One of the best things we did while away was grow our Disney pin collection.
Pin-trading at the parks was a favorite activity of our boys and involved all of us in the fun! We loved running around trying to find the remaining parts of our collection while discovering new pins to be had. Prior to the trip, we did a little snail mail trading with Sensibly Sara and are excited to continue that type of trading in the months to come! Since talking about it, we’ve had a few people ask about the art of pin-trading, so I thought I’d share some of our tips and tricks for making this aspect of your Disney experience a blast!
Two years ago, we went to Disney World for one day when we were already in Orlando for another trip. While there, my mom purchased each of the boys a lanyard with a set of four pins – Jack – Mickey Pirate and Charlie – Tinkerbell. In the days that followed, they traded three pins from each of their initial sets and we picked up a few more as souvenirs. We found these collectibles to be the perfect souvenir for us and it also enabled them to have a little fun at the parks. My oldest is not a fan of some of the bigger rides, so this sort of “scavenger hunt” was right up his alley.
Where to start?
I suggest purchasing a lanyard and/or starter kit prior to heading to Disney. You can find more variety online and may even be able to start adding pins earlier. Not all Disney stores carry them which also makes the online find much better! One of the biggest questions we have received is the investment – how do we trade so many pins? Is it costly?
We took a small portion of the boys’ birthday money and bought Disney Pin Lots on eBay and through Amazon. You can get a large number of older pins for an inexpensive price and then trade those things you like more once you arrive at the parks. In those variety packs, we occasionally find pins that are keepers and those are moved over to our “keeper” pile. We usually don’t wear those at the parks so as not to lose them or accidentally trade them away and they become part of our regular collection. A quick tip if you’re going through pins like crazy, Amazon WILL deliver to your Disney resort, just make sure to include your reservation, room number and correct resort address & name.
We kept a few of these, but also traded a few. Can you guess which ones we kept?
Intense trading with our random lot from Ebay
Generally, pin-trading is reserved for cast members. Occasionally, you will find other pin-traders within the parks that will trade with you, but we found most of our success was with Disney employees rather than asking random pin traders. Although I believe it was the sweet looks of Charlie and Jack that snagged us the blue puffle from a complete set of strangers while waiting for lunch one day.
Be polite! Let them finish whatever they are working on or if they are helping another customer. Sometimes, a mere glance at their lanyard will give them an indication that you’re interested. Please and thank you goes a long way, especially if you decide that you do NOT wish to trade pins with them. Pins can be found on their lanyard or on a small pouch on the side of their waist – not every cast member carries pins, but many do.
It also helps to ask where secret “collections” of pins are. Many of the larger attractions have pin boards or specialty pin sections where you can go and trade pins with a larger selection. Many of the resorts also have these, such as Caribbean Beach Resort which offered a treasure chest of pins to choose from. Another secret? Be sure to check with Guest Relations when you come in as well as the Stroller Rental and Package Pick-Up locations. They almost always have a group of pins you can choose from as well. We recommend checking this at the beginning and end of the day since the selection almost always changes.
Additional Tips & Tricks
If you are visiting other parks besides Magic Kingdom, they may have a better selection of pins because they are not frequented as often. We found some of our best pins on those less busy days because there was not as much turnover in selections.
Try not to give away all your “junk.” Many of the cast members are also avid collectors, so don’t necessarily trade your worst. Sometimes, sharing good pins that you don’t necessarily want or collect can be even better! (And shares the good karma with other guests who might also be looking).
Don’t be greedy! Limit the amount of trades you do with each cast member – generally, 2 pins are considered acceptable.
Trade as a family. We each have a lanyard with pins for collecting. This has enabled us to collect more valuable pins, especially when we opt not to be together throughout the park. Jim sometimes found some great finds when I was riding a ride and would trade on my behalf, knowing it was something I wanted or that the boys were trying to collect.
Know what you want and see what the sets are so that you know what else you need to collect and when you can stop looking for a particular set. That’s what we did with Jack’s puffles.
Meet the Puffles!
Buy extra backs! You will almost ALWAYS need them for stray pins. They are sold in almost all of the stores.
Pin-collecting and trading has become one of our favorites and I believe actually cut down on what our boys asked for. We bought each of them two “new” pins with gift cards that they will keep and the boys loved going into stores for the pins, not stuff. We walked around everywhere and went into stores – just because we were searching the pins! And since we saved so much money by purchasing them in lots, it was an inexpensive way to enjoy and remember Disney World. Now we just can’t wait to go back to continue our addiction!
Are you an avid pin-collector? What are some of your favorites? Do you have pin-trading tips and tricks?