Disney VHS Tapes, which were in production for over 25 years, have become a collectible of choice for the avid Disney fan. In this ultimate collectors guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know.
Historical Timeline Of Disney VHS
1978-1979 - Disney license 6 titles (mostly animated shorts) to Universal for release under Discovision format. Discovision being a commercial failure, no new titles were released in this format after 1979.
1980 - Disney create the subsidiary company ‘Walt Disney Home Video’
1980 - Disney release 14 titles on Betamax and VHS that are licensed to Fotomat for rental only. With Disney executives fearing the strategy would harm theatrical re-releases, the 14 titles featured none of their animated classics.
1981 - Disney deem 15 animated classics including Snow White, Pinocchio and Bambi as ‘the untouchables’. The untouchables were never to be released on home video, with theatrical re-releases only.
1984 - Ron Miller departs as Disney’s CEO. Miller had pushed for the release of ‘the untouchables’ on VHS but other executives believed the strategy risked the future theatrical revenue of re-released Disney classics.
1984 - Michael Eisner, Disney’s new CEO, continued to push for ‘The Classics’ home video line. The board eventually conceded but with stipulations. Robin Hood, being one of the less popular animated classics, was released 1st and prices were set high at $79.95 to cater to video rental stores and deter everyday buyers.
1985 - Pinocchio, the 2nd home video released under ‘The Classics’ line, became one of the best-selling home videos of the year.
1985 - A new strategy was adopted for Christmas 1985. Pinocchio’s price was slashed to $29.95 with buyers being made aware that no more copies would be sold after January 1986. The idea of the Disney vault was born. Disney classics were to be re-released in theatres then made available on home video for only a short space of time before the next theatrical re-release 6-7 years later.
1990 - Peter Pan becomes the final Disney Classic to be released on Betamax. The VHS had clearly won the video format wars.
1994 - The Fox and The Hound ends the black diamond ‘Classics’ line. Snow White, the last yet-to-be-released ‘untouchable’ becomes the 1st VHS in Disney’s new ‘Masterpiece Collection’.
1999 - Robin Hood, having been the first film of the ‘Classics’ line, becomes the last film (re)released in the ‘Masterpiece Collection’.
2000-2001 - A number of Disney Classics are released in DVD format with the launch of the new ‘Gold Collection’. VHS versions are released alongside each one although they lack the ability to provide bonus material.
2001 - Disney plan the launch of their ‘Platinum Editions’. The original plan was to release the top 10 best selling Disney animated classics, starting with Snow White, once per year for 10 years. In actuality, 13 classics were released between 2001 and 2009. Only 8 of the 13 made it to VHS with Little Mermaid becoming the last Platinum VHS in 2007.
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Disney VHS Collection List
Looking for a list of Disney VHS tapes? Want to keep track of your own Disney Home Video collection? Get this handy, ready-made Disney VHS Collection List (Excel, Apple Numbers and PDF versions included) and tick off each one when you’ve added it to your collection.
This Disney VHS Collection list Includes 179 Disney VHS tapes. The Black Diamond Classics, Masterpiece Collection, Gold Classic Collection, Cartoon Classics, Platinum Editions, Select Special/Anniversary Editions and More. Plus, details of each VHS, like the case front cover, to help you identify them.
Notable Disney VHS Collections
Below are summaries of most of the well-known (and some lesser-known) Disney VHS collections. For a list of films in each collection, grab a Disney VHS Collection list.
The Black Diamond Classics Collection
The Disney Black Diamond ‘Classics’ (BDs as they’re sometimes known) were released from 1984 to 1994. The collection begins with Robin Hood and ends with The Fox and The Hound.
How do you spot a Disney Black Diamond classic VHS? Look for a black diamond surrounding the words ‘The Classics’ on the spine of the VHS case. Most (not all) have a peel-away corner on the bottom right of the case front cover with the words ‘The Original Animated Classic’. The words ‘A Walt Disney Classic’ will be printed on the VHS tape itself, just above the title of the movie.
Black clam shell cases were later replaced by white cases. Black cases are therefore slightly more valuable than their white case counterparts.
Released from 1994 to 1999, the Disney Masterpiece Collection was somewhat similar to the preceding ‘Classics’ line. This series featured the 1st home video release of Snow White.
How do you spot a Disney Masterpiece VHS? All of the VHS tapes in this collection have the word ‘Masterpiece’ in capital letters on the VHS front cover. Most of the Masterpiece VHS case spines have the phrase ‘Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection‘ written on a purple background under a silver holographic ‘Sleeping Beauty Castle’ logo.
Gold Classic Collection
The Disney Gold Classic Collection featured a wave of films released in quick succession from 2000 to 2001. This series began with the release of Toy Story and ended with Oliver and Company only 17 months later.
How do you spot a Disney Gold Classic VHS? All of them have ‘Gold Collection’ written on the spine and front cover. In addition, there will be a gold ‘Sleeping Beauty Castle’ logo on a red background with the word ‘Classic’ written underneath.
Cartoon Classics Collection
Featuring 2 series from 1983-1986 and 1987-1992 respectively, this was one of the longest running Disney home video lines.
How do you spot a Disney Cartoon Classic VHS? Look for the phrase ‘Cartoon Classics’ written on the front cover. The first series had ‘Cartoon Classics’ written in a white box with ‘Walt Disney Home Video’ and sorcerer Mickey. The second series featured iconic Disney characters on bold colour backgrounds but the phrase ‘Cartoon Classics’ remained.
Cartoon Classics: Limited Gold Editions
A spin-off from the successful Cartoon Classics collection, this series featured critically acclaimed and exclusive classic Disney shorts. The first series in 1984 was followed by a second in 1985.
How do you spot a Limited Gold Edition Disney Cartoon Classic VHS? Look for a finely dressed Disney character with a gold background on the front cover. The phrase ‘Cartoon Classics - Limited Gold Edition’ is written in a black box on the cover.
The Disney Platinum Editions saw 13 of Disney’s best selling animated classics digitally remastered and released between 2001 and 2009. Whilst both VHS and DVD versions were released within a few months of each other, only 8 platinum editions made it to VHS. The Little Mermaid ended the run of Platinum VHS tapes in 2007.
How do you spot a Platinum Edition Disney VHS? Look for the phrase ‘Platinum Edition’ written on a silver holographic background on the case cover.
How To Date Disney VHS Tapes
You might be looking for the print date/time, VHS copyright year or content copyright year of a Disney VHS. Here’s how to find each one:
Print Date/Time - The date/time that this specific tape was manufactured. Look for the ‘6 digit code-4 digit code’ on the side of the VHS (image below). The 1st 6 digits refer to the date of manufacture in MMDDYY format (eg. 112797 = 27th Nov 1997) and the next 4 digits refer to the time of manufacture (eg. 2036 = 8:36pm)
VHS Copyright Year - The year this VHS was released but not necessarily manufactured. Look on the cassette label or the back/spine of the VHS case. For dates in Roman numerals use this handy converter.
Content Copyright Year - The year the content was first released, possibly decades before the VHS release. Google the name of the content or watch the VHS end credits. The content copyright year should be visible next to the Disney logo.
Are Disney VHS Tapes Valuable?
So, are Disney VHS tapes worth anything? Disney VHS tapes are nowhere near as valuable as a lot of eBay listings or blog posts would have you believe. Whilst there are some rarities (check them out further down this page), most Disney VHS tapes, which were mass produced in the millions, are worth less than $10. If you’re lucky, your Disney VHS may be valued closer to the $100 mark. But only a very select few Disney VHS tapes are worth $500 or more.
Some factors will increase the collectibility and therefore value of the VHS. Sealed tapes are worth the most but they can be difficult to find. Case damage can significantly impact value, whether the VHS is used or sealed. Black clam shell cases are typically worth more than the newer white cases too.
Buying Or Selling Disney VHS Tapes on eBay
If most Disney VHS tapes are worth less than $10, with only a select few valued at $500 or more, you might be wondering what’s going on with eBay. Simply put, there are a lot of eBay sellers trying to scam or rip-off Disney VHS collectors.
Blogs don’t help the situation when they quote Disney VHS asking prices rather than actual sold prices. Take the Masterpiece Collection Snow White VHS Below. There’s a massive difference between what some sellers are asking for and confirmed sold prices.
How To Avoid eBay Disney VHS Tape Rip-Offs:
Check Actual Sold Pricing - Tick the ‘Sold’ filter on eBay to see what others actually paid for the same VHS. Even then, take eBay ‘Sold’ prices with a pinch of salt. ‘Sold’ can include cancelled orders and some scam sellers buy their own listings or get others to buy them to artificially inflate prices.
Sealed Doesn’t Mean Undamaged - Sealed Disney VHS tapes are more valuable but sealed tapes can still experience damage. Check before you buy.
Pay Attention To Seller Feedback and Reputation - Don’t buy from someone with poor feedback. Even if you’re buying from someone with a high feedback ratings, some sellers game the system. Read seller reviews and try to gauge legitimacy.
Ask For More Pictures Before Buying - Don’t be afraid to ask a seller for more pictures before you buy and be wary of sellers that only show a small number of images. The more detail they give you, the more confident you can be.
Watch Out For Import Duty - If you’re buying Disney VHS tapes from abroad, look out for import duty and additional charges. Items sent through eBays Global Shipping Programme can increase certainty.
Rare And Sought After Disney VHS Tapes
Here are some of the more valuable Disney VHS tapes to keep an eye out for.
2007 Cars Movie Club Exclusive VHS - $500
Exclusive to Disney Movie Club members, Cars was the last Disney animation ever released on VHS.
1986 Song of The South VHS - $50-$150
The controversy surrounding Song of The South meant it was never released on home video in the US. The film was only released on VHS internationally, making it a more valuable find.
1985 Pinocchio Black Diamond Classic VHS - $50-$100
Two versions of Pinocchio were released under the black diamond ‘Classics’ line. The 1st (1985) displays a walking Pinocchio on the cover. The 2nd (1993) displays a sitting Pinocchio. The earlier 1985 version, with the black clam shell case, is the more valuable of the two.
1984 Robin Hood Black Diamond Classic VHS - $50
Robin Hood was the 1st black diamond Classic. But, like Pinocchio, two versions were released. The original (and more valuable) 1984 version has a black arrow piercing through the red Robin Hood font. The less valuable 1991 version also has red Robin Hood font but there’s no black arrow and the letters are surrounded by a white border.
How To Store Your Disney VHS Collection
If you’re collecting Disney VHS tapes, you’ll want to ensure you keep your collection in as mint condition as possible. Here are my top tips on preserving your Disney VHS collection:
1. Rewind Your VHS Tapes
If you have access to a working VCR, rewind your tapes to the beginning. By rewinding the tape, you’re keeping it tight, avoiding sagging and reducing your chance of tape degradation.
2. Clean Before Long Term Storage
Without touching the tape, use a microfibre lint-free cloth to clean the outside of your VHS and the inside of your tape case. The cleaner it goes on the way into storage, the longer it will last.
3. Store Upright
As with rewinding your tape to the beginning, storing your VHS upright will prevent tape sagging and help retain quality over time.
4. Store In A Cool, Dry Place Out Of Sunlight
UV light can bleach your Disney VHS cases. Light, heat and moisture can all degrade VHS tapes and affect the image and colour quality. To prevent this, store your tapes in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.
5. Store Away From Speakers, TVs And Magnets
Try to store your VHS tapes away from anything that produces a magnetic field. Speakers, TVs, computers and audio equipment can all produce magnetic fields.
If you obtained value from this guide, you can support our work by purchasing your Disney VHS Tapes through our eBay affiliate link (at no extra cost to you). You can also purchase a Disney VHS Collection list. This will help you identity specific tapes and allow you to keep track of your collection.