Disney on a Budget – Pin Trading

Pin Trading is one of the things that my kids find the most fun about a Disney trip.    If your aren’t familiar with Disney Pin Trading, you are allowed to trade pins with any Disney cast member that is wearing a lanyard. You simply ask to see their pins, and the will bring their lanyard closer for you to view.   If you see a pin you want, you may trade one of your pins for one of theirs.  There are some guidelines to pin trading that Disney has posted:

  • The main criteria to judge whether a pin is tradable or not is that it must be a metal pin bearing a “©Disney”mark on the back that represents a Disney Event, Place or Location, Character or Icon.
  • Pins should be in good, undamaged, tradable condition.
  • For a safe trading experience, please trade one pin at a time, hand to hand with pin backs attached.
  • Guests may trade a maximum of two (2) pins per Cast Member, per day.
  • Please refrain from touching a Cast Member’s or Guest’s pins or lanyard. If you need a closer look, kindly ask the Cast Member or Guest wearing the lanyard if she or he can bring it into clearer view for you.
  • Monies, gifts or receipts may not be exchanged or used in trade for a pin.
  • When trading with a Cast Member, Guests should offer a pin that is not currently displayed on the Cast Member’s lanyard.
  • Pins from other business units of The Walt Disney Company (i.e.ABC, ESPN) are accepted for trade.
  • Operating participant pins that show a Disney, Disneyland®Resort, or Walt Disney World®Resort affiliation are accepted for trading.
  • Plastic pins, rubber pins or other non-metal pins are not accepted for trading.
  • “Personalized Name”pins are not accepted for trade.
  • “Broche style”or “clasp pins”are not accepted for trade.
  • Disney Service Award pins, Spirit of Disneyland®Resort pins, Partners in Excellence pins or Cast Member costume pins (i.e. Host/Hostess Badges, Disney Trainer) are not tradable.

The Disney pins can be very expensive. The individual pins can range in price from $6.95 – $19.95. Wow! Can you imagine paying $19.95 for a pin? Here are some pointers to help you get started pin trading (on a budget).

  1. You can buy starter sets at the Disney theme parks, the starter sets are priced at $24.95, they contain a lanyard and 4 pins. This is a great value compared to buying everything individually.
  2. You can buy mystery grab bags of pins at a discounted price, the pins in these are usually less desirable, but that way it makes it easy to trade. The kids don’t want to hold onto them.
  3. You can find pins marked down online at the Disney Store. Remember, you don’t have to buy pins you like, because the plan is to trade them anyway. To save even more of your own money, redeem your SwagBucks for a disneystore.com gift card and get them for FREE.
  4. If you book your vacation through a travel company (like Costco or Getaway Today), you will receive a lanyard and 1 pin for FREE. This is a great way to get started without any extra money up front.
  5. My best (and cheapest) advice for pin trading is to check out ebay. You can buy misc. pins in lots for very cheap.  We found that we could get some great deals, by buying pins off of Ebay. To find reputable seller, consult this thread over at the DisBoards.

Now, all of my kids are starting out with pins to trade for our trip to Disney world, and it won’t be costing an arm an a leg.   They are thrilled (and so is Mom)!

If you want to learn all there is to know about Disney pin trading visit their official pin trading site. Do you kids love the pin trading experience too? I would love to hear your thoughts, and any money saving tips you may have.

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  1. Terra says

    This was one of the highlights for my kids (ages 9, 6 and 4) on our last trip. We used ebay to get our pins. At the end of the trip we took the kids to the big pin gazebo to pick one that was special and reminded them of the trip.

  2. Tina says

    Pin trading is SOO much fun we have a ton and didn’t pay “full price” for hardly any of them, except special ones we wanted to keep.
    We also started out on ebay, buying lots for a fraction of the cost. It was also back when Disney’s “Dining Plan” in Florida was a point system and you could use those points for certain purchases…. pins being on of them. So we would see how many points we had on the last day and buy the rest out in pins. We ended up with a LOT that way.

    Anyway…. its was so much for US I can’t imagine how excited the kids get, Kyla will start getting her taste soon… right now @ 4 she could care less. LOL

  3. laura facenda says

    What a weird coincidence!!! Right before I check out your site me and my husband were looking on ebay for pins for our son for our next trip in oct. My husband and myself haven’t been to disney in over 10 years, and as children they never had anything like this for us! We took our first family trip to WDW last year and we were a little overwhelmed at all the pins and all the details of trading… infact we were a little boggled at the idea of “trading”! My son loved it, and we let him do a trade with a cast member, it drove me nuts that he picked a cheaper pin then the one he had traded… but I kept my mouth shut like a good mom! He was so proud he did it all by himself…I couldn’t break his heart!!!

    I’m so glad people offer cheaper pins on ebay- can’t beat a $1.10 each! There isn’t a day that goes by that my 6yr old (or my 26 yr old husband) doesn’t mention something about WDW… I’m just happy i can do disney cheap! THANKS for all the GREAT info! :-)

  4. Kelly Hickman says

    We’re going in a few weeks for my son’s 5th birthday. Honestly, do you think he’ d be into this? I’d hate to invest in something and then have him completely ignore the whole trading business. It sounds like a lot of fun, but maybe for older kids? Thanks for the advice!

  5. says

    Kelly – I agree, it probably would be best for older kids. My youngest just turned 5 when we went, and he did some trading, but it was only because he saw a couple of his older siblings doing it. I don’t think he would have done it on his own, he just followed along with them (they were 9 & 12). He was interested in finding Buzz Lightyear pins.

    I think if this is his first trip, there will be more than enough to keep him busy, and he won’t even know he is missing out.

    The first year we went (2 years ago), we weren’t even aware that you could trade pins. So, we didn’t do any pin trading at all on that trip.

  6. Melissa says

    Please be sure to check the linked Disboard thread for reputable sellers. There are a lot of sellers selling illegally made pins called Scrappers. It is frustrating for those of us who spend extra to buy truly authentic pins to have my son trade for a scrapper. Yes, you can tell the difference in the pin quality. Ebay is a great way to save but the non-scrapper pins are going to cost more than the scrapper ones. The scrapper sellers will tell you that their pins are trade-able and authentic since they will have the correct logo on the back. You need to do the research yourself and spending the extra money to buy from non-scrapper sellers will help prevent money from supporting this illegal practice. There is a good guide here:


  7. mbf says

    You should also watch out for scrappers and fakes on cast member lanyards. A lot of them don’t realize that they are taking bad pins and then guests end up trading for those.

  8. Louis says

    Please, dont buy lots at ebay, they are full of fake pins and make harder good trades!

  9. Vix says

    eBay bulk lots of pins are full of fakes which ruin it for all the people who spend money and time collecting authentic pins. $1 each is way too cheap for real pins. Please don’t do this! :(

    Booster sets are my recommendation – you get 5 or 6 pins on a card at a discount rate over buying 5 or 6 separately. Best way to get started!


  1. […] Costco Travel: Costco packages also include extras like one character meal and a $20 Disney gift card, so you will need to factor those into the costs.   If you don’t have a character meal planned, then you may be paying a little extra for the package.    We have compared Costco package deals to the hotel we had planned to stay at on a previous visit and the price was the same, so it’s as if we were getting the character meal and the $20 Disney gift card for FREE.    Costco also sends along, luggage tags and coupons for a free lanyard and Disney pin, which came in handy to get us started on our pin trading. […]

  2. […] Pin Trading Makes for Fun Souvenirs: My kids love to trade pins with the Disney cast members.   Buy a couple of pins for cheap, and your kids can keep trading and exchanging their pins ALL DAY!  You can read more about trading pins at the Disney theme parks HERE. […]

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