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How to Collect Disney Pins
Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA
Pin trading posts are conveniently located inside Disneyland park and California Adventure.
Disney Pins That Spin
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.
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:
- Spinners (pins that spin)
- Cast Member lanyard pins
- 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.
Holiday Disney Pins
Pins With Sliding Features
Attraction Pins With Dangles
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
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
Passholder and Limited Edition 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!