Disneyland Pin Trading 101

When I started planning Jemma and I’s birthday getaway to Disneyland last year I was tipped off to pin trading. And boy am I happy we were! Outside of the pure magic of all things Disney, pin trading was our favorite activity of the whole trip. 


If you want to give pin trading a try, here’s what you gotta do!

Order Pins BEFORE Your Trip

Do not, under any circumstances buy pins at Disneyland. They’ll run you $5-10+ a piece and that’s just nonsense. Especially when your child tries to trade the spendy, glittery pin for some ugly animal you don’t recognize “because it’s just sooooo cute!”. Instead, pre-buy a lot of pins from eBay or Amazon. You’ll get a mystery lot – some winner, some losers. But that’s OK! Then they can trade to their hearts content and you don’t have to worry about what comes and what goes. I have ordered from this shop and this shop with great success.

Don’t Forget a Lanyard

Again, buying pins and pin trading accessories at Disneyland are expensive. Browse the Disney Store for sales, as well as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay for a deal on a lanyard, or, make your own with Disney ribbon!

Know the Rules

There aren’t many rules and everyone at Disneyland is so nice so don’t be nervous about jumping right in. But, the basics to know are …

  • Most of all, be polite, be sure to say “please” and “thank you” 
  • You can trade 1 pin for 1 pin at each pin trading location/with each person
  • At each location/person you can trade up to 2 pins
  • The board/lanyard can’t have 2 of the same pins so if there is already say, a Sleeping Beauty pin, you can’t trade the exact same Sleeping Beauty pin
  • You can ask fellow pin traders to trade, but they have the option to say no and so do you
  • You don’t have to trade anything, you can look and decide not to trade if nothing catches your eye

Plan a Pin Day

Pin trading takes a little practice, especially for kids. Help them become confident with pin trading by planning a day focused on pin trading. I’m not saying to skip rides and characters, no no no, rather, when you arrive in Anaheim spend a few hours in Downtown Disney the day before you officially enter Disneyland or California Adventure. Quite a few shops in Downtown Disney have pin boards or stuffed animals at the registers with lanyards full of pins, so get your pin trading practice on before heading into the park!

Ask This Question

After you trade a pin, be sure to say “Thank you” followed by “Do you know where there is another place to trade close by?” It isn’t always apparent where pin boards are, so asking a cast member to guide you to your next trade location is key to finding the best pins and secret spots!

Reassess Each Night

Every night Jemma and I would take all of our pins off our lanyards and organize them on our hotel bed. We prioritized our favorites – the ones she loved and ones that completed a collection – and decided which ones were ready to trade. Pins that we weren’t planning to keep got re-pinned on our lanyard so we would be ready to trade again the next day. 

Study, Study, Study

I mean, don’t go overboard, but before your trip, learn a little about pin trading. This post is obviously a decent start, but definitely check out these others too …

Talk To the Cast Members

We had two exceptional experiences with cast members while pin trading. On Jemma’s birthday she was gifted a brand new Ariel pin from a cast member working at a shop in California Adventure. They talked quite a bit about how awesome it was to be 5 years old and she told Jemma to swing by later in the day for another surprise. We returned and she had a glittery 60th Anniversary pin for Jemma too. It was such a special gift! Another cast member gave Jem the option to answer a Disney trivia question in order to “win” an extra mystery pin that was hidden in her pocket. She got it right and got an awesome princess pin, her favorite, of course!

Have Fun

Most important, have fun! That’s what pin trading is all about! I love pin trading because it keeps little ones focused on trading rather than asking to buy souvenirs every other minute and they love it because it’s like a treasure hunt! 

Does your family trade pins at Disneyland? Definitely share your secrets and favorite pin experiences in the comments! I’d love to hear! 

Want more Disney? Here ya go!

What I Bought Before We Left For Disneyland

50 Tips, Links and Random Thoughts About Traveling To Disneyland


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  1. Amanda Smith says

    I’ve heard of pin trading, but wasn’t sure what it was. Thanks for the information, I will be pin trading the next timentry we make a trip to Disneyland.

  2. Marie Cole says

    I didn’t even know this was a thing but it sounds like a fun activity for kids to engage in.

  3. Sandra Caballero says

    I didn’t know this was such a thing to do at Disney.