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.
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.
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.