After a few trips to visit the Mouse, you might want to throw something new into the mix to shake up your trips a bit.  From trading to scavenger hunts, there are many different ways to add a little something extra once you’ve “been there, done that.”

Pin Trading

Whether you’re trading with other guests or cast members, swapping pins at the Disney Parks can really add some fun to your vacations.  There are some hardcore pin traders out there on the hunt for rare and coveted pins.  We’re not those people.  And we don’t tend to trade with them, either.  In fact, we’ve only ever traded with cast members.  The kids love to trade for their favorite characters or just pins that happen to catch their eyes.  I stock up when I find pins at the Disney Outlet stores so the kids can trade them without giving away the ones they’ve collected over the years.  Some sources suggest eBay for pin lots at low prices, but there’s always an uproar about counterfeit pins or “scrappers.”  I’m almost sure we’ve gotten a couple of these over the years, but since the kids are just collecting for fun, we’re not too worried about it.  We’ve never purchased pins from eBay, so I can‘t offer too much advice there, but if that’s a worry for you, make sure you check seller ratings and reviews before purchase.


Get Park Wise: Most cast members will trade with all guests from their lanyard, board, card, etc.  Cast members with green/teal lanyards, however, will only trade with children.  Guests may trade up to two pins at a time.


The newest trading craze to hit Disney is Vinylmation.  These cute little figures are a bit more economical than pins if you’re buying them once you arrive on Disney property.  Certain gift shops will have clear boxes and mystery boxes ready for Vinylmation trading.  If you want one from the clear box, you’re good to go.  Just give the cast member your figure and you get the one in the box.  If you like a little mystery, you can choose to go for the black box.  You won’t be able to see what you’re getting, but if you just can’t stand the Vinylmation that appears, rest assured, I’ve never seen anyone forced to trade.  My little mouseketeer traded these for the first time this spring, and he had a blast!  This will definitely become a tradition.


Hidden Mickeys

Most people know about these little guys hidden all over Disney property, but take it a step further and turn it into a game.  While you’re out and about, snap pictures of all the hidden Mickey’s you can find.  Winner buys the next round of churros!  If you’re not seasoned in hidden Mickey hunting, check out one of the many books and web sites dedicated to the Disney Parks sport.


ŸGet Park Wise: Hidden Mickeys aren’t always of our favorite mouse.  Keep an eye out for other characters hiding out in attractions, shops, architecture and more.

Character and Autograph Hunting

Chances are if you’re traveling with little ones, this was already a major part of your Disney experience.  Have you thought about turning it into a challenge?  Try to find all of the Disney villains (hint: Come around Halloween!), try to meet the characters from a certain movie or see how many princesses you can meet in a day.  You can always ask Guest Relations to find out when and where your favorites are located.  Remember, pictures or it didn’t happen!


What are your favorite ways to add a little extra zing to your Disney vacations?

  • Bongo

    While I personally don’t find fun in meeting characters since its not my cup of tea, and I only passively look for Hidden Mickeys and characters when I can, I have recently begun to see the fun of trading. I got my start on a Disney Cruise Line (So far the only trading experience I have done) and it is quite fun really. While I will be holding onto the special ones I own now, I don’t want to become one of those hardcore pin traders always looking for the rare pins and seeing that they will come out with the more valuable pin.

    PS: I would like to thank those Cast Members on the cruise ship I traded with. It was fun. I originally had only the 2013 AP Pin of the Enchanted Tiki Room and a DCL pin that opens up and spins. Thanks to the CM’s, added to my collection is a vinylmation pin of the DLRR’s Engine No. 2 E.P. Ripley, a C and a D Ticket pin, and a Disneyland Orange Bird pin. While I don’t want to trade some of these pins, I am hoping to buy a starter pack and a few mystery pins and start a friendly trade with CM’s and the occasional park guest if they ever take interest in any hanging from my lanyard.

    PSS: Anyone have tips, tricks, or just anything in general to say about vinylmation trading? I go to the parks alone, and I have a general rule: If it can’t fit in my pocket or around my neck, it stays at home or goes into a locker if I purchase one. If I do want to start vinylmation trading, would that mean I would have to carry around a backpack or a side bag of sorts to carry the vinylmation?

    • So great that you found a new way to add fun to your Disney vacations!

      As far as Vinylmations, my little guy carried a couple in his drawstring backpack, but you could possible get away with one in a pocket. They’re a little bulky, so that’s all I think I’d carry if I wanted to trade them without carrying a bag of some type.

  • gboiler1

    We have been 7 times over the past 10 years and always find new and different things to do such as catch the films and performers in Epcot in World Showcase or play Kim Possible game, now Perry the Platypus I think.
    Street performers are also great to catch. We try out an attraction we have never done before like Tom Sawyer’s Island or ride the Liberty Belle.
    Exploring shops at Downtown Disney is fun and we’ve caught a movie at AMC and taken the balloon of Characters In Flight.
    This year we’ll take advantage of a mini golf course and hope to check out the Electrical Water Parade on Bay Lake.
    Really explore the brochures for things you’ve never done that will add depth to your Disney experiences.

    • It’s always fun to try something new. Despite the fact that we’re Disney bound a couple (or more) times a year, we’re always able to experience something completely new to us.

  • Big D

    I had to work on the Beanie Baby carts back when that was the craze, and I met enough absolutely insane fanatical people who’s life depended on getting a certain item (Winnie the Pooh dressed as Eeyore for halloween stands out in my memory as the most popular) that it totally turned me off to collecting anything Disney related. So for me, if I’m looking for something outside of the rides, it’s just all about soaking up the atmosphere. I love the live music and entertainment that is specific to a particular land. The bands in New Orleans Square are my favorite, and the Laughing Stock Co who does improv shows in front of the Golden Horseshoe was always my favorite to watch. I haven’t been to WDW enough to find a whole lot of hidden gems, but I did discover Off Kilter at the Canada pavilion at Epcot, who is a Scottish / Canadian folk band, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

    • Hahaha!! Oh, geez! I totally get it. “Collecting” performances is a great alternative!

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      I consider Off Kilter to be “Celtic Rock”. I’ve been a fan of their for years. I also love the band that plays in the UK, British Revolution, as I’m a HUGE Brit rock fan.

  • iceicebergha

    The girl I used to babysit for got into trading pins on her last trip to WDW, and now I make it a point to get a few pins for her and trade on her behalf whenever I go to DL. I usually try to find something cool, try to finish off some of her collections, or anything Jungle Book related (which are crazy hard to find!) and I don’t have to worry about becoming personally emotionally attached. 🙂

    We always take in a Billy Hill show and usually try to eat somewhere new each time we hit DL. I’m not crazy into characters, but if I see one without a long line, I sometimes feel inclined to take goofy pictures.

    My favorite extras at WDW include the Epcot JAMMitors and the Dapper Dans – last time I was there, they let us make requests and sing along with them!

    • That’s really sweet of you! We like taking atypical pictures these days, too. We have enough of the sweet, posed family shots, so it’s always fun to goof off.

  • StevenW

    I have some ten year old pins that I no longer cared for. I realize that I can now trade them for newer ones rather than throw them out. Time to raid the attic.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Of those mentioned, I like meeting characters. I even bought an autograph book for the first time since I was a little kid. Figured it would be good for a laugh to collect character autographs again. It’s also gotten me out of my comfort zone and talking to the face characters, who I normally avoid because I feel awkward around them (I seem to have better ‘conversations” with the furry ones).

    • We always have fun meeting characters! I really like when we get a little wink, wink, nudge, nudge comment from the characters that goes over the kids’ heads. Love that they engage us grown-ups, too.

  • holierthanthoutx

    How about the pressed pennies and quarters? Those have been my favorite in-park extracurricular for years and years, although I admit I’ve fallen off a bit in recent years as the machines don’t seem to be changed out as often as they used to be.

    In 2005, Disneyland put in 50 or 51 pressed penny machines around the resort, and it was quite a task to find all of them. There was one penny for each year Disneyland had been open. Almost all the machines were in Disneyland Park, but there was one at DCA and one at the Disneyland Hotel. That was our family’s coolest scavenger hunt ever; it took us forever to find that last one at the hotel, but we refused to ask anyone for help.

    Honestly, I find it shocking that Disney hasn’t figured out more ways to make money off of guests in this manner. The WDW in-park games are fun, but they don’t rake in the dough like people running around looking to drop money into things.

    I also used to collect CDs from the parks, whether they were the “official” park albums, attraction soundtracks or the music of the groups in the parks, like the Liberty Voices. Disney, however, has pretty much stopped producing new CDs of any sort in the past few years. I don’t think there’s been a new “official” album in something like five years. How stupid can their marketing department be to not provide us all with more ways to spend our money?

    • Ooh! Good one! My mom actually is the pressed penny collector in our crew (well, and the kids are always ready to crank the gears). I was just looking through my little collection this week.

      I love park music, too, and would LOVE to have a new album.

  • craig

    I started trading pins when Disney first introduced the program. It was fun buying and trading pins of my favorite characters, rides and resorts. In 1999, the Disney stores had the Countdown to the Millennium pins. I remember when Disney had a cast member watching for people who down-traded pins with kids and would reward them with special pins. After a few years though, Disney realized they had a HUGE money-maker. By putting out “limited edition” and “rare” pins, they were printing their own cash. Soon, it became common for “mistake” pins to be circulated. What once was a fun hobby became lost due to greed.

    Vinylmations are the same as pins except worse. They began with limited editions & mystery boxes. Although people can do what they want with their money, it pains me to see so many people who think they can pay for their retirement with their collections. Much like Beanie Babies, Pokémon cards, etc., a product that is manufactured as a “collectible” will not hold it’s value.

    • Interesting thoughts! And, wow, are there really that many people who think they’ll be making their fortune from pins and Vinylmation? I had no idea!