At the start of recent Disney movies, there's a short 30 second animation of a river with an old sailing ship, a bridge with a steam train and then the familiar Disney castle and fireworks.

Disney Intro

  • Is there any significance to the items in the background?
  • Do they refer to other Disney movies?
  • Pirates of the Caribbean for the ship, perhaps?
  • Or am I reading too much into it?
  • I've also noticed that the animation starts in different places depending on the movie. Like for example it starts off focused on a star in wall-e. I've seen others where they start off looking at the train.
    – user5686
    Aug 6, 2013 at 14:14
  • 1
    Pretty weird, if you look at the top of the castle, there's a German flag, but the river seems to be the Thames, which is in England
    – user6647
    Nov 5, 2013 at 19:49
  • 1
    How on earth is that a German flag? And how did you get the impression that it is the Thames river?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 5, 2013 at 19:58
  • @Nathan I've always thought it was a Peter Pan reference. Pictures and stuff in my answer below.
    – meer2kat
    Apr 15, 2014 at 15:39
  • @meer2kat: Dito
    – Mario
    Jul 27, 2014 at 8:34

7 Answers 7


According to the Logos wiki,

In 2006, Walt Disney Pictures started using a new intro with a new CGI animation with a very complex depiction of the Sleepy Beauty Castle and its surroundings. It was a clear change from the old blue and white intro with its stylized castle and 2D animation.

The new intro was first used on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which premiered in the United States on July 7, 2006.

Starting with The Muppets, "WALT" and "PICTURES" have been removed from the logo.

2006 is the year that Disney repurchased Pixar, and the year after Robert Iger took over Disney. There is a Pixar Disney introduction but, oddly, this new intro was not created by Disney studios, but by Weta Digital in New Zealand.

More information comes from closinglogos.com:

On a night sky background, we see a star, a la Pinocchio. Then, some clouds appear, a la Mary Poppins, and a pirate ship, a la Peter Pan. We then see the castle, done in CGI, while different fireworks are appearing. A circular line is drawn over the castle (in the same vein as the previous logo), then the castle enters many dots from the bottom of the screen to reveal "Walt Disney", in the post-1979 Disney script logo font, albeit slightly revised. "PICTURES" fades in, while the circular line is nearly staying visible on the logo.

The train could reference Dumbo, but I have not found confirmation of this. enter image description here

(about 12 minutes into the film)


This is conjecture on my part, but I believe these are idealizations of other attractions at the various Disney theme parks. (Trying to find a source to back me up.)

The train is the Disneyland Railroad and the ship is the Sailing Ship Columbia

  • that's what I thought, but I also thought it would match the Disney world map. But it doesn't.
    – Reactgular
    Jan 6, 2013 at 18:06
  • That's why I suggested they are idealizations! You can do much more with animation than with a theme park in the real world! Jan 6, 2013 at 18:12
  • Right. An idyllic version of this. The 5 FWY standing in for the Danube. (Of course they are both versions of an imaginary place.)
    – ipso
    Jan 6, 2013 at 20:05

The scene before the castle reflects the Lewiston, Idaho/Clarkston, Washington area (separated by the Snake river). Steamboats were once used on this river. This is where Walt's wife Lillian is from and where they were married!

If you view an image of the Lewiston/Clarkston valley, you'll see the basis of this image at the confluence of the Snake & Clearwater rivers.

  • I don't know if this is correct or not but sure like the idea of this one!
    – DA.
    Mar 27, 2015 at 4:48

How about the hidden pics in the castle? Winnie the pooh peeking out of the castle spire on the right and donald duck is formed in the reflection in the center of the castle and then there is pluto on the left formed by two arches and a black spot for his nose. Thats all i have seen so far you do have to use your imagination a bit, but i think thats what walt would've wanted.


I don't necessarily think this is THE answer, but it reminds me a lot of the scene in Peter Pan where they fly over London. The coloring of everything, especially. I always just thought it was a clip like that of some bridge that crosses the Thames.

Thames Train

Here's the exact picture I feel it shows, but that's just me.

Peter Pan Scene



Call me crazy, but I've always thought that the steam train in the background was the Polar Express, and the ship in the river is from Peter Pan. And of course, the good old castle.

  • 2
    Hello, Crazy! The Polar Express was Warner Bros.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 26, 2015 at 16:09

It represents the Orlando area, The star in space at Kennedy Space Center, Harry Potter's Train at Universal, The ship, representing the Port Canveral cruise port and of course the Iconic Castle at Walt Disney Resort.

  • 5
    why would harry potters train be at universal? it was shot in warner bros studio in england... ?
    – davidlumix
    Jun 26, 2015 at 10:26

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