Disney introduced the popular phenomenon of pin trading in 1999. Participants can purchase pins and accessories at Disney parks or through retail outlets. Proper etiquette includes not touching others’ pins and delivering pins back to front during exchanges. Thousands of pin designs have been produced, including limited edition pins. The coveted “Continuing the Pin Trading Tradition” pin can only be obtained via a prize for demonstrating positive Disney Pin Trading etiquette.
Although collectible pins have long been popular Disney souvenirs, it wasn’t until October 1999 that the Walt Disney Company introduced what is now the very popular phenomenon of the Disney pin trade.
All you need to participate in the Disney pin swapping fun is having something to swap, and to that end, Disney provides a handy starter set, which includes one trade lanyard and four pins, usually two “keepers” and two duplicates. . The lanyard is worn around the neck and pins are then attached to the lanyard for display. However, you don’t need to buy the starter set; lanyards and pins can be purchased individually.
Pins and various Disney pin hobbyist accessories, such as lanyards, locking backs, and protective displays, can be purchased at countless pin kiosks and most gift shops at Disney parks and resorts. For the serious dealer looking to compile a specific collection, Disney pins are also often available through retail outlets such as eBay. Pins that the wearer wants to keep and not swap can be attached to the lanyard with screw-locking backs, which hold the pin securely and prevent it from accidentally shifting while walking through crowds at parks or being pushed onto an attraction . It is best to leave the trading pins with the original backs, which can be easily removed.
To exchange pins, simply contact another guest showing pins or a Disney cast member and request an exchange. A guest can, of course, decline, but Disney cast members at the parks or resorts must swap the pins displayed on their official lanyard. In fact they are expected to have up to two exchanges a day with a given guest. Proper Disney pin trading etiquette dictates that no one touch anyone else’s pins or lanyard, and when a swap is agreed, the pins are delivered back to front. In addition to wearing pins on lanyards, guests can wear pins on hats, tank tops, or sashes. Cast members can wear their pins on a hip lanyard, which is a square of burlap clipped to a belt.
In the years since the Disney pin trade was first introduced, thousands of pin designs have been produced, including several limited edition pins made available on their own or as a set or part of a series. Pins that are part of a set should be traded as a set.
The pins themselves come in many styles, shapes, and sizes that feature nearly every imaginable aspect of the Disney experience, from major attractions to rather obscure Disney characters to Mickey Mouse with Major League Baseball team logos. Some pins feature special design elements such as a charm, an attached rubber piece, moving parts that slide or rotate, or even flashing lights. Pins commemorating the holidays are very popular with Disney pin swap enthusiasts who are spending a particular vacation at the park. Each pin has a stamp on the back, giving information about the copyright, manufacture, and other details of that particular pin. If the pin is a limited edition, the size of the edition and sometimes an individual number will appear on the reverse. If the pin is a “surprise” or “mystery” pin, the stamp on the back will also mention it.
Certainly of particular importance to pin traders is the coveted “Continuing the Pin Trading Tradition” pin, which cannot be purchased but can only be obtained via a prize. Cast member leaders at Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts bestow this pin to guests who “demonstrate positive Disney Pin Trading etiquette and promote Disney Pin Trading,” making it a cornerstone to any collection.