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Everything You Wish to Know about the Disney Vault

Mukta Gaikwad
Why take away the fantasies you create? Why lock them up in a vault, high up on a tower, far, far away from the reach of those who need it the most? Over the years, the Disney Vault has been shrouded by mystery, with just little-known facts about it. Here's decoding Disney's mysterious way of giving the world the much-needed magic of its movies in limited doses.
You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.
― Walt Disney
Disney has been an integral part of many childhood memories. It has been an inspiration, entertaining escape, urge to imagine, and most importantly, created worlds for the entire world that not even God could create on this Earth.
The power of Disney cannot be put into words. It can only be felt, viscerally, and then reflected upon quietly for many years down the line. But how many times can you possibly go back to a certain gripping scene from the movie?
For instance, many go back to certain parts of the movies to sometimes understand a nuance they missed, draw a technical analysis, correct a certain remembrance, confirm a doubt, evoke an emotion, or just to feed nostalgia.
However, it was only in 1944 that Disney first re-released its 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Imagine, every Disney-phile in this case had to wait for seven long years to see Snow White wake up from her near death to live happily every after! But thankfully, by this time around, another generation was born to love and live with Disney forever.
This way, they reached out to a bigger crowd every time they re-released a film. However, with the advent of home video cassette recorder, this tactic no longer worked, as people could buy their favorite movies and watch it many times over again.
Thus, this tactic was replaced by releasing the DVD or cassettes only for a limited period. This way, the demand never died, and the films were placed in a moratorium, which is famously called the Disney Vault.

How Long Do Movies Remain in the Vault?

Well, this is a question that many have thought about and sought an answer to, many times over. The reality of the secret 'vault' is that it opens to the whims and fancies of Disney's management. Sometimes, a movie is offered for sale after its theatrical release for about a week or many months. The vaulted movies do not have a defined period of rotation.
Additionally, the choice of movie to be released isn't previously decided either. It purely depends on the market demand, the socio-economic trends, and the demand of the movie after its theatrical re-release.
One may call it a monopoly, but a romanticized perspective would be that these fantasies can only be owned by those who truly believe in it. So, if you were a true fan of a certain Disney movie, you would have bought the DVD much earlier before it was shelved.

But Why Vault the Films?

Yes, this is the real question! There are several reasons Disney vaults its films. However, the underlying current for most of these reasons is a marketing strategy. Come to think of it, would there be such paranoia among Disney fans to buy the DVDs if they were readily available? Not really. 
So, this moratorium that Disney places on its films essentially makes a lot of its fans believe that their children will have to grow up without being able to see Disney's films. Also, some true film lovers hit the panic button thinking they may never be able to add these classics to their collection.
Thus, vaulting the films creates a huge demand before it is vaulted and leads to higher sales. The limit on sales creates a hype and high demand for the movie, which benefits the company's revenue in mammoth proportions. The other effect of vaulting films is that the prices of the DVDs can remain high owing to the exponential demand.
If the movies were up on sale, then the prices would have dropped over time. This also means that when the DVDs are re-released around the time of re-release of the film itself, the DVDs can be priced at an inflated number.
An interesting part about vaulting the movies is that these DVDs have become collector's pieces over time. Every time the company releases movies, it makes them special with some kind of a value addition. For instance, it could be packaged differently by calling it silver, gold, platinum, or diamond editions for the ways in which it is treated.

List of Disney Movies in the Disney Vault

The exact list of Disney movies in the vault is subject to change in accordance with the company's policies about the re-releases they may make. However, the classics have been placed in the Disney vault. Here is a list of the films in the vault so far.

Name of the Movie and Year

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937
  • Pinocchio 1940
  • Fantasia 1940
  • Dumbo 1941
  • Bambi 1942
  • Cinderella 1950
  • Alice in Wonderland 1951
  • Peter Pan 1953
  • Aladdin 1992
  • The Little Mermaid 1989
  • 101 Dalmatians 1961
  • Lady and the Tramp 1955
  • Sleeping Beauty 1959
  • The Jungle Book 1967
  • Beauty and the Beast 1991
  • The Lion King 1994
If everything you wish to know about Disney Vault has made you think this company which created a world so beautiful is actually selfish, then here's what it has to say in its defense. Disney sincerely believes that vaulting its movies is quite necessary.
This not only helps them to manage a huge number of movies under its corpus, but also keeps them fresh for the coming younger generations. And yes, it is true!
The recent re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs several years later, gave its fans a 3D view of the movie. So, last but not the least, Disney not only keeps its content wanted, but betters the world out there every time it packs the old wine in the new bottle.