How to Collect Disney Pins

Disney Pins

Collectible Disney pins.
Collectible Disney pins. | Source

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA

A markerdisneyland, anaheim, california -
Disneyland Park, 1313 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
[get directions]

Pin trading posts are conveniently located inside Disneyland park and California Adventure.

Disney Pins That Spin

Pins with features that spin are popular.
Pins with features that spin are popular. | Source

Dumbo Pins

Unusual Dumbo pin features both moving Dumbos (sides) and a dangle.
Unusual Dumbo pin features both moving Dumbos (sides) and a dangle. | Source
Different Dumbo pins that have movement.
Different Dumbo pins that have movement. | Source

Disney Pin Trading

Disney pins are great fun to collect, and possibly even more fun to trade. You can amass an amazing collection by trading with people from all over the world who gather at Disneyland and Disneyworld to seek out new and different pins to add to their collections. I've collected Disney pins for about 15 years, and have traded for the last 10 years.

Getting Started

The best way to start collecting and trading is to first familiarize yourself with some of the types of pins that are out there. Character pins cover the usual cast of Disney characters both classic and modern; attraction pins cover rides, park icons and parades; movie pins have some sort of movie tie-in; and event, holiday, or anniversary pins have a Disney-esque take on many of your favorite events, holidays or Disney anniversaries. There are still other pins that are harder to classify, like limited edition pins or what I call "Walt pins," that somehow incorporate Walt Disney into the design.

Given the thousands of different pin designs, one person really can't collect all of the Disney pins that are out there. It is also very easy to get carried away and have lots of pins that are hard to keep organized. For example, when I began collecting Disney pins, I started by keeping all the characters organized on separate pages in my pin book. Soon, it became apparent that this would never work because there were too many exceptions to the one-character-per-page rule.

Pin Collecting Themes

My recommendation is to pick a theme or two, and limit your purchases and trades to your themes. One of my themes, and the type of pins that I collect most, fall under the category "attractions with movement." That is, I collect pins that represent attractions at the Disney parks, and the pins must have some sort of feature that moves. Some themes to consider for your collection include:

  • Holidays
  • Attractions
  • Spinners (pins that spin)
  • Events
  • Cast Member lanyard pins
  • Movies
  • Classic Disney Characters
  • Limited Edition

Once you've picked your themes, start out by purchasing a "starter set" of pins. Some pins you'll want to keep, and some you'll purchase specifically to trade. You'll also need to purchase a lanyard that you'll wear around your neck. You'll display the pins you want to trade on your lanyard.

Anniversary Pins

Pins for Disneyland's 50th year celebration.
Pins for Disneyland's 50th year celebration. | Source

Holiday Disney Pins

California Adventure pin celebrating Chinese New Year
California Adventure pin celebrating Chinese New Year | Source
Various holiday pins
Various holiday pins | Source

Pins With Sliding Features

Pin for the MaliBoomer attraction has a sliding feature, the letter O.
Pin for the MaliBoomer attraction has a sliding feature, the letter O. | Source

Attraction Pins With Dangles

Attraction pins with dangles, small features that drop from the pin and hang.
Attraction pins with dangles, small features that drop from the pin and hang. | Source
Pirates of the Caribbean pin with subtle dangle feature. Note the key that the dog holds.
Pirates of the Caribbean pin with subtle dangle feature. Note the key that the dog holds. | Source

Disney Trading Pins

How do you determine what pins are tradeable? If you look on the back of a tradeable pin, it will clearly have the Disney trademark on it, it will be made of metal and not be cloisonne style or made of rubberized material. It will have lapel-style pin backs, not clasp-style. Note: pin backs may be rubber if the collector has purchased Mickey shaped pin backs to replace the plain metal pin backs that came with the pin originally.

You will also discover that Disney pins come at a range of price points. This might be something to consider when you make a trade, but value is a funny thing. If you don't get to Disneyland very often, and you have an opportunity to trade for an inexpensive but hard to find pin that you really want, it may be worth trading one of your expensive pins for that pin you covet.

Various Pin Features

Disney pins are small works of art, often with unusual features, or features that move. Pins can blink, spin, slide, wobble, bobble, spring, open and close, dangle, and make noise. These features also drive up the cost of the pin, something that you may (or may not) wish to consider when trading.

Evaluating Pins for Trade

Look for really great quality pins without scratches or signs of wear. Then look closely at what features the pin has. If it is a dangle design, is the dangle well-incorporated into the design of the pin in a way that appeals to you? For example, most dangle pins have small "charms" that drop from the main design. It's nice, but fairly common. The Pirates of the Caribbean pin, however, incorporates the dangle into the design. The dog holds a dangling key in his mouth, a very subtle yet awesome dangle feature!

Disney Pins that Wobble or Bobble

Nightmare Before Christmas (Haunted Mansion) attraction pin. Cat head bobbles.
Nightmare Before Christmas (Haunted Mansion) attraction pin. Cat head bobbles. | Source
Splash Mountain attraction. Briar Rabbit wobbles slightly.
Splash Mountain attraction. Briar Rabbit wobbles slightly. | Source

A Cautionary Tale

Every now and then, I come across a "that was odd" moment. I was at Disneyland, attempting to make a trade with a stranger who had many pins in a multitude of binders. He didn't particularly like any of the pins I had to trade, and suggested that I go buy a particular pin that he wanted, and that he would trade for the new pin. Basically, he was asking me to buy him a pin, which isn't the purpose of pin trading at all.

Never trade with someone who asks you to buy something. I now trade only with cast members.

Disney Pin Traders

Pin Trading Etiquette

Before you jump in and start trading, you'll want to familiarize yourself with trading etiquette. The best thing to do is to download the official Disney trading etiquette guide. This will tell you how to approach other traders, and give you the low-down on how to trade with Disney cast members. Basically, you'll see other guests or cast members wearing lanyards and displaying their pins. You can ask them if they want to trade, and then you can look at what pins they have to trade. Money never changes hands, and you never touch pins attached to someone else's lanyard.

Since it can be somewhat intimidating to initiate a trade when you are first starting out, I recommend that you conduct your first trades with Disney cast members. They have great pins, they are always nice about trading, and they can help you if you have questions about trading.

Pin Trading With Strangers

Around Disneyland park and California Adventure, you'll find several Pin Trader locations. This is where you can meet other die-hard pin traders who might come armed with a book of pins to display. Most are nice people who abide by the rules. That said, never trade other than 1-for-1. Remember that you can always nicely refuse a trade if someone wants two of your pins for one of theirs.


Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Disney Pin

Attraction pin with moveable doors that open to a new scene.
Attraction pin with movable doors that open to a new scene. | Source
Here is the same pin but with the doors open.
Here is the same pin but with the doors open. | Source

Passholder and Limited Edition Pins

Some pins are available only to annual pass holders, or are limited editions.
Some pins are available only to annual pass holders, or are limited editions. | Source

Disney Pins

Disney pins are immensely satisfying to collect and trade. They don't take up much room and are, individually, not too expensive to purchase. Have fun with your Disney pins, enjoy collecting and trading, and meeting your fellow pin traders!

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Comments 1 comment

landocheese profile image

landocheese 3 years ago

I love Disney and have been lucky enough to get there a few times but have never traded pins. I was tempted last time but got caught up in the hidden Mickey's instead. I think on the next trip it's time to to pick up a pin.

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