Walt Disney Home Video
.....Disney is perhaps the easiest of all the major animation studios to track on home video, largely because the studio has never sold any of its films to another studio, and has handled the distribution of all but a few (now obscure) live action releases to the home video market. Excluding arguments over Disney's genius (in terms of sales and marketing, at any rate) policy that limits the availability of the studio's output on video and DVD, the studio has been at or near the forefront of presentation since their inital release of Dumbo on Beta, VHS, CED Videodisc, and Laserdisc over 20 years ago.
.....Following a number of incongruous set of releases from 1981-1983, Disney introduced their first fully fledged series of animated shorts. Dubbed Cartoon Classics, the series lasted through 1986, raking up a whopping 14 volumes, focusing on such themes as "Sport Goofy", "Disney's Best of 1931-1948", "Pluto", and "Mickey's Crazy Careers". The series was a smashing success in the then-emerging home video market, and set the stage for one of the studio's most ambitious set of home video releases.
.....Those releases, a special subset of the Cartoon Classics known as the Limited Gold Edition, featured some of the more important shorts that had not yet been released on video and packaged them in attactive gold cases with impressive images of each cassette's featured character (and, in the cases of the "Silly Symphonies" and "Disney's Best: The Fabulous '50s" videos, one of the characters from the shorts within). Each video had a short introduction detailing the rise of the Disney Studios from a garage to the Burbank Studios of today, which was accompanied by a montage of some of Disney's finest moments and characters.
.....After the Limited Gold Edition II series in 1985 and the last of the main Cartoon Classics series the following year, Disney released a few more random releases before reviving the Cartoon Classics in 1987 to re-issue some of the shorts on video and creating a new line, the Walt Disney Mini-Classics, to release the longer featurettes (such as the Winnie the Pooh series, "Ben and Me", and "Mickey's Christmas Carol"). However, with the emergence of VHS as the winner of the format wars (and the full acceptance of home video as well), Disney moved to releasing their animated feature films en masse on video for the first time with The Classics. Known in collectors' circles as the "Black Diamond" series (for the shape of the logo on each tape's spine), this series saw the initial video releases for most of the greatest Disney features (with the following series, the Masterpiece Edition, picking up the slack).
.....Following the amazingly successful VHS release of The Lion King and its direct-to-video sequel (neither of which were attributed to any particular series due to their contemporary nature), Disney made the leap to DVD with the Gold Classic Collection, which brought some of the Disney Studios' newer releases (such as Pocahantas and Hercules) to VHS and the new DVD format, as well as such obscure (and less-than-classic) movies as The Black Cauldron and Pete's Dragon to video in their full versions for the first time. Controversy was quick to follow, however, as many savvy Disney fans decried the "classic" status bestowed upon some of the releases (particularly The Black Cauldron, which was a big-budget disaster from the dark days of the early '80s), as well as the notorious lack of special features on the Gold Classic Collection DVDs.
.....The last straw for many, however, was the editing of Melody Time, Make Mine Music, Saludos Amigos, and Fantasia to remove objectionable content in what were presumed (and, in the case of Fantasia, explicitly stated) to be uncut releases. Melody Time and Saludos Amigos saw the digital removal of cigarettes. Make Mine Music saw the complete removal of "The Martins and the Coys," a cartoonish (and appropriately violent) send-up of the classic (and real life) feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, in addition to an edit in the "All The Cats Join In" segment to trim the busom of one of the "Freddie Moore Girls" (so named because they were based on the often nude drawings of Disney's Mickey Mouse expert, Fred Moore) as she climbs out of the shower-edits that were mentioned only as the viewer began playing the film. The edit in Fantasia, while a long-standing one (the editing of various black centaurettes in the "Pastoral Symphony" sequence, which came to be in the 1969 "head film" reissue of Fantasia), was against the packaging of the film, which announced proudly that it was "Walt Disney's Original Uncut Version," a tag obviously more concerned with the restored intersitionals than the true content of one of animation's most notorious politically incorrect scenes.
.....The 21st Century brought not only the continuation of the Gold Collection, but the introduction of two made-for-DVD series: the Platinum Edition series and Walt Disney Treasures. The former program picked the "best of the best" Disney features for an annual 2-disc treatment with all sorts of archival special features, and the latter unleashed, among other things, Walt Disney's greatest treasure: the original animated shorts. At present, Walt Disney Home Video is moving ahead with another series: the Special Edition series (which, with the DVD reissue of Alice In Wonderland in January of 2004, became known as the Masterpiece Edition series), which provided Platinum Edition-calibur special features (and a few titles originally slated for the Platinum Edition, albeit far ahead of schedule). The advent of the Blu-ray format (which Disney supported over the competing HD DVD format because of its anti-piracy provisions) has seen the continuation of the Platinum Edition series on both DVD and Blu-ray, with Blu-rays of those Disney classics seeing an extra DVD disc to entice buyers who have yet to upgrade to the new high-definition format.
.....Videos, DVDs, and Blu-rays are presented under each series they were released as a part of.
Walt Disney Home Video Fanfare (circa 1984-*.mp3 format): wdhv
1983: Cartoon Classics.......................................
1984: Cartoon Classics: Limited Gold Edition...
1985: Limited Gold Edition II: Cartoon Classics
2001: Walt Disney Treasures................................