What is the Disney Vault?

O. Wallace

While Disney™ has provided many magical memories for countless children worldwide, some of Disney’s real magic is in the genius marketing tactic commonly referred to as “the Disney Vault.” By creating demand for movies that have already been released to the general population, Disney successfully makes each movie a blockbuster when it hits the stands on DVD, regardless of how old the movie is. The way the Disney vault works is Disney will release a movie on video for a limited time amidst much fanfare. After this designated time, the movie is removed from the shelves and locked away for a period of time, usually ten years.

If a person misses out on Disney's limited releases may be forced to scout garage sales for used copies.
If a person misses out on Disney's limited releases may be forced to scout garage sales for used copies.

Before the advent of the home video cassette recorder (VCR), children had to wait seven years between re-releases of Disney movies. While most children had outgrown the movie by then, a new crop of Disney-philes rose up to take their place, and the movie was a hit all over again. Once people were able to rent or purchase movies to watch at home, re-releasing movies in the theater didn’t hold quite the attraction it once had. The Disney vault has replaced this tactic, by limiting access to the movie and creating a buzz upon its re-release, which invariably increases sales.

Blockbuster Disney movies may be released from the vault for a limited run in theaters.
Blockbuster Disney movies may be released from the vault for a limited run in theaters.

Although this moratorium that Disney places on movies when they go back in the vault may benefit the bottom line for Disney, an impending lockdown on a favorite classic can send parents into a full-blown panic. This sense of urgency in the consumer is exactly what Disney wants. People who don’t even have children yet purchase movies with the fear that their imminent offspring might spend nearly all of their childhood without a copy of The Little Mermaid in their DVD library.

Some may also remember the now defunct Vault Disney, which was a programming block on the Disney Channel. Vault Disney repeated classic shows such as The Mickey Mouse Club, introducing new generations to beloved characters.

According to Disney, the Disney vault is necessary in order to manage a vast number of titles, and to keep old movies and shows new for young fans. While this may be true, many parents who miss out on purchasing a movie during its limited release may be forced to scour garage sales for used copies, or pay outrageous prices on auction sites such as eBay. So, the next time one of your favorite childhood movies is released from the Disney vault, you may just have to buy it, even if your future children are only a mere twinkle in your eye.

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Discussion Comments


No, not at all. Now that I have a three year old daughter and want to share these classics with her, I can't find any of them, and all this does is subject us to fakes on ebay and jacked up prices on places like amazon.

Go for pete's dragon's sake and view the costs of titles like Cinderella and Aladdin and see that people are selling them for 50 bucks a pop! So what is really happening is the vault does a limited release, certain people go out and buy tons and tons of them and hide them in storage. Then children who loved disney get married and have kids on their own and want to get these movies can't find them except from these horrible people who do that.

So instead, we end up just renting them from blockbuster etc. So the vault does nothing but hurt honest families and subject us to jacked up prices. What's worse is that Disney is not even making any money off of those resellers. I mean, if they stopped the vault for just one second, or at least opened it up more often they would see profits soar.

Right now, we have a daughter and soon we hope to have a son, and there are other Disney shows that he would like as well that we would want to share.

Think of all the new families like ours, who can't share Disney classics without paying 50 bucks or renting them. How is the vault truly making any money, unless they are the ones who are actually selling them for 50 bucks, which, come to think of it, makes one wonder.


I have been looking for the movies Run Appaloosa Run, The Horse with the Flying Tail and Cristobalito the Calypso Colt for ages. Any idea if Disney plans on releasing these?

It would be great if Run Appaloosa Run was released to coincide with the actual running of the Stampede Race in Omak, WA. This race happens every year and the movie was based on this race.


There is a trick to the Disney vault. A store is able to stock their remaining copies purchased from Disney after the date the movie is set to go back into the vault.

Case in point is the "Little Mermaid" and "Peter Pan" which went back into the vault a little under two years ago after being on the shelves for about six to nine months.

You may still be able to find copies of these movies available since stores have not sold out the copies they purchased from Disney prior to the movie being put back into the Vault.


You don't have to wait 10 years. It takes about 10 minutes to get on amazon and purchase anything you want new or used. I purchased "The Little Mermaid" new today for my little girl.


Well this 'marketing' tactic may work for some people, but it certainly does not work for me. This practice is the reason I stopped buying Disney movies.


It bums me out because I want my kid to be able to watch the Disney cartoons I grew up with, but if I miss it when it's out, I have to wait 10 years for it to come back out. By then, my child will be too old to want to watch it!


I think that the vault is a very smart marketing tactic that Disney uses and it has worked for many many years. And honestly it works. They make millions off of re-releases. Majority of movies won't even see that type of profit in re-releases...ever.


The Disney Vault is evil. I don't even bother buying any Disney movies anymore because of the crap they pull with this. I just download the Disney movie off the internet and then those greedy b's don't get anything from it!

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