Hello! My name is Christine and I'm addicted to Disney pins.
I collect them and trade them at Disneyland and The Disney Soda Fountain whenever possible.
So by now you may be asking yourself, "What the heck is she talking about?!?!"
HOW IT WORKS...
When you go to a Disney theme park you can purchase lapel pins off of the rack at the stores. To get started I suggest getting a "starter set" or a group of pins that share a common theme already on a lanyard for display and cheaper to purchase in a group than buying individual pins. They are perfect for trading. Once you have your pins, you can go up to any cast member that is wearing a lanyard with pins (unless their lanyard is the color light blue...that's only for kids to trade) and ask politely to trade for any pin on the cast members lanyard. They will allow you to trade up to two pins per day per cast member.
It is very similar to trading baseball cards. You can choose to collect your favorite character's pins, your favorite ride pins, your favorite park (I have a couple Disney Paris pins), or just whatever catches your eye. Or maybe you want to collect "Hidden Mickeys".
I specifically collect MUPPETS, TOWER OF TERROR & PERRY THE PLATYPUS. I occasionally find a Stitch pin I am fond of as well, but I'm afraid to fall into collecting Stitch because there are soooo many Stitch pins and Stitch collectors out there. But I admit the movie is awesome and he is adorable!
LINGO TO GET YOU STARTED:
*Hidden Mickey pins are special pins that only cast members have on their lanyards for trade. They are not sold. They are usually sets of about 5 pins with a 6th pin called a "chaser" that is slightly harder to find becausethere were less of them produced. They all have a hidden mickey head on them somewhere.
*LE - Limited Edition pins. Some of Disney's pins are limited editions, meaning that only a limited number of pins were produced. For example LE 1000 means only 1000 were ever made. Unless I'm mistaken all of the pins from the Disney Soda Fountain in Hollywood are LE 300's.
*Cast Exclusive - These pins can only be purchased by employees.
*AP - Artist Proof. Artist proof pins are very rare.
*WDW - Walt Disney World
*DLR - Disneyland Resort
*Jumbo - oversized/large pin
*There are many other types of exclusive pins like travel company, imagineering, etc.
Pins can be a combination of these. For example an LE150 Cast Exclusive. You can tell by reading the back of the pin.
SO NOW THAT YOU KNOW HOW IT WORKS...
It a fun hobby. I love it. I find it's a great way to find out about the park from cast members that love to share their stories when engaged. I found out from a cast member the other day that Haunted Mansion has a real ghost story. I found out from another about the hidden Tinkerbell in the diamond mine of Snow White's Scary Adventure. It's also a great way to meet other guests. There are two main areas that the pin traders hang out and trade pins with other guests. The barrels in Frontierland and the tables outside of Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters store. You can walk up to any of them with their pin display books open and ask to look through their collections. They will be happy to share their knowledge of pin trading, the park, stories and so forth. If there is a pin in their collection that you like, you can purpose a trade. Unlike the employees that must trade, the privet collectors do not have to accept your offer. But they often will, or they will make a counter offer. I've met traders that are employees on their off-time, families that do it together, couples, etc. I once met a guy that trades for fun, but always carries a Mickey pin with an American Flag. If he finds out you served our country, he gifts you the Flag Mickey pin...it's his way of saying thanks.
So last weekend I made some of my favorite trades at the park yet. I traded for a 4 pin set of LE 250 Muppets on Haunted Mansion.