings would be hurt if they didn’t trade pins no matter what, even though cast members repeatedly assured them that wasn’t the case! You can trade up to two pins per cast member, per day, and the pin you trade can’t be one the cast member already has. If the cast member believes your pin is fake or in bad condition, they can turn down the trade– We never had anything like this happen since my kids were obviously trading for fun and enjoyment. I’m assuming cast members are a little more exacting about pin condition when trading with adults.

We were careful to only approach cast members who didn’t seem to be in the middle of something and I strongly encouraged my children to approach the parks’ custodial workers in particular– Many of them have pins and they all seemed especially happy to trade. I realized through our experience that members of the clean-up crew are everywhere, yet they’re often completely ignored by guests. Pin trading gives them a chance to be part of that ‘Disney magic’, to interact with guests, get noticed and feel special.
Completer Pin


What kinds of pins should we be looking for?

The beauty of letting your kids trade pins is that they can and will collect anything they want — No need to worry about the value or rarity of the pin. My son collected any Pooh, Figment (the Epcot mascot), or Star Wars pins he could find. My daughter collected a set of princess silhouettes, Minnie Mouse pins, and two sets of pins featuring stick figure family members and pets. You’ll notice that most pins traded by cast members have a tiny silver Mickey Mouse head on them– This signifies that the pin is a ‘Hidden Mickey’ pin, created specifically by Disney for cast members to trade. Disney releases a number of sets of these special pins each year and it’s fun to try to collect all the pins in a particular set during your visit.

If your child is collecting a specific set of pins, check the back of the pin and you’ll find that it will typically tell you what number it is in the set, for example, ‘1 of 6.’ Here’s where it gets exciting– Each set also has a ‘Completer’ pin, a hard-to-find pin that ‘completes’ the set. Completer pins say ‘Completer Pin’ on the back and my kids were THRILLED when they found one. You’ll also notice silver metallic pins with no paint — These are called ‘Chaser’ pins, they are only traded by cast members, and while they can be harder to find, we were told at the pin trading shop in Disney Springs that they’re generally not as rare as Completer pins. Some enjoy collecting Chaser pins, some don’t– It’s entirely up to you.


Best places for Pin Trading Disney

Where are the best places to trade pins?

We quickly learned the best places to go when we we wanted to trade pins. My favorite spots were gift shops anywhere within Walt Disney World. The kids quickly learned to keep their lanyards on hand at all times while we were at Disney, because our visits to various resorts for meals were often our best opportunities to pin trade. Typically, every cast member in a gift shop is wearing a lanyard or pin pouch. Front desks, restaurants, and shops within the resorts often keep pin boards behind the desk — Ask if they have one wherever you go– if they don’t, they’ll often tell you where you can find one! Cast members working in Disney Vacation Club kiosks (which are EVERYWHERE) always have pins to trade and generally aren’t very busy. Within the parks, keep an eye out for cast members carrying large bulletin boards with lots of pins on them. We often found these cast members close to the park entrance.

A great spot to cool off and trade pins is outside one of the doors that says ‘Cast Members Only.’ Cast members are constantly coming in and out of these doors and aren’t in the middle of something, so they have time to trade. If you’re a diehard pin trader, I suppose this is also your best opportunity to find a rare pin- Cast members’ pins are refreshed at various times throughout the day, so this is your chance to potentially get first pick on pins before the good ones are traded away.

Our pin trading mecca, though, was Disney Springs. First, Disney’s Pin Traders is completely devoted to Disney Pins and they were able to answer all of our pin trading questions– It’s where I learned the most about trading pins. Both kids also were able to trade for these special pins there- I didn’t see them anywhere else in the resort, so I’m assuming these pins are exclusive to this particular shop! Before you go, check the Disney’s Pin Traders website— I noticed that it lists the time each day that they bring out a special giant board of pins for trading!

Our ULTIMATE PIN TRADING DESTINATION, though (yes, it’s worthy of all caps!) was World of Disney. This is the largest Disney store in the world and it is basically pin trading heaven. Cast members are everywhere inside this store and ALL of them have pins to trade! Our kids happily spent an hour here flitting from cast member to cast member to trade pins and they traded for some of the best pins of the trip at World of Disney. World of Disney was also the only place where I saw a few cast members trading the nicer, larger pins that are typically only for sale in the stores. I’m assuming some of the pins taken off of display end up being traded by cast members here. My kids were SO excited to trade for the larger pins. They had so much fun trading pins here that we actually came back for a last lunch and an hour of pin trading at World of Disney before heading back home!

Anything else I need to know?

Here are some other tips I’ve read/heard since our visit:

-Although cast members’ pins are refreshed throughout the day, diehard pin traders try to do as much trading as possible right when the park opens, when all the cast members pins are ‘fresh.’

-The best pins can often be found in the most obscure places (I found this to be true as well.) Look for cast members at attractions and gift shops that don’t get much traffic. We found that the international gift shops at Epcot had cast members with lots of great pins and not many traders!

If you want to learn more about pin trading, check out Disney’s pin trading information page.

And if you have something to add, feel free to share in the comments!

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Guide to Pin Trading