Pin Trading is strong in Walt Disney World! Disney pins are an art; they are a beautiful way of expressing yourself. You can buy them in the Parks & Resorts, online, trade them, decorate or wear them in many ways. Disney pins show off who you are as an individual. Some people collect pins, others have a few special ones, and for some, it’s a wonderful hobby; shopping for them is also part of the fun. Some pins are limited or exclusive, but the value is more than just monetary. On this recent Walt Disney World vacation, our family enjoyed trading pins. Let’s explore!
Pin Trading is when you have a pin you no longer want (including its backing) and trade it with someone else on Disney property for another pin you want. Many people wonder if pin trading has declined over the years or has been completely suspended, but I can tell you that pin trading is still alive in Walt Disney World!
We brought with us a few random pins that we keep in a Ziploc bag just for trading. Most of the merchandise stores and resorts had a board displayed behind the counter that had pins on them. If you approach a cast member, they will retrieve the board from behind the counter and show you the pins. When trading pins began in the early 2000s, I found many guests wore lanyards with many pins; sometimes, other guests would trade with you. I haven’t found that to be the case on this past vacation; not many people wore lanyards. I did notice some would decorate their day bags or hats with pins. A fanny pack/money belt is a great option, too.
Pin trading is a tradition that is still strong. What I love about it is not only do you feel like you have walked away with a pin that you like, it’s a wonderful opportunity for conversation, for social experiences with other guests and cast members. I also enjoy that this experience is for all ages. Anyone can trade one for one, as long as it’s an official Disney pin with its proper backing and not broken. There is this great feeling of anticipation as you approach a counter, wondering what you will find on the board, similar to a garage/estate sale, but you don’t need money to buy, just an equal trade.
Most pins on the boards were displayed on Mickey Ear-shaped boards, and some were more creative. I loved the one in the Norway Pavilion, it was beautifully themed (see below), but a favorite of ours was finding a mystery box pin trade experience (pictures above). This is a new pin trading experience to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. These special boxes are also located behind a Disney Parks Merchandise counter, but because it’s a mystery pin, you select a number on the pin board, open a drawer and find a surprise pin that you need to trade. We were allowed two trades per board. If you didn’t want to trade it, you didn’t have to. We didn’t use the Disney Parks Guide Map, but there are locators on the map to find the spots. We found two mystery pin locations within the Magic Kingdom located at Sir Mickey’s and Fantasy Faire.
In Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as we headed from Dinosaur to the exit on a very hot May day, we bumped into Bobby and his PIN CAN at Discovery Island. Bobby is a Cast Member Custodian who had a double-sided garbage can decorated with pins! We were allowed two trades, and Bobby instructed us he was the one who touched the pins on the can for trading. We were with a small crowd enjoying Bobby and his pin-trading garbage can. What could be better?! He was sure to navigate his can and stop at a picnic table where a guest traded pins with her husband weekly to any guest who wanted to peruse, chat or trade. We had a wonderful time between Bobby and fellow guests as she clued us in on keeping our eye out for a man (non-cast member) who often walks around Magic Kingdom with many pins around his lanyard and in a case.
Indeed, the next day as our family was looking at pins in Magic Kingdom with a Cast Member, we found our new pin trading friend in Bonjour! Village Gifts. We introduced ourselves and enjoyed spending a few minutes looking at each other’s pins.
After our years of limited social experiences, it was so much fun to interact with strangers in Walt Disney World. Pin Trading is an excellent opportunity to connect with others and share something of Disney in common. It’s a great hobby to collect or enjoy a few that are special to you. We also enjoyed buying some new ones at our favorite spots in the Parks & Resorts. Do you have a favorite pin collection or enjoy trading? Tell us your experiences in the comment section below!
Shari Kessler loves the Disunplugged and all things Disney. She has imparted her passion for the parks along with her husband of more than 25 years to their three young adult children. Their family vacations have included Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Aulani but their home base is Walt Disney World as she resides from New Jersey. Shari also loves her cats Ricky and Lucy(RIP Lucy 2021). As a former early childhood educator she is now assisting at an animal hospital in NYC. She enjoys the Disunplugged community and hopes her articles connect with the Dis family.
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