Within probably the last year or so I have really started to enjoy collecting Disney pins. My sister was into it a little while before me and I always thought it was kind of silly until I tried it on one trip to Disney and I was hooked!
I'm not sure how long Disney has been making pins but I would say for at least the last 7 or 8 years. There are so many pins out there now it's really hard to keep up and it would definitely be a big financial investment if you wanted to collect every single pin made. The pins these days retail for around $8.99 to $10.99 per pin, sometimes even more than that. What my sister and I enjoy doing, and what is the "big" thing at Disney parks around the world is pin trading.
You have a lanyard that you put your pins on and then you walk around and you can either trade pins with cast members (that's what Disney calls their employees) or with other people just like you. Pretty much 99.9% of the time my sister and I will trade with cast members, although every once awhile we've come across an adorable little kid while waiting in line for a ride who wants to trade with us, and we really can't resist.
The reason why we trade mostly with cast members is because they get special "cast member only" pins. Every morning a cast member receives a "refreshed" lanyard, meaning a brand new lanyard with new pins on it, some being cast member only pins. The majority of these pins can be identified with a hidden Mickey somewhere on the pin. See my pictures for a few examples of what a hidden Mickey looks like.
My sister collects a wide variety of pins but I mainly focus on Stitch (he's my favorite Disney character), and hidden Mickey pins. I also will trade for any other pins that I just think are too cute to pass up.
To trade a pin:
1). Have your lanyard covered in pins that you are willing to trade.
2). Walk up to either a random tourist or a cast member and ask to see their lanyard.
3). Take a look at their pins. If you see one you like, ask if you may trade for it. Hint: If you ask a cast member they MUST trade with you, normal people of course can refuse if you want to trade them a pin they already have or don't want.
4). If it's a successful trade take their pin, hand them yours, smile and say thank you and move on to hunt down your next trade!
I should add that there are two different kind of lanyards that cast members wear; blue ones and green ones. If they are wearing a blue one anyone can trade with them. If they are wearing a green one, only kids can trade with them.
I love trading pins, I think it's really fun and sometimes a challenge if you are looking for specific pins. My sister and I have been known to do "drive-bys" to a cast member. We slowly walk by and glance at their lanyard real quick to see if they are worth going up to. I know they don't mind but I always feel bad if I ask to see their lanyard and I end up not trading anything with them. Pin trading is definitely something for all ages, from young to old. I am twenty five and I enjoy it, and I've seen people my parents age trading as well. My 8 year old cousin was down visiting me just a little while ago and she loved trading as well.
It might seem kinda dorky, ok it is dorky, but I like it. You should give it a try the next time you are down at Disney, my experience speaks for itself, don't knock something until you've really tried it!