It’s been just over a year since Disney Plus first launched and the service has come on leaps and bounds since then (and we were pretty impressed with it at launch, so that’s saying something).
Given that Disney now owns roughly 90% of the Earth, it’s fairly safe to assume that you’ve heard of it, but you might be less familiar with this latest string in Disney’s bow. Disney Plus is a subscription streaming service that lets you watch everything Disney has to offer for a monthly fee. Now you might be saying to yourself “I’m not into cartoons, pass!” but let us remind you of just how many things Disney owns these days…
Star Wars, Marvel, Simpsons, National Geographic, Indiana Jones - the list goes on. And then you have all the stuff you’d normally associate with Disney too. Animated masterpieces like Moana, Frozen, and Zootopia, along with the movies Disney built its empire on - we’re talking Snow White, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid. You will do well to run out of things to watch with Disney Plus.
When creating and updating our Disney Plus review we looked at the amount of content you get for your money, as well as the ease of use and the quality of the stream. We also considered how it compares to the other options we tested for our best TV streaming services guide. As one of the cheapest options - $6.99 per month - Disney Plus is great value, and if you have kids, it's the perfect thing to let them watch, or to create a family movie evening with. It beats out Netflix and Hulu for the sheer volume of family-friendly content.
Disney Plus review: TV shows
When Disney Plus first dropped, it was a bit light on exclusive content - in fact it’s fair to say that the service was being carried by The Mandalorian. That’s still true to an extent, in that The Mandalorian has gone from strength to strength with its second season receiving very positive reviews, but there is now a lot more on the service besides that.
Wandavision, the first Disney Plus exclusive TV show set in the Marvel Universe, has just launched and is already generating a lot of positive buzz with it’s left-field concept, blending old-timey sitcoms with traditional superhero stories. We’ve also got The Falcon and The Winter Soldier coming in March 2021, which will give Marvel fans even more to sink their teeth into.
And if your taste runs more to the real - but no less fantastic - a bevvy of National Geographic programming awaits, including The World According to Jeff Goldblum, a fun series where the actor dives deep into everyday topics like ice cream, denim, and bicycles.
And as for the classics, well… do the words “I am the terror that flaps in the night” mean anything to you? Did Gadget from Rescue Rangers make you feel funny in your tummy? Did you ever wish you had a dad as cool as Goofy? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then my friend, Disney Plus is for you. Disney cartoons experienced a renaissance in the 90s, with classics like Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, Recess, and Gargoyles. Were they really that good? Does it matter? (But yes, they were, and I will fight you if you claim otherwise.)
And then there are The Simpsons. Every single episode from every single season. All 30 of them. You’re welcome. Dig a little deeper and you'll even find the original animated Spider-Man cartoons from the 80s, a bunch of excellent Pixar shorts for all your favorite movies like Cars and Toy Story, along with more recent animated shorts for some of the Marvel brands.
Disney Plus review: Movies
Star Wars. The Marvel Universe. Pixar. And, oh, yeah, Disney itself. It’s pretty hard to argue with the movie library on Disney Plus. Ok, George of the Jungle 2 was a mistake, I think we can all admit that now, but The Great Muppet Caper, The Lion King (both of them), The Black Hole, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music, Avatar, Turner & Hooch, Zootopia, Aladdin (both of them), Coco, Escape from Witch Mountain? You could choose a movie with your eyes closed and still land on something worth watching.
That said, these are Disney movies, after all, which means you’re not going to find a lot of bite in the library. Happy endings are the order of the day, as are plucky kids and surprisingly intelligent animals. If your taste leans toward crime stories, horror, or romance that moves past kissing, you won’t find much to satisfy you. If you don’t enjoy an afternoon spent with superheroes, animated heroes, or space heroes, you may want to consider a different streaming service.
The most recent addition to the lineup is Soul, another fantastic movie from the Pixar side of Disney. It joins other smash animated hits like Frozen 2. With the coronavirus pandemic dragging on, we wouldn't be surprised to see Black Widow appear on Disney Plus. We've also seen Star Wars Rise of Skywalker added to Disney Plus too, which means you can watch the latest movie in this universe, at no extra cost, right now. Great deal when you consider it's $14+ on most other sites.
Disney Plus review: Pricing
You can pick up a Disney Plus sign up by itself for $6.99 a month or you can grab a $12.99 bundle that nets you Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN+, a savings of about five bucks over the cost of each of those services individually. If you already have Hulu, blending your former account with your new Disney Plus bundle can be a minor hassle (we found ourselves in a log-in loop when trying to make it work on our Apple TV), but generally speaking, time from signup to viewing is less than 90 seconds. Disney Plus also offers a free trial in case you’re not sure the X-Men cartoon holds up as well as you remember and don’t want to commit until you watch a few episodes.
Disney Plus review: Quality of Stream
We watched Disney Plus on an Apple TV, iPhone 8, and a desktop computer: playback on all was smooth, with no buffering or lag. Skipping through a program worked perfectly, as did picking it back up after leaving it paused for an extended period. Unlike some other streaming services, UI was consistent across all devices, making the switch from TV to phone, for example, seamless.
Everything is available in HD 1080p, and a large quantity of movies and shows stream in 4K. Provided your broadband can handle it, the streaming works well even at the highest resolutions, although we did notice a little buffering during certain movies (Hocus Pocus, to be exact).
Most modern entertainment appliances will have some kind of app that allows you to watch Disney Plus. Smart TVs, most of the best tablets, and phones all have apps, while Disney Plus can be watched via a web browser on laptops and PCs. It's broadly available and easy to access.
Should I subscribe to Disney Plus?
Do you have a kid? Then yes, you need Disney Plus in your home. Like, now. It doesn’t even particularly matter what age your offspring is, either, as Disney Plus has appropriate viewing for wee babes, toddlers, tweens, and teens. And while you may quietly grind your teeth at hearing yet another princess movie chirping away in the background, your kiddos having access to so much safe, high-quality content is probably worth the damage to your enamel.
If you don’t have a kid, are you a comic movie or sci-fi fan? If so, having ready access to everything in the Marvel and Star Wars universes, including the upcoming original shows, is almost certainly worth it to you. If you’re neither a parent nor a nerd, whether Disney Plus remains worth the monthly fee will depend on the quality of content it adds, and the frequency with which new programming is added to the service.