At Believe Vacations, we look into many different aspects of what a magical vacation may look like to each individual family. We consider the lodging, the amount of tickets, the after hours events and festival and also dining reservations to name a few. But we also make sure our clients are educated on “extra magic” that you may not consider on your Disney Vacation. In the past, we’ve discussed split stays, shopping, babysitting services, even runDisney events. But today, we get to discuss a tradition that kids of all ages can enjoy…
Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Article where today, we are going to look at Pin Trading. You have met Kyle Holland before as he covered topics like How to do 4 Parks in 1 Day and The Value of Value Resorts. This time, we bring in his wife, Ashley, as the both of them tell us about one of their favorite Disney past times. Have you ever wondered why Cast Members have all those pins on their lanyards or why you may see a nice line for a corkboard in a gift shop? That’s pin trading. The Holland’s are the experts for sure and they were kind enough to share more in-depth what that means when it comes to your own collection, the Cast Members and those pinboards…
What is Pin Trading?
You take standard lapel pins and trade them! But seriously, pin trading has been around outside of Disney for a while but in Disney, you have your own pins and exchange 1 for 1 from another person or a board. Pre-Covid, all Cast Members would wear a lanyard or have pins on some accessory and guests could approach them and ask, “May I see your pins?” Then you would look to see if the Cast Member had a pin you would swap one of yours for. And you just repeat the process to find rare pins or pins from a certain set you were trying to complete. Cast Members could not deny you the opportunity to trade for any pin and if you don’t see any you like, then you don’t have to trade them. And you only trade 1 for 1. All pins at Disney have equal value.
Did you start pin trading at an early age?
Kyle was the first to love Disney so his first pins were for purchase only when he was in college. Pins do cost a pretty penny so it took some courage to begin to trade. I started to go online and buy in bundles to amass a quick collection. Those cheaper ones became the pins that I would bring to the parks to trade. Admittedly, each pin you first get will seem awesome as you look to start your sets and set your likes.
How do you pin pack for your Disney trip?
We each have our lanyards full of “trading pins” and we bring our Ziploc bags along with another hundred or so we plan to trade. We also pack our “keepers” bag so that at the end of each day, the ones we traded for and want to keep go in that bag and we restock with traders for the next day. We don’t bring our binders but we take pictures on our phone so that we can quickly reference what we have and what we don’t have at home.
What is a pin board?
Post-COVID days, the Cast Members no longer wear lanyards. But now, there is a focus on these boards at each resort and scattered throughout the parks. The process is still the same but now, you ask to see a pin board and then you have up to 2 trades. Same rules – they have to give you the pin you want, 1 pin for 1 pin and you don’t have to trade. If you can’t find a pin board, simply ask a Cast Member and they’ll point you in the right direction (with 2 fingers of course). And make return visits to the same boards as new pins will show up from your previous transaction.
When you trade, do you have a specific goal in mind?
It depends. Ashley loves Goofy so she will always trade for him. She also loves Villains so those are also more attractive to her. Kyle is a Stitch guy so he will look for him. But we also love looking for flashy, special looking pins. We’ve done this a long time now where we can tell which is a more expensive looking pin. But if you don’t have an eye for it yet, find one or two characters or a favorite movie and start trading for those.
Can you buy pins/sets at the parks?
You can buy collections and sets along with individual pins at the parks. A fun way to build your sets is to purchase the mystery boxes. If you buy a bunch of multipacks, you either get closer to completing your set or find some duplicates for later trading. One of our favorite sets are the Hidden Mickey sets. The started only in the hands of the Cast Members and the only way to collect one would be to trade them. They are regular pins but have a small Mickey ear silhouette on them.
Do you have a favorite pin?
Ashley loves her Dinosaur pin that was gifted to her by an awesome Cast Member named David who works a Caribbean Beach Resort. We’ve actually become great friends with him over the years and he’s met our kids. But he also was the one who gifted Kyle with one of the most rare pins you can get – An Artist Proof pin. This particular one was the one an artist rejected so Kyle now has the only one that was never mass produced of that particular pin.
Final Thoughts on buying pins
We wish we would’ve started it sooner and purchasing pins earlier. Start small – buy the pins for the years you go, buy pins for the resorts you stay at, buy pins for the rides you experience, buy pins for the season or special event you attend, etc. An if you’re an annual passholder, make sure you get those pins as well. It’s addictive so you’ve been warned. But you’ll thank us later!