One of the best souvenirs at Disney is also one of the best activities to do at Disney World. Disney Pin Trading is a budget-friendly way to collect some Disney memorabilia. Once you start Disney pin collecting, you will be hooked! Let me share with you why I love Disney pins and how to get involved in this fun activity!
Disney Pin Trading
*post updated 1/24/2018*
Disney Pin trading is is a hobby and for me a little bit of an addiction, though nowadays I am more of a collector than a trader. Pins have always been present at Disney parks, but it wasn’t until 1999 as part of the Millennium Celebration that Disney Pin Trading at the Walt Disney World Resort was introduced.
What is the Best Way to Begin Pin Trading
My budget-friendly advice is to buy a starter pack with a lanyard on the Shop Disney website when they have a sale or site-wide coupon code. Another option would be to buy a pin lot on Amazon but you have to be careful with those because of the possibility of fake/scrapper pins. Be sure to read buyer reviews if you go the Amazon route.
You can also buy your starter pack in the parks, but it is more expensive.
Types of Disney Pins
Disney has lots of different types of pins. The possibility of finding a lot of these types of pins on a Cast Members lanyard are rare. Sadly, 90% of the pins on a Cast Members trading lanyard are scrappers.
You will find pins for almost every Disney character, event, attraction, park, and movie. The styles of pins vary and you can find ones that you love for your collection. You will also find pins for Star Wars, Marvel, and the Muppets.
Artist Proof (AP) – Pre-release pins created to measure production quality. The pins will have AP printed on the back stamp.
Cloisonné – Surface of the pin contains individually set color sections
Dangle Pins – A portion of the pin hangs from small loops or a chain
Die Cast – Hand engraving dies used to create a three-dimensional image
Free-D – Contains a fastened rubber element on a pin adding extra dimension
Flocked – The pin has an area that’s a bit fuzzy
Hard Enamel – Next generation follow-up to Cloisonné allowing for more colors
Jumbo Pins – Larger, often more intricately designed and more expensive pins
Lenticular – A pin where the image changes when tilted back and forth
Light-Up – The pin has a section which lights when activated
Limited Edition (LE)– The number of pins Disney releases is limited. You can check the back stamp to confirm it is limited edition and in some cases, it will even list its number and the size of the edition.
Limited Release – Disney releases a pin for a certain period of time or until they run out. These are usually holiday or event related pins.
Piece of History Pin (POH) – Each pin contains a minuscule piece of a prop from a Walt Disney World attraction. It should almost go without saying that these pins are considered some of the very rarest “grails” to find and add to your collection.
Pre Production/Prototype Pin (PPP) – Sent to developers prior to manufacturing
Retired Pin – Pins that are no longer in production
Scrapper Pin – Sometimes the molds used to make the pins overseas (95% are made in China) fall into dishonest hands and unauthorized pins are made and then sold on Amazon or Ebay. The term can also be used for Disney-made scrap pins containing defects, which are then discarded. In my opinion, if you like a pin even if it is a scrapper, and you are not looking to sell or trade it outside of the Disney parks then you have collected a pin.
Slider Pin – These pins have a movable piece which can slide across the pin
Spinner Pin – One part of the pin can move a full 360 degrees
Soft Enamel – Thinner pin than cloisonné pins but offering some of the same effects
Other Pin Lingo to Know
Back Stamp – Information on the pack confirming copyright and edition size
Epoxy Coating – The glossy, protective coating on the pin
Pin Trading Nights (PTN) – Pin trader meetings where LE pins are often released
Rack Pins/Open Edition – Pins in stock for several years before retirement. These are most of the pins in Disney Gift Shops hanging on the racks.
Where to Trade Disney Pins
Pin trading is all over at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Parks around the World, and the Disney Cruise line. Almost every Cast Member inside of the parks wears a Pin lanyard or a waist mini board that they trade with guests.
There are also special boards and activities to trade pins all over the park. My favorite was the HUGE pin wall at the Pin Hut in Disney Springs, but they don’t do that anymore. The Pin Hut now has a pin box but I have not done that activity yet. The pin box comes out at random times so you never know if you can do that or not. In the Frontier Land pin shop in the Magic Kingdom you can “fish” for pins. You can ask any Cast Member where you can find pin boards and most of them can point you in the right direction.
Most gift shops at the resorts have a pin board. Some resorts only bring out their boards at certain times so be sure to ask a Cast Member when their board comes out. I know the Monorail Resorts bring out their boards in the evening.
You can also trade pins with other park guests either at official Disney events, unofficial Pin Trader meetups, and online in Facebook Groups.
Disney Store Cast Members do not trade pins. The only exception to that rule is the Disney Outlet near Walt Disney World.
Is there Collectible and Monetary Value in Disney Pins?
As with most Disney collectibles, there is monetary value in non-scrapper pins. Pins do rise in value and some have commanded over $4,000 in private and public sales on the secondary market, which too this day remains vibrant and active.
Displaying and Storing Your Disney Pins
Personally, I have transitioned from trading pins all the time to purchasing limited edition and limited release pins quite often. I still trade occasionally and have a decent sized collection that I love organizing. Here are some ideas for storing and displaying your Disney pins.
- The Pin Books sold at the Disney Parks or Online
- Pin Boards. Some people just use plain cork boards. I took a plain cork board, covered it with black material, and painted the edges red.
- Some people keep them in a nice box, especially those that are kept on the original backing card.
- Shadow Boxes
- Dollar Tree Foam Board
My hope is that this post helped you start a love for Disney Pins and Disney pin trading. It is a fun family activity!