More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Would You Like to Trade?

Steven Miller

by , Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Walt Disney World Resort

Trading did not exist at Disney Parks when I started my career on the Walt Disney World College Program. As a Merchandise Host at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island during summer 1997, my conversation starter was a bubble blower. The conversation typically began with either a Guest or me yelling, “Bubbles!” Flash forward 13 years and today Cast Members have a phrase that works even better than bubbles – “Would you like to trade?” That “ice breaker to interaction” phrase continues to be the catalyst for trading pins. Now, the phrase has additional meaning with the introduction of Vinylmation figure trading.
Vinylmation Trading
Vinylmation trading was recently introduced to select merchandise locations at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line and soon Disneyland Resort Paris. The whole Vinylmation “spirit of mystery” naturally lends itself to trading. My goal was finding the easiest method for Guests and Cast Members to trade these collectible figures. We landed on using two different types of tools – an open trade box (pictured above) where a Guest can trade for any figure found in the box, and the Mystery Trade box (pictured below), which continues the thrill of the chase. I did try wearing the 3” Vinylmation figures around the office but I looked like Chewbacca (sans hair) with his bandolier.
Vinylmation Trading
The original concept for the mystery trading involved three small silver boxes. Realizing we would need more variety and choice, the Mystery Box 12 was introduced at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, in September 2009. Donald Ferro, the developer for Vinylmation, had Guests trading non-stop for two hours each day during the Expo! We learned three things from that experience – Guests loved trading Vinylmation about as much as they enjoy trading Disney pins; Guests loved trading the Monkey from Park #2 (we had a whole troop of monkeys); and we would need a bigger mystery box. Thus, the Mystery Box 24 was born, and now appears as an extra magical and spontaneous trading experience in select locations.

Vinylmation trading is as easy and fun as Disney Pin Trading. Here are a couple of basic guidelines for Vinylmation Trading. Guidelines are one thing but my best advice is to have fun and collect what you like!

  • The main criteria to judge whether a Vinylmation Figure is tradable or not is that it must bear a ©Disney mark and either a Vinylmation Logo or Art of Disney Theme Parks logo on the bottom foot stamp.
  • Vinylmation Figures should be in good, original, undamaged, tradable condition.
  • Create-Your-Own Vinylmation Figures are not accepted for trade.
  • Guests may only trade for a Vinylmation Figure that is in the same proportion to the one being offered for trade (e.g. 3” Vinylmation Figure for a 3” Vinylmation Figure).
  • Additional items (e.g. packaging, product cards, buttons, etc.) are not required to be offered in trade when trading with Cast Members.
  • Guests may trade a maximum of one (1) Vinylmation Figure per activity, per location, per day.

If you have any trading stories either about Vinylmation or Disney Pins, I’d love to hear them! Happy Trading!


  • Hi Steven, I just discovered your name and area of pin expertise. I have obtained the complete 26 alphabet character (hidden mickey) pin set, and need help with the ID of some the names and movies sources (wifee’s a kindergarten teacher, and her kids are DYING to know:) set begins Ariel, Belle, Chip,… then Elliot, Flick..

    letter D??? (fish- blue with yellow fin)
    letter H??? (some sorta chinese looking doll, white robe, tan hat
    letter R??? (green dinosaur)
    letter X??? (some sorta robot, with buzz lightyear kinda wing)
    letter Y??? (lady in purple, some sorta Hercules muse???)
    letter Z??? (white bird, turquoise plumage, red/yellow beak)

    your other article only names K,P, and V

    Can you help?
    many thanks…

  • Hi Steven,

    Just got back from another great trip to Disney World – our 5th in the last 3 years! I have a son who’s 13 and a daughter who’s 11, and we’ve always been great fans of Vinylmation. My daughter started by collecting the pins, and soon after I began collecting the figurines. Being able to trade the figurines at Disney World made it all the more fun for all of us! What I think is great is unlike pins, of which it’s hard to find the good ones on cast lanyards after mid-morning, the figurines are all the same cost, all the same size, and it’s genuinely exciting to stumble upon a mystery figurine that you really wanted! No matter what time of day, or what type of trader you are, you have the same chance of getting a prized vinylmation as the next trader.

    The only real problem is we only get to trade for figurines when we’re in Disney World. We’re located in a suburb of Chicago, so we’ve been very lucky to be able to trade pins with the cast members at the Disney Doorway to Dreams DVC in Woodfield Mall. The kids love to take weekend trips to the mall to see what new pins might be traded, and we’ve made friends with the cast members and other traders.

    What would be great is to be able to offer the Vinylmation trading experience as well. Not only at the DVC store, but also the more traditional Disney Stores, which can found in multiple malls in the Chicago areas. The used to offer pins for sale, but haven’t for a while now. It would be great if they started offering pins again, along with Vinylmation and other park offerings. Heck, let’s put some lanyards on those cast members as well!

    That kind of remote trading is just another way that Disney could allow a piece of the park experience outside of traditional venues. I know many folk who would be very excited to see it happen, including many of the local D23 members we’ve met.

    Congratulations on doing a great job!

    Thank you,


  • where can we find these vinylmation trading spots at Disneyland in CA? This is an awesome idea… I have tons of doubles that I wasn’t sure what to do with.

  • I really enjoy the trading, but I think it would be a good idea to either offer the cards online either for purchase or as something you could print off the website. I have traded in Anaheim and have figures that I adore and have on display in my home, but am curious about how the cards look.

    By the way, are figures from the Clear series eligible for trading? I have heard different things from different cast members.

  • I have a story from today. I was at the Downtown Pin Trading store where I met a family trading Vinylmations. The little boy wanted to trade for an Urban 3 werewolf but was torn as to which of his other vinylmations to trade. I suggested they get another vinylmation to trade since he was having such a tough time. Unfortuantely, as they were paying, another young man made a trade for the figure. Of course, the young man was crushed but I suggested they try the other Downtown locations for the werewolf. A bit later I was at World of Disney and ran into the Mom from the family. She noticed that there was a werewolf boy in the open case and immediately called her husband so they could trade for it. He didn’t answer so she dashed off to find them. Fearing that little boy would miss out again, I traded for the figure and waited for them to return. He was so happy to get the figure. Was my best trade so far.

  • I’m in the process of making luggage space for my trip next week, and have a question!

    I see that you can trade for the 3″ mickeys. Will we be able to do the same with the 9″ ones?


    • There are no plans at this time for Cast Members to trade 9″ figures. We are currently focused on trading 3″ figures (and Vinylmation, Jr. trading will be coming later this year). Trading involves exchanging a figure that is in the same proportion as the one being offered in trade(a 3″ figure for a 3″ figure). You are welcome, however, to trade 9″ figures with other Guests who may be trading 9″ figures. Anyone interested?

  • I’ve been seeing the mystery box set up at D-Street in Downtown Disney,CA & the small clear acrylic boxes in a store in Adventureland & the shop in Frontierland next to the shooting gallery in Disneyland.

  • Hi there. It was said that Mystery Box trading is available at select locations at the parks. Can you give us a list of these locations in CA and FL?

    • Here is a list of locations for California and Florida:

      The best places to always find Vinylmation Trading are at the D-Street locations in California and Florida. Please note that availability of trading is subject to change without notice. Typically, any location that sells Vinylmation Items will also have trading. There may be additional locations added to this list as the excitement of Vinylmation Trading continues.

  • Hello Steven,

    Thank you for the information
    I would like to know something about the vinylmation trading:
    when we are trading a vinylmation… we trade the card too ?

    I hope to see a vinylmation fan club in the future… is it possible ???

    Thank you again

    • Cast Members are ONLY trading the figures – no cards. This matches how Disney pins are currently traded with Cast Members. We have some pins that are attached to backer cards, yet Cast Members only accept the pins in trade (no cards).

      My goal was to keep Vinylmation Trading as simple and fun as possible for Guests and Cast. By requiring the Vinylmation cards in trade, it could lead to disappointment or inconsistency (e.g. what if a Guest or location doesn’t have the card when trading?). Plus it is just one more thing to remember.

      You are welcome to trade figures and cards with other Guests though.

  • I recently trade at many of the locations around Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney last Saturday. And it was a great experience, can’t wait to do it again.

    I must have been lucky as every location that we went to (that traded Vinylmations) had their Mystery Boxes out when we were there.

  • I enjoy the Blind Box Trading just never know wut you will get. When do we expect to have blind box trading and previews of upcomming vinyls here at the DLR. Also just need to know are we ever gonna see an artist signing release party here at DLR we need to artist love too

    • The mystery box trading is currently available at select merchandise locations at Disneyland Resort. The Mystery Box 24 will appear at random throughout the day. Best place to stop and trade would be D-Street at Downtown Disney District in California.

      And stay tuned West Coast fans! We are working on an artist signing party for this July. More to come.

  • I think it’d be fun if you were allowed to trade the Create-Your-Own figures. Maybe they could be traded from a separate box.

    I’d read before that you can trade once in the open trade box and once in the mystery box per day, per location. Is that not true?

    • Matt
      At this time, our Cast aren’t accepting the Create-Your-Own Figures or Custom figures in trade. We want our Guests to keep those masterpieces for their own collections. Of course, Guests are welcome to trade custome figures with each other. Our Cast however, won’t be accepting the blank create-your-own figures (which come in white, black, red, yellow, pink and purple).

      You can trade from the Mystery Box AND the open trade box in the same location. One tip I’ve learned (and recently did at Disney Trading Night) is start a trade from the Mystery Box. If you don’t like the figure you get from that mystery trade, you are welcome to trade it for something in the open box. Remember, however, the Mystery Box doesn’t always appear on stage (it is an extra magical surprise). The open boxes, however, should be on stage more frequently.

      On a side note, I was at D-Street in Florida last night and saw that trading is going great. They had two open trade boxes, and I spoke with several Guests who had been trading throughout the day.

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