In the mid to late 1980's, The Walt Disney Company appeared to be unstoppable. New management had reinvigorated the company and sought new ideas to further push the entertainment envelope. Jack Lindquist, who had worked at the company since 1955 was known for introducing novel promotions and ideas into the theme parks. When the company embarked on plans to expand and enhance DISNEYLAND, it knew that it would take years to get the various projects operational. Jack was asked to come up with quick promotions that could drive attendance while construction was underway on the new attractions that would drive attendance in the future. He prepared a slate of special events that would become legendary- Circus Fantasy, Blast to the Past, State Fair at DISNEYLAND. He was hugely successful and therefore someone who could be counted on to come up with inventive ideas.
Like many of his ideas, the inspiration for Disney Dollars seemingly came out of nowhere. He was reading about the British pound and wondered why Disney couldn't have its own money. The millions of guests who streamed through the gates each year numbered higher than the population of many small countries and the parks were like their own countries; after all, one needed a "Passport" to enter the magical world; why not introduce its own currency? The company did just that in 1987. The colorful Disney Dollars arrived at DISNEYLAND and were an immediate success. They soon made it back east to Walt Disney World and then the Disney Stores.
Want to know where your Disney Dollar came from? If it has a serial number beginning with an A, it came from DISNEYLAND. If the serial number begins with a D, it came from Walt Disney World. Serial numbers beginning with a T came from The Disney Store. While Disney will exchange any Disney Dollar on a one for one rate with real money, it is often not wise to use older ones these days they are often more valuable to collectors than their face value. Now that they are being completely retired, their value to collectors will probably increase.
Mr. Lindquist passed away earlier this year, but it is probably a coincidence that the dollars are being retired now. The advent of gift cards has made the Disney Dollar obsolete.