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by Pin Trading Diva

lots of pins (2)There are plenty of fun things to do in a Disney Park while on vacation like riding rides, eating delicious snacks, and watching special shows just to name a few. But there is one Disney hobby that is so fun it will consume your visit, and let you leave with treasured souvenirs and memories. That’s right – this amazing hobby that is growing more popular every year is Disney Pin Trading! Start with a few pins, trade them for other pins you like, and before you know it, you’ve got a masterful collection on your hands! Here’s just a few tips and tricks on how Pin Trading works, and give it a try next time you visit a Disney Park.


1.History of Disney Pin Trading: Some Disney pins were created for fun, however in 1999 Walt Disney World introduced the concept of Disney Pin Trading (pin for pin trading)  to the world! Soon after, Disneyland in CA started it up and if you fast forward to now, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Tokyo, and Disney Cruise Lines have all jumped on the bandwagon and started up the trade! Now the Disney Soda Fountain in L.A. and even Walt Disney Imagineering and the Walt Disney Studios make their own versions of Disney pins for purchase. The hobby has grown immensely and thousands of pins have been created; celebrating characters, events, movies, rides, etc.  Some are for purchase, and many are there for trade. Disney Pin Trading is not just for people in the parks nowadays, it’s expanded to people all over the world.

DIVA TIP: Disney Pin Trading is very popular on Facebook. There are many different pages (a few of which I am a part of) where people post their “traders” and others comment with pictures of their own traders. Each person picks a pin or two of the others’ they would like to trade for and then swap information and package up their pins to be mailed out,  then instantly –  ONLINE trading! It’s quite addicting and keeps you interested in pins 24 hours a day. This is definitely something to keep the Disney hobby alive when you can’t be in the parks to trade in person. Some of the pages even host Pin Events where people from the page meet up and swap pins in person outside of the parks. Pin Trading online can help you meet friends who share in your love of Disney and who are addicted to this hobby, just like me!

2. What Are Disney Pins: These little pieces of metal can grow to be quite popular around the parks. The fronts usually has a design with a Disney Character or Disney theme (sometimes adding 3D elements, dangles, or light up elements) and can be anywhere from the size of a penny to a jumbo the size of your hand! The backs, depending on when they pins were made, will usually have a post with little nubs to the sides of it, along with the Disney Company logo and perhaps a few details like edition size, skew numbers, etc. The more modern pins will have a waffle pattern back- rows of Mickey head shapes that overlap the pin in a waffle-like pattern.

Knowing what authentic Disney pins look like will help you determine if you have any “scrappers” in your bunch, or inauthentic pins. Scrappers are made and bought for cheap and are very common among beginner traders. Knowing how to spot a fake pin is a good thing to know so that you can make sure not to trade them at the parks. We wouldn’t want somebody else to get a scrapper for their collection now would we? To spot a scrapper is quite a test. Some scrappers might be odd in color, missing nubs, have misspelled words on the backs, or have a waffle back with borders. Any of these signs can give away the fact that it is a scrapper pin.

There are many different types of pins out there, and each have different names. The most common pins you will find on lanyards in a Disney Park are called Hidden Mickeys, or HMs for short. These pins are only available through trading with a cast member and have a small silver Mickey head shape somewhere on the front of the pin.  Twice a year Disney releases new sets of these HMs for traders to collect. There are usually about 6 pins in these sets, including chasers (silver versions of some of the pins) and a completer pin to finish the set. These pins are very popular, the hunt for the last pin to complete your set is quite addicting! Besides HMs, there are also different editions of pins available for purchase in the Disney Parks. The most common of these are Open Editions, or OEs. These are open to purchase with no limited quantity. They sell until they are discontinued by Disney. Then there are Limited Editions (LEs) and Limited Releases (LRs) that are only available for a limited amount of time, or only a limited amount of these pins were made. The more limited the pin, the more expensive and valuable the pins become. There are also exclusive pins, just for annual pass holders or D23 members – there are even some only sold at events like at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  Whether you collect Hidden Mickeys or Limited Editions, there are plenty of Disney Pins for you to seize!


3. What to Collect: There are many varieties of pins to center your collection around. And with so many to choose from, you can collect almost anything! With so many pins at your disposal, it’s up to you how and what you wish to put in your collection. Maybe you like the Toy Story movies, or the Haunted Mansion ride, or if you’re me you LOVE Princesses (especially Ariel). Whether it’s a character , a ride, princesses, villains, your favorite movie – oh the options are endless! No matter what Disney theme calls to you, there are bound to be some pins for you to find. So when you are out trading, keep those favorite themes of yours in mind, and hopefully you will find something you are looking for.

DIVA TIP: Many beginners like to collect anything and everything they find. This helps them get to know what’s out there and the different varieties of things to collect. However, collecting everything can be a bit overwhelming as well. Try keeping one or two main collections going for yourself that you can expand on exponentially as you  become a more experienced trader. This can help you stay focused and keep your collections a little more specific.

4. How to Trade: So you’ve learned about pin trading and what it is all about, but how do you actually trade? It’s easy! Grab some pins you would be willing to trade (also called Traders) and stick them on a lanyard. You can get Disney themed lanyards and starter sets with a few pins at Disney Parks, however if you want to make a custom lanyard or buy pins in bulk off or feel free (just watch out for scrappers!). Once you’ve got your gear, look for a cast Member with similar gear on. They could have lanyards on, or little hip sheets with pins on it as well. Politely call them over and admire their pins. (make sure to say please – and don’t touch the pins!) Once you see some you like you ask to trade. You can only trade 2 per person with each Cast Member so choose carefully. Make sure you put the backs on your pins and hand them over to the Cast Member, and they will do the same. Before you know it, you’ll be putting your new pins (known as Keepers) on your lanyard for all to see! Cast Members are not the only ones who have pins to trade in the Parks. Many stores, restaurants, and even hotels have boards with pins for trade as well! Just pop in and ask, more than likely they will have a board of some kind, maybe even a stuffed animal like Baymax here for trading. If you have any more questions about trading follow up at this link.

If you’ve got more than a handful of traders at your ready, invest in a Disney Pin Trading Bag to bring with you to the Parks. It holds pages and pages of pins and has a handle for easy travel. This way you have more than just a lanyard’s worth of pins to trade.

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DIVA TIP: If you go into the jewelry store on Main Street in Disneyland and ask for the ‘hatbox’ you will be in pin paradise! And in the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney there is a stuffed animal with pins at EVERY cash register waiting for you. There is also a widely known man named Scoop in Walt Disney World on Main Street who is famous for his generosity and etiquette in trading. It’s a dream of mine to meet and trade with him, but as always, be on your best behavior!

The MOST IMPORTANT RULE in Pin Trading is to have fun! Collect what you like, trade what you don’t. If your favorite pin is a scrapper, so what!? If YOU like it, then that’s all that matters! Don’t get upset if you don’t find anything one time around, the fun is the hunt. So keep your eyes open, and your mind too for whatever pins come your way. The best part about trading isn’t the magnificent pins you get out of it. It’s the interactions with people and little tid bits of info you learn along the way. There are some favorite pins  of mine that I have not because of the value, but because of the memories I have of when I traded it and what it felt like in that moment. So seize those pins! And also seize the little pieces of history you make with it!


So there are just a few facts about Disney Pin Trading for you to get a feel for what the trading is all about. Stay tuned for more articles about this addicting hobby to come!

Happy Trading

Pin Trading Diva