Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Look at a Rarity: An In-Store Trailer Reel, c. Fall 1992

See that treasure above? I got my hands on it today...

Walt Disney Home Video normally made what are called "demo tapes" in the 1980s and 1990s, videocassettes meant only for promotional use. My guess for a while was that stores would play these on their display TVs for customers to see.

For feature-films, it's a little inconsistent.

We collectors know that many of the Disney animated classics were released on home video through the company's game-changing Classics line, which started in 1984 with Robin Hood and ended in 1994 with The Fox and the Hound.

The demo tapes for the first few Classics editions didn't contain the whole feature films. The demo tape of Robin Hood - the title that kicked off the Classics line - can be viewed on YouTube, and it's most a detailed look at the marketing strategy Disney put into the film's videocassette premiere. The second Classics release - the 1985 videocassette of Pinocchio - has a similar demo tape, which I have: It only contains select scenes from the feature film, preceded by the advertising and marketing stuff, even interviews with potential buyers!

Later on, the demo tapes would contain the films themselves. I've seen/heard of the contents for various demo tapes of Classics editions, such as Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Rescuers Down Under, 101 Dalmatians, and several others. They contain the complete feature-length films.

I own the demo tapes of The Rescuers (for its 1992 video release), Pinocchio (for its 1993 video release), and The Fox and the Hound (for its 1994 video release), they contain the complete films. Every five or so minutes you'll get a scrolling message that says:

"Demo tape only. Sale or rental prohibited. If you have rented or purchased this cassette, please call 1-800-NO COPYS. All calls confidential."


This is a compilation of previews and sequences of Disney films, specials, and titles. It's basically a promo reel, and was meant for in-store play. Each preview is about 5 minutes long on this videocassette...

Below is what's in store, in no order, basically the order doesn't really matter here. Each preview has a graphic of the video case in the lower left-hand corner... Most of the trailers are also preceded by the blue 1991 Walt Disney Home Video logo, integrated into the trailers, not the full logo itself.

  • Dumbo - The sequence where Dumbo flies for the first time and the crows reprise 'When I See An Elephant Fly'.
  • Alice in Wonderland - A section of the Mad Tea Party sequence. The cover artwork shown is the one with the "Walt Disney's" heading.
  • The Rescuers Down Under - The sequence where Wilbur lands in Australia.
  • 101 Dalmatians - The trailer that can be seen at the end of the 1992 Beauty and the Beast VHS
  • The Great Mouse Detective - The trailer that can be seen at the end of the 1992 101 Dalmatians VHS
  • The Rescuers - An edited version of the preview seen on the Rescuers demo tape
  • Beauty and the Beast - The trailer that can be seen on the 1992 101 Dalmatians VHS and the 1992 Rescuers VHS
  • Mary Poppins - A part of the 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' sequence.
  • So Dear to My Heart - A part of the 'It's Whatcha Do With Whatcha Got' sequence.
  • Darby O'Gill and the Little People - The scene of Darby in King Brian's throne room, seeing all the treasures and riches.
  • Babes in Toyland - Dance scene.
  • Sister Act - Trailer
  • Father of the Bride - Trailer
  • One Magic Christmas - Trailer
  • Swiss Family Robinsons - Discovering the treehouse scene.
  • The Small One - 'The Small One' song and the boy trying to sell the donkey, followed by the Merchants' musical number.
  • Mickey's Christmas Carol - Trailer
  • The Prince and the Pauper - Scene with the two trading places.
  • A Walt Disney Christmas - Trailer
  • A Disney Christmas Gift - Trailer
  • Jiminy Cricket's Christmas - Trailer
  • Sing Along Songs: Be Our Guest - Scene from 'Be Our Guest'
  • Sing Along Songs: Very Merry Christmas Songs - 'Sleigh Ride'
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Vol. 6: All's Well That Ends Well - Scene from the episode.
  • Promo for The Walt Disney Studio Film Collection - Significantly different from the one you see on the WDSFC releases, shows the various editions at the end of the promo.

From time to time we see a title card pop up that says 'A Beauty of a Gift'. It's on a diamond that's on top of a rectangle, against a plain white background. A Christmas-y sounding jingle plays when it appears.

I have a mini-catalogue from around this time, it mostly lines up with what's being shown here.

The rest are titles released under the Buena Vista Home Video label, acquired classics and TV programs...

There are roughly 4 promos for a VHS A Classic Christmas from The Ed Sullivan Show. One is a highlights reel. There are also snippets of a Bing Crosby interview, Johnny Mathis' performance of 'Sleigh Ride', and Mahalia Jackson's performance of 'Sweet Little Jesus Boy'.

Then there's a promo for six volumes of Alvin and the Chipmunks episodes - both the 60s cartoon and the 80s cartoon - including a very dated, very cheesy volume that has the Chipmunks singing with Michael Jackson and The Fresh Prince! It's a real laughfest! The promo also advertises a free t-shirt you could get with purchase of any two volumes.

A promo for various volumes of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show is shown.

A promo for Dance! Workout with Barbie is also shown, it's also very early 90s and cheeseball.

The tape runs about 60 minutes long. The print date on it is 10/20/1992, my birthday coincidentally!

Definitely an interesting look at what Walt Disney Home Video had on hand back then, and how they went about advertising it all. The holiday season of 1992 would prove to be a record-breaking and hugely successful time for the company, half of that success came from the home video division!

101 Dalmatians alone moved over 10 million units from the spring up until the winter, The Great Mouse Detective and The Rescuers added to that momentum. Beauty and the Beast, a highly acclaimed film coming off of its amazing, record-breaking theatrical run, sold over 20 million units - the highest for any home video title at the time of its release. It would be surpassed a year later by Aladdin! On the feature film side, Aladdin outgrossed Beauty and the Beast at the box office and became the world's highest-earning animated film on in its initial release, and won several accolades in the process. The whole home video division alone passed the $1 billion mark.

1992 was an extremely good year for Disney.


  1. Very interesting. As for "101 Dalmatians" being a strong seller, that would probably explain why just about any time I go to a store selling used videos, I almost always see at least one copy of the 1992 VHS of "101 Dalmatians." Of course, two other really common Classics titles that can be found used are "Aladdin" and "Beauty and the Beast." (At least buying VHS editions of Disney animated features that are in the vault are a bit easier than buying past DVD or Blu-Ray editions, which can get quite expensive.)

    1. It's interesting you bring that up. Over a decade ago, at an FYE, a copy of the 1992 'Rescuers' VHS was on sale! Years later, I saw ANOTHER 1992 'Rescuers' VHS on sale at a Christmas Tree Shop!

  2. Are you able to digitize it and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo?

    1. I don't have the means to get a capture of it, the best I can do is film my TV with it playing. I was considering doing this for the vlog.