Although Disney “currency” has been available since the early 1930s––back when children could use “Mickey Mouse Cones” bills to get ice cream cones at local “Mickey Mouse Clubs”––none has been as popular as Disney Dollars, the official currency of Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney Dollars currency was one of several creative projects spearheaded by Disney Legend Jack Lindquist, who was then developing unique marketing and entertainment concepts for Disney theme parks. “We figured that we’re bigger than a lot of small countries, why don’t we have our own currency?” Jack said. With that, The Walt Disney Company became one of the first private organizations to print its own money and have it accepted in theme parks like the U.S. Dollar.
The unique currency was first available at Disneyland on May 5, 1987, when four Anaheim motorcycle police officers ceremoniously escorted an armored truck to the park main entrance. Scrooge McDuck––Secretary of the Treasury, whose signature can be found on each bill––unloaded sacks of dollars at the ticket booths with news cameras on hand to capture all the action. Guest Dale Castillo was the first person to purchase the happiest currency on earth.
The original $1 Disney Dollar bill, featuring Mickey Mouse.
Disney Dollars became so popular that they were introduced at Walt Disney World five months later, on October 2. Originally, $1 and $5 denominations (featuring Mickey and Goofy, respectively) were offered. The $10 bill, featuring Minnie Mouse, was added in 1989, with a $50 bill featuring Mickey offered in 2005 for the 50th anniversary of Disneyland.
And here’s a fun fact: Disney Dollars were the first currency to be four-color printed in the U.S.! It took more than 203 man-hours and hundreds of employees to engrave and create the original $1 and $5 notes.
Throughout the years, more than a dozen characters and unique designs have been featured on the bills, which are just as fun to collect as they are to use! Here is a collection of the bill designs from over the years:
The original $5 bill featuring Goofy, introduced in 1987.
The 1997 series $10 bill, featuring Simba and commemorating the 25th anniversary of Walt Disney World.
The 2000 series $10 bill marked Donald Duck’s first appearance on the currency.
The 2001 $10 bill, part of a series of Disney Dollars celebrating the opening of Disney California Adventure.
The 2002 series $10 bill, featuring Tinker Bell and commemorating the 100 Years of Magic celebration.
The 2005 series’ all-new $50 bill featured Mickey Mouse in honor of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland.
Chicken Little was featured on the $1 bill in 2005 in conjunction with his feature film debut.
The 2007 series featured Disney Princesses, such as Princess Aurora.
That same year, a Pirates of the Caribbean series of $1 bills led up to the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
The 2008 series of Disney Dollars celebrated Mickey’s 80th anniversary.