Pin trading: one of the many perks of being a merchandise cast member! I loved pin trading with guests. Some guests came everyday with their annual passes just to pin trade with cast members. After seeing another side of the trade game, I want to offer my new-found knowledge. Here are some of the best tips a cast member can offer:
1. Find cast members who are just starting their shift. This may be difficult to pick out especially during peak season (because of all the cast members and guests wandering around), but if you have a day to relax, seek out cast members who are just coming to work (this might be 11 am in World Showcase in Epcot). Why? this is a great time to pin trade because all of the cast members have just hit up the backstage pin board in costuming. There is a room in every park backstage for cast members to trade in their old pins to get good, new ones for guests. These usually include the BRAND NEW RELEASES!
2. Find cast members dressed up. These cast members are called leaders and they have access to usually more pins than most cast members giving you a wider selection to choose from and maybe find that one you are looking for! These cast members will be dressed up (not in costume) and will usually have a phone and headset, a trash picker-upper, and a ton of pins on them!
3. Ask about pin boards. Pin boards are usually in the most RANDOM places. Strollers has a pin board, Guest relations has a pin board, Village Traders in EPCOT has a pin board. Ask. A lot of times cast members will show you their pins and (sometimes) won’t offer to show you the board, however if you specifically ask they will show you! And if they don’t have one can usually point you in the direction of some nearby places!
4. Know who to ask for pins. Few cast members are really allowed to wear pins. Attractions and Quick Service don’t because of safety reasons. But other roles aren’t allowed due to efficiency (think Main Entrance, strollers and parking) these roles usually have a pin board though, so refer to number 3.
5. Be careful of Mystery Pins! Most people like the mystery pins, however it is a gamble. I knew some college program cast members who would make a mystery pin out of ones nobody liked or wanted just to get rid of them. I usually suggest trading the mystery pin first and grabbing a second (since you can trade up to two per cast member) pin if you did not like the mystery.
6. Ebay Pins. These pins are usually replicas of real Disney Pins. Use caution when purchasing on Ebay, if it seems too good to be true (99 cents for 100, really?), than it usually is. Some cast members won’t trade at all if they suspect a fake or non-disney pin, so just be aware it is against the “rules” of pin trading. A good cast member can spot a fake right away. It’s usually magnetized, has discoloration, and won’t have Disney Trading Pin on the back (unless they are really dumb and can get sued for that). Instead, buy a pack from a pin cart that you know your child or you won’t want to keep and trade those instead. Like I said, some people won’t care (or know) if they are fake pins but it takes away the integrity, so just play fair, please.
7. Find college age cast members to trade with. College aged cast members are usually more interactive than the older cast members who have been doing it for a few years. If you find enthusiastic cast members, you’ll have a better experience. Some of the older people I worked with quit bringing their pins because they just disliked the higher interaction, I guess.
8. Do a little research if you are into a certain pin set or movie. There are a TON of pins out there. Each year Disney World releases different sets of collections, but so does Disneyland. I started collecting a certain pin set and found out pretty late in the game they were from Disneyland. Not only were they from Disneyland but they were a cast member exclusive pin (cast member exclusive pins have a small hidden mickey on the face of the pin, see picture below. Needless to say, these pins cannot be bought in Merchandising locations, they must be traded from a cast member) which means a cast member had to have it and trade with a guest who then had to bring the pin and trade with a Disney World cast member who I could then trade with. Seems like a lengthy process, and it was almost impossible to find all of the set. So I traded them off instead.
9. Have fun! Don’t get caught up where you must get every single one and miss out on the magical Disney experience. Know when to trade and when to enjoy the pins you have and take the rest of the experience in!
10. Check out the Disney Parks Blog and type in Hidden Mickey Pins. They release pictures of the sets you can collect from Cast Members like such: