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Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor
New Pin Trading Rules and Coins, anyone?

Effective today, Disneyland has implemented a new set of rules to govern the pin trading program. There has been a great deal of debate about this, and a great deal of confusion. Here are the details about the new policies, and some background on why this change was made. 

Pins are popular souvenirs because they are relatively inexpensive, small, and can be worn or displayed in a number of ways. Borrowing a page from the Olympics, Disneyland introduced pin trading at the park last year. The park established areas where guests could meet, show off their collections and trade with other guests. Merchandise Cast Members (CMs) were issued lanyards of pins to use in trading with guests. Some CMs were designated as "Super-Traders", and can be identified by the pin-covered vests they wear. 

When Pin Trading first began, the park established a policy regarding "tradable" pins. They asked that pins offered to Cast Members for trade be a cloisonnÚ pin, licensed by Disney or a Disney "operating participant" (Like McDonalds), and that it contain a Disney character, place, event or icon. Pins were to be traded one for one. Pins sold as sets were supposed to be traded as sets. In short, the park expected that guests would be trading Disneyland pins for other Disneyland pins. 

Pins for sale at DCA 
Pins for sale at DCA 

As with any system, some decided that rules were meant to be bent, if not broken. Visitors started making questionable trades with CMs. They would break up multi-pin sets, trading the pins one at a time for other pins. Then the cheap pins started showing up. These pins are usually from Spain or Germany, and can be purchased for as little as 79c from various importers. CMs, new to the program and unsure of the rules, would accept these trades as a matter of "guest service". When they turned in their lanyards at night, the lower quality pins would be replaced with Disneyland pins, and the whole process would start over again the next day. 

As trading spread to the other Disney parks, the problem got even worse. The Disney Stores in Japan sell sets of 5 or more small pins for as little as $7.00. Pin traders, visiting Tokyo for the start of their pin trading program, stocked up on those pin sets to use as traders back home. Tourists from Japan would bring them with them when they visited Disneyland as well. Of course, the Disneyland Resort CMs had no idea that these pins were supposed to be sets, and traded them as single pins. It was not unusual to find an entire set of the TDS pins on a single CM lanyard, in place of 5 or 6 other pins. 

This lanyard is typical of what you would see before the policy change  - see anything on here you'd trade for?
This lanyard is typical of what you would see before the policy change  - see anything on here you'd trade for?

Of course, after several months of this, the CM lanyards were just filled with junk. It was rare to find a "good" pin on a lanyard, and they didn't last long. CMs would complain about guests who walked around the park with a pocket of junk pins, stripping the lanyards of good pins. For the remainder of the day, others guests who approached those CMs looking to trade would look at their lanyards and walk away. Many CMs stopped wearing lanyards at all. How would you feel if you were told 100 times a day that you didn't have "anything good" to trade?

During the Preview Events for DCA, the CM lanyards were filled with great Disneyland pins. Some of them were retired pins from the Attraction Collection that was released during the summer of 1998, prior to the start of Pin Trading. Once the park was opened to the public, these pins were soon traded away. 

Of course, all of this was hurting pin sales at Disneyland. When guests are using cheap pins to trade with CMs, they are obviously not buying as many Disneyland pins. When CMs don't have anything worth trading for, other guests won't be buying pins to trade with. CMs were not excited about the program and guests were not excited about the program. Obviously, something had to be done to salvage Pin Trading. 

This sign appeared at cash registers throughout the resort last week. 
This sign appeared at cash registers throughout the resort last week

So, a decision was made to reintroduce the original pin trading guidelines. For the past week, the sign shown above has been displayed wherever pins are sold. CMs have been explaining the new rules to guests, and trying to dispel the rumors that have cropped up. (No, you don't have to trade only Disneyland pins. Yes, you can still trade the Mini Map Pins) Here is a condensed version of the guidelines: 

This is a page from the booklet - © Disney
This is a page from the booklet showing acceptable pins - © Disney

Tradable Pins: CloisonnÚ, Semi-CloisonnÚ, and Hard Enamel pins are accepted for trading, so long as they bear a Disney copyright stamp. All of the pins shown above are acceptable for trade. How can you tell if your pin is cloisonnÚ? First, look at it. CloisonnÚ pins are, by definition, painted metal pins. Run your thumb over it. You should be able to feel very slight ridges between the colors. If the ridges are very pronounced, the pin is probably a soft-enamel pin. If the pin is entirely smooth, it's an epoxy coated pin. 

In addition: Tradable pins must still contain an image of a Disney person, place or thing. Operating Participant pins must still show an affiliation with Disney or a Disney Resort to be tradable. Pin sets must still be traded as sets. 

None of these pins can be traded with CMs
None of these pins can be traded with CMs

Non Tradable Pins: Everything else! The photo above shows some pins from my own Disney pin collection that are no longer considered tradable. Metal finish pins, (like the Partners and Sorcerer hat pins shown above, or antique-finish pins like the T.E.A.M pin), are not accepted.  Epoxy coated pins, (like the "2001", Valentine's Day, DCA AP Preview and 1999 AP pins ) are not tradable, which eliminates most of the Tokyo Disney Store pins.

Also not acceptable are Soft Enamel pins, (like the Castle and Mickey / Minnie in the car) look a lot like cloisonnÚ pins, but have a different finish. Soft enamel pins look like they were painted with plastic paint, and have very deep wells. Most of the Spanish and German pins fall into these last two categories. Framed pins, (like the Disneyana grand opening pin) have been added to the list. Rubber pins have never been tradable, and will not be under the new rules. Finally, non-painted pins, (like the flocked fuzzy bear above), are banned as well. 

Now, this isn't to say that you can't trade these pins with other visitors. As you can tell, there are a lot of great, desirable pins that don't meet the guidelines required to trade with CMs. Guests can still trade anything they want with each other, so long as there is no money exchanged. 

A booklet will be handed out to visitors, explaining the new rules  - © Disney
A booklet will be handed out to visitors, explaining the new rules - © Disney

In addition to signs at the cash registers, Disneyland has designed a booklet for customers, explaining the policies and giving examples of good pin- trading etiquette. The booklet is also being translated into Spanish and Japanese, so that these visitors can understand the rules as well. A backstage display has been installed near costuming, to insure that all CMs learn about the new policies. Finally, expect to see a strong on-stage presence of Merchandise managers, to help explain the rules to the more stubborn guests. 

Lanyards still won't look quite this good, but there will be a definite improvement!
Lanyards still won't look quite this good, but there will be a definite improvement!

Customer reaction has been mixed. A few are upset by the new rules. The new rules will obviously put a crimp in the  trading techniques of more than a few guests. Some believe that Disneyland should accept any licensed pin for trade, no matter where it came from or what it's made of. A few have asked why Disneyland still sells pins that are not considered tradable. In response to the latter, merchandise managers have indicated that these non-tradable pins are being phased out, and that almost all new pins will be tradable. 

Most customers, however, are thrilled about the new policy. A number of people I've talked to over the past week are really looking forward to seeing what pins are put on the lanyards, and are looking forward to possibly finding some retired pins again. It is hoped that the new infusion of desirable pins will boost pin trading, and pin sales, across the resort. Lanyards are being issued to guests in all lines of business throughout the resort. In addition to Merchandise CMs, you'll find lanyards on Custodial, Main Gate, Foods, Outdoor Vending and other on-stage CMs. 

No matter what your opinion about the new policy, remember that the front-line CMs were not responsible for making it, but they do have to uphold the policy. If you have a concern about the policy, be sure to address it to the right people. I've already seen too many instances where CMs have been yelled at by guests because they declined to accept a certain pin in trade - and that was before the new rules went into effect.  Be sure to bring an extra dose of patience with you when you come to trade pins, and remember - this policy really IS for your benefit. Won't it be great to have lanyards full of wonderful pins?

The front of the Dated Coin, and the back stamped on every coin

First there were Bean Bag Plush, and then there were Pins. Always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing, the park has introduced a line of Collectible Coins. There are 20 different coins, each sold individually on a blister card. The front of each coin bears a Disneyland image, while the back shows images of all 6 lands. 19 of the coins are dedicated to Disneyland attractions. The 20th coin, called the Dated Coin, shows the classic Disneyland Marquee. A map is sold separately, and is designed to hold all of the coins for display. None of the coins are considered Limited Edition, except for the Dated Coin which will only be made this year. If the program is successful, a new Dated Coin could be released each year. 

The front of the Dated Coin, and the back stamped on every coin.   
The whole collection, framed

Of course, "If" is the big question. This is not the first time Disney has tried to offer a coin collection. The Disney Stores tried to follow up on the somewhat-successful Millennium Pin series with a series of coins. The Disney Stores I've visited report tepid sales of the collection. Coins have been offered at some recent Merchandise Special Events, and have remain unsold months later. The Character of the Month coins offered last year were used as Gifts with Purchase at the park's Disneyana and Disney Gallery shops. It seems that the park really wants coin collecting to take off, but customers are not hopping on the trend. 

So, what's the difference between Pins and Coins? Why aren't the same people who bought hundreds of Bean Bag Plush snapping up the Coins? I think there are several issues. Pins and Bean Bag Plush have actual uses, where coins and medallions really don't. You can wear a pin, and your child can snuggle with a stuffed Mickey, but what are you going to do with a coin?

20 coins, and a map
20 coins, and a map

Price is another concern. A single pin, that is a functional item in addition to a souvenir, can have a collectible value on it's own. There are individual pins that sell for a hundred dollars or more at auction. These coins, not being Limited Edition or otherwise unique, don't have the same individual value. Once the Dated Pin is retired, an entire set that contains this coin might have collectible value. But the collectors don't really seem interested.

If people are not buying them as collectibles, perhaps they will buy them as souvenirs. The entire collection of coins, with the map, is $137.50. That's a pretty big investment for a souvenir. I could see someone buying a single coin as a souvenir, especially if they like a particular image or attraction. Personally, there are several single coins I like, but I don't want the rest. That gets back to the "what do I do with this when I get it home" question.

I think there needs to be a way of displaying a single coin, or perhaps a small group of coins. I'd love to see a frame and mat, where you could put a border of coins around your Disneyland photo. Someone else suggested a plastic case to keep one coin in, to be used as a key chain. Hmmm.... let's see - what if they sell a plastic coin holder, that you could hang from your pin lanyard. Maybe that would get the pin traders interested!

New Pin Trading Rules


Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.

In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.

If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.


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