The souvenir bills now circulating at Disneyland--sporting Mickey Mouse in place of George Washington--may not be worth much outside the world-famous amusement park.
But inside the park they're worth "$20 million each year such idea is used by defendants," according to a lawsuit filed by a park employee who says management failed to pay him for his "Disney Money" idea.
David O'Neill, who has operated the park's steam locomotive for 20 years, claimed in a lawsuit that that's the "reasonable" value of his idea. He suggested the souvenir currency to park officials in 1980 and again in 1985 but got nowhere, he said.
Disneyland spokesman Don Roth declined to comment on the Orange County Superior Court lawsuit, which he said the park has not yet received.
Disney archives reveal that the familiar image of Mickey has appeared on fake currency twice before.
"Mickey Money"--money redeemable for services--was distributed as part of the promotion of the opening of Disney World in Orlando, Fla., in 1971, Roth said. "They were part of a travel package people would purchase, and you could use them to pay for various entertainment (in the park)," Roth said.
"Mickey Mouse Dollars" were also licensed by Disney in the early 1930s--long before the park was built. Records are not clear on how they were used, but Roth said it appears someone wanted to print bills that could be exchanged for ice cream cones.
Today's Disney Dollars, with Mickey on the dollar bill and Goofy on the five, have circulated since May 5 in Disneyland. They can be used to purchase entertainment and may be redeemed for real currency.
As for the Disney Dollars, Roth said the idea has been a success.
"It's going extremely well. We did a great business from the first day. There were a lot of collectors out here the first day. We sold nearly $50,000 worth," Roth added.