I always loved collecting pins. As a kid, a pin was more durable than a t-shirt or a stuffed animal. It wasn’t as expensive as a lot of other toys either and were more age-appropriate than a shot glass or a decorative spoon. Pins were colorful, glossy, and didn’t take up too much space. They were the perfect souvenir.
Flash forward a few decades and they’re still a pretty great souvenir. Something I can have on my wall at work that won’t get too dusty. Something that reminds me of past vacations. Something that’s colorful, glossy, and doesn’t take up too much space.
I’m not going to go too far into the continuing phenomenon of Disney Pin Trading tonight. That’s a big pool into which I have only dipped my toes. Let’s just focus on the pins I have now and how I went from buying the occasional pin to commemorate a trip to the start of a collection.
For a while, my wife and I tried to sum up our trip with a pin or two without getting too many pins with the year on them. Sometimes this is easy. We stayed at Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge once while the pool was under construction. As a preemptive apology, we found cute pins of Pluto and Goofy aiding in said construction once we got to our room. We have also started buying a pin from each resort where we stay. Easy! The races with runDisney tend to have pins available as well to commemorate your weekend of exertion. Easy! Hey, they have a cool Avengers logo pin in the new Mission: Breakout! shop. Easy! Wait. They also have an exclusive pin for annual pass holders with Rocket’s paw print and the words, “These hands don’t scan.” Easy! Just buy two!
Yeah, it’s easy to keep adding to the collection. The picture of my office cork board is only a medium-sized chunk of our total pins. Just last year, I made the big leap. It was finally time to dive in and get a pin lanyard to wear at the Parks.
What caused this shift from buying a few souvenirs to wearing them at the Parks? It was this little Horizons pin. Maybe you recognize the logo from one of Epcot’s beloved but extinct attractions. (Five points to your House if you do!) I caught a glimpse of this pin on a cast member’s display one day and realized I would have to go for it and finally get into trading.
Quick primer for those who have no idea what I’m writing about here. Pin trading is an activity you can enjoy at all of Disney’s parks. You can buy pins at many gift shops around the resorts, but to get the rarest pins, you have to talk to cast members and trade one of your pins for theirs. It’s a pretty simple process where you ask a cast member to see their collection. If you see something you like, you give them a pin, they give you a pin, and it’s done. Cast members have access to exclusive collections that you can’t buy anywhere, so astute pin traders will be on the lookout for specific additions to their own collections.
Buying a lanyard and some starter pins meant that I was ready to show off my collection in public. Identify as a pin trader. Commit to sometimes talking to strangers in a park as they asked about my pins. I was ready for this duty. Because I wanted that Horizons pin.
Just starting the process of looking at one classic Epcot logo pin meant that I started seeing them everywhere. Within a few days on that trip, I traded for pins representing The Land, World of Motion, and Universe of Energy. On subsequent trips, I found pins for the Wonders of Life, Communicore, and The Living Seas. A search found that I still needed a pin for the original Epcot logo. I realized I was hooked, looking to complete my collection as I roamed the Parks.
So that is what happens when a passive collection of cool-looking things becomes an active collection. I continue to wear my collection with pride even though I’m missing that vital pin. And the ultra-rare, gold variant. I like when people ask about what I have. I like the sense of community as I ask about their collections. It’s an odd thing to find a niche community of pin people inside a niche community of Disney Parks lovers, but it’s still an awful lot of fun. What comes next? I don’t know. My fingers are crossed that Disney will release pins to go with the new, old-style logos they crafted for the upcoming Epcot changes. Hmm. I think I’m going to need a bigger lanyard….