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Disneyland and California Adventure Park are probably best known for their rides, parades and character meet and greets. But there’s a few things we like to do away from the main attractions. Pin trading is something we’ve enjoyed on our visits and an activity which spans the ages.

Disney Pin Trading

Disney’s collectible pins have always been available, but the Disney Pin Trading tradition began in 1999 during the Millennium Celebration. And like many Disney guests, we’ve been swept up in tradition and on each of our visits we join many other children and adults in trading pins. We are conservative traders compared to some (see picture above) but we think it’s fun. It always encourages lovely conversation exchanges with Disney cast members and we return home with lovely souvenirs which evoke good memories of our times in the parks.


Of course to trade pins you need to start with some. We began with a starter pack we bought in Disneyland. Pins are available to purchase in pin trading groups but you do need to be careful they are real Disney pins. It’s important to remember you are purchasing pins to trade, so buy ones you’ll be happy to part with in a trade.

Disney Pin Trading

There are multiple pins for every character, commemorative pins and limited edition pins which get snapped up fast. Colour coding indicates  the price of the pin.


Many cast members wear lanyards with pins attached and are more than happy to trade pins if you see something you like. We approach politely and ask if we may see their pins. At first AJ felt bad saying there wasn’t anything she liked but gained confidence over time when she realised the Cast Members weren’t offended. It’s all part of the process.

Pin trading is excellent for shy children, children who are non-verbal and keen to engage and any kids looking to practice some communication skills.

Disney pin trading

Many of the Disney stores and food outlets have a pin board which they’ll happily show you. Sometimes they are behind the counter or hidden away so you need to ask if they have a pin board for trading. Others are hidden in boxes or displayed on cast member’s lanyards.

Disney pin trading

Every trade is different, with a variety of ways the pins are presented and the pins on offer. Finding that pin which ignites the thrill of a good find is hard to explain. Yes, you can buy pins in most of the stores but there’s something exciting about finding an older pin or one you’ve not seen before.

Disney Pin Trading

Pin trading is addictive and can be extreme. When we visited the Mickey True Original Exhibition in New York we picked up a couple of mystery pins and the cashier shared a classic story. A man went into the store with a scale to weigh the boxes of mystery pins to try and source the one pin he was missing from the collection. Given they are mystery pins you don’t know what you get until you pay for it, open the box and unwrap the pin. Apparently the die-hard pin trader still didn’t have success despite his tactics.


Disney Pin Trading

It’s popular to put pins on a lanyard (as pictured) but if you buy or trade the bigger pins they get heavy and the backs easily get knocked off when they rub against your clothes.

AJ put hers on a small canvas bag she used to carry her phone and other bits and pieces.

Disney Pin Trading

Purchase locking pin backs for your pins to avoid losing them. If the standard backs come off the pins are easily lost. The locks and other accessories can be purchased at the pin trading stores in the Disney Parks.

Set yourself a pin budget so it doesn’t get out of hand. There are so many lovely pins it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.


Kids grow out of clothing and toys so collectible pins make a great long lasting souvenir. Each one has a story of how it was collected and found which we find makes them all the more special.

One Mum told me she was getting them for her son who has a vision impairment because it would be a tactile souvenir for him to remember his holiday.

Disney Pin trading

So if you head to any  of the Disney Parks I encourage you to get amongst it.

You can read more about Disney Pin Trading on the Disney website. 



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