The History of Disney Pin Trading

Disney Parks History

Disney Pin Board Gag Warehouse Toontown Disneyland

Disney Pin Trading has grown into one of the most popular things at the Disney Parks, with dozens to hundreds of pins coming out every year, and pin trading having spread to all corners of the world. But despite its ubiquity now, it was not always present in the Disney Parks and is in fact more recent than you would expect.

IllumiNations Reflections of Earth Finale Epcot Disney World

While pins had been sold in the Disney Parks since the beginning, trading was a more recent addition. Pin trading in the Disney Parks initially started as a limited-time offering for the Millennium Celebration, being limited to a select few locations notably in the pin booth in the center of Epcot's Future World. It was supposed to be temporary to celebrate the year 2000, and was going to actually end.

This ended up taking off in a way Disney never expected and it began to spread beyond its few initially locations, and would eventually it would begin spreading to more locations, and soon it would be found in nearly every store in Walt Disney World.

Tree of Life Disney's Animal Kingdom Disney World

At its height Disney Pin Trading it was available at every Disney Resort in the world as well as other significant locations like the Disney Store next to Disney's El Capitan theater and Disney's Aulani in Hawaii.

They would usually follow the same trajectory, starting in limited locations before becoming popular enough to be found everywhere in the resort.

It's A Small World Hippo Disneyland

What initially started as a collect them all kind of trend with a limited number of pins would quickly outgrow those humble roots to the point where no one could possibly acquire all of the pins Disney was creating.

 This led to a shift where people began collecting based on character group or attraction rather than getting all of them.

Fantasmic Set at Sunset Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney World

Disney would play into this trend by creating some ongoing series that would continue for years. Some would be shortlived like Disney's puzzle series, while others would become popular and highly sought after, like the ongoing Hidden Mickey series that is exclusive to pin trading and cannot be purchased in any store.

Pin Trading would continually grow in popularity, eventually growing too popular in Tokyo Disneyland to the point that it had to be stopped for the sake of preserving normal park operations. Pins would still be available, but through games not trading.

Red Car Trolley In Hollywoodland Disney California Adventure

While pin trading expanded, the rules would remain much the same everywhere even as more pins were created.

Basically, you could trade any Disney Trading Pin, usually defined by the logo on the back, but sometimes also getting more specific on how recent the pin was made, excluding some of the earlier pins. You could only trade two pins with a cast member or on a larger pinboard that began popping up in major stores throughout the park. Cast members could never turn down a trade. You could also trade with other guests, leading to both official and unofficial pin meetups in the park, although they usually had more strict rules.

Notably, Disneyland Paris would create more strict rules that were often different from cast member to cast member, although they were relaxed following Disney's purchase of the resort.

Move It Shake It MousekeDance It Parade Mickey Mouse Float Magic Kingdom Disney World

Disney Pin Trading remains as popular as ever today and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. What was initially developed as a fad product line similar to Vinylmation and Tsum Tsums and so many others transcended the normal run of Disney merchandise lines to become a popular almost attraction throughout the Disney Parks. While not done by everyone, it is beloved by many who become devoted to it, adorning pins on bags, boards, hats, vests, and more. It is an exciting practice because you never know what souvenir you might come home with on this trip.