1. Pin trading is soooooo addictive. You think you'll just stop at 10, maybe 12 nice pins that mean something to you, but then you discover that two of those nice pins are part of a five pin set. Well now you just have to get them all. BAM! 50 pins later and suddenly you have multiple sets and lots of specialty pins you never would have gotten before.
2. All cast members wearing a black lanyard with Disney pins are able to trade with any guest.
3. Cast members wearing green lanyards only trade with children. I don't agree with this, because there is nothing worse than seeing that one pin you've been looking for for ages and then finding out that because you're an adult you can't have it. It can really dampen your vacation. I know it's happened to me a few times. : (
Now there have been rumours that this rule was going to change, and it may already have since I left Florida in August.
4. You can only trade 2 pins with cast members at a time. Pretty much every cast member follows this rule, but there are no specifics about trading again with a cast member later in the day.
5. Hidden Mickey pins are cast member exclusive pins. Basically these pins can't be bought in stores, you can only get them by trading with a cast member. Are they more valuable? Not really, but some pin traders enjoy collecting the different sets. In my opinion the really valuable pins are the ones that were released in the early 2000s and aren't made anymore because the molds have been destroyed.
6. There are fake pins floating everywhere at Walt Disney World. Probably at Disney Land as well, but I've never been there before, so I can't confirm it. These pins are cheap knock-offs that use old or incorrect molds, low-quality paint, and different kinds of metals. The pins you buy in Disney stores are real, but some sellers on eBay will sell bags of pins and most often a lot of those pins are fake. Sometimes there will be fake pins on cast member lanyards, so if you want to trade with a cast member, ask to take a closer look at the pin first. There are a few ways to check and see if the pins you have or are trading for are fake (I'll make a post about that soon), but one quick way to see is to look at the back and examine the design in the metal. Scroll down to the bottom to see pictures of fake vs. real pins.
7. Pins are expensive. They're usually $8-$12 for individual specialty pins, and $30 for a 7 pin set. Lanyards also cost $10-$15. I used my 20% cast member discount a lot on pins this summer.
8. When you trade pins with a cast member, keep your pin back! I recommend the small metals ones instead of using the black rubber pin backs that come with Disney pins and that cast members have.
9. Cast members have to trade their pins with you. This summer I ran into a few guests who complained to me about cast members not trading pins off of their cast lanyards. One reason was because the guest was trying to trade a fake pin. The guest explained that she had gotten the pin from another cast member, so how could it be fake? It didn't matter, the cast member wouldn't trade with them.
If this happens to you, talk to another cast member in the store and ask for a manager.
Another story a guest once told me was when a cast member traded a pin with another guest, and then immediately put that pin into their own pocket. When the guest asked to trade for the pin, the cast member said no because they were saving it for someone else.
Now it is common for cast members to trade pins between each other backstage for fun (as a cast member who had a lot of fun talking to guests about pins and trading with them, I always traded with my friends for their best pins if I knew they had no interest in pin trading). It is also common for cast members to use their lanyards to trade pins from their own collection. I'm not sure if there was a rule against this (if there is it isn't really enforced) but it is looked down upon. My understanding this summer was, it is fine as long as the cast member is trading with pins they bought instead of just taking the pins from their lanyard, but they shouldn't be doing that on stage in front of guests, and they definitely should not refuse to trade a pin with a guest.
10. Beware the mystery pins. Mystery pins are pins on a cast member's lanyard that they have put on backwards so that the face of the pin is hidden. Cast members like myself who understand how special pin trading is to some guests will take any really special pins we come across while trading during the day and will turn them into mystery pins. Other cast members will use it as a way to get rid of fake or unpopular pins they don't really like.
Above you can see three different pins. One is fake. Can you tell which it is?
It's the first pin of Eva from the movie WALL-E. The paint doesn't have a gloss coat of paint like the Epcot pin below it, and when you look at the back the 'Mickey head' design has a border around the edge. This design should go right to the very edge without getting cut off before, just like in the circular Epcot pin.
The last pin is one of my favourites. It is real, but doesn't have the Mickey head design on the back.
That is because the pin was first released in 2002, before Disney created the Mickey head design. Even though this pin is still sold in stores today, it still looks the same because Disney probably still uses the same molds they did years ago.