Sam Denby from Half as Interesting explained how Disney was able to issue its own legal currency for over 29 years. While this practice may seem questionable, this currency was acting fully within the confines of the law. Unlike company scrips which forced workers to spend company-issued money that could only be spent in company-run stores, The Disney currency was completely dollar for dollar exchangeable.
…basically, as long as Disney didn’t pay their own employees in Disney Dollars, and as long as Disney Dollars couldn’t be mistaken for real dollars, the government couldn’t do anything about them. With those two restrictions in mind, the Disney Dollar was born in 1987, coming in denominations of one, five, ten, and fifty.
These dollars could be spent at any Disney location around the world, so long as the law allowed. The dollars were counterfeit-proof and provided guests with an easy form of currency at the parks. The use of Disney Dollars only began to fail when people began relying more on debit cards and other forms of electronic payment. That didn’t stop Disney from cashing in on the future of payment though.
Despite their success, Disney eventually discontinued Disney Dollars in 2016. They didn’t say why, but it was probably because no one carries large wads of cash around crowded theme parks anymore unless they’re trying to make a generous donation to the local pickpockets. Nowadays, Disney resorts have all sorts of futuristic payment technologies that make it way easier to pay for things and way harder to tell how much money you’re wasting to stare at the backsides of an Iowa family for an hour in line.