My family is travelling to Florida towards the end of April just in time for Easter Weekend and what is known in the US as Spring Break, which as it turns out is the busiest time ever to go to Disney World (in Canada we have March Break, which it currently is now - why must my neighbours to the South be so different on things like this?). But that's another story.
A friend of mine recently accompanied her sister's family on their vacation to Disney, and told me the kids really loved pin trading. As in, it was one of the highlights of the whole Disney experience for them. So I looked into it - in sum, you carry official Disney pins on a lanyard or some other such storage object, and you go trade with park employees, who apparently get all sorts of cool pins from the park with the purpose of trading them. Buying the pins in the park is expensive; the pins can be $5-$7 each. So I went the Ebay route, which some 'unofficial' disney sites said is fine, and a good way to get a deal. Boy howdy; you can buy them in lots for what works out to be $1 apiece, including shipping to Canada.
So that's what I did. But when they arrived and I looked at them, my Spidey Sense started tingling. So I did some deeper research (give me a break, I'm a parent working full time, so I'm a Very Busy Dragon). Apparently the pin-trading sphere is rife with "scrapper" pins - pins that come directly from the manufacturers in China but didn't make it to the stores because they are flawed. People buy them in bulk and often sell them on Ebay. The seller I bought from had 99% positive feedback, but sure enough, every one of the negative ones was "scrappers, total crap" with some people saying the employees wouldn't take them. One person pointed out they smell like marijuana, which they actually do. I found some information about how to tell scrappers from not, and about two thirds of them are pretty obviously scrappers. See picture - top bunch are scrappers, bottom look legit.
Whether you can trade them seems to be a grey area - there are reports of park employees rejecting scrapper pins or grumbling about them, but then on the other hand many don't seem to GAF. But it put me in a quandary - do I want to contribute to putting more scrapper pins out there and pissing off really serious traders and risk being admonished by park employees in front of my kids? They weren't that much money and I can't be bothered to return them. I think what I'll do is just bring the ones that look okay, and then also hit up the official Disney Character Warehouse at the nearby outlet mall where they offer old stock from the park stores at a discount. Some reviews say you can get old pins there for $2 or $3. Not as cheap as Ebay, but at least they're not questionable.
Anyway now I have these silly pins that aren't even very nice. I might just Freecycle the rest of them or something. Sometimes I need to think my cunning plans through a bit more. If you know anything about this pin trading stuff, feel free to chime in. This shit is hard.
ETA: My husband, ever helpful, suggested that if they smell like pot I should probably wash them before we leave. I will be trying to enter the US from another country and there are sniffer dogs in the Toronto airport. This makes me laugh, but is possibly a fair point.