Disneyland cracks down on bench-hogging pin traders

November 9, 2023, 2:08 PM · Disneyland is moving to restrict professional pin traders working inside its theme parks.

For years, pin traders have set up large pin boards on benches in Frontierland, with occasional forays into Disney California Adventure, as well. Now, Disney is saying that park guests no longer will be able to do that. In a change posted to Disneyland's FAQ pages, the resort is now banning large pin boards inside the parks.

Guests who want to trade with other guests may display their pins only on a lanyard or a single trading bag, no larger than 14 inches by 12 inches by six inches. No lights, signage or other displays will be allowed. And the use of benches for displaying pins now is explicitly prohibited by Disneyland.

Guests using a trading bag will be restricted to trading with other guests at designated times - from park opening until 3pm - at a designated location, next to Westward Ho Trading Company in Frontierland. The specific location and trading hours will be subject to change, as well, Disneyland said.

Disneyland also said that only trading official, metal Disney pins is allowed in the park. In addition, "monies, gifts, vouchers or receipts may not be exchanged or used to trade for a pin," the resort said.

"Guests suspected of abusing the guidelines may be subject to, among other things, removal from the Disneyland Resort premises," the resort said on its website.

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Replies (9)

November 9, 2023 at 2:48 PM

So...embarrassingly enough, as as DLR regular, I've never really delved into or paid attention to the Pin trading experience. (I've seen it happening)

But is it essentially just trading purchased pins? Cast members have to trade if asked / requested?

What is the history behind it or when did this become a thing?

November 9, 2023 at 3:10 PM

They should get rid of Pin Trading like Tokyo Disneyland did many years ago. Long story short: Pin Trading got too crazy that Tokyo Disneyland just banned it. Sure, they’ll still sell a few pins here and there but they’re not meant for trading.

November 9, 2023 at 5:24 PM

Pin trading started a long while ago (was it the 1990s?), when Disney decided that it needed to have its own version of athletes' pin trading at the Olympics. So it started producing all these pins and lanyards, and outfitted cast members with ones to trade.

Of course, with the dawn of eBay and online selling, people figured out that they could make money on older, rarer pins, and predatory pin trading soon followed. Throw in the fact that some pins retail for more than others, and there's enough disparity in the value of pins that a high-volume trader who knows the market can clean up.

Now if you want to do that online from home, have at it. But when some traders set up what amounted to an unlicensed pin trading storefront inside the park, fans began to complain. Now, finally, after years of complaints, Disney has done something about it.

November 9, 2023 at 5:40 PM

I think this is Good, I always felt the boards made it look like a Swap Meet set up .

November 9, 2023 at 5:43 PM

Obviously it existed, but I never saw it. This is pretty wild. Google... you must have a photo of folks setting up a pin-trading shop at Disney.

November 9, 2023 at 6:01 PM

@ Robert -Wow, thanks. Never knew the history behind it. It is something I see every time I'm at at the parks, but just never really found out anymore about it.

I've seen those pin boards set up at benches before too, good to have context behind it.

November 9, 2023 at 8:28 PM

Thank goodness and about dang time. Disneyland let this get way out of control in the first place and completely dropped the ball on it for decades.

November 10, 2023 at 1:34 AM

I’m not exactly crying over Disney finally doing something to restrict the pin sharks. These folks took what should be a fun pastime and made it something unsavory, with Disney turning a blind eye to it because of the revenue pin sales generated.

Honestly, I have to wonder if Disney’s crackdown may be due to a decline in pin sales, and Disney’s hoping that clamping down on the sharks may encourage more casual traders to participate in pin trading again.

Personally, I’ve always been more of a collector than a trader, so the changes aren’t going to effect me much; I’ve bought fewer pins over the past few years because I haven’t been as excited about what Disney’s selling.

November 10, 2023 at 8:19 AM

There is certainly a love/hate relationship here with the pin trading culture. Disney no doubt loves the revenue generated from guests buying pins throughout their parks and stores, products that no doubt have massive margins, especially when they can slap "Limited Edition" on the card for any pins minted in batches fewer than 10 billion. The pin traders no doubt can generate enough revenue from in-park trading to pay for their APs/Magic Keys, and generally take up little space in the parks. I have always thought that in-park traders should have needed some type of permission (permit or established relationship with park operations) to set up boards in the park (though it's clear in Disney Springs and Downtown Disney, the pin trading areas are basically a flea market for traders). The obvious downside of this symbiotic relationship is the traders that take up too much valuable park space (particularly along parade routes and fireworks viewing areas) and come in such large numbers that the theming of the park is disrupted by what amounts to an impromptu swap meet.

My wife and son used to be casual traders, and it was fun when CMs regularly participated (they especially enjoyed when CMs would offer secret pins flipped on their boards/sashes), but they are fewer and fewer CMs trading nowadays that the only people willing to trade are other guests and professional traders who will NEVER trade straight up (i.e. 1 starter pin for a limited edition pin), and will routinely swindle children out of valuable pins they might have stumbled upon.

Frankly, I'd be happy if the pin trading culture were completely eradicated from the properties, save for maybe the designated spaces at DS and DD. It's a scourge on the parks, and honestly there's little redeeming quality to collecting and trading pin with professional traders who are only looking to make deals that secure themselves a profit.

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