Disney Dollars

Disney dollars are a form of corporate scrip sold by The Walt Disney Company and redeemable for goods or services at many Disney facilities.
Similar in size, shape and design to the paper currency of the United States, most bills bear the image of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and/or a drawing of one of the landmarks of the Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Resort. The currency is accepted at the company’s United States theme parks, the Disney cruise ships, the Disney Store and at certain parts of Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Caribbean.

The idea of Disney Dollars first started when Harry Brice, a silhouette cutter on Main Street in Disneyland was visiting a Disneyana (Disney Collectors) Convention.  Mr. Brice thought:

I couldn’t believe that people were paying, money for — anything with Disn​ey on it.  So I began to wonder, ‘why couldn’t Disney make something just for the collector?’ So I came up with the idea to make a souvenir item, which would be sold in the park, that looked like money.” (Clark & Cahill, 1987, 4)

Brice’s concept for a selection of souvenir currency was shared with his associates and they got the okay to begin a design process.  Some of the original ideas were to create “a three dollar bill with a picture of the Three Pigs or a seven dollar bill with the Dwarfs”, In fact the first rendering of the Disney Dollar was created as an advertisement tool.  As seen in the image of Disneyland’s Star Tours attraction

The first series released was illustrated by the Creative Service Illustrator Matt Mew. The printing was done by EPI of Battlecreek, Michigan.  They were known for high quality printing using intaglio steel engraving. This printing process along with using special 100% cotton paper, “gives the bills the look and feel of real money”.

Disney Dollars were officially released to the public in 1987; the first series was the A series released at DisneyWorld and Disneyland. The bills stated, “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland”. Shortly thereafter both the D series and the 1987A series were released with “May Be Used As Legal Tender Only At Disneyland and Disneyworld” Disney printed 870,000 of the original series for the May 5, 1987 release at both parks. Each bill was series “A” or “D”. The former created for Disneyland in Anaheim, California (hence the “A”), and the latter “D” for Walt Disney World in Florida. New Disney dollars have been produced every year until the discontinuation since 1987 except 1992, 2004 and 2010.​

Disney Dollars have changed quite a  bit since 1987, But they have also kept some key features too. Key features starting with the 1987 Disney Dollar that still continued until 2014 include: tinkerbell and Scrooge McDuck’s signature. Each bill also features an “important” character.  These are Disney Characters of which primarily have been Mickey Mouse on the $1, Goofy on the $5 and Minnie Mouse on the $10. However In 2007, 2011, and 2014, a non character portrait has been used.

The Truth of Brothel Tokens

Experts say that beginning in the 1700s and lasting through the early 1900s, when prohibition halted legal activities at saloons, establishments in the western United States, through the Yukon territories, and into Alaska minted their own currencies known as brothel tokens.

Why were saloon or brothel tokens needed in the Old West? Money couldn’t travel with the ease and speed of our current banking systems. Banks sent money on stage coaches or by Pony Express riders, time consuming adventures. As trains took their places, delivery became easier, quicker but still suffered delays and outright robbery that could cause disaster for a business owner caught without funds. Especially when increased westward travel of the poor and penniless further shortened circulation of money.

Another reason was that saloons and brothels clustered around mining camps. Mine owners hired workers, allowed them to buy supplies from the company owned stores, and then deducted those amounts from the miner’s wage. This system is called payment by scrip. Its popularity curtailed the flow of legal tender (dollars and cents) in mining communities.

Replica Brothel Tokens for Sale

There are brothel tokens that are “real” in the sense that they were or are distributed by functioning brothels. Antique tokens are mostly French and are all highly prized. They do not circulate at flea markets for pocket change, but rather pass through auction houses and coin shops. These antique brothel tokens, which date as early as the 1890s, rarely promise the kinds of services referred to on novelty tokens, but instead advertise the business and occasionally offer the promise of a free drink.

Recent tokens distributed by legal brothels in Nevada have increased in value. Beginning in 1992, a number of Las Vegas casinos began issuing collectable “silver strike coins” made of silver valued at $10 each. Brothels across Nevada such as the PussyCat Ranch in Winnemucca and Sharon’s Bar and Brothel in Carlin began issuing similar collectible silver strike coins that featured distinctive artwork, unique to each establishment. But because a single $10 PussyCat Ranch silver strike coin is a mere fraction of the cost of services, their real value comes as a collectable.

While most of the tokens found today are fake replicas or fun vintage-y collectables they tell a fun story of what life might have been like in the wild west and during a time of prohibition.