Disney Vault

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The "Disney Vault" was a term formerly used by The Walt Disney Company for its policy of regularly placing sales moratoria on home video releases of specific animated feature films. Each Walt Disney Animation Studios film was available for purchase for a limited time, and then placed "in the vault", unavailable for retail sales, pending some future re-release.

Following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney and the launch of the streaming service Disney+ in 2019, the notion of the Disney Vault has been used by journalists to describe practices by Walt Disney Studios restricting many more back-catalogue theatrical films from cinema screenings.[1]


This is the modern version of Disney's practice of re-releasing its animated films in theaters every several years, which began with the reissue of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1944.[2] During the 1980s, when the home video market was dominated by VHS systems, Disney films would be reissued every ten years, a time gap equal to that of their theatrical reissues. The moratorium period was continued with the evolution of home media delivery mechanisms, including DVD, Blu-ray, and digital streaming, which Disney itself mainly markets through its own Movies Anywhere initiative. Television commercials for Disney home video releases will alert customers that certain films will be placed on moratorium soon, urging them to purchase these films before they "go back into the Disney Vault", in the words often spoken by longtime Disney trailer voice-over actor Mark Elliot. Some direct-to-video Disney films, among them Bambi II, have also been released with a pre-established window of availability.[3]

Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland were among the first movies to be released on home video. Earlier, they were among the first Disney animated films aired on television. They had been chosen to premiere as part of ABC's Walt Disney's Disneyland in 1954 to promote Disneyland and its two prominent rides based on these films. Disney has kept this "tradition" by having them permanently released to the public. Disney has never vaulted these two films because they have become so saturated in the market that vaulting them would have been meaningless. Nonetheless, they have been very successful on home video, equivalent to that of the Disney Vault movies. Near the end of the 2000s, they were released on both Platinum and Diamond editions.[4][5] They were only released on a special edition with similar marketing to the Disney Vault movies. They are available on digital and occasionally on certain streaming devices, but are hard to find in stores. Disney released a Blu-ray/digital copy combo pack of the films, but only as a Disney Movie Club (DMC) exclusive, which was not released to the public. In 2018, Disney ceased to sell these editions to DMC members, and instead offers the regular Blu-rays as an option. With the release of the Signature Collection in 2016, Disney released three movies per year instead of two. By 2022, all of the films that were vaulted had been fully released.

When Disney's streaming service and namesake Disney+ was announced in 2019, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that the service will contain Disney's entire film library, which would de facto retire the concept of the Disney Vault as a home video control device.[6] However, a separate practice restricting repertory screenings of films from the Disney back-catalogue remains in effect. Following Disney's purchase of 21st Century Fox for its entertainment assets, Disney withdrew the Fox film library from distribution to theaters (with the notable exception of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), effectively placing the Fox back-catalog in the Vault.[1]


The Walt Disney Company itself stated that this process was done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children.[7] A side-effect of the moratorium process was the fact that videos and DVDs of Disney films placed on moratorium become collectibles, sold in stores and at auction websites such as eBay for sums in excess of their original suggested retail price. The practice also had made the Disney films a prime target for bootleg DVD manufacturers.[8]


The following films were considered to be subject to release and later return to the Disney Vault.[9][10]

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  1. ^ a b Zoller-Seitz, Matt (October 24, 2019). "Disney Is Quietly Placing Classic Fox Movies Into Its Vault, and That's Worrying". Vulture. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "Front Row, Sofa! - Di$ney Does The Little Mermaid". dvdfuture.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  3. ^ Arnold, Thomas K. (February 6, 2006). "'Bambi' is back - for 70 'II' days". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved March 26, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Dumbo Platinum/Diamond Edition?! - Blu-ray Forum". forum.blu-ray.com. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Perez, Sarah (March 8, 2019). "Disney's forthcoming streaming service will kill the Disney Vault". Tech Crunch. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Ilene (November 1997). "Buena Vista Home Entertainment: A Very Lucky Accident Indeed". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Rothman, Wilson (May 14, 2010). "Why I Steal Movies...Even Ones I'm In". Gizmodo. Univision Communications.
  9. ^ Mullins, Jenna (February 6, 2015). "Disney is taking a Movie out of the Vault, but why do they hold our childhoods hostage in the first place?!". E!. NBCUniversal. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  10. ^ Nickida (August 12, 2016). "All Disney Princess Movies Coming Out of the Vault". Nicki's Random Musings. Retrieved August 7, 2017.