Walt Disney Pictures started off as Walt Disney Productions on October 16, 1923. Since then, third-party distributor RKO Radio Pictures released Disney movies from 1936 to 1954, before Buena Vista Distribution Company was founded. The name "Walt Disney Productions" first appeared in the opening credits as of 1968, and then at the end of each film as of 1971. This is due to the fact that Walt Disney himself died in 1966.
RKO Radio Pictures (1937-1953)
Prior to 1953, Walt Disney's films were distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. This includes the first 14 Disney animated features, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Peter Pan (1953).
Buena Vista Film Distribution (1954-1960)
This is what the first Buena Vista logo looks like. It appears on all VHS and DVD prints of Sleeping Beauty (1959), the 1991 VHS of Dumbo (1941), and the 1995 VHS of Cinderella (1950).
Buena Vista Distribution (1960-1984)
In 1960, the word "Film" was dropped from the company's first name, changing it to Buena Vista Distribution. The logo with this name shown above was seen on films released from the early to mid 1960s, such as 101 Dalmatians (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), pre-1997 prints of Mary Poppins (1964), and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966). The next Buena Vista logo, from 1966, was seen on films from the late 1960s to early 1980s. The Aristocats originally had this logo on 16mm prints, but wasn't seen again until the Blu-ray release in 2012. Other movies with this logo include Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), and The Fox and the Hound (1981). The final logo was first seen on The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (June 27, 1979). The last film to ever have this logo was Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983). There were no Walt Disney Pictures films ever released in 1984, except for some featurettes.
As of October 14, 1983, an in-credit closing text logo was used for films distributed by Walt Disney Pictures until after September 28, 2007. The text logo comprises of the words "Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution".
Walt Disney Pictures (1985-present)
In 1983, Walt Disney Productions was renamed as Walt Disney Pictures. The first film to have the new company name's first logo is Return to Oz (June 21, 1985), which made its home video debut on June 25, 1986. The logo can also be found on The Black Cauldron (1985), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), Flight of the Navigator (1986), Benji the Hunted (1987), and a few others. Within television networks, the logo premiered on ABC with The Journey of Natty Gann on October 4, 1987.
On VHS, this Walt Disney Pictures logo was seen on 1988 prints of Cinderella, and 1990 prints of The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan, all later seen on The Disney Channel from October 1989 to November 1991. In 1990, the logo was modernized, and was first seen in The Prince and the Pauper on November 16 of that year. On VHS releases, it was first seen on DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp on March 15, 1991, when the second generation of Walt Disney Home Video began. It was also first seen on The Disney Channel in August 1991.
Since then, the logo was commonly used on many films, such as 1991 prints of The Rescuers Down Under, 1992 prints of 101 Dalmatians, The Great Mouse Detective and Beauty and the Beast, 1993 prints of Aladdin, original 1995 prints of The Lion King, 1996 prints of Pocahontas, The Aristocats and Oliver & Company, 1997 prints of The Jungle Book, 1998 prints of The Little Mermaid, and lots more. Some films with this logo were also broadcast on TBS, ABC Family, and Hub Network.
The last film to have it was The Fox and the Hound 2 on December 12, 2006, several months after the current Walt Disney Pictures logo began.
Starting in 2000, an alternate logo was spotted on some Disney movies, such as Dinosaur (2000), 102 Dalmatians (2000), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), and even the 2002 IMAX theatrical re-release of The Lion King, which was later transferred to DVD in October 2003.
The current Walt Disney Pictures logo, done with CGI animation, was first seen on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on July 7, 2006 (on DVD on December 5, 2006). As of November 23, 2011, the logo now just uses the word "Disney" on brand new Disney films in theaters today, and on newer prints of classic Disney movies, especially the Diamond Edition prints.
Pixar Animation Studios (1995-present)
The Pixar version of the Walt Disney Pictures logo was seen on Pixar Animation Studios' first eight feature films, from Toy Story up to Ratatouille. Each film also always used the Pixar Animation Studios logo seen to the right of the Walt Disney Pictures logo. 13 years after its debut, this logo was discontinued on the Blu-ray and 3D releases of first two Toy Story films, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo 3D.
As of 2008, Pixar now uses the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo in every one of their films. WALL-E was the first Pixar film to have this logo.
Walt Disney Animation Studios (2007-present)
First seen on March 30, 2007 with Meet the Robinsons (on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 23, 2007), this logo is currently seen on all new prints of Walt Disney animated feature films.