The Secrets of Disney Pin Trading: Tips, Tricks & Hints to Get Started

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Disney pin for trading -SheBuysTravel

If you’ve heard about Disney pin trading but haven’t tried it yet, get ready for the thrill of the hunt! Here’s everything you need to know to get started: what Disney pin trading is, how to start your Disney pin collection, the do’s and don’ts of pin trading and tips for displaying your collection. Be warned! Disney pin trading might become an obsession…in the very best Disney magic kind of way!

Disney Pin Trading: A Fun Add-On to Your Vacation

As your kids grow in age, chances are they’ll also grow out of the typical Disney souvenirs. Now that my kids are older, they’ve outgrown many of the souvenirs offered in the Disney World shops and the Disney Store. In fact, on my last Disney trip, the only souvenirs my kids asked me to bring back were pins.

I was happy to do it. Disney pins are small, so they fit easily into carry-on luggage. They’re relatively inexpensive, and there are tons of pins available at shops throughout the Disney parks, in Disney Springs and at the Disney Store.

In fact, I was amazed at the wide variety of pin styles and characters. Hunting for the specific ones my kids wanted was a lot of fun. Then I discovered pin trading; it added a whole new dimension to my souvenir hunt.

SheBuysTravel Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits in 2023. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.

Read More: Everything You Need to Know to Plan the Best Disney World Vacation Ever!

What is Disney Pin Trading?

Disney pin trading is exactly what it sounds like: the ability to swap pins with someone else. Pin trading has changed a little bit since Disney reopened after their Covid closure but it’s almost back to normal. You won’t see cast members with pins on their lanyards like before but we’ve seen pin trading boards return to most shops, now they just have numbers to identify each pin.

Although you might not find as many pin trading boards – super high touch areas – you might see other guests who are obviously pin traders. Pin traders will have visible lanyards or other containers – a popular one is a wearable pin wallet that looks like a little purse. It’s up to you whether you approach them as individuals and ask to pin trade.

In a non-Covid world, there were Disney cast members walking around the park wearing pin lanyards. Their job was to trade pins with guests. At Disney World, a green lanyard means that cast member will only trade with kids. At Disneyland, the kid-only lanyards are teal. Any other color lanyard is fair game for everyone. Cast members who trade only with kids often have a better selection of pins since their trading pool is more limited.

pin board with numbered Disney pins on an easel at Epcot
Pin trading looks a little different in 2022 but it’s still fun. Numbered pins make it easy to tell cast members what you’d like without touching them all. Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

Pin Trading Rules

In general, pin trading rules are simple:

  • Pins must be authentic metal pins stamped with “©Disney” on the back
  • They must be in good shape.
  • Pins must have an authentic Disney Mickey Mouse ear backing.
  • Whether to trade is your choice; cast members must agree to trade any official Disney pin you request.
  • Pin trading is intended to be free; you should never pay to trade a Disney pin.
  • The only pins cast members will not trade are award or service pins and personalized name pins.
  • Pin trading etiquette says you should not touch any of the cast member’s pins. Just point to the one you want and the cast member will remove it and hand it to you.

When You Aren’t at Disney

Rev up the excitement for an impending Disney trip or extend the magic after a Disney vacation with these Disney recipes, Disney crafts and Disney at home activities:

How Did Pin Trading Start?

Pin trading began at Walt Disney World during the Millennium Celebration in 1999. It has since spread to many other Disney locations. You can now trade Disney pins at Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, Aulani and even on Disney cruises.

Why Trade Pins?

Many different series of pins have been released over the years, and there are some serious collectors out there. But for most people, pin trading is just a fun way to meet and interact with cast members and for kids to bring back souvenirs that have extra meaning and stories attached to them.

Join our Private Disney FB Group for more tips! JOIN HERE

On my trip, I began my Disney pin trading experience with a “magical moment” at the Coronado Springs resort gift shop. One of the cast members gave me a Donald Duck mosaic pin. I then traded my way through Hollywood Studios until I found a pin that I liked too much to trade for anything else. I was almost disappointed, since the fun is in the trading.

Read More: Trading for pins is one way to save money at Disney.

First Time Pin Trading Tips

Here are a few pin trading tips that I learned my first time pin trading at Disney:

Start Before Your Disney Vacation

To be able to trade up for the pins your kids really want, you need to have some pins to trade. So start with inexpensive pins. Look online at eBay where you’ll find lots of Disney pin traders offering bags of “mystery pins” for just a few bucks. Just make sure the pins you buy are authentic Disney pins with the Mickey Mouse backing.

SheBuysTravel Tip: We’ve found a TON of cool pins from Disney Parks all over the world at the Disney Character Warehouse outlet locations in Orlando. If you have time check them out!

Disney pins on a lanyard- SheBuysTravel
A Disney Cast Member shows off their lanyard full of pins ready for pin trading. Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen

Look for Pin Trading Cast Members

Some cast members wear the lanyards, others wear their pin collection on cards around their waists. Tell the cast member which pin you want and he or she will remove it and hand it to you. Hand over your pin with the back attached to it. The cast member will put it on her lanyard and move on to trade with the next person.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Headed to EPCOT? There are pin trading boards at each of the Kidcot Fun Stops in each country. We’ve found some unique pins there as they aren’t as heavily trafficked! Also don’t forget to check the gift shop boards in EPCOT. 

Where to Buy Discounted Disney Tickets

We recommend purchasing your Disney tickets through Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it. If you call to make your purchase be sure to mention SheBuysTravel!

Display Your Disney Pin in the Parks

Disney-themed lanyards are available at most souvenir shops in the theme parks. Pin books and bags are also available to contain your growing collection. Or you can get creative – I saw pins on shirts, vests, even hats while walking through Magic Kingdom. My kids like to wear theirs on purses or jackets to show off their collections.

Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!

Build Disney Pin Sets

Disney offers lots of pin designs. There are mystery sets too. New pins are released regularly and Disney comes out with special pins for special events and movie openings. Many of the Disney pins available for trading are not available for sale; pin trading is the only way to get them.

Disney pins for trading- SheBuysTravel
Disney pins come with the rubber Mickey-shaped backs. You can purchase the brass ‘locking’ pin backs separately. Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen

Watch Your Backs

Disney pins come with a Mickey-shaped rubber backing that stays on fairly well in normal circumstances. You can also buy pin backs in other fun shapes and colors. Keep a close eye on your pins – we’ve lost several over the years. They got knocked off from my kids’ clothing or purses. If there are pins you really value and don’t want to lose, get locking pin backs to help ensure they stay in place.

Set Up a Disney Pin Sorting System

SheBuysTravel writer Nasreen Stump gets almost as excited about pin trading as her kids. One lesson she learned the hard way is to have separate storage for those “keeper” pins. “I found a Disney armadillo pin,” she told us. “It’s the only one I’ve ever seen. I traded for it but made the mistake of putting it in our main pin bag. One of the kids traded it away.” Ouch. She suggests zippered keychain bags to sort pins. Designating one color as “no-trades” and one as “trade these they aren’t special” makes decisions easier!

Keep Up the Fun at Home with Disney Pin Displays

Cherish your collection of Disney pins and keep them on display at home. We love these cute ways to showcase your collection!

Canvas Pin Display Banner
$8.79 ($3.11 / Ounce)
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Personalized Pin Holder
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Enamel Lapel Pin Display Panels
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Verani Pin Display Case
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What is your most treasured Disney pin? 

Deb is Director of Operations for and the mom of 3 teenagers and young adults. She lives in the greater Grand Rapids area in West Michigan, and is a former city planner and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Analyst who loves gadgets, maps, writing, and traveling both within and outside of Michigan. She also enjoys reading, sewing, running and knitting.
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38 responses

  1. All y’all complaining about the eBay lots all being fake, well I can tell you from experience that they aren’t all. Just because someone else might want to try saving some money, doesn’t give anyone else the right to discount their efforts.
    I found this author’s article helpful & a good read! There are PLENTY of other articles out there to aid in research of knowing fake versus real pins. So get off your high horses, and let folks be?

  2. Hi, I have a question about pin trading at Disney World. My 12-year-old daughter and my wife and I will be spending 5 days at Disney this May. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for our family and we won’t be returning in the foreseeable future, is it worth it to do pin trading — or is pin trading more for people who return to Disney World on a more regular basis? Your articles have been very helpful, but I don’t see this question addressed anywhere. What do you think?

    1. Hi Stephen,
      I absolutely think it’s worthwhile to do pin trading, even if you’re only going to Disney World once. It’s harder now with Covid restrictions, but they do have pin trading stations in place. It’s fun for the kids to do from park to park even on the same trip. And then they’ll have reminders of their trip that they can keep and show off!

  3. Hello! How safe are these rubber pin backs, compared to the metal ones? Do you feel they make the pins safer for children? My 6 year old wants to collect disney pins, but I’m conscious that they can be quite sharp! Appreciate your thoughts!

    1. Obviously, all parents have to decide what’s best for their kids, but the rubber-backed pins worked well for my kids. They seemed easier for smaller fingers to manage, too.

  4. Having a Mickey mouse backing does NOT indicate if a pin is real or fake. Fake, poor quality pins are RAMPANT in mystery bags on eBay. If you are paying less than 1.50 per pin, you are almost definitely getting fakes. Just like if you are getting a Louis Vuitton bag for $30, it’s a fake.
    Please learn about fakes and scrappers before you encourage your readers to buy and then trade fake pins.
    Why is this a problem? Because when everyone is buying from these counterfeit makers the parks fill up with poor-quality imitations. A pin board stuffed with copies of the same hidden Mickey set from 5 years ago, ghosts that are yellow instead of grey, etc. I hope the author educates herself and then edits this to include more accurate information about fakes.

  5. Do you have to use Disney lanyards for this or can you buy cheaper ones off amazon?

    1. You can use anything you want to use to display your pins!

      1. I bought some adorable Minnie Patterned Gross-grain ribbon and made my own lanyards!!

  6. Just keep in mind that many pin sellers on amazon and ebay are for people selling scrapers. If anyone wants to cheat the system by buying scrappers, fakes and other low quality pins (and that’s what they are if you spend a dollar a pin) to circumvent the system because you are cheap and cast members have to trade, remember it’s kids like mine with special needs that you are taking advantage of, not Disney. When my kid trades at the pins boards as an activity that allows him self confidence in interacting with other people it is frustrating when he gets cheap knockoffs because people are too cheap to buy official pins.

    1. I bought 150 pins for about $55 off eBay. Out of 150, maybe 10-15 did not have the alternating Mickey Mouse head pattern on the back. Not bad. I also just google searched the ones I was skeptical about and found the way to tell the real from fake.

    2. Just because someone is, in your words, “too cheap” to buy official Disney pins, doesn’t mean they are out to cheat others during trading.
      I bought a mystery lot on eBay of about 25-30 pins, and maybe had 3 scrappers. But I was also conscious enough to do some research on what to look for. I was going for my first time to Disney, and pin reading seemed like something fun my new husband & I could enjoy on our honeymoon. And any way to save some money we were down for, hence buying the lot on eBay! We did as much trading as we could, and did end up with one scrapper which we will display by itself on the pin board I plan to have at our home.

  7. Looks like a good way to open up a discussion with cast members…

  8. I am now at Disney on vacation. I just went to magic kingdom yesterday. And had fun. My first time trading pins but had to go to sawgrass in South Florida to start. Then. I went to Disney afterwards. Now I am at a Flea Market and walked around. I saw few women on tables that had tons of books of different pins of different sizes. I never knew that they would have books of them. One woman is from the Netherlands and she has thousands from Paris and brought them to United States. She said they range from $20. – $100.00. I’m on my 2nd vacation from work. I work at a distribution for wines and spirits as a Dales Support Coordinator like customer service. Next year I’m going to Hollywood studios and bringing my hat that has my 7 pins. Maybe I can get more but to afraid to go overboard. I don’t know what I am going to do with 7 pins. Thanks for understanding.

  9. Hi, my family & myself will be 1st time Pin Trading this September at Both Disneyland California parks…… I know that they do pin trading inside the parks. But does anyone know where else can we Pin Trade outside the Parks?…. like any of the Disney Hotels? Or Disney Stores, Restaurants, or are there any Disney Strips b4 entertaining the parks…. this will be our 1st time at a Disney Park as well
    Thank u in advance

    1. Some of the stores in the park will have boards or books behind the counter or on display that you can trade from. Some off site Disney stores will also have them. It never hurts to ask when you’re in a Disney business.

      1. The garbage cans at WDW have felted cork sides where you can “leave one/take one”

    2. Anyone who works for Disney has a lanyard, sometimes they are not wearing them. Also Disney stores have the best selection

  10. PLEASE do not buy pin lots on eBay before your trip. ALL of those pins are FAKE! If you are spending less than two or three dollars per pin then it’s not an authentic pin. Trading fake pins ruins it for everyone!

  11. Be careful with the first one! All the big lots you see on eBay are full of fakes. Unfortunately pins that are prices under $1 are fake. Meaning those huge cheap lots on eBay are full of fake pins… they technically can be traded in the park but it’d suck if somebody traded an authentic pin and got a scrapper pin in return

  12. The hidden Mickey pins don’t indicate authenticity, they’re the pins that you “can’t buy.” Those are sets given to cast members to trade. They represent just that. Don’t add fake pins in circulation. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

  13. Be careful of fakes. Most Ebay sellers who sell pins at .50 are fake. If you want real pins on ebay they will be closer to 2.00 each. That being said nearly every pin in the pictures are the fake pins from China being sold on ebay, and that is what you trade for on lanyards and pin boards in the park. Never buy pins in the park to trade; you are trading a genuine $6-11 pin for a fake Chinese pin.

    1. How can you tell? How will I know if I’m trading for a fake? Do the Disney employees know a fake pin? How can I tell if I’m trading for a fake pin?

      1. There are a number of ways to tell but it can be difficult to spot fakes sometimes. If the color seems off, the enamel is dimpled, or the edges are rough you may have a fake. There are some good articles about spotting fakes if you google it. They can give you a lot of details to watch out for.

        Disney employees will trade for fakes. They’re instructed to do so so as not to upset guests who may not know they bought a bunch of fakes.

    2. $2 pins are just as likely to be fake. All the pins, even authentic ones, are made in China. The cast members reload their lanyards with real pins every day so by the end of the day you may see a lot of fakes but they should be good early in the morning.

      1. Depends on the supervisor of the area. Some are vigilant about disposing of fakes but lots juts have a bucket of mixed pins for cast members to refill things with.

  14. I’m jealous of your macaroon pins!! I got a purple one before our trip and didn’t see any other macaroon pins the entire trip! I wish I had bought more pins ahead of time.
    This was our first time pins trading and we had a blast doing it. It gave us an opportunity to talk to other guests and cast members.
    My 8 year old son was given special pins from a couple hardcore traders for being so sweet.

  15. Definitely mention fake pins for those who want to get into trading and not just for fun.

    1. I am currently in Disney World and I have seen so many more “fake” pins this year. Especially the ones made with soft enamel (enamel is not flat and does not fill in the metal all the way. You can see a dip in the enamel) I’m usually in the parks late afternoon and the pickings are slim but I have got lucky a few times this trip and found some really nice pins.

    2. So do people only trade with cast members or anyone wearing pins in the park? Can someone refuse to trade a specific pin? Or can you assume that if a person is wearing it they’re willing to trade it. Are there negotiations involved? I really want to do this but I don’t want to be awkward when the moment comes! lol

      1. Hi Janeen! Usually it’s only with cast members. They are required to trade if wearing pins and are asked to trade one. Although park guests do wear pins as well, they’re under no obligation to trade them. You could certainly ask someone if they want to trade, but they don’t have to. For cast members, there are no negotiations, although the protocols are slightly different right now because of COVID. Feel free to ask any cast member that you see wearing pins!

  16. Hi- where is a good place to get the inexpensive trade up pins? We are coming from Australia to NYC, and then heading to Florida for our Disney trip. Is there a place I can order online and send to our friend’s place in NY?

    1. EBay and some sellers will deliver to your hotel

    2. eBay. Don’t pay more than $0.50USD/pin. Have fun!

      1. If youre paying less than $0.50 those pins will be fake and not only are you supporting illegal pin reproductions but youre also hurting the pin trading community, many pin traders wont trade with cast members now as so many fakes are being circulated
        If youre after cheap pins Id go on facebook pin groups and ask for a grab bag or booster set

    3. Watch the Disney Store, Disney Store online and Shop Disney Parks. I recently bought several 5 pack of pins for $7.99 at the Disney Store. When you check Disney Store online or the Shop Disney Parks app search pins and then filter your search results from lowest to highest. A couple of years ago, on Shop Disney Parks app, I bought several Rapunzel pins for $1.25 each not including my my 20% Passholder discount. Start purchasing them early so you have time to find sales. 🙂

    4. I’ve had good luck with A few were possible fakes but most met the typical tests for authenticity. The price per pin is about $1.50.

  17. Absolutely spot on information Britni! I’m excited that you’ve joined the world of pin trading and that you picked up the most important lesson, collect what you love!

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