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Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get started

When you think of Disneyland a few things come to mind – rides, food, characters, and parades. For some park-goers there is another aspect of fun at Disneyland known as Pin Trading. Pin Trading is when you buy and trade authentic collectible Disneyland pins. These pins come in a wide variety of themes from characters, rides, food and special events. I experienced Pin Trading on my first trip to Disneyland. I was completely puzzled as to why people would trade pins but after a few days trading pins in the park, I was hooked. It is a great way to meet other people and bring home unique souvenirs. For those of you interested in exploring the world of Pin Trading, read on to learn more.

How do I get started?

Pin Trading has become a very popular activity with Disney park enthusiasts. The premise is simple you find a person who has a pin you want and with any luck, you have a pin they want and are willing to trade. Pixie Dusted Diva gives us all the pin trading lingo to help you on your adventure. Disney has created thousands of pins over the years for purchase. One of the most attractive things about Pin Trading is the ability to acquire pins that have been discontinued, are collector’s items and are part of various sets.

Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get startedThe goal of trading is to get pins you like and get rid of ones you don’t. If you’re just starting out, you’ll need a few things; a lanyard to attach your pins to, pins and idea of what you want to collect. You can purchase a lanyard at several locations throughout the parks and in Downtown Disney. Some enthusiasts make their own lanyards. There are die hard traders who have three-ring binders full of pins that they bring to the parks to trade at Disney approved locations.

How do I purchase Pins?

You can purchase pins a variety of ways. The two most popular are to purchase them directly from Disney at the parks or Disneyland website or through ebay. Disneyland has several locations to purchase pins. Most major stores on Main Street will have pins. There are free-standing pin shops/carts in Downtown Disney and California Adventure. The Westward Ho Trading Company in Disneyland’s Frontierland is solely dedicated to pins and die hard traders can be found outside the store looking to make a swap.

You will want several pins to start when trading. The parks sell starter kits and well as individual pins. Remember if you buy a pack with 5 pins and swap them all for other things you want, then you can’t make any more trades unless you’re willing to part with one of your new pins. Be sure you buy enough pins to ensure you don’t have to give up anything you don’t want to. Starting out you may want to trade for anything you like and then decide from there if there is a certain theme you want to start collecting.

Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get started

To start our collection we purchased a medium size bag of authentic pins from ebay. We picked out what we wanted to keep and then use the rest for trading. Our girls are now into the concept of trading so we usually take about 20 pins to the park that we want to trade and each make a few swaps while we are there. The bag we originally purchased years ago still has plenty in it.

Diva Tip: If you choose to purchase through ebay be sure to verify the seller and that the pins are authentic Disney pins. You cannot trade pins that are not certified. Pin Trading Diva gives us some excellent advice in her Pin Trading article which includes how to spot fake pins.

What types of Pins are available?

Disney makes pins for every person and occasion. There are pins of the majority of the characters and attractions. Pins will be released certain times of the year for Holidays, special events like parties or park anniversaries. We have pins from each of the Halloween parties we have attended in addition to regular Halloween and Christmas themed ones. Disneyland released limited edition pins for the parks 60th anniversary celebration which we’ve added to our collection. There are series pins such as ones for a specific year or a specific group of characters. Some have hidden Mickey or another symbol in them that makes them unique.

Diva Tip: Some pins are only available during special ticketed events or available to Annual Passholders. If you are a Disney Chase Cardmember or belong to D23 you get access to special pins not available to the general public. Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get started

What do I trade and what do I keep?

What you choose to keep all depends on what you’re trying to collect. Do you have a favorite character that you love? Are there events you want to commemorate such as the opening of Star Wars land? I’ve started collecting an Alice in Wonderland set which has a hidden Mickey on each pin. The pins were discontinued years ago and I still scour the parks every year hoping I’ll find the ones I’m missing. If you find a pin you love you can search for it online and usually see which other pins are part of that collection.

Diva Tip: If you have pins you’re set on keeping but want to display on your lanyard at the parks, consider investing in the locking backs for the pins. The rubber backs that come with the pins can fall off easily and then you’ve lost a pin you worked hard to collect. 

Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get startedWho do I trade with?

Pin Trading can occur in a variety of ways but there are some general rules you need to follow. When trading with a Cast Member either from their own collection or a Disney owned collection you can only trade a maximum of two pins. The pins you are trading cannot be the same as one the Cast Member already has. Cast Members wearing a teal-colored trading pouch can only trade with kids. Most shops in Disneyland and California Adventure will have some sort of pin display that can be used in trading. Be sure to let the Cast Member know you are interested in trading for something in the display before touching it. Pins on these boards can change many times a day with all the park goers making trades. What you saw in the morning may be entirely different from what’s there in the afternoon.

Diva Tip: Always check the pin pouches the Cast Members wear. Not only will you find ones that Disney may have discontinued and gave to Cast Members for trading, you may also find ones from other Disney parks throughout the world. 

You can trade with other park goers. This ranges from the person standing next to you in line waiting for a Dole Whip or the die-hard traders outside Westward Ho Trading Company. Most people are only willing to trade on a one to one ratio. However if you really have something someone else wants, they may offer to trade you multiple. Be sure it’s a trade you’re happy with. You don’t want to get home and find out you traded away a rare pin.

Pin Trading at Disneyland What is it and how do I get startedWhat do I do with all the Pins I want to keep?

There are a wide range of ideas on Pinterest for how to display your prized pins. For our family, I will be displaying them in personalized shadow boxes and hanging them in our living room. You can purchase display kits online on Etsy or make your own. Soarin Diva shows a great way to display your Disney pins in her article what to do with your Disney parks trading pins. I will post my shadowboxes on the Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos website when I am finished. Stay tuned!

I hope these tips help you on your way to building your own pin collection and memories.

Do you have a favorite spot to pin trade or a tip for beginners? Leave your tips in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like information on planning your first or 50th trip to Disneyland be sure to contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel for a free vacation quote.

I'm from a Disney loving family. My husband and I are raising two little Mouseketeers who love everything Disney. Three out of the four of us have Celiac Disease and we've mastered doing Disneyland the Gluten Free way. I love sharing tips and advice with anyone planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. I look forward to helping make your next trip magical!