(photo credit: disney.wikia.com)
Disney Pin Trading is a great "extra" to add to your next Disney vacation. It's a fun option for younger children who aren't big enough or brave enough to ride the bigger attractions. It's also great for the older children who are too cool to get into all the characters. Pin Trading is done at Disneyland and at all four theme parks of Disney World but is most popular in Epcot...which is great especially when you need something to entertain the kids while Mom and Dad eat and drink their way around the world (one of our absolute favorite things to do at Disney!).
It's pretty simple. You buy a Disney pin. You see a cast member (or even another guest...it's a fun conversation starter in line) with a pin you want more and you ask to trade. Cast members CANNOT refuse you...unless their pins are on a green lanyard (teal at Disneyland and some lanyards are hip lanyards rather than the traditional neck lanyard one seen below). Those cast members will ONLY trade with children which for pin trading purposes means 3-12 years old...although if you have a two year old, they won't deny the child-so long as he or she is the one looking to trade and you're not just using the kid to get a pin you want.
(photo credit: themeparkinsider.com)
There are THOUSANDS of different pins with countless themes. My favorites are the Mickey head-shaped country flags and the pins for the attractions while Joshua's all about anything Donald Duck. Some are limited quantities...only 100 made. Some are limited release and were only sold on a certain day. There are hundreds of sets. Sets can be just three pins or much more like the alphabet set seen below.
(photo credit: yggmall.com)
The most popular pins to collect are probably the hidden Mickey pin sets which are pins not immediately available for sale in the parks but instead only offered via trade with cast members (or on ebay) and have, not surprisingly, a Hidden Mickey on them as seen here:
(photo credit: eventservices.disney.go.com)
As you can see, it has a not-so-hidden Hidden Mickey. This pin also happens to be one that my husband has and wears on the brim of his baseball hat while we're in the parks because pin trading isn't just for kids. There are lots of adults who enjoy it...some who are a little obsessed but it's another fun thing to do while you visit the mouse.
Now, for the important stuff...how to pin trade without spending insane amounts of money...
Most people who go to Disney for the first time don't know about pin trading until they're at their resort or even the parks and then you're options are limited. You can buy individual pins but even the cheapest of those will cost you at least $7 each with tax or you can buy a "starter kit" which can have themes like the four theme parks, the princesses or even Phineas and Ferb like this one:
(photo credit: adventuresatdisney.com)
Starter sets are a more economical option if you find yourself at Disney World wanting to pin trade but not wanting to buy individual pins. Each starter set comes with about 4-6 pins and a lanyard and will generally cost around $30-45. Some sets also come with a card case which attaches at the bottom of the lanyard that can hold credit cards, park tickets or fast passes...or in the case of a child, you could make an "If I'm Lost Please Contact..." card.
The most frugal option is to plan ahead. Before you go to the parks, hop on ebay and order a "lot" of pins. They're sold in sets of 20 or more and can be purchased for as little as $1 per pin sometimes with free shipping. Be aware that there are "fake" pins. Pins generally made and sold from ebay sellers in China and if you should get one of these "fake" pins, you may not be able to trade it in the parks so be aware of who you're buying from.
Pin trading is like any other hobby. It can become a crazy obsession or it can be a passing fad all dependent on the individual. Personally, we all pin trade. My aunt is a little insane with it-she's determined to get as many as humanly possible. My husband has crazy sharp eyes and can spot the pin he wants from great distances away-it's a hunt for him. Our son likes a specific (very ordinary looking, not at all limited or special edition) turtle and in his short almost 4 years of life, he has managed to find and trade for at least two dozen of the same exact pin. Whatever kid. Me? I like pin trading because at the end of the day when we're sitting in the resort and everyone's come back to their rooms we can all share what we found. It's just another thing to share with my family and I'm all for that.
Happy trading and as always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I'm happy to help.