One thing is for sure, very little about a Disney Parks vacation can be considered cheap! I wrote a post a while ago talking about all of the things you can get at Disney for free, but really none of them would count to my kids as souvenirs they would choose to bring home.
This, however, totally feeds their soul and is one of the things they look forward to the most about our Disney vacations. And the best part is, it’s almost FREE! So, what is this magical gem, you ask? PIN TRADING!
Now if you’ve ever looked at the price of a pin at the Emporium on Main Street you are thinking “ok lady, you’re nuts, these pins are $15 each!” And you are totally right! They are crazy expensive, which is exactly why I would never buy them, unless they were really special!
So, how do we come home with an awesome pin set for free after each trip? We trade! Never heard of pin trading? Let me fill you in on the basics.
*Each cast member wears a lanyard or pin board full of tradable pins.
*Green lanyard-wearing cast members can only trade with children
*They let you trade any pin on their lanyard or board for any pin on yours – no questions asked!
So the reason I say that this is the CHEAPEST souvenir instead of a FREE one is because there is the initial investment on the pins! Like I said before, I’m not shopping on main street to get those pins (and the ones I would buy I certainly wouldn’t be trading!) There are two great ways to start pin trading:
- Purchase a pin starter pack from Disney. This includes your lanyard and a handful of pins to get started. It’s around $30, which is not a bad price and you are getting nice pins from the start. However, you only have a few pins to work with.
- Purchase a lot of pins on Amazon, eBay, or another site. This is what we did. I was VERY, VERY careful to only purchase from sellers with excellent feedback that don’t sell scrapper pins. Scrappers are cheap versions of real pins, but have noticeable differences making them fake. I bought around 50 for $30 and split them between the two girls and it came with two lanyards. Perfect.
When we originally got our pins, they were awesome and we were so excited to comb through them. There were a bunch of them that we ended up keeping for our pin boards, but most of them when on the lanyards for trading.
The best part about pin trading is you don’t need a park ticket to do it! Everywhere on Disney property cast members are wearing lanyards and trading. One of our best experiences was on the monorail! We were just riding and resort hopping and a handful of cast members who were earning their ears jumped on to go to the Magic Kingdom. They all had brand new pins! Lily was in heaven and we got quite a few really awesome, new pins, including the Lion King and Finding Dory!
Another awesome experience was sitting on Main Street waiting for the parade to begin and the guest services lady walked past and happened to have the Ariel high heel on her lanyard. Lily snatched that up so quick, the lady was cracking up!
Not only do we love doing this in the parks, we enjoy it just as much when we get home! It gives us something to talk about, where we got each pin, what we were doing, and how special and different each one of them is!
Our last trip, when we started trading, I was dead set against ever buying any pins, but now that they’ve become a permanent display in our home, this trip I did let the girls splurge and buy a special one at Castaway Cay and at the Character Warehouse! And our dear friend Cara bought them the anchor set on the cruise ship.
When we get home, we update our pin boards that are hanging in the girl’s room and pick out any pins we want to trade that were previously hanging. Those pins we add to our lanyards and we’re all set for our next adventure to Disney!
And if you get really into it, there are monthly subscription boxes where you can order mystery pins to be delivered to your house each month! Thankfully we’re not there yet, but you never know…
Are you into pin trading? Do you think it’s something your family would enjoy like ours?