After a week of dining at the Disney resorts on imaginary dimes, it’s time to trim back the budget and spend an evening in watching a digital download on the new Watch Disney app for Apple devices. Or, there are many Disney selections available on Netflix and other on demand services. But before we watch Frozen on Amazon on Demand before its released on Blu-Ray…let’s look back on when Disney first opened the Vault for customers to enjoy its library at home.
On March 4, 1980 Disney began a partnership with Fotomat, allowing the drive thru parking lot film developing kiosk to rent Disney video on VHS. In a four city test, Disney allowed 13 videos from their archives to be rented for the first time. The titles include Pete’s Dragon, The Black Hole, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Love Bug, Escape to Witch Mountain, The North Avenue Regulars, Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Along with the partially animated Pete’s Dragon and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Disney also reissued three DiscoVision releases, On Vacation with Mickey Mouse and Friends, Kids is Kids Starring Donald Duck, and Adventures of Chip ‘N’ Dale.
This was hardly a “video on demand” service. Customer would browse the video catalogue at the kiosk, and then call a 1-800 phone number to request the title of their choice. The video cassette would be delivered to the Fotomat Kiosk to be picked up the next day, at which point the customer would be able to take the title home for five nights. All for the low 1980 price of $12 per title, roughly $35.50 today. Take that, Redbox. Oh, wait… To be fair, the videos purchase price was near $75 at the same time (before inflation).
So there you have it. Dine at a Disney park today for close to $40 a day per person, or spend nearly the same amount to take one VIDEO CASSETTE home for five nights. We’ve come a long way.
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