1999, Disney started pin trading. The phenomenon has really caught on among guests, and we ourselves have spent many of our dollars in personal pin trading, as adults and with our children.. You may ask yourself “what is pin trading?” Pin trading is where guests can trade official Disney pins with the cast members (or other guests). Disney has pin stalls located all over the parks, where you can find dozens of pins featuring characters, rides, events, or just about anything associated with Disney.
There are guidelines on pin trading etiquette that can be found on the official Disney Pin Trading website (http://eventservices.disney.go.com/pintrading/index), and they include the following rules and guidelines to be followed:
- A ping must be a metal pin with a “©Disney” mark on the back in order to be considered “tradeable”.
- Guests may trade a maximum of two pins per cast member per day.
- Guests may not touch a cast member’s pin lanyard. If you need a better view ask the cast member to show you the pins or change angles.
There are many more guidelines that can be found on the following website: http://eventservices.disney.go.com/files/DisneyPinTrading_PinFormationGuidelines_April2009.pdf
My family and I tend to focus more on pin purchasing than pin trading. We usually select a couple pins each trip to help us remember the resort we stayed or, or rides we really enjoyed. We start with buying a few – but sometimes we purchase way more than planned! We try to do the buying at the end so it does not get too expensive as the trip goes along. Those are the pins that we do not trade, but keep them in a binder to look at and for the kids to enjoy. It’s a great way to remember the fun times we have on our Disney vacations.
However, we do encourage our young kids to trade with the cast members. Pin trading helps our kids in several ways. For our son who has autism, it gives him a chance to interact with cast members. It encourages him in a low stress atmosphere to communicate with other people, even if he uses very little words with prompting and he just points to the pin that he wants. The same holds true for our young daughter who benefits from the social interaction with cast members. They learn about the decision-making process. They have to decide if they see something they want and what they are willing to trade for in return. It may not seem like a big deal, but for those with special needs and young children it really helps them build and develop their social skills.
There are several ways to get your children started in pin trading. You can purchase a pin-trading starter kit at Disney Parks, complete with lanyard and a set of pins to trade. However, this can be expensive. Another way to get started is to purchase pins on sites like eBay. This is our preferred method and can be a very inexpensive way to buy pins to trade. You can usually buy them at one-fifth the price. Just make sure that they are official pins that can be traded. Selection can be limited, or may be offered in a “grab bag” format, but we usually don’t care what the pins are since we are going to be trading them any way. Finally, we can often find Disney pins at the Disney Outlet store – online or in our local mall. This gives us several pins to bring with us for our children to trade with cast members.
To help our children remember the rules of pin trading, we created a “social story”. Social stories walk children through different social situations, and give them positive reminders of how to behave. You can find our pin trading social stories on the Disney for Families with Autism Spectrum Disorder website (http://www.wdwautism.com/node/364). We have a free, downloadable social story that shows children how to trade with cast members. We even have a “power card” which is just a card with the key phrases that they can use to help them remember what should be said. We have printed and laminated the “power card” for our children, and hang it on their lanyards (we also include their name on the other side as a reference for cast members).
Pin trading can be fun for the children and you don’t have to break the bank doing it as for them half the fun is process of trading the pins. They treasure the ones they find. When we get home we put them where we can look at them and remember the magical trip we had.
Contributed by: Ray (NDD #102). Ray is the DDL’s expert on Autism and Walt Disney World vacations