Company Info and Overview
Walt Disney Home Entertainment (originally Walt Disney Home Video) is The Walt Disney Company's video division that was made to release Disney media on VHS, Beta, and other formats later on in the years.
The company first started licensing episodes of Disneyland to MCA Discovision for release in their videodisc line in December 16, 1978. Videodiscs weren't the new wave at the time due to expensiveness of the discs. There were experiments with Fotomat in 1979. During the company's experimentations with MCA, they created a logo for their releases.
On a black background, a bright blue outline of Mickey Mouse quickly zooms up towards the viewer, leaving 5 outline trails behind it. They rotate to the left and keep spinning, while the outlines one-by-one change color to purple, red, yellow, and green as "Walt Disney" is written in Walt's signature font and the words "Home Entertainment", in the Garamond font, zoom up and settle below as the logo fades away. The logo is accompanied by a bombastic synthesized horn-driven fanfare that scared many.
Also, they experimented with FBI warnings. They were on a blue background, first there was the FBI screen with the law next to it (this policy stayed on all Disney videos) on a blue background, then a blue screen saying "Licensed for private home exhibition only..." and so forth.
In 1980, Jim Jimirro started Walt Disney Home Video and served as the first president of that division. The early 1980s also led the start of the Disney Channel and other products. The first releases of the company came out in October 1980. They were Mary Poppins, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Pete's Dragon, The Black Hole, The Love Bug, and Escape to Witch Mountain, which were all released on VHS and Beta.
While keeping the old logo, the division went on to release several more titles for the 1981-82 season and so forth to the 1982-83 season. 1981 brought rental prints of Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland, making them the first Disney animated features released on video, finally being made for sale in 1982. Around this time, the company experimented with a variant of the FBI screen with a red background rather than the blue one. Tapes in 1982 contained a promo at the end.
New Lines Released
In 1983, Disney introduced the Cartoon Classics. These tapes (holding 45-60 minutes of cartoons) began with a revised Walt Disney Home Video logo, cut-off with the slogan "The magic lives on..." This revised look of the WDHV logo lead up to a new variant with the same, new graphics, but with "WALT DISNEY" in the corporate font and "HOME VIDEO" in a Pepsi-esque font, this logo stayed until the mid-to-late 1980s.
The Cartoon Classics series used a rare FBI screen saying "Duplication in whole or in part of this cassette is prohibited." The series spanned 14 volumes going up to 1986. Between this time, a new series of Cartoon Classics called the Limited Gold Editions was released in 1984, and the Limited Gold Editions II in 1985. After discontinuing the new lines in 1987, the last Cartoon Classics batch and the Walt Disney Mini-Classics ran up until the early 1990s. 1983 started new FBI logos in orange, with the rare "Duplication" variant on some prints.
1984 brought hope for the home video division; the line "Walt Disney Classics" or "The Classics" was created to release animated features on home video due to a large demand. A re-release of Dumbo started the line. The cover was full of detail and was embedded onto a black padded clamshell case with a shiny black diamond on it, saying "THE CLASSICS" (and sometimes with "WALT DISNEY HOME VIDEO" below it).
The logo was put in animated format where the cheesy computer generated look-a-likes of the words "THE CLASSICS" and "WALT DISNEY HOME VIDEO" spin around on a blue background and settle on a cheesy diamond with a white outline, all to a Moog synthesizer fanfare (a usual for some logos). This logo scared many due to the cheesy graphics of the text and the diamonds.
The 1984 re-release of Dumbo was paired with the video premiere of Robin Hood, in the same style of cover, complete with rich artwork. Then came Pinocchio in July 1985, selling for $79.95 intially and was the bestselling video of 1985. Many of these releases and newer releases were sent to the UK as PAL versions and to Japan.
There were more titles in the Classics line; The Sword in the Stone, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty followed in 1986. Sleeping Beauty used a rare variant of the red FBI warning and a video dealer announcement, it was also the first video to apply Hi-Fi sound. It sold 1 million copies, but Lady and the Tramp came in October 1987 and sold 3.2 million copies by 1988, but was passed by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which was the bestselling video until 1992 (15 million copies sold).
In December 1986, after the video release of The Journey of Natty Gann (which had an extremely different cover from the covers with the Sorcerer Mickey on the box), the team made an all-new logo that was much more crisper and cleaner than the first logos with much better CGI.
The logo featured Sorcerer Mickey, and a spark coming from his hand writing "WALT DISNEY" as "HOME VIDEO" zooms up and settles below. The tune was a creepy low-key but rising synthesizer fanfare that freaked very little. The logo also replaced the Classics logo in the UK, possibly due to an editing bug.
The logo was introduced on a cassette series Disney made for younger audiences called, "Disney Sing Along Songs." The first volume was released with those same FBI screens the Sleeping Beauty cassettes had. Many of the original volumes were reissued in 1991 and 1995. The volumes are as followed.
- Volume 1: Heigh-Ho (1986)
- Volume 2: Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah (1986)
- Volume 3: You Can Fly (1987)
- Volume 4: The Bare Necessities (1988)
- Volume 5: Fun with Music (1989)
- Volume 6: Under the Sea (1990)
- Volume 7: Disneyland Fun (1990)
- Volume 8: A Merry Walt Disney Christmas (1990)
In 1988, the Classics logo was replaced by a much newer one resembling the 1986 "Sorcerer Mickey" logo. The original version was in Film-O-Vision and released on the October 1988 video release of Cinderella and the PAL versions of Lady and the Tramp (which were released in late 1988), it also made a strange reappearance on the 1991 video re-release of Robin Hood. In 1989, it was replaced with a much lighter version that wasn't in Film-O-Vision, the last variant of the logo was released in 1992 where everything was more blue than the minor colors, and the background music fanfare got distorted in late 1992.
New Classics releases sporting dfferent cover headings came out, including Cinderella, Bambi, and The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid sold 8 million copies by the summer of 1990 and was banned due to the likeness of a penile erection on one of the castle spires on the front cover. Late 1990 brought the video release of Peter Pan, complete with new "Coming Attractions" headlines.
In 1991, The Jungle Book was released to video with new coming attractions headliners that were white text writings on a black background. This also was the introduction of the Feature Presentation screen on later prints. The screen was also introduced on some prints of the 1991 re-release of Robin Hood in a more cartoonish looking cover.
Some prints of Robin Hood introduced new FBI screens in a pine green color. They were used on a few prints of The Rescuers Down Under which started a Classics 3-pack in late 1991 with Jungle Book, Robin Hood, and Down Under in a box set. 1991 also bought the hit seller release, Fantasia, which was released a standard version and a deluxe version.
1991 was also a year of re-releases that used new covers, but old tapes. The re-release covers of Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, and The Sword in the Stone used their mid-1980s prints, but then they switched over to brand new tapes because the tapes starting in 1990 didn't use the Beta-style labels but ink on the cassette.
In 1992, the orange FBI logos finally dropped out and the green ones briefly seen in 1991 were the new warnings, some variations had a "Duplication" screen. The video release of One Hundred and One Dalmatians introduced a new FP screen on a lilac blue background and cursive handwritting. Following this was the video release of The Great Mouse Detective.
An experimental Feature Presentation on a navy background was only used on the video release of The Rescuers. Beauty and the Beast came in October 1992 and became the bestselling video with 20 million units, surpassed by Aladdin in 1993 with 21 million units. A re-release of Pinocchio also came out. These three releases also had deluxe editions. The Classics line came to an end when The Fox and the Hound was released in 1994.
A New Era
1994 led to the start of Walt Disney's new line, the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection, but they didn't get a logo until 1995. The line started with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which outsold Jurassic Park on video. The first prints of the video used the 1986 "Sorcerer Mickey" WDHV logo, but later prints got the Masterpiece Collection logo, which had a remix of the Walt Disney Classics jingle.
The Lion King came to VHS and Laserdisc in 1995 and sold about 32 million units, being the bestselling video to date.