How To Start Disney Pin Trading: With Free Printable

Perhaps you’re reading this before your trip to the parks and you already know you want to start Disney pin trading. Perhaps you’re at the parks now and you’re seeing all of the Cast Members with pins, and wondered how to join in on the fun. Here is a quick rundown of what you will need to know to start Disney pin trading on the right foot.

Disney pin trading is a free activity for park guests to trade their Disney pins with Disney Cast Members or other guests. Disney pins are also available for purchase at all parks and hotels as well including open edition and limited edition pins, pin sets, and other pin trading accessories.

The world of Disney pin trading is very big. For example, on one end of the spectrum there are the casual pin traders who just like the fun of trading and collecting. On the other end there are the pin trading fanatics who know all of the pin sets and have all of the rare limited edition pins. This guide will explain the basics of how to start trading Disney pins so you can join in the fun!

Start Disney Pin Trading And Save Money At The Same Time

1. Purchase Starter Sets or Mystery Bag Sets

Starter sets often come with a lanyard to wear and a few pins to trade. You can also purchase mystery bag sets, which are sets of five pins concealed in a plastic bag. So that means you won’t know what you have until after you buy them and open them. These mystery bag sets and start sets are often a cheaper price than purchasing pins to trade separately from the rack in the store. They are perfect for start Disney pin trading with!

2. Buy Bulk Pins In Advance

This can be a hot topic in the world of Disney pin trading. Which is because many new pin traders will start Disney pin trading by purchasing cheap bulk pin lots from Ebay that are very often counterfeit, or fake, Disney pins. Then these fake pins end up in the parks on Cast Member trading lanyards and it can be difficult for a serious collector to find an authentic, true official pin.

However, you can find bulk lots of pins on Ebay or other online sources that are real, you just need to be careful. The first place to check would be on the Shop Disney website. You can often find discounts offered on these mystery or starter sets on the Shop Disney website or app. Or you can at least have peace of mind that you are prepared. Keep an eye out for deals in advance of your trip.

If you’re looking on Ebay, make sure to look for mystery bag sets like the example in the image below. If they are sold unopened, they are almost guaranteed to be authentic, official Disney trading pins. I have personally bought pins this way before and can vouch for this method as long as you are very careful and understand what to look for. These lots from Ebay can also be cheaper than buying directly from Disney.

How To Start Trading Disney Pins: The Trading Process

Now that you have your Disney pins, you can start officially trading! You can trade with Disney Cast Members, or other guests in the park. You can also even trade pins outside of the parks, and at the resorts. If you are really into trading, you can also trade online through Facebook groups, Instagram, and other websites.

Trading With Disney Cast Members

Disney Cast Members wear lanyards with pins, or sometimes have a small patch of pins attached to their hip belts. All you have to do is just approach them and ask to trade pins. Disney requires Cast Members to say yes and to never deny you a trade, so don’t get anxious! The guarantee of not being denied makes Cast Members the perfect target to start Disney pin trading with. Pin trading rules allow you to trade up to two pins per trade with each Cast Member.

Pin Boards And Pin Books

There are pin boards of all kinds throughout the parks that you can trade with. Pin boards are small boards (or stuffed animals, hats, or other items) that display pins available for trade rather than a human with a lanyard. Pin boards are often found in gift shops, but are also found in the resorts, at restaurants, outside of attractions and more.

In addition to pin boards, there are also pin books, which are similar to pin boards but are usually not on display. Instead, you’ll find pin books usually only at the resorts at the check-in or concierge desks. Just ask the cast members there if they have a pin book or board and they will direct you where to find it. The same trading rules apply with pin boards and pin books. So you can also only trade up to two pins per board or book.

Trading With Other Park Guests

If you are a serious trader, you might want to find other like-minded guests to trade with in the parks. Keep in mind that regular guests are not required to accept trades, and the serious ones will be very picky about trading. In Walt Disney World serious pin traders love to trade near the pin store kiosk behind Spaceship Earth in Epcot. In Disneyland in California, pin traders meet up near the tram outside the park gates, or in Frontierland. It is also possible to trade with other guests as you see them throughout the park – if they are willing!

Disney pin trading at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.
“Pin Trading” by Peter Lee is licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0

Online Disney Pin Trading

Online pin trading is an awesome way to keep up the fun of pin trading while at home. Facebook groups are very popular for this. You can search Disney Pin Trading on Facebook and see many group options to join and trade with. You can also do this on special Disney pin websites like Pin Pics.

Pin Trading Etiquette You Need To Know To Start Disney Pin Trading

Be nice and friendly: Pin trading should be a fun activity! That said, be sure to be kind to the Cast Members and guests trading with you.

Respect personal space: Lanyards and pins are usually worn on people’s bodies, so it should go without saying that you should not grab, touch, or inspect any pins or lanyards on another person’s body without asking.

Try your best to only trade official Disney pins: This starts by not purchasing those bulk counterfeit pins for cheap on Ebay; just don’t do it! I know it can be hard to tell what is fake versus real when trading with a Cast Member, but you can do your part by only purchasing official Disney pins and not the bulk lots online.

Different Types of Disney Pins To Understand As You Start Disney Pin Trading

Hidden Mickey Pins

These are pins that have a silver mickey head icon etched on the pin. Hidden Mickey pins are not available for purchase and you can only get them by trading pins with a Disney Cast Member. Disney releases new sets of Hidden Mickey pins every year. There are usually around four or five different sets with around five pins per set. The exclusivity of these pins make them really fun to trade or collect and are popular with serious pin traders and casual fans alike.

Hidden Mickey Disney pins displayed on corkboard.

Open Edition Pins

Open edition pins are also referred to as “rack pins.” They are the ones sold on black or white cardboard backers in the parks. You can find open edition pins in the gift shops and at pin trading carts all over the parks. There is no limit on how many of these pins Disney will make and anyone can purchase them.

Limited Edition Pins

Limited edition pins are exactly as they sound. They are specially produced pins that are limited in the number of copies that Disney makes. Usually limited edition pins range in size from 5,000 all the way down to limited to 100 or less. The edition size is always printed on the back of the pin.

These pins are more rare and you can only buy them in certain stores at Disneyland. They are also not usually on Cast Member trading lanyards. Of course, Limited edition pins are also very popular with serious Disney pin traders due to the exclusivity factor. Some pin trader will refer to limited edition pins as “LE pins”.

Limited Release Pins

Limited release pins are similar to limited edition pins. The main difference between them is that limited release pins have no limit on how many copies of the pin can be made. Limited release pins usually come out to coincide with special events in the parks like the Halloween and Christmas parties, or festivals like Food and Wine or Flower and Garden.

Disney will continue to make as many copies of limited release pins as needed based on demand. However, they will only continue to make copies for a limited time and then will never make that pin again. These kinds of pins usually also have a year listed on them (like in the example below), but not always. Just like limited edition pins, limited release pins also have a marking on the back of the pin.

Specialty Group Pins

I like to classify this category of pins as specialty group pins, which are pins that you are only to purchase if you belong to a special group. These groups include things like Annual Passholders, DVC Members, and Disney Visa Card holders. Due to the need to verify your respective credentials at purchase, specialty pins are usually only eligible to be bought in the parks.

Ghirardelli Studio Store Pins

The Ghirardelli Studio Store pins are a rather unknown group by the casual trader, but are very special to the serious trader. You can only purchase these pins at the Ghirardelli Studio Store in Hollywood. The Ghirardelli Studio Store is also home to the famous pin traders sundae, which is a Ghirardelli ice cream sundae that comes with a special very limited edition pin (usually limited edition 300 or less). These pins have ice cream cones printed on the back rather than the standard Mickey heads.

Ghirardelli Studio store Disney pins.

Best Places To Purchase Disney Pins At The Theme Parks

Disney pins are available for purchase all throughout the parks. They are in a vast majority of the gift shops, and there are specific pin trading merchandise carts throughout the parks as well. Some gift shops have more pins than others, and some gift shops also have special limited edition pins too.

Here are the best gift shops to buy pins in the parks. These stores have the most selection including starter sets and other pin sets, limited edition pins and specialty pins. These stores also carry pin trading accessories, like lanyards, and usually also have great pin boards to trade with.

Walt Disney World Best Pin Stores

  • Frontier Trading Post at Magic Kingdom
  • Pin Central Kiosk behind Spaceship Earth at Epcot
  • The Dark Room, and the Sunset Ranch Kiosk at Hollywood Studios
  • Island Mercantile at Animal Kingdom
  • Disney Pin Traders at Disney Springs

Disneyland Best Pin Stores

  • Westward Ho Trading Co and Buzz Lightyear Store Command at Disneyland
  • Julius Katz and Sons and Off The Page at Disney’s California Adventure
  • Disney Pin Traders at Downtown Disney

Start Disney Pin Trading With A Free Printable Guide For Easy Access To All Of This Information

Click on the download button below for our free printable guide to take with you to the parks! It compacts this information for a quick reference in the parks of how to trade, where to get the best pins, and pin etiquette to follow.

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