Disney Pin Trading, Family Style

| April 30, 2009

For this entry, I wanted to rely on the experience of the two pin trading experts in our family, my daughters Maggie (age 11) and Evie (age 8).  Our family has been on multiple trips to Walt Disney World, and in 2005 we started pin trading.  We don’t consider ourselves hard-core pin traders.  We’re not looking to score that ultra-rare, super-valuable, collectible pin.  We do it to have fun, pass the time, and meet Cast Members.  So read on and hear some of our family’s “secrets to pin trading” that has allowed us to collect pins, have fun, and yet still save (a little) for our daughter’s college funds.

The girls are in charge of all trades.  We don’t worry about what pin they trade away or what pin they get in return, the goal is for the whole family to have fun (without going broke in the process).  I think our strategy has paid off because Maggie says, “pin trading is really fun.”  Evie likes that you can take pins you don’t really want and trade them for pins you do want.  The girls have also gotten caught up in the thrill of the pin hunt.  They will see a pin they like in one of the stores, and the rest of the vacation is a quest to find that pin.  It is a thrill when they successfully find and trade for the pin they’ve been hunting.

OK, to start pin trading we plan before going on vacation (don’t we all?).  I have a bag of Disney pins in the bottom of my closet.  These are not pins we’re saving or collecting.  Sometimes I’ll use these pins as incentives to get the girls to do something around the house, but mostly this is a stash of trade-fodder.  Pins the girls can specifically use for trading.  If my trade-fodder is low, I’ll purchase trader pins off the internet.  Care should be taken regarding where you purchase your trader pins.  There are some pins out there that cannot be traded.  Some of these pins are produced in other countries, and some are out-and-out fakes or counterfeits.  So (as always) be careful when you buy off the internet… make sure the pins you purchase to trade are official Disney pins with a Disney copyright stamped on the back.  Search around the DISboards, and you’ll find recommendations for reputable dealers.  Oftentimes, you can purchase official Disney pins to trade for $2.50 to $3.00 /pin.  This is a substantial savings considering individual pins cost $8.00 and up inside the parks.  Once we’re on vacation, each morning we’ll give the girls 4-5 pins to trade, and they can do with them what they want.  Evie likes to collect Mickey pins with different flags on them as well as anything Winnie the Pooh related, and Maggie collects Ariel (the Little Mermaid) and the teddy bear series of pins.  Their interests will change from trip to trip, and it’s fun to see what different things they are interested in each time.

So you have your pins to trade now how do you actually go about trading?  Let’s hear from the pin trading experts for how they approach a Cast Member.  Here’s Maggie describing her technique: “If you see a pin you want, you walk right up to them and ask, ‘Can I trade with you?’, and if they say yes you just trade.”  I asked Evie if it was ever scary to approach a Cast Member.  She said, “sometimes – because you don’t know them.”  However, Evie also says Cast Members never say no to a pin trade.    At this point Maggie jumped in to emphasize the point, “even if they like their pin, they don’t say no.  Even if they don’t like the pin you’re giving them, they don’t say no.”  So the take home message here: Cast Members don’t say no.  Now that we have some insight into the minds of our pin traders, let’s follow their technique in action.

We were in the lobby of the Beach Club talking with a Cast Member, Teena from Harrisburg, PA (TeenaS on the DISboards).  Teena works two days a week as the lobby greeter at the Beach Club, and on Teena’s lanyard is a Soarin’ FastPass pin that has caught Evie’s fancy.  The pin is a “Hidden Mickey” pin.  Meaning it has the traditional Mickey icon somewhere on the pin, and you can only get these Hidden Mickey pins from Cast Member lanyards.  Evie asks Teena if she wants to trade, and offers a sparkly Cinderella pin for the Soarin’ FastPass.  That’s it, done deal.  Pin trading makes it very easy for guests and Cast Members to strike up a conversation.  Pin trading is a natural real icebreaker – we ask Teena her favorite thing about pin trading.

Teena explains how pin trading allows her to make friends both young and old.  She keeps in touch with pin traders, and will let them know when new pins come out.  Some of the children Teena has become friends with will even send a copy of their report cards from home.  If the report card is good, Teena will reward the hard work by sending a pin back in the mail.  So, as a Cast Member, Teena enjoys the many opportunities pin trading gives her to meet people.  Then, Teena shares a pin trading secret with us… at some resorts, there is a large book of pins and guests can also trade for any of the pins in the book.  She takes Maggie and Evie over to the Beach Club concierge desk to retrieve the pin book.

Not all Disney resorts have a book of pins, but the Yacht and Beach Clubs do, and we have also come across a pin book at the Wilderness Lodge as well.  You can trade for two pins/person/day from the book, and it is stuffed to the gills with page after page of pins.  So if you happen to be pin trading at one of the resorts, ask if they have a book of pins, you may be pleasantly surprised.  Teena goes through the book with the girls, and Evie is thrilled to see one of the teddy bear pins.  Evie takes a pin off her lanyard, and trades for the teddy bear pin in the book.  Maggie also found a pin she liked and traded for a fairy pin with Tinkerbell and other Pixie Hollow fairies.

So that’s our family’s experience and approach to pin trading.  It’s something we enjoy, but have tried not to go overboard with it.  We look at it as a great way to meet Cast Members, strike up conversations, and make some new friends at Walt Disney World.  I know a lot of people out there have experience with pin trading, and I’d love to hear your pin trading secrets and stories too.  Or if you have a question about pin trading, post that too.


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Category: Disney World

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  • Cyrano

    The troops loved pin-trading at DLP. I will let them read this so that they are ready for WDW pin-trading :)

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  • msahovey

    My wife really enjoys pin trading when we are down there. We are going again in September with the Flower girls from our wedding so it will be fun teaching them how to trade. If you stay at the AKL they have a guy come out on weekdays at around 3 or 3:30 who and will trade he usually has a lanyard plus another bunch of pins on a bag. It is well worht the visit.

  • daneenm

    Nice post Dave. This is exactly how we trade as well. Caitlin discovered a passion for Tink on our trip the WDW and the the subsequent trip to DL she traded away all of the princesses she had previously searched for in favor of Tink. Daniel on the other hand found the monorail series right up his alley – he didn’t know it was a series when he found the first one, he just loved the monorail and always traded when he saw one.

  • mommyceratops

    Thanks Dave!! It is one of my favorite activities to do with my family!!

  • i_chriso

    My granddaughters and I have been trading pins for a long time and have something to add.
    Go to ebay for pins. I buy them in bulk and get a smoking deal. I just bought 100 pins for $82. (Cant beat .82 cents a pin!) You have to keep your eye open but even if you just want 10 pins you can get them for about $1.25 each.

    One fun thing about that is the pins you get are almost always hidden Mickie and LE (Limited Edition) so sometimes you will end up keeping all the pins and not have many to trade at the park!

    Another fun thing to note is that the hidden Mickie pins always come in sets. Look at the back of the pin and you will see that it is number “X” of a set of “Y”

    So much fun for the kids AND the adults :-)

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  • LuckyMonkeys040211

    For more serious traders, try http://www.pinpics.com. There are pics of thousands of pins with information on what series they belong to. Going to WDW next week and I’ll be looking forward to getting new pins! Happy Trading!!!

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