Walt Disney Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Written and Compiled by Matt Williams and Matt Anscher

The Walt Disney Company never used a proper logo until 1985, instead using an in-credit caption on most of its films. However, their distribution arm, Buena Vista, used a logo in some form until about 1981. This section will chronicle both logo sets.

1st Logo

After Walt Disney broke off his distribution deal with RKO Radio Pictures, he formed his own distribution company. It is named after the street on which Disney Studios reside.

Logo: On a blue/black gradient background, we see the words "DISTRIBUTED BY BUENA VISTA DISTRIBUTION CO." in light blue, with "Buena Vista" in a weird signature-like logo font, and the other words in a font that lookes like carved wood.

Variations: This logo was redone in the late 1960s, brightening up the background to a blue/white gradient and changing the letters to a turquise color. Also, the font for the "DISTRIBUTED BY" text would change into a more normal font.

After this logo ended, the words "WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS", in a plain font and often as part of the credits, would fade in over the picture. Again, Disney did not gain its own logo until 1985.

SFX: None, this is a still logo

Cheesy Factor: The logo looked quite ugly.

Music: Often, a customized fanfare composed just for that movie, to play over the logo. Was also seen silent.

There was a special 12-note, horn-driven stinger for 1950s and 1960s-era rereleases of classic Disney short cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s. This is preserved on some cartoons featured as supplements on DVDs of other Disney movies:

  • "The Sword in the Stone" has "Knight for a Day," starring Goofy, with the logo and music
  • The Vault Disney series of DVDs (Pollyanna, Parent Trap, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson) each have a short cartoon before them; these shorts all have the logo and music before them

Availability: While Disney may be inept with... well, all other aspects of its business, they're still pretty keen on keeping logos preserved. This logo was cut on video releases between 1985 and 1991, but is now preserved on most Disney features from this era, and sometimes also replaces the still RKO logo used on very early Disney flicks.

The only place where this is accidentally plastered over is on the DVD of Old Yeller, which has its custom Buena Vista music playing over the end of the Walt Disney Pictures logo. All other 1954-1981 titles that we are aware of have the Buena Vista logos.

Scare Factor: Varies on a case-to-case basis. A movie with no fanfare wouldn't be scary, but when it's a loud, powerful fanfare (such as on "Bedknobs and Broomsticks") it might scare some.

2nd Logo

Nicknames: "The Sparkles", "Zooms"

Logo: On a black bg, a blurry object zooms out. When it fully sharpens, it is revealed to be the words "DISTRIBUTED BY BUENA VISTA DISTRIBUTION CO.", with "BUENA VISTA" in a taller, bolder font. The words sparkle, and then fade out to be replaced by "WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS". The words then blur up again and zoom in towards us.

SFX: The zooming, the "sparkles"

Music: "Pings" timed to go with the sparkling of the words, "whoosh " noises that sound during the zooms, and a thud noise just before the "WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS" logo zooms in.

Availability: An oddity; this can only be seen on "Condorman", but may be on other Disney films of the era. "Tron" contains a variation that does not incorporate any animation.

Scare Factor: That "thud" noise and the whooshing may get to some ppl, but it's basically harmless.


Generic Disclaimer 1

Logo: At the start of the film, we see the words "Walt Disney Presents". At the end of the film, we see "The End. A Walt Disney Production"

Generic Disclaimer 2

Logo: At the start of the film, we see the words "Walt Disney Productions Presents". At the end of the film, we see "The End. Walt Disney Productions"

From 1982 to 1985, the studio's theatrical product under the Disney name (except for the two shorts released in 1983, Winnie-the-Pooh and a Day for Eeyore and Mickey's Christmas Carol) had simply "Walt Disney Productions" at the end of the credits. No "the end," as the practice of using these two words at the closing of films had pretty much ceased by now.

From here on in, the company was now described as "Walt Disney Pictures", and the Buena Vista text was modified to "Distributed by BUENA VISTA PICTURES DISTRIBUTION" and moved to the end credits.

1st Logo

Nickname: "The Text"

Logo: Again, just text reading "WALT DISNEY PICTURES", but applied differently depending on the movie. "Return To Oz" features the "Walt Disney" logo, and is the first to do so. "Never Cry Wolf" has the text in a box. Any other examples?

SFX: None, this is once again a still logo.

Music: The beginning of the movie's theme.

Availability: Again, on Disney flicks from the era. Sometimes preceded by the current logo.

Scare Factor: It's harmless.

2nd Logo

Nicknames: "The Castle", "Magic Kingdom", "Disney"

Logo: A shower of light descends from the top of the screen, forming a stylized, segmented castle. The segments seem to be spaced farther apart by the time the light reaches the bottom. Through the main gate of the castle, white ball of light forms, then extends out to form the words "WALT DISNEY" in the familiar corporate "Disney" logo font. The word "PICTURES" fades in derneath, and a white circular line is drawn over the castle.

Variations: There is a variation of this logo where the animation is slower and not as smooth, and the "shower of light" is not as apparent (it looks more like somebody sliding a sheet of blue paper down to form the castle logo).

Also, depending on the film, the logo is altered to fit the film somehow. Here are some examples:

  • "Inspector Gadget": The logo is altered to look more mechanized, and the white curved line is replaced by a gear.
  • "Tarzan": After the "flash" that forms the Disney logo text, the background fades to that of a jungle.
  • "Bedknobs and Broomsticks (longer version):" The 1997 laserdisc of this film ends with a short logo, but with a black background! (This is not on the current DVD of the film, which has the short logo at the end with the normal blue background).

Also, Pixar films have their own custom logo, which is detailed below.

SFX: The "glowing castle", the "flash ", the drawing of the line

Cheesy Factor: The "flash" and reveal of the castle are rather outdated.

Music: A rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star" finishing off with a weird nstrument at the very end. Recently, the theme of the movie has begun over this logo, as the music has become quite outdated.

Availability: We've all seen this logo somewhere, as Disney films are among the most-watched in the world.

Scare Factor: The outdated music will scare a few; otherwise, harmless.

Pixar Custom Logo

Nickname: "The Pixar Castle"

Logo: On a blue bg, the camera flies out underneath a handsomely rendered Magic Kingdom Castle, with flags waving about on the top. When the logo zooms out , the logo proceeds as normal, but the "Walt Disney" text is rendered somewhat.

SFX: Very nice CGI from Pixar!

Music: The Toy Story films use a bombastic/majestic fanfare, not sure about "A Bug's Life". The logo as seen at the end of Toy Story 1 has no music, only flapping flags and a chime noise as the line is drawn.

Availability: Seen on all Disney/Pixar productions, namely "A Bug's Life", the Toy Story films, and the "Monsters, Inc". line

Scare Factor: None, this is a great logo.