Are Disney VHS Tapes Worth Really Anything? We Investigate.

by | Apr 22, 2024 | Walt Disney World News, WDW Blog

How much are your Disney VHS tapes really worth? Are Disney VHS tapes rare? What about all those bogus eBay listings? Here’s the real deal.

In the age of streaming and digital media, nostalgia for the tangibility of physical media has spiked. One particular item of nostalgia that has become a collectible? Disney VHS tapes. The days of the VCR may be long gone, but many children of the 80s and 90s still have Disney VHS tapes that have never been thrown away. Whether you’ve recently rediscovered a stash in your attic or are considering buying tapes as an investment, it’s essential to understand their real value. We’ll be taking a closer look at what Disney VHS tapes are worth, what they’re selling for, and which ones are worth the most.

What Are Disney VHS Tapes Worth?

The worth of Disney VHS tapes can vary significantly based on several factors. This includes the rarity, condition, and market demand. Most common Disney VHS tapes are not worth much more than a few dollars each, often found in thrift stores for as little as 50 cents. However, there are exceptions, especially for tapes that were short-run or have unique cover art.

Are Disney VHS Tapes Rare?

While millions of Disney VHS tapes were sold, certain editions are considered rare. These include limited releases, special editions, and tapes that were pulled from shelves or corrected after the initial release due to errors. A tape’s condition also influences its rarity; those still shrink-wrapped or in mint condition can potentially fetch higher prices.

Heritage Auctions appraises vintage VHS tapes, and has shared what does and doesn’t sell at auction. Here’s what they state does sell:

  • Popular films from the Late 70’s to 80’s and released on VHS prior to the 90’s.
  • 1980’s Horror films.
  • Some rare Betamax and Laserdisc titles.
  • Sealed tapes with studio watermark.
  • Some early Disney copies that were released in the early to mid-80’s like Tron, The Black Hole and collections of early Disney cartoon shorts.

As for what doesn’t sell, that includes:

  • Most Disney animated films, e.g. The Lion King, Aladdin , and Snow White.
  • Most opened, used VHS tapes.
  • DVD and Blu-Ray.

Jay Carlson, Consignment Director of VHS and Home Entertainment, shared that VHS tapes from between 1977 and 1986 were the “VHS collecting sweet spot.” That’s because when VCRs were initially released in 1977, they came with a hefty price tag of $1,000 to $1,400 (or $4,900 to $6,900 in today’s pricing). Because of this, VCRs and VHS tapes were not as attainable as they were later on, making the tapes released during this period of time rarer and thus more of a “collectible.”

Disney VHS Tapes That Are Worth the Most

Disney VHS tapes were some of the most widely produced in the world. According to Heritage Auctions, seven of the ten most produced VHS titles of all time were from Disney. However, there are certain Disney VHS tapes have become notable collectibles:

  • Beauty and the Beast Black Diamond Edition 
  • Limited Issues like Song of the South 
  • Any VHS printed prior to 1986

When you look on eBay at the highest prices Disney VHS tapes have been sold for, you’ll find a wide range. In April 2024, a Black Diamond copy of Beauty and the Beast sold for over $10,000 (though it’s worth noting this was a charity auction, so pricing may be skewed). A Black Diamond copy of The Fox and the Hound also sold for $7,800, with the next highest coming in at $1,000 for another copy of Beauty and the Beast.

While there were some higher prices, the majority topped out at $100 or $200, with far more selling for $10 or less.

Disney VHS Tapes That Are Worth the Least

Conversely, many Disney VHS tapes hold minimal resale value, including most titles from the late 90s when VHS production was at its peak. Tapes like The Little Mermaid or Cinderella that were mass-produced can often be bought for a few dollars or less, especially if the tape and box show signs of wear. 

These are often tapes you can purchase for a few dollars on eBay, or even find in stores like Goodwill to pick up for yourself.

Rare Disney VHS Tapes: Does the Black Diamond Have Value?

Hey, all VHS tapes are getting pretty rare, am I right? But seriously, just like comic books, some VHS tapes are bound to be worth more than others. But are they worth enough to take up precious space in the garage? Misprints on the cover and limited releases are among those suspected of having a high value. But it’s the first editions that generate the most buzz. That brings us to the Black Diamond VHS tapes…

Are Black Diamond VHS Tapes Rare?

One of the most buzzed-about categories of Disney VHS tapes includes the “Black Diamond Editions.” These were the first Disney VHS tapes ever released, sold between 1984 and 1994. These are casually referred to as “The Black Diamond” editions, but they do not have this written anywhere on them. The name comes from a black diamond at the top of the spine that reads “The Classics” in a Hollywood-esque font.

Black Diamond VHS Tapes included:

  1. Robin Hood (1984 and 1991)
  2. Pinocchio (1985, 1993)
  3. Dumbo (1985, 1991)
  4. Sword in the Stone (1986 and 1991)
  5. Alice in Wonderland (1986 and 1991)
  6. Sleeping Beauty (1986)
  7. Lady and the Tramp (1987)
  8. Cinderella (1988)
  9. Bambi (1989)
  10. The Little Mermaid (1990)
  11. Peter Pan (1990)
  12. The Jungle Book (1991)
  13. The Rescuers Down Under (1991)
  14. Fantasia (1991)
  15. 101 Dalmatians (1992)
  16. The Great Mouse Detective (1992)
  17. The Rescuers (1992)
  18. Beauty and the Beast (1992)
  19. Aladdin (1993)
  20. The Fox and the Hound (1994)

So, how much are Black Diamond VHS tapes worth? Well, here is a queued-up eBay search showing Black Diamond VHS tapes that actually sold. You’ll notice that the sold prices range anywhere from $2.99 all the way up to $249.99 for a banned cover of The Little Mermaid (more on that in a moment). While the price can go higher, the vast majority of these sold for just a few dollars, hardly fetching the highest end of the bidding price.

The Banned Little Mermaid VHS Cover: How Much Is It Worth?

One Disney VHS tape that comes up frequently for treasure-seekers is The Little Mermaid VHS tape with a “banned” cover. We won’t zoom in on the “banned” part here, but you’re welcome to Google it on your own. Prepare to be disappointed because it’s not that shocking and leaves a lot to interpretation. This “lewd” object on the cover art was interpreted by overzealous parents in the ’80s who feared that the art would somehow influence their children to know more about the human anatomy. We’re betting the kids were oblivious, but that’s another story.

Little-Mermaid-VHS-Banned-Cover-Value

How Much is the Banned The Little Mermaid Cover Worth?

This old Disney VHS tape fetches a bit more than the re-released version. But think about that… it fetches a bit more than an old VHS tape. Not much. In the past month, one Black Diamond copy sold for $249.99, but the vast majority sold for far less. A lot of seven went for under $50, while a single copy was bought for $1.25.

The truth is that there are a lot of these “banned” copies out there. It had a long run before they were recalled from stores due to a customer complaint. This cover is worth a chuckle, but not too much more than that.

How to Find the Real Value of Disney VHS Tapes

Now that we’ve gone over the usual suspects, here are some tips on how to find the value of your exact Disney VHS tape on eBay.

  1. Don’t just search for Disney VHS Tapes. Search for each tape individually by film title.
  2. Be sure to include any qualifiers in your search like unopened, or Black Diamond.
  3. Once the results pop up for your search, let’s narrow it down to match your tape. Select the condition of your VHS tape. If it is new with the shrink wrap, select “Brand New.”
  4. Now the most important step. We DO NOT want to look at current auctions. Scroll down until you see the Show Only options. We want to see what actually sold. Click “Sold Items.”
  5. he tapes displayed should be those that actually sold or ended without selling. Check the auctions that actually sold. View at least 10 of these before coming to any conclusions about how much they sell for.

As we learned earlier, watch out for fishy sale prices from accounts with only one or a few transactions or ratings.

Disney VHS Tapes Degrade Over Time

Jus like all VHS tapes, Disney VHS tapes degrade in value over time. Even those royal-looking Black Diamond seals can’t save the magnetic tape from deteriorating over the years. VHS isn’t like comic books or vinyl records. You can put a record or a comic book in a sleeve to protect them and reduce damage. But the magnetic tape in a VHS cassette naturally dries out, flakes away, and degrades over time. Not much you can do about it. No matter how you store them, they will deteriorate. They weren’t made to last for decades.

That rules out the value of actually playing them. The value lies only in the jackets with the tape intact. A collectible VHS tape is akin to a mint-in-box toy. You can’t play with it, and the pristine condition adds to the value. The problem is that most VHS tapes floating around aren’t new in the shrink wrap, and as we have seen, those aren’t even worth much.

FAQs About Disney VHS Tapes

How can I tell if my Disney VHS is a Black Diamond edition?

Check for a black diamond on the spine of the case, labeled “The Classics.”

Are any Disney VHS tapes considered rare?

Yes, limited runs, special editions, and tapes pulled from the market are rare. Condition plays a significant role in rarity.

Where can I sell my Disney VHS tapes?

Online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy, as well as local collectible stores, are good places to start.

Do Disney VHS tapes increase in value over time?

Like all collectibles, their value can fluctuate based on market interest and rarity. However, pristine condition and rare editions are more likely to appreciate.

What should I do to preserve my Disney VHS tapes?

Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Ensure the tape is rewound to the start, and avoid touching the tape itself.

Disney VHS tapes can be a charming part of a collection and may even earn you some cash if you find the right buyer. However, for most tapes, sentimental value will far exceed financial gain. Whether you decide to sell your collection or keep it for nostalgic reasons, knowing the potential worth can help make informed decisions.

 

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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