Vote of the week: Are you a theme park pin trader?

January 7, 2011, 12:12 PM · It's hard to find a Disney theme park stores that doesn't sell those cloisonné or hard enamel pins. Disney started actively encouraging pin trading in its theme parks back in the 1990s, if I recall correctly, after media buzz about the popularity of pin trading at the Olympic games.

Cast member pin-trading lanyard
Photo courtesy Disney

Of course, pin trading's a huge business for Disney now because, in order to trade, you need pins. And Disney sells them by the truckload.

At first, there were pins for the various attractions and characters in the parks. Now it seems that there are pins for just about every event, season and mood change by anyone or anything associated with the parks. I just got the 2011 D23 pin in the mail. And I have in my desk drawer somewhere a Walt Disney World News pin that the media relations department sent out a few years back.

And, to show that other theme park companies can play in this space, I have a Hedwig pin on a Wizarding World of Harry Potter media-day lanyard stashed in the same drawer.

Other than that, though, I don't do pins. But many of you do, I suspect. So let's put it up for a vote:

I'd love to hear, in the comments, what you think about pin trading. If you don't do it, why not? If you do, what would you say to encourage others to start?

As always, have a great weekend, and thanks for reading Theme Park Insider!

Replies (21)

January 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM · I like the Disney pins. I like to collect them, but I'm not into trading them. Its more for the kids to trade them.
However, I would definitely love it if Busch Gardens/Sea World got into the pins. I would love to have a Nessie or Shamu on my season pass holder!
January 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM · I'm a huge collector of pins from world's fairs (some even from the 19th Century). I also collect Disney pins when I like the design, particularly those from Epcot.

Traveling to theme parks around the United States, though, I've found it almost impossible to find pins at non-Disney theme parks. I've always wondered if there just isn't the market for such items... or if it is a missed opportunity, particularly for Six Flags parks and smaller properties.

January 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM · I don't buy, trade, or collect pins because I spend enough money on Disney vacations without having to purchase dozens of pins (which are surprisingly expensive). Frankly, I don't really see the point of it, except for Eisner coming up with yet another way for Disney to bleed me dry. Whenever I see anyone with a lanyard full of pins walking around the park, I think two things:
1. "There's someone with a lot of disposable income" and
2. "There's someone who is going to be too busy hunting for pins to get on a lot of rides."

Pin collectors, keep on keepin' on. You make the lines slightly shorter for the rest of us.

January 7, 2011 at 1:07 PM · I collect all the pins featuring my favorite fandom at each park. I've got Peter Pan themed ones from Disney and Gryffindor/Potter from Islands. I had to outright buy all the ioa ones (ouch!) because they don't do trading there, but I did it the smart way at Disney. When they gave away the free pin for paid parking I got those and traded for peter pan ones. Plus when I buy pins I buy the cheap bulk sets and trade around with castmembers (who have to trade with you) until I get the expensive ones I want.

Jack, I trade at downtown disney store and fastpass the rides. Who needs lines? ;)

January 7, 2011 at 1:37 PM · I buy pins, but I never trade them. I usually only get dated pins (like special events, etc) and Cast Member Pins (also usually dated). I don't trade because if I like somebody's pin, I would just go and buy it I guess. There are very few rare pins that I have seen out and about on lanyards.

I trade Vinyalmation because, lets face it, you never know what you are going to get!

January 7, 2011 at 2:16 PM · The one thing I hate about pin trading is that when I'm waiting to purchase my souvenirs someone inevitably interrupts the castmember that's assisting me by wanting trade pins. UGH!
January 7, 2011 at 3:23 PM · I've been puzzled by this whole pin collecting nonsense for the last several years since I discovered it as a Haunted Mansion fanatic. Whenever I look up "Disney Haunted Mansion" on ebay I'll get a few thousand hits and roughly 70% of those will be pins! I fail to see the wonder others must see in all these pins. I don't wear them. I don't have a plaque on the wall for them, and I certainly don't need a drawer full of them. BTW, anyone want to trade Haunted Mansion Silly Bandz?
January 7, 2011 at 3:53 PM · I like the pins though I find they are too expensive even for Disney, afer all it's a 10 cent item no mater what it says. That being said, I purchased a starter set for my grandchild when she was 6. It kept her entertained when she had to wait for the older kids to finish the ride she wasn't tall enough for, or when she was done with her hot dog meal and we were still on the salad course. It also brought her out of shell because she had to learn to go to a cast member and "ask" if they would trade with her. Cast members taught her to how to spot limited editions and not to trade those unless she really wanted to and how to search for collections of pins. The problem is you buy a collection and then have to break it apart to get random pins. It's not for me, but she loves it. BTW, we NEVER ask a cast member who is in the middle of something else. We wait in line!
January 7, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Pins aren't my thing. I prefer photos that I take myself. I'm always more about the actual experience of being at a park than collecting, but to each his/ her own!
January 7, 2011 at 6:06 PM · I have a dirty guilty secret collection of Goofy merchandise. So if I do buy something, it's usually a silly hat or tshirt(aka something I'll actually use) or Goofy related. So the only pins I have bought are Goofy, but I don't buy things obsessively to have all of them so I only have a few. I've never understood the concept of trading anything like that though.
January 7, 2011 at 6:59 PM · We never knew anything about pin collecting until our trip to WDW last spring. My 8 yr old daughter was interested right away, so we got her a lanyard and a few starters. We found that it was a great way for a sometimes-shy child to gain some confidence in talking to people. Before the trip, she NEVER had the confidence to ask questions or otherwise talk to people she didn't know well. With the CMs, once she watched a few trades from afar, she jumped right in and asked people if they wanted to trade. I also got a few Star Wars pins for myself, which were great! (my fave- the storm trooper eating a mickey-ears ice cream, with the quote "get a taste of the dark side"). I found myself in Disneyland on a business trip a few months back, and bought a new pin for my daughter, which I incorporated into her under-the-tree christmas surprise of a trip back to the World this spring. Pin trading now holds a special spot for us. One big negative- a full or semi-full lanyard is heavy and hot around the neck!! I like the pouch version that a lot of the CMs use.
January 7, 2011 at 7:07 PM · Aw, that was me in the previous post- my recent computer problems must have signed me out!
January 7, 2011 at 9:41 PM · I was first introduced to pin trading at the Winter Olympics in Calgary back in '88. That was great fun trading with the world. I used to collect magnets, but those are a rare find these days at Disney. I resisted the lure of the pins as long as I could, but sadly I succumbed. I only trade the non-collectibles. Certain CM's can only trade with kids under 12. Be careful though, it is addicting. I have noticed that less and less selling space is being given to the pins. The World of Disney store in the Marketplace used to have an entire room dedicated to pins. Now it's just one small wall. Is the fad waning?
January 8, 2011 at 12:48 AM · I buy pins...or receive them as gifts...but I don't trade..^^;

I usually only ever get one when the visit to whatever park I go to is special...(Like my birthday visit to Disneyland...I received four different Snow White pins as a Birthday gift from my sweet! :D)

And as for other'd be surprised how many of them sell pins too!! (FYI to whoever posted the comment..Six Flags does indeed sell least the one in Valencia, CA does....I have no idea which Six Flags they were reffering to).

Despite the small pin collection I have though...I seem to be more of a "theme park flat penny/quarter" know, the ones where you put a penny/quarter in the machine, pick a design, and watch the machine smash and stamp the design on your change...

January 8, 2011 at 5:13 AM · I collect postcards of roller coasters. I have coaster t-shirts, calendars, books, videos.

The only PIN I care about is the one for my ATM card.

January 8, 2011 at 10:27 AM · Wow, no love for the pins!

If you think about it, they are actually a pretty cheap souvineer comparativly.

January 8, 2011 at 1:42 PM · I am a high school student from up north so a 20 hour drive to Disney World doesn't happen much. However, I am in Key Club International (a branch of Kiwanis for teenagers) and each district has it's own pin. At international convention last summer I bought a ton of my districts pins and went out and traded with people from other districts and different countries. I found it was a great way to start the conversation with someone. I have twenty or so pins now and think it is kind of cool to have some from Aruba and Germany. I don't buy/trade theme park pins though.
January 8, 2011 at 10:19 PM · I have maybe a dozen or so pins either bought by myself or given to me as gifts over the years, but I don't actively buy or trade them. I like them fine, have nothing against them (though I do wish more pins for parks here in the U.S. were also made in the USA), and enjoy seeing folks adorned with dozens of them at parks and enthusiast events. It's a cheerful sight, and looking at them individually, and discussing them with collectors, brings back memories or encourages dreaming about parks or attractions I'd like to visit!
January 10, 2011 at 6:27 AM · Our kids are really into the pins when we visit WDW and love to trade while in the parks or at DTD with staff and such. But that's as far as we take it. Their pins and lanyards hang in their rooms throughout the year as a souvenier for that year's visit. We are working on a better way to store/display the pins as the collection slowly increases with each visit.

As for me and my wife, we have bought a few here and there for our favorite rides. I found a really nice Expedition Everest pin with the Yeti, a Star Wars pin, and a muppet one I liked. So we have a couple but we really wouldn't qualify as collectors.

January 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM · Don Neal: As for me and my wife, we have bought a few here and there for our favorite rides. I found a really nice Expedition Everest pin with the Yeti, a Star Wars pin, and a muppet one I liked. So we have a couple but we really wouldn't qualify as collectors.

I Respond: Mr. Neal, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Or to coin a Jungle Cruise phrase: "You're in da'Nile."

January 10, 2011 at 1:36 PM · I feel like a weight has been lifted TH. Thank you for helping me past the first step. Where do I go from here? LOL :)

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