Theme Park Insider

Now it's time to say good-bye... to Disney Dollars

May 12, 2016, 8:33 PM · This weekend marks the end of an era for the Disney theme parks — the last day of issuing its own currency.

A Disneyland spokesperson confirmed that May 14 will be the final day that Disney sells "Disney Dollars" — the paper currency featuring Disney characters that can be spent like cash in any U.S. Disney theme park. Former Disneyland President Jack Lindquist came up with the idea for Disney Dollars, whose popularity has waned along with regular currency as more customers switch to using cards and even tap-to-pay systems, including Walt Disney World's MagicBands.

Lindquist talked about the creation of Disney Dollars in a 2013 interview with Theme Park Insider:

This was not some cheap promotion thing. I wanted a real currency. So we went to the Secret Service and we built in all the safeguards for counterfeiting. It was an expensive project, but we printed the money, and we introduced it in May 1985. I think we had 40 or 50 people standing in line, overnight, at the box office to be the first people to purchase Disney Dollars. One man, the first morning, bought $10,000 worth.

Disney Dollars were a huge financial success for the company, as fans bought tens of millions of dollars of the currency as souvenirs, never spending them in the parks. Even though Disney will no longer sell Disney Dollars after Saturday, it will continue to honor Disney Dollars when used as cash in the Disney theme parks going forward.

Of course, with the supply of Disney Dollars capped after Saturday, it's likely that their souvenir value to collectors soon will exceed their face value as cash in the parks, so there will be even less incentive for people to spend them. Among the many things at which Disney fans excel, a big one is hoarding Disney souvenirs to flip them for profit. Expect a run on the remaining Disney Dollars today and tomorrow, and the real possibility that Disney sells out its remaining supply before Saturday.

After all, as convenient as cards, cell phones and even MagicBands can be to pay for stuff in the parks, none of them are as much fun to look at as a dollar bill with a big grinning Mickey Mouse on the front.

"It's a testimony to the enthusiasm and heart of Disney guests and collectors that Disney Dollars remain collectible today," a Disneyland spokesperson said in a statement. "We continue to offer many ways to collect cherished Disney memories in tangible ways."

The father of the Disney Dollar — Lindquist, a Disney Legend and member of the theme park industry Hall of Fame — passed away in February at the age of 88.

Update: (Friday) Got this via Facebook this afternoon from a friend and former fellow cast member: "MK & Disney Springs were sold out by 2pm today. Collectors were immediately putting them on eBay @ twice the cost." So... yeah.

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Replies (16)

May 12, 2016 at 8:46 PM · I still have some somewhere. I am not sure where they are. I got them quite a few years ago.
May 12, 2016 at 9:39 PM · I guess it's about time for this. I can remember how exciting it was to receive Disney Dollars as birthday gifts when everyone knew I had a trip coming soon. I bet I have a few bucks in an old box somewhere.....
May 13, 2016 at 8:16 AM · How did I not know about these "Disney Dollars?!" I've been a Disney Addict for as long as I can remember. I've looked up dozens of videos and articles about the park's history, behind-the-scenes stuff and hidden secrets (even crazy Illuminati-related conspiracy theories). But this is the first time I've ever heard anything about "Disney Dollars." Is it only a Disneyland thing? Cause that would make sense as I grew up near WDW and have only been to Disneyland once.
May 13, 2016 at 10:51 AM · I bought a bunch when I went down to Orlando for a trip back in the 80s. I thought it was fun to have currency that was specific to the resort. I also exchanged some money at Gringott's at USF recently. I bought the Disney Dollars to spend. I expect to keep the notes from Gringotts.
May 13, 2016 at 11:04 AM · Mr. Niles writes: "Among the many things at which Disney fans excel, a big one is hoarding Disney souvenirs to flip them for profit. Expect a run on the remaining Disney Dollars today and tomorrow, and the real possibility that Disney sells out its remaining supply before Saturday."

I respond: So basically this is free money for the comnpany. Nice!

May 13, 2016 at 11:30 AM · I still have a couple of them around after getting them in the 90's.
May 13, 2016 at 12:27 PM · I still have some Disney Dollars we started buying them at DLR when they were 1st introduced and we had fun spending them. When our family were out here fdr their one and only trip to DLR we got the kids some Disney Dollars to spend on theor trip and they loved it. My husband is a bit of a currency collector so he will be keeping the remaining ones we have. I wonder if I could get some at our local Disney Store today.
May 13, 2016 at 1:51 PM · I actually didn't even know these were still a thing as it's probably been at least 10 years since I've seen one. I remember that we used to use them occasionally, but they tended to be more of a hassle than anything. Given how common credit cards and tap-to-pay have become, it makes sense to discontinue them. Besides, if I remember correctly, the largest denomination printed was $10 and you can't buy much at the parks for that anymore.
May 13, 2016 at 2:08 PM · Every time I see a Disney Dollar I think of this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsuNOO6uCPI

An Aquabats ride in Fantasyland would be awesome though!

May 13, 2016 at 3:27 PM · How is it that the corporation that is run too much by business and not about the people anymore, can not see how much profit they had with this idea? Obvious in the other comments, and what Robert said too, people collected these and didn’t spend them all. They cost almost nothing to make and people would pay 1 to 50 dollars for something that cost probably cents to print. People don’t put random amounts onto gift cards and then just hold onto them.
This was a money maker for the company. Again, how do the accountaneers not get this?
May 13, 2016 at 4:33 PM · Funny I have also gone to WDW for many years and didn't even know about the $$$. Funny you didn't see them advertised as currency at the stores. Or maybe I just didn't see them and they were advertised? Too bad as I'm sure I would have collected some for myself. And yes, I agree with Wok Creative, it is easy money for Disney, as people collect some portion of the currency as souvenirs and never spend them.
May 13, 2016 at 5:31 PM · TH,

There's a great quote in the Lindquist interview where he says that, as of 1996 (20 years ago!), Disney had sold $135 million in Disney Dollars that guests had not spent in the parks. Jack said, "Good, [with that] I just built Indiana Jones at Disneyland!"

May 13, 2016 at 6:27 PM · Back when a Disneyland ticket was still affordable, I'd give them as gifts for Christmas. I'd put a number of tickets in a Christmas card then put in a $20 Disney Dollar to cover the cost of parking. I hate giving plain old cash BUT giving tickets with Disney Dollars didn't feel tacky at all. Now Disney tickets are prohibitively expensive and I can't afford to give them any more. Still, the Disney Dollars were always a treat to both give and receive.
May 14, 2016 at 3:07 AM · Are these Disney Dollars classified as gift cards? With unused gift cards, the money gets transferred to unclaimed state property, and the company can't claim the money as theirs.
May 14, 2016 at 6:33 AM · I would think the gift card business is much more lucrative. They have to print each Disney dollar with high security. On the other hand, gift cards have low security. Plenty of cheap plastic. They won't be validated until purchased and lost cards worth many dollars won't be replaced. MagicBands are another route along with mobile payments which focus on mindless spending. Pulling out cash is not the future.
May 15, 2016 at 9:01 AM · Those of you who think that this is some lost money maker, you are sadly mistaken.
I stopped by one of the resort's concierge desks on Friday morning. (I figured Guest Relations at the parks would be sold out before I could get there. And not many would know they have them, by the way.) Yes, I bought a token few. Not to sell, but just to have. I have several from years past. Yes, I know I am giving away money.
As we talked about the run on getting them, the cast member said they had sold a few hundred the night before. I asked if that was equal to a week's worth of sales, of a month's worth of sales. He joked that it was closer to a year's worth. They simply do not have guests buying them anymore. As Anon, AJ and others have pointed out, people do not use paper money anymore.

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