I finally joined the 21st century last Christmas when my grandmother, of all people, bought me a DVD player. Upon receiving the much-anticipated gift, I was anxious to begin stocking up on DVDs to watch over and over again. I started with my personal favorites – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Amelie” – but soon realized the collection was lacking the staples of my American childhood – Disney Classics.

Kate Green

I was overcome with youthful memories at the thought of reliving the magical moments of “The Little Mermaid,” “Cinderella” and “Aladdin” in crisp digital format. The sounds of Mulan battling for China and Robin Williams singing “You’ve never had a friend like me” bursting through my speakers in surround sound gave me goosebumps.

But my dreams were quickly dashed as I recalled the cheerful Disney announcer voice, “Get your copy now before this classic goes back into the Disney Vault.” That’s right, I couldn’t just go to Target and pick up my favorite musical cartoons; they were “locked” away by those wonderful people at Disney, right next to Walt Disney’s frozen cranium.

As some type of low-marketing ploy, Disney has been using it’s vault to prevent millions of Americans like myself from getting their favorite stories on DVD and VHS. Currently, “101 Dalmatians,” “Bambi,” “Snow White” and “Tarzan” are among the many unavailable for retail sale. Countless others are awaiting their imprisonment, and as Disney becomes increasingly dependent on the genius of Pixar, it is likely Woody and Nemo will be shelved as well.

It is hard to believe that this vault makes the already billion-dollar franchise any richer, so why do they bother? Perhaps with the best intentions of providing spectacular special edition DVDs. After all, these two-disc sets certainly require 10 or more years of diligent work by Disney employees. Maybe the vault makes Disney classics seem more magical, more out of reach – or maybe Disney is just being mean.

The magic behind Disney is not fairy dust but money-hungry executives on power trips. This explains the recent $47 ticket prices at California Adventure, a theme park that takes all of three hours to explore. The happiest company in the world thrives on its ability to control fans of all ages and the vault is an essential tool in achieving Disney’s goal of world domination.

It might comfort some to imagine that Disney may actually be hurting itself in this greedy process. Kids who would have pestered their parents to invest in “101 Dalmatians” 10 years ago are too cool for such stories now. Once they hit the college years, perhaps Disney fans will not be so willing to invest in corporate America.

Another outcome of this ridiculous disclosure of children’s films is a growing black market. I could purchase a copy of “The Little Mermaid” today from a seller on Amazon.com for $33 rather than wait a decade for it to come out again. I won’t do this because I’m cheap, but someone out there is making hundreds of dollars selling the forbidden DVDs at high prices.

Today, “The Lion King” is finally available on DVD. If you want it, buy it now before it is tucked away in the vault for another decade. As for the remaining favorites, we will just have to hope Disney will let out some of the good ones for our children.

Katie would love to talk to you about who is hotter – swanky Prince Charming or beefy Gaston? E-mail her at gateskm@umich.edu.

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