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 stated,
I couldn't believe that people were paying, money for -- anything with Disney 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)
After sharing this idea with an associate, ideas were discussed and the design process was set into motion. 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”(Clark & Cahill, 1987, 4) In fact the first rendering of the Disney Dollar was created as an advertisement tool. As seen in the image (above left) of Disneyland’s Star Tours attraction.
The designs were eventually finalized. They were illustrated by the Creative Service Illustrator Matt Mew (below right). 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"(Clark & Cahill, 1987, 5)
Disney Dollars were released 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.
The "1987A" bill first noticed on September 9, 1987 at Disneyland and a new D series became available on October 2, 1987 at DisneyWorld (A "D" series was not released on May 5, 1987.)
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 since 1987 except 1992, 2004 and 2010.
Clark, Sara., & Cahill, Michelle. (1987). Getting Our Money Into Circulation. Disneyland Line, 19(23), 4-5.