What Are Disney Dollars?
Disney Dollars, issued from 1987 to 2016, are a currency/souvenir hybrid issued by the Walt Disney Company, both sold and redeemable on Disney Property.
History Of Disney Dollars
Disney Dollars, the brainchild of Disneyland silhouette cutter Harry Brice, were first issued in 1987 from the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland California. Manufactured by EPI in Battle Creek, Michigan, the notes were actually the first 4-colour printed notes issued in the United States.
These weren’t just ordinary pieces of souvenir currency. Disney Dollars were legal tender issued by the Walt Disney Company, which were accepted in Walt Disney World, Disneyland California, Disney Stores, Disney Cruise ships and in parts of Castaway Cay (Disney’s privately owned Caribbean island).
Since Disney Dollars could be used across Disney property, they actually had numerous anti-counterfeiting measures built-in to the design. Microprinting, reflective ink, imprinting, serial numbers and even scattered glitter. They were printed on 100% cotton paper and Scrooge McDuck was the signing treasurer.
They were first issued in denominations of $1 and $5. But in 1990, $10 denominations were added and there were a series of $50 released in 2005.
Disney Dollars had a good run of almost 30 years but in May, 2016, printing was discontinued. This was in large part down to the growth of Disney Gift Cards and the inevitable and perpetual decline of cash.
Still, Disney Dollars live on through collectors and Disney enthusiasts around the world. Whilst you can no longer purchase the notes direct from Disney, the secondary private seller marketplace is still going strong. You can still redeem them on Disney property but you’d have to be a little out of your mind since they’ll take them at face value and I can assure you that most are worth a fair bit more than that.
Disney Dollar Serial Numbers
All Disney Dollars, except Proofs, have unique serial numbers to their series (eg. Pirates of The Caribbean) and denomination (eg. $1, $5, $10, $50). The serial number consists of a prefix, followed by a number (and possibly a suffix). Bear in mind matching sets, different denominations with the same serial number in the same set, can be quite valuable.
This points to where the note came from and can affect the note’s value, depending on the rarity of that note from that source.
A, B, E = Disneyland California
D, F = Disney World Florida
T = Disney Store
The earlier the Disney Dollar was produced, the lower the number. And the number can affect value in a few ways.
Lower numbered notes are more desirable
Special sequences (eg. Birthdays - 00081194, Palindromes - 01677610) can be valuable to the right collector
Suffix- Doesn’t Affect Value
A suffix (eg. A) doesn’t affect a notes value since it doesn’t vary within its series.
Graded Vs Ungraded Disney Dollars
Since Disney Dollars are collectables and can be quite expensive (depending on condition and rarity), some collectors or potential buyers want notes graded.
The two most reputable Disney Dollar grading companies in the world are PMG and Legacy Grading (previously known as PCGS).
In either case, techniques such as UV light and ultra-magnification are used in order to determine a notes authenticity and condition. Any tampering will also be detected during the grading process. Once the grading is complete, the notes are stored in protective museum-quality holders, made of materials like mylar.
PMG Note Grading
All notes graded by PMG are done so on a scale from 1 to 70. Notes might also be designated as having Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ) and any with exceptional eye appeal are granted a PMG Star. A NET designation indicates the note has severe problems which an assigned grade won’t reflect.
65-70: Notes of the finest quality - Must qualify for PMG’s Exceptional Paper Quality (EPQ)- 70 must be assigned PMG star.
25-64: Eligible for EPQ if certain standards are met
4-24: Generally still collectable
1-4: Generally not collectable unless note is rare
Legacy (PCGS) Grading
50-70: From new to perfect - A grade of 70 (perfect) is considered original with no trace of any fault
12-49: Fine to extremely fine
3-11: About good to very good
1: Poor - Not really collectable but rare notes may be valuable even if heavily worn or damaged.
Spending Disney Dollars Around The World
Whilst I don’t recommend spending your Disney Dollars at all, for the reasons outlined above, you might be wondering if they’re accepted outside the US?
The answer is a definitive no. Take Euro Disney (or Disneyland Paris). You can’t spend Disney Dollars at Euro Disney and there is no Euro-equivalent.
Disney Dollar Dimensions
Disney Dollars are slightly larger than US dollars. The US Dollar is 2.61 inches tall (66mm) and 6.14 inches wide (156mm).
A Disney Dollar is 2.72 inches tall (69mm) and 6.26 inches wide (159mm).
Storing Your Disney Dollar Collection
If you have ungraded Disney Dollars, it’s important to consider how and where you’re storing them. In the best case scenario, you’ll store your Disney Dollars away from a constant light source, at a constant temperature of around 70°F (21°C) and at low humidity.
When most Disney Dollars are bought, they come in a paper envelope. This might not be the case if you’ve bought second hand. Don’t store them long term in these envelopes as they are very susceptible to damage.
Instead, consider buying an album to store them in. A folder, like the one below, is a good option since you can add more pages as required and you can see both sides of the note. The material of the sleeve is important. Steer clear of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) since it can degrade your notes over time. The album below is made of museum-quality, PVC-free, acid-free material.
This album came with 20 sheets (10x 2 pocket sheets and 10x 3 pocket sheets) and you can get albums and sleeves like these on Amazon. Just make sure the pockets are at least 3.5 inches (88.9mm) tall and at least 7 inches (178mm) wide to fit the notes. You’ll often find 3 pocket sheets are too small to fit the notes in vertically, so I’d suggest going for the 2 pocket sleeves instead.
Buying Disney Dollars Second Hand
One of the largest marketplaces for second hand Disney Dollars is eBay. Of course, with the purchasing of second hand collectibles, there are some important things to take into account.
Seller Feedback and Reputation: With any type of currency, Disney Dollars included, fakes and forgeries exist. Don’t buy from someone with a poor feedback rating. The more positive feedback, the better. As a rule of thumb I don’t buy from anyone unless they have a positive feedback rating of over 99%.
Import Duty: Most Disney Dollar sellers are based in the United States. If you live outwith the US, look out for import duty and additional charges. For a bit more certainty at the eBay checkout, look for items sent through eBays Global Shipping Programme. Find out more information specific to your location here.
List Of All Disney Dollars
Looking for a list of all Disney Dollars? Want to keep track of your own collection. Download this handy, ready-made spreadsheet (compatible with Apple Numbers - works on Mac, iPad and iPhone)
The list includes every Disney Dollar ever produced (from 1987 to 2014) with information on Year, Series, Denomination, Note Front and Reverse.
Rare And Sought After Disney Dollars
As with any collectible, supply and demand drive the price. Here are some of the rarer Disney Dollars, so make sure to check your own collection.
2005 $50 Mickey Boyer
The 2005 $50 Mickey Boyer, released for the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, was only sold for one day. Only 2000 were ever printed, 100 of which were signed and framed. It’s nicknamed the ‘Boyer’ after the designer, Charles Boyer.
1987 $1 Mickey “Disneyland” A Series
There were 3 series issued in the 1st year of production (1987). And the first actually contained a mistake. The dollars could be used in both Disneyland and Disney World but the 1st series (serial numbers beginning with A), contained the phrase “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland”.
1997 $10 Simba
Simba temporarily replaced Minnie Mouse on the $10 bill in 1997. Since this was only the case for one year, it’s a sought after bill.
Low Serial Numbers
Not one specific note. Instead, be on the lookout for any Disney Dollar with a low serial number. The lower, the earlier it was produced in the series, the more valuable it’s likely to be.