The "Disney Vault" is the term used by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for its policy of putting home video releases of Walt Disney Animation Studios's animated features on moratorium. Each Disney film is available for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put "in the vault" and not made available in stores for several years until its re-release.
The practice is the modern version of Disney's practice of re-releasing its animated films in theaters every ten years which began with the reissue of 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During the 1980s and 1990s, 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). With the transition to DVD technology, the moratorium period was continued. 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 voiceover actor Mark Elliot. Some direct-to-video Disney films, among them Bambi II, have also been released with a pre-established window of availability.
Fantasia is released as a separate "Special Edition" along with its sequel every 10 years as "momentous" occasion. Keeping with the initial intention to release the original film for ten years as an "event". Despite this, like Alice, the film has been announced at one point as Diamond/Platinum release. It has been "officially" put in the Vault in 2011 but was available on Netflix until January 5, 2018.
Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo were among the first movies to be released on home video. They were also among the first Disney films to be released on TV (chosen to promote Disneyland of which the two films have prominent rides). Disney has kept this "tradition" by having them always released to the public. It is because of the tradition that Disney has never vaulted these films because they have become so saturated in the market that vaulting it 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 both announced to be released in on Platinum/Diamond edition. They were only released on a special edition with similar marketing to the Disney Vault movies. They are currently available on digital and occasionally on certain steaming devices but are hard to find in stores. Most recently, Disney has released a Blu-ray/Digital Copy Combo Pack of the films but only as a Disney Movie Club exclusive, which was not released to the public. As of June 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, Disney has released three movies per year instead of two. As of June 2018, none of the films have been vaulted.
The Walt Disney Company itself states that this process is done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children. As a side-effect of the moratorium process is 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 has made the Disney films a prime target for counterfeit DVD manufacturers.
The following films are currently considered as being in the cycle of movies which are subject to the rules of the Disney Vault, all of which have been announced in recent years to be in the Diamond/Platinum line up (even if the titles have been canceled). Items that are currently vaulted and not available for sale through Movies Anywhere are denoted with a *.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
- Pinocchio (1940)
- Fantasia* (1940)
- Dumbo (1941)
- Bambi (1942)
- Cinderella* (1950)
- Alice in Wonderland (1951)
- Peter Pan (1953)
- Lady and the Tramp (1955)
- Sleeping Beauty* (1959)
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
- The Jungle Book* (1967)
- The Little Mermaid* (1989)
- Beauty and the Beast (1991)
- Aladdin* (1992)
- The Lion King (1994)
Followups and movie remakes
These are movies that Disney releases as a commercial tie in to their major vault release though despite not given the standards of a Vault release as most are not critically acclaimed and none make the amount of money that their respective vault releases make, some are considered favorites among fans.
- The Return of Jafar (1994)
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)
- 101 Dalmatians (1996)
- Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
- Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World (1998)
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998)
- Fantasia 2000 (1999)
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
- 102 Dalmatians (2000)
- Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001)
- Return to Never Land (2002)
- Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002)
- 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure (2003)
- The Jungle Book 2 (2003)
- The Lion King 1 1/2 (2004)
- Bambi II (2006)
- Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008)
- "Front Row, Sofa! - Di$ney Does The Little Mermaid". dvdfuture.com. 2011-11-10. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Archived". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007.
- Arnold, Thomas K. (February 6, 2006). "'Bambi' is back for 70 'II' days". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- "Buena Vista Home Entertainment: A Very Lucky Accident Indeed". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Wilson Rothman. "Why I Steal Movies... Even Ones I'm In". Gizmodo. Univision Communications.
- "Disney is taking a Movie out of the Vault, but why do they hold our childhoods hostage in the first place?!". E!. NBCUniversal. February 6, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
- "All Disney Princess Movies Coming Out of the Vault". nickisrandommusing.com. 2016-08-12. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
- "Top 10 Best Straight to DVD Disney Sequels on WatchMojo's YouTube channel".
- https://thedisneyproject.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/fantasia-2000-2000/. Missing or empty
- http://reelfilm.com/retnever.htm. Missing or empty