Ultimate Guide to the Secret Rules of Pin Trading
Are you part of Disney’s secret cult? Do you huddle around a cast member, engaging in a mysterious, seemingly illicit exchange? Or are you just someone who loves shiny baubles? Whatever your answer, you’re in the club when you swap pins at Disney parks. Here are the secret rules of Disney pin trading.
What Is Disney Pin Trading?
You know what Disney pins are. You’ll find them virtually anywhere that has a Disney sign. ShopDisney, Disney Stores, and most Disney theme park stores sell these pins. What you may not realize is that you can swap out your old pins for new ones, and it won’t cost you a dime!
Cast members at Disney parks have the ability to trade pins with you. And they’re happy to do it! Of course, they’ll be that much happier to trade with any children in your traveling party. Park workers get a tremendous amount of job satisfaction from making a wide-eyed kid’s day. Pin trading is quietly one of the most effective ways to do it.
Something you should understand is that only some cast members carry pins. While exceptions occur each day, the overwhelming majority of these employees will happily perform an exchange with you.
The easiest way to tell whether a cast member participates in pin trading is to examine their outfit. Some Disney employees wear dozens of pins for the express purpose of trades. Others actually carry special satchels and other accessories that hold many pins.
Even when you notice such gear, you shouldn’t expect a pin trade. Instead, you should ask. Politeness and courtesy go a long way in increasing the odds of a pin trade. Beyond the basics of civility, you should know a few secrets of the process.
Not Every Pin Qualifies
You can’t cheat the system in pin trading. Similarly, you can’t just stick a piece of metal on your shirt and call it a pin. For that matter, you also can’t exchange a non-Disney pin for an official one.
When you request a trade, you must present your pin for examination. The cast member will look at it carefully. They’re verifying that it fit the criteria for an exchange.
Your pin must:
- Consist of metal
- Have an official Disney copyright stamp confirming its authenticity
- Must have an image of a Disney character, park, landmark, or attraction
The middle step is probably the most confusing. It simply means that the cast member checks the pin. All official Disney pins come with a copyright insignia that proves authenticity. When you receive a pin that doesn’t have that, it’s a knockoff, a cheap imitation rather than the real deal. Cast members understandably won’t accept those pins.
Cast Members Have a Trade Limit
No matter how cute you are or how adorable your kid is, cast members can’t break a simple rule. Disney will only allow two trades per cast member for each park guest. In other words, when a Disney employee holds several different pins that you like, you’ll have to choose your favorite two.
This rule exists to prevent abuse of the system. Selfish guests could take all of the best pins from a cast member, leaving them with ones that nobody else will want. So, the Two Pins Per Trade rule protects all involved. When you interact with a cast member, please don’t act greedy. Simply swap two of your pins for the two that you like best from the employee’s stash.
Also, keep something else in mind. The trade limit resets daily. You can find the cast member again the following day and perform two more pin trades. So, the rule is really two trades per cast member per day. Of course, you may not visit the same theme park on consecutive days, which somewhat reduces the odds of finding the cast member again.
To keep pin trading fun for everyone, Disney enforces another rule. You cannot trade a pin to a cast member who already has it. In other words, Disney employees cannot accept duplicates.
Let’s say that you have a popular Figment pin. When you find a cast member who has pins to trade, you must perform a quick check. You need to verify that their pin stash doesn’t include the Figment pin that you have. If the employee has that pin, you must trade another item from your collection instead.
Without this rule, cast members would stack a bunch of unwanted pins while losing all of the valuable ones. Disney doesn’t want that, and so this restriction exists to prevent pin duplication.
My suggestion is that you bring along at least 50 pins on your trip. That way, you will never have an issue with duplication. You’ll have a large selection that will virtually guarantee that you possess pins that the cast member doesn’t.
On eBay, you’ll find many listings for giant batches of Disney pins. These listings exist to assist you with your park pin trading. You’ll buy a batch of pins that you don’t care about. You can use them to trade for pins that you desire.
Cast Members Don’t Sell Pins
No matter how much you may want a pin, you can’t buy it from a cast member. Disney has strict rules of conduct about pin trading. The most important one is that their employees can trade pins as desired. However, cast members cannot earn a profit from a pin transaction.
In other words, you can keep your cash in your wallet. A park employee will never sell their pins to you. In the true spirit of cast member generosity, they’ll happily give you the pin that you seek, though. And that’s a good thing. Free is always better, right?