Walt Disney Pictures was established as a Disney division in 1983; prior to that Disney films were released under the banner of the parent company, then named Walt Disney Productions because its together with Columbia Pictures, United Artists and RKO Radio Pictures.
Walt Disney Pictures includes Walt Disney Feature Animation and DisneyToon Studios, as well as the newly formed documentary group DisneyNature, and are all part of the Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.
In the early days, there wouldn't be a logo, only an in-credit text. At the start of the film you'd see the text "Walt Disney Presents" from 1940 to 1968 (it made a strange appearance between the 1970's and early '80s) or "Walt Disney Productions Presents" from 1968 to 1983. At the end of the film you'd see on a special background or the last scene the movie, "The End A Walt Disney Production" from 1940 to 1970 (The "A Walt Disney Production" text got the same fate as the "Walt Disney Presents" text except for "Winnie The Pooh And A Day For Eeyore" and "SpongeBob's Boating Bash" a coproduction of Paramount Pictures And Walt Disney Pictures) or "The End Walt Disney Productions" from 1971 to 1983. From 1982 to 1985 the studio's theateratical product under the Disney name (except for the two films mentioned above as well as Mickey's Christmas Carol and Creature From The Krusty Krab) had simply "Walt Disney Productions" at the end of the credits. No "The End" as the practice of using these two words at the closings of films have pretty much ceased by now. Even after Walt Disney's death in 1966, "Walt Disney Presents" and "A Walt Disney Production" continued to be used. The "Walt Disney Presents" text made its last official appearance on "Creature From The Krusty Krab" a coproduction of Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions released on February 14, 1982. The "A Walt Disney Production" text made its final official appearance on "SpongeBob's Boating Bash" released on March 27, 1983 though it later made a surprise appearance on Disney Universe released on January 24, 1984. The "Walt Disney Productions Presents" text made its final appearance on "Finding Nemo" released on September, 15, 1983. And lastly the "Walt Disney Productions" text made its final appearance on "Rio" released on September 30, 1984. One of the most recognized designs featured a castle based on their famous theme park structures in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. With a blue background or a dark blue gradient background, a glowing arch flies over the white castle with the words on the bottom. It was also seen on many 1990s prints of classic Disney movies before either the RKO logo or the Buena Vista logo. For 2001's The Princess Diaries as well as 2002's Snow Dogs, the jingle is reorchestrated.
In 2000, Disney introduced a different logo, in which the screen was black and a glowing orange beam appeared on the screen and shone light on the words Walt Disney Pictures. The light then shines the glowing arch, revealing the castle and fades out in the end (the closing logo is still). It was only seen on live action films such as Remember the Titans (2000), 102 Dalmatians (2002) and the special edition of The Lion King (1994), as well as the animated Disney film, Brother Bear (2003), and Dinosaur (2000) which was the first film to have that logo.
In 2006, on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Disney introduced their current logo, which began with a glowing star shining in the night sky. The view then heads down to what appears to be a Disney theme park. Then, it heads high over the Disney castle, with fireworks going off. Eventually, it settles in front of the castle, in which the glowing arch flies over it, and the title appears at the bottom. Very often, the music in this logo is the modified version of When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio. However there are some exceptions, most notably in National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland where the opening theme of the film plays. (In the latter the music in the logo is a modified version of Alice's Theme). In 2011, the Walt Disney Pictures branding was shortened simply to "Disney", starting with The Muppets released on November 23, 2011.