The Walt Disney Company built its film business on the idea that select titles would only be available for a limited period, either with limited re-releases at cinemas or having home video releases being limited for a certain period, before being placed back into the “Disney Vault”.  It’s why Disney’s VHS and DVD’s were so collectable because you couldn’t always just go to the store to buy a copy.  So back in 2019, when Disney+ launched, Disney marketed the service as the “Disney Vault Is Open” and is still using the catchphrase to promote Disney+.

While Disney+ has a huge collection of movies and series available, Disney hasn’t fully opened the vault as there are some great vintage TV series from ABC and Disney that aren’t available yet, which would fit within the classic idea of Disney+ being for the entire family.

There are some issues that can stop Disney from adding shows onto Disney+.   Music is one of the biggest issues, since many classic shows don’t have the streaming rights to certain songs that were used in specific episodes.  So would require them to either license them for streaming, cutting the scene or just changing the music, all of which costs money.


Other issues can be to existing contracts with other streaming services and with regards to payments to the cast and crew.  Some of the content also doesn’t fit with today’s standards, but this would seem easier to deal with, since Disney could just pop a disclaimer before it.  Then there are also other issues with some of the cast involved, especially if they’ve had some brushes with the law.

There are also some technical quality issues, as some older series aren’t in great condition, either with bad audio or video quality, which will cost money to fix.  But many of the shows owned by Disney are already available digitally, either on Hulu or available to purchase.


Classic ABC Comedies:

ABC has produced many excellent comedy series and dramas since its inception, but besides “The Muppet Show” and “Dinosaurs”, Disney+ in the US lacks many family-friendly classic ABC series, one of the notable omissions which are available in my home country of the UK is “Golden Girls” which is a TV-PG sitcom about four middle-aged women living together after being divorced or widowed by their former partners. “The Golden Girls” is available through Disney+’s Star brand in the UK, but it fits the Disney brand and could be one of the first binge TV series on Disney+ in the United States.

“Doogie Howser M.D.” is another great example of a Disney owned and produced series which whilst being produced for ABC back in 1989 and being rebooted as “Doogie Kamealoha M.D.” for Disney+ the original “Doogie Howser” series isn’t available on Disney+ in the US, despite it being rated TV-PG nor is it available in the UK.

Another great series from the 1980s that would fit the Disney+ “family-friendly” brand is the original 1988 series “The Wonder Years”, which was recently rebooted for ABC earlier this year. The original version of “The Wonder Years”  was created by 20th Television and ran on ABC.  This series is rated TV-PG and follows the life of a teenager growing up in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, so by making this series available On Disney+ would seem like a no brainer.


Some other family ABC comedies that would be great additions to Disney+ include Tim Allen series “Home Improvement”, “The Golden Girls” spinoff series “The Golden Palace”, the other “The Golden Girls” spinoff series “The Empty Nest” and classic teen high school series “Blossom”. All of which are rated TV-PG and are owned by Disney, it would also help boost the idea that Disney+ isn’t just for Disney Channel shows.

The Mickey Mouse Club (all iterations):

In 1955 Disney premiered a new show on ABC (decades before Disney acquired ABC), and it was called “The Mickey Mouse Club”. In the 1970s, Disney rebooted “The Mickey Mouse Club” as “The New Mickey Mouse Club”, and then in 1989, they rebooted the series again as “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club”. Despite being rebooted twice and having three different shows, and starting the careers of many beloved actors and actresses, only five episodes of one of these series are available on Disney+. “The Mickey Mouse Club” is a beloved variety show to many Disney historians and fans of vintage Disney content, so the fact Disney hasn’t made even one of these complete series available is disappointing.

What’s strange is that Disney has already made the first five episodes of the original version of “The Mickey Mouse Club” available in the US, but not internationally.   There could be other legal reasons why these episodes aren’t available, but it’s just odd they added some but not all of them.


 

Classic “Adult” Animated Series:

20th Television has created some fantastic animated series over the years and “The Simpsons” is one of the most popular shows on Disney+.  But there are plenty of other shows that could fit within Disney+’s family-friendly quota such as “King Of The Hill” and “Futurama”.

“Futurama” was added to Disney+ in many companies thanks to Star, but in the US, the series is locked on Hulu, despite the series being a sister series to “The Simpsons”. “King Of The Hill” is also rated TV-PG and yet, isn’t available on Disney+ in any country, and in the US, the series is on Hulu.  It would be great if Disney could take “Futurama” and “King Of The Hill” and add them to Disney+ in all countries where they aren’t yet available.

Classic 20th Television Series:

20th Television is one of Disney’s primary TV production studios, and since its inception in the 1950s, they’ve produced several classic TV series which Disney could add to Disney+. Some of the classic 20th Television series that Disney could utilise in its war with Netflix include, “Daniel Boone”, “Lost In Space”, “Return To The Planet Of The Apes”, and the animated series “The Tick”.

The Odd Case For Zorro:

“Zorro” was one of Disney’s first television series, and unfortunately, the series remains MIA in almost all countries besides those in Latin America. Back in March of 2020, Disney promoted the series as coming to Disney+ in the US, but the series never materialized. The series is seemingly absent on Disney+ in other countries, including the UK. While some of the older dubs for “Zorro” could be lost, there is no excuse for a clearly preserved series that was initially filmed in English to not be available in primarily English-speaking countries like the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Classic Muppet Shows:

“The Muppets” is one of Disney’s most beloved IPs, and despite the original series and the series “Dinosaurs” being available on Disney+, there are several “Muppet” shows owned by Disney that isn’t available on Disney+. The missing shows include “Muppets Tonight”, “The Bear In The Big Blue House”, and “Muppet Sing-Alongs”, all of which are desired by “Muppet” and Disney fans alike, but Disney hasn’t added these series to the Disney+ catalogue for some unknown reasons, which is likely to be due to music issues.


Classic Disney Channel Shows and Disney Toons:

Disney has produced many great shows for ABC’s Saturday Morning and Afternoon blocks and for their Disney Channels, some of the great series Disney has produced include “Dumbo’s Circus”, “Mickey Mouse Works”, “Bug Juice”, “Jungle Cubs” and “Sing Me A Story With Belle”, to name a few. Classic Disney children’s shows could be utilised to help dig into the nostalgia of a large number of Disney fans who may have already binged the service’s backlog of shows from their childhoods.   There are so many kids and animated shows missing from Disney+.

Overall Thoughts:

Disney really needs to add more of these legacy shows not only for older audiences but for fans of Disney’s classic content. Some of the series we have on this list like “Zorro”, “Futurama” and “The Golden Girls” are available on Disney+ in select countries, they all fit the TV-14 and below ratings and aren’t as edgy as a series like “Family Guy” so them not being available is a mystery.

The lack of so many vintage and classic television series on Disney+ is both disappointing but also expected. Some series like “Bill Nye The Science Guy” are unavailable due to litigation over the original series and Disney needing to give payouts. Things such as actors getting bonuses for reruns or creatives not giving Disney the streaming rights also affect the availability of many classic Disney, Marvel, 20th Television and ABC series on Disney+ globally, as does the quality issues of the content.

While Disney’s focus is often on the nice new shiny content, which is proven to drive new subscribers, classic content does help to keep existing subscribers engaged with the streaming service.  So investing money in sorting out its existing library, such as adding subtitles, dealing with legal issues or restoring the quality, would be a great way of utilising the Disney vault, which still has thousands of titles locked away.


If Disney could add at least one or two vintage Disney owned series per month, it would give older fans something to enjoy, but also give a new generation a chance to watch them for the first time.

Do You Think Disney Has A Vintage TV Problem?

 

Special thanks to TheSteadfastMan for helping me with this list.


 

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Ethan Holloway

Ethan "Neil" Holloway is a huge Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar fan who grew up with Disney movies like Iron Man and The Lion King. Ethan has always been fascinated by movies especially ones that give a fair representation to those of disabled backgrounds and hopes to one day publish a novel with Disney Publishing Worldwide. You can call Ethan the "Disney Anime Guy" if you want.

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9 Comments

  1. Steve November 28, 2021

    I been waiting for classic content since star ,but my patience is thin , though I enjoy Star Wars content and library content on star , the content from fox 50s 60s is disappointing on Disney plus which mostly what draw me to the streaming service thought we would have content like voyage to bottom of the sea series , land of giants series, lost in space series, planet of the apes series ,think all from fox ,so disappointing,I will be thinking if I would continue subscribed to Disney if nothing changes In New year .

    1. Jon Potter November 28, 2021

      Honestly, there's no reason to think that anything will significantly change on that front in the new year. Disney+ exists to retain subscribers and make money. If the company had data showing that pre-70s content was popular, you have to believe they'd be tripping over themselves to add more. At best, I expect the odd deep dive from the vault that's deemed worthwhile and that's all.

      1. Steve November 29, 2021

        Well new content not always brings in new subscribers ,think all new and old content brings in different ages people who enjoy both , and if Disney got content from there vault and fox just put that on there platform than gathering dust , I watch more britbox and IMDb tv more now than Disney least both platforms got classic content on there.

  2. John November 28, 2021

    Yes I it be fun to see some disney classic tv series on disney plus like to see that in beginning of early next year.

    1. Nathan December 27, 2021

      I totally agree, 2022 should be the year @Disney should focus on adding legacy content to Disney Plus, in relation to that Disney should focus and remain on the task of adding, remastering, fixing, converting all legacy content for @disneyplus. Its about time Disney added the content all of us customers are/have been asking for. If they had a team of people that only focused on legacy content, it could help the process or maybe make the process of getting legacy content on @disneyplus a little easier.

  3. merlin jones November 28, 2021

    MIA on Disney+ - Just a sample (Walt Disney Productions era) and not even getting into archival, educational, or or WWII films: Animated features: Make Mine Music Many live action films (The Three Lives of Thomasina, The Monkey's Uncle, Misadventures of Merlin Jones, Summer Magic, In Search of the Castaways, The Gnome-Mobile, So Dear to My Heart, Dr. Syn Alias the Scarecrow, The Light in the Forest, Johnny Tremain, Son of Flubber, Toby Tyler, The Great Locomotive Chase, Kidnapped, Follow Me Boys, Escapade in Florence, The Horsemasters, Moseby's Marauders, Johnny Shiloh, Family Band, The World's Greatest Athlete, many, many more) Shorts: Several hundred animated shorts and featurettes TV: Most episodes of Disneyland/Walt Disney Presents/Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color/The Wonderful World of Disney (including many with orig, animation - Ludwig VonDrake hosted shows, etc. and many Disneyland/Walt Disney World shows) All but the first week of The Mickey Mouse Club (ran three seasons, daily), most of the MMC serials (Annette, etc.) All of Zorro 78 half hours + 4 one hours (just the compilation feature is offered - unrestored) All of The Mouse Factory (2 seasons) All of Disney Family Album All of The New Mickey Mouse Club All of Herbie the Love Bug (series) Many True Life Adventures All People and Places Zorro and Son ...ETC... (MIA Disney-friendly Fox titles are a whole other list) Aside from all theatrical films shown on the anthology, there are hundreds of original TV episodes unavailable: https://www.billcotter.com/tvbook/appendix-b.htm The Disney animated shorts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Walt_Disney_Animation_Studios_short_films

  4. ScionStorm November 29, 2021

    It's embarrassing something like Mickey Mouse Club has a grand total of just the first 5 episodes on Disney+. One would think something that nostalgically iconic would be priority for them to have up ASAP. And then probably reboot it for a fourth series as a Disney+ original and sell new wave Mouseketeer Ear hats. And all of the old specials and tv films are just being ignored.

  5. Liam Stuart November 29, 2021

    They obviously do have a huge problem with classic content. Like with the muppets, well they showed some love for the muppets this year, but shows like Bear In The Big Blue House. I’ve been waiting for that show for 2 years already, and they still don’t have it. I do think that it could be the condition of the episodes as to why it’s not on there yet. The music in the show are all original songs, and I can’t figure out why music would be the issue at this point. I love that show so much, and I really think it should be on there now. Some kids might not want to watch it, but a lot might want to since it’s a calm soothing show. Parents will enjoy it so much. The value and viewership on Disney Plus will be huge if the show was added because of how popular it was back then, and how it has changed Disney Channel and Disney Junior forever. The show helped Disney’s preschool genre get to where it is at today.

  6. Nathan F. December 27, 2021

    The US needs more legacy content, we need more to watch. I feel like every month I barely noticed or got anything added to my Disney+ subscription. Its always two or so titles added each week too, which is not okay at least to me. If they added at least 10 or so legacy titles (Shows And Movies) a month other than (Excluding National Geographic, Star Wars, Marvel, Disney Junior) (Including ABC, Fox, Disney, Pixar, Freeform). Shows that would be great for Disney Plus (U.S) are listed below. 1. King Of The Hill 2. Futurama 3. American Dad 4. Malcom In The Middle 5. The Golden Girls 6. Melissa And Joey 7. Baby Daddy 8. Switched At Birth 9. Chasing Life 10. Home Improvement 11. Bobs Burgers 12. The 7D 13. Cory In The House 14. Ghost Whisperer 15. Stanley 16. House Of Mouse 17. 16 Wishes (Disney Channel Movie) 18. Aladdin The Series 19. Etc. Keep in mind Disney Plus would be great with adult content, if you have content you don't want your kids watching thats what parental controls are for, also keeping an eye on your children would be another great idea, or you can also explain the situations in the adult titles and teach them right and wrong. Just in general Disney Plus needs some content catering to older audiences, also I understand what Hulu is and I have and others have a reason for not wanting it, and Disney Plus would be great to allow all audiences to enjoy Disney owned titles, Please consider requesting these shows at least twice, it may help the process if everyone who reads this would place a request for one.