Disney Plus is here
Disney Plus – officially called Disney+ – is Disney's effort to challenge the video streaming market. It brings a very Disney-specific approach to a landscape currently dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime. With launches underway in the US, Canada, Netherlands and now Australia and New Zealand, it's already got 10 million sign-ups. UK readers will have to wait until 2020 to get it, however.
The purpose of this service is straightforward and exciting: this is the place to watch classic Disney animated movies, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and even 20th Century Fox content (The Simpsons, for example). After a week, we're enjoying our time with Disney Plus, with the caveat that it'll be a long wait for its biggest and best original shows. Scroll down for more on our Disney Plus verdict.
The biggest original show at launch is The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series. It's pretty fantastic so far, with production values you would associate with cinema more than TV. Over time, Disney Plus will have original content from Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, putting it in a good position to take on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple Plus.
Below, we'll explain how to sign up to Disney Plus, how much it costs, and our opinion of the new streaming service.
How to sign up to Disney Plus
If you're in the US, Canada or the Netherlands, you can sign up for Disney Plus here, or if you're in Australia or New Zealand, click here. No matter where you live, there's a 7-day trial that'll let you see if the service is right for you. You can also sign up to a bundle (US-only) that includes ESPN+ and Hulu's Basic package for $12.99 a month, which saves $5 on subscribing to the services individually.
ESPN+, of course, is for the sports plan in your life. Hulu, meanwhile, hosts a lot of shows from other networks, like South Park and Rick and Morty, as well as having its own originals like The Handmaid's Tale. While Disney Plus is family-friendly, adult-oriented content can be found on Hulu.
Disney Plus will keep adding more content over time, so keep that in mind if the service doesn't appeal to you right now.
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Disney Plus: our verdict
We've published our Disney Plus review, and the first impression is strong. It's not as comprehensive as its competitors like Netflix, but having this selection of blockbuster movies in one place is very enticing. While not every Disney movie has made the leap yet, it's arrived with a pretty great selection.
It really helps that The Mandalorian has arrived on day one, to give people an idea of how much Disney is willing to spend on original content. But a lot of its best shows, like the Marvel series coming to Disney Plus, feel a little far away. That's the only note of caution we have on the streaming service right now.
Even if not everything from the Disney back catalogue is pure gold, especially when you get to the straight-to-VHS movies of the '90s, but that's to be expected with a platform of this breadth.
Find out what we thought of the app and the movie selection in our Disney Plus review.
Disney Plus movies coming in late 2019 and 2020
While Disney Plus has launched with a whole payload of movies, many more are coming after release, right into 2021. When you search for an existing Disney film on the service, it'll tell you what date it's expected to arrive on the service. You won't find recent theatrical movies like Toy Story 4, the live-action Aladdin or The Lion King films with release dates, but you'll find plenty that do have them. Here are some highlights:
Coco (November 29), Thor: Ragnarok (December 5), Black Panther (March 4), A Wrinkle in Time (25 March, 2020), National Treasure (30 April, 2020), John Carter (May 2, 2020), Solo: A Star Wars Story (July 9, 2020), Avengers: Infinity War (June 25 2020), Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 29, 2020), The Incredibles 2 (July 30, 2020), 2015's Cinderella movie (September 1 2020), Christopher Robin (September 25, 2020), the live-action Beauty and the Beast (October 1, 2020), Maleficent (October 1, 2020) and Tomorrowland (September 1, 2021).
For Toy Story 4, Aladdin, or The Lion King, expect those to be used as major incentives to sign up not long after they arrive on DVD and Blu-ray. They'll help keep sign-ups going – so it makes sense we wouldn't hear about all of them at once.
Disney Plus app links: start streaming on your device
Disney Plus app links
As you can see, Disney Plus has launched on pretty much every major platform. Disney confirmed the list of platforms that will support Disney Plus sometime before launch. It includes Apple TV, Roku streaming devices, Google Chromecast, iOS and Android, PS4 and Xbox One – as well as the Android TV platform that supports Nvidia Shield TV, Sony TVs, and Hisense TVs.
Amazon's Fire TV is also supported at launch, following a late deal between Disney and the retail giant. Search the app on your preferred device if it's not linked in the box to the right, and you should find it.
A while back, we heard about a planned Disney Plus app for Nintendo Switch – but at launch, no such app exists.
The Simpsons has a big problem on Disney Plus
All the classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ are in cropped widescreen format -- this means you miss out on tons of great visual jokes, like how Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry all come from the same tube. pic.twitter.com/cTy9adulFlNovember 12, 2019
Unfortunately, earlier, pre-HD (i.e. best) episodes of The Simpsons are being cropped in on Disney Plus to make them fit a widescreen aspect ratio, therefore removing some of the excellent background jokes the animated sitcom is famous for. See above for one notable example, but generally speaking, it's a bit disappointing there isn't currently an option to revert to the original 4:3 aspect ratio. The audio commentaries for every episode that came with the DVDs haven't made the cut on Disney Plus either, which seems like a missed opportunity. Especially when many Disney classics do have behind-the-scenes material.
About a week after launch, Disney clarified that the original aspect ratio will be available in 2020 for seasons 1-19 and part of 20. This shows Disney is listening to criticism, which is encouraging.
Disney+ statement on the Simpsons aspect ratios: pic.twitter.com/hSMCaGxXtKNovember 15, 2019
Disney Plus had outages on day one
Just downloaded and signed up and this keep showing up: pic.twitter.com/jTkdbaivGFNovember 12, 2019
The Disney Plus Help account on Twitter received its fair share of complaints about login issues across various platforms on day one, and Disney responded to the outages officially, explaining that it's "working quickly to resolve any current issues." It explained that the service has "exceeded our highest expectations", suggesting there's a lot of demand for the service.
The demand for #DisneyPlus has exceeded our highest expectations. We are so pleased you’re excited to watch all your favorites and are working quickly to resolve any current issues. We appreciate your patience.November 12, 2019
The error message on the app reads: "There seems to be an error connecting to the Disney+ service. Please try again later if the issue persists." Variety also reported that customers are complaining about the wait times via the customer service helpline. Since then, though, reports on Downdetector have dropped significantly on Disney Plus, so hopefully those were just launch day teething issues.
Disney Plus FAQ: quick questions answered
- What is Disney Plus? Like Netflix, this is a streaming service, but it's exclusively packed with Disney content.
- When will Disney Plus launch? Disney Plus has already launched in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands. It launched in Australia and New Zealand on November 19, and it'll arrive ini March 31, 2020 in the UK and most of Europe.
- What does Disney Plus cost? $6.99/month in the US (or $69.99 per year), $8.99 in Australia and Canada ($89.99 per year), $9.99 in New Zealand ($99.99 per year), and €6.99 in the Netherlands (€69.99 per year). No UK pricing has been announced.
- Where can I find it? Disney Plus has launched on on iOS, Android, Apple TV, PS4, Xbox One, Amazon's devices, browsers, and Android TV.
- Will Disney Plus beat Netflix? We pit Disney Plus vs Netflix to see who comes out on top, but there's likely room for both in your streaming life.
- What Disney Plus channels are there? There are no channels, as such, but there are five separate content hubs for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic. It will also feature content from Fox, like The Simpsons.
Disney Plus release date: US and Canada can get it now
The Disney Plus streaming service launched in the early hours of November 12, hours before its official launch time of 6AM ET. If you're in the US, Canada or the Netherlands, you can sign up. Its launch in Australia and New Zealand is just hours away.
Disney Plus will arrive in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain on March 31, 2020. So if you were excited about The Mandalorian, you've got an annoyingly long wait...
Just announced: #DisneyPlus will be available in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain (and more to be announced soon) starting on March 31st. Please note: Titles may vary by territory. pic.twitter.com/lE6nzBeaXyNovember 7, 2019
Disney will eventually bring the service to the entire world, but rolled out over a two-year period. You could be waiting a while depending on where you live.
Disney Plus price and bundles explained
The Disney Plus price is $6.99 per month (that's about £6 / $10), or $69.99 per year in the US. The price is then $8.99 for both Canada and Australia (or $89.99 per year), while in New Zealand it's $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. In the Netherlands, the price is €6.99 per month, or €69.99 per year. We've created a comprehensive guide on the Disney Plus price tiers, to help you compare it to its rival streaming services.
You can also get Disney Plus with ESPN+ and Hulu in a bundle for a nice $12.99 per month. And Verizon customers in the US are lucky: if you're signed up to its 5G unlimited wireless, Fios home internet or 4G LTE plans, you get a year of Disney Plus for absolutely free.
Expect more on the Disney Plus UK price and the price for other countries as Disney keeps rolling the service out.
All of this means the service is cheaper in the US than Netflix, for now at least. "I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume," said Robert Iger, Disney's chairman and CEO. "It'll have a lot of high quality [content], because of the brands and the franchises that will be on it that we've talked about. But it'll simply launch with less volume, and the price will reflect that."
Iger also suggested that the price could rise gradually over time as the service grows, which wouldn't be a massive surprise. This is exactly what has happened with Netflix as its investment in original content has escalated over the last few years.
- Check out these Disney Plus prices and bundles
Disney Plus has 4K HDR streams
Disney Plus streams to up to four devices simultaneously in 4K resolution and HDR (high dynamic range) at no extra cost – with up to seven user profiles on the platform. Not all content is available in 4K / HDR, of course, and naturally you'll still need a 4K TV to watch the content that is. But since all of the original Star Wars films have launched on the service in 4K with Dolby Vision, that bodes well for future films that make the leap to Disney Plus.
Netflix, on the other hand, has a premium tier that grants access to 4K / HDR streams. The all-in-one nature of the subscription is appealing by comparison.
Disney Plus supports both Dolby Atmos as well as Dolby Vision, making it a fantastic choice for movie lovers.
Star Wars on Disney Plus features another change to Han/Greedo shootout
Oh my god. This is not a joke. pic.twitter.com/RMkh7Blg7DNovember 12, 2019
The version of Star Wars found on Disney Plus is apparently based on the 2011 Blu-ray release, but fans have noticed another bizarre change to the infamous Han/Greedo encounter. Another frame of Greedo saying the non-existent word “Maclunkey!” has been added (via Film Stories), shortly before a new visual explosion obscures the characters from view. It's an odd change, to say the least, but hey, we've gotten used to it from the original Star Wars trilogy. At least we can laugh about it.
Disney Plus: Marvel TV shows and movies
16 movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe have launched with Disney Plus in the US, with more planned down the line. You can also look forward to exclusive new Marvel TV shows featuring your favorite superheroes, as the MCU officially extends to TV shows for the first time. One report suggested these shows will have budgets of $25 million an episode. A first look at these shows is available on Disney Plus right now, in a special called Expanding the Universe.
The first of these MCU shows will be Falcon and The Winter Soldier (starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan), coming in Q3 / Fall 2020, around a year after Disney Plus goes live. It'll be six episodes long, and will feature the return of Civil War's Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl).
The numerous fans of Tom Hiddleston will be happy to hear that next in the new Marvel line-up will be the Loki TV show, a six-episode miniseries starring the trickster god. We also know from San Diego Comic-Con that the series will kick off after Loki's sudden escape in Avengers: Endgame, via the Tesseract. No doubt he'll get into plenty of mischief as a result.
2021 will also see WandaVision, a spin-off following Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) that will tie into the events of the Doctor Strange sequel – and a Hawkeye TV show, with Jeremy Renner reprising the role, and mentoring a new iteration of Hawkeye, Kate Bishop.
Marvel's head of television, Jeph Loeb, did say there'll be more "street-level heroes" coming to the Disney Plus service too, with Marvel TV shows set to replace or expand on the likes of Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and The Defenders – all of which were cancelled on Netflix (via Deadline). Since then, however, Loeb's upcoming exit has been reported (via THR), and Kevin Feige now oversees the TV division that was previously separate from the rest of Marvel Studios. So we're not sure where that leaves those characters.
Interestingly, there's also going to be a Marvel TV show that puts a different spin on the MCU. Called Marvel's What If...?, the animated series is based on a comics series where reality played out a little differently for our favorite superheroes and villains. Like how would Agent Peggy Carter have fared if she'd taken the super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? Many Marvel actors will be reprising their roles for this anthology show, making it much more than just a weird curio.
At Disney's D23 Expo in late August, now-Marvel CCO Kevin Feige announced three new series – She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel – that would all debut on the service, too, vastly expanding the MCU by introducing all-new characters. Even with those coming, there are plenty of Marvel spin-offs we still want to see make the jump to the small screen.
When it comes to older MCU movies, we can expect those to be pulled from Netflix as soon as contracts run out before being moved across to Disney Plus when it launches. In an earnings call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger clarified that 2019's Captain Marvel would be the first Disney movie exclusive to the service – and on November 6, it was confirmed that Avengers Endgame will be launching on November 12 when the service goes live, too, moving from a previous December date. Shortly before launch, too, Disney announced eight more Marvel movies on Disney Plus, including The Avengers.
Disney Plus: Star Wars TV shows and films
You may remember that Disney bought Star Wars back in 2012, meaning it now has the rights to the entire library of movies, as well as the ability to make original programming set in that universe. Expect plenty of Star Wars films and TV shows on Disney Plus as a result. Every movie from Episodes I-VII will arrive on day one, with later films and spin-offs arriving in 2020.
The first episode of The Mandalorian is now live, a show created by Jon Favreau (the director of Iron Man and The Jungle Book). It stars a Boba Fett-resembling character continuing the legacy of the bounty hunter, and the trailers sure make it look like full-fat Star Wars. This show has a rumored budget of $15 million per episode, and you can certainly tell from the level of effects on display.
It's not the only new Star Wars episodic content confirmed for Disney Plus, either. Rogue One's Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) will also get his own prequel TV series exploring his life before the events of the 2016 film. Even if Disney's CEO thinks there are too many Star Wars movies coming out, the TV schedule is only getting more packed.
Also officially confirmed is an Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series, with Ewan McGregor to reprise his role from the prequel movies, and a seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. But you can check out exactly what films and TV series are hitting the service in our Disney Plus Star Wars guide.
Disney Plus: The Simpsons and Fox content
Disney's acquisition of Fox was a very, very big deal – especially for Disney Plus.
Fox own the rights to a huge amount of classic television, including The Simpsons, which means every episode from the first 30 seasons of the show has come to the service (minus the season three episode 'Stark Raving Dad' for reasons that'll be obvious to fans).
Fox used to hold the keys to the X-Men franchise, putting big restrictions on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (such as the word 'mutant' never being used onscreen). The merger now means those characters can appear in the MCU, along with the Fantastic Four. They're likely to be saved for movies rather than TV shows, but either way, one day you're likely to see MCU projects based on both coming to Disney Plus.
Disney Plus will also be getting a selection of animated '90s cartoon classics, like X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. The big Fox movie arriving on day one for Disney Plus is James Cameron's Avatar. Fox movies like The Princess Bride and The Sound of Music will follow. You can expect a reboot of Home Alone coming down the pipe, too, which we were all definitely asking for.
Other Disney Plus movies, shows, and exclusives
Marvel and Star Wars might be the highlights, but the Disney Plus originals extend far beyond superheroes and space. A gigantic selection of additional new shows and TV series are in the works, including a new Monsters Inc. project called Monsters at Work (coming in 2020), while from launch you can enjoy a fresh mockumentary take on the evergreen High School Musical series that, brace yourself, is called High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
An original Christmas film called Noelle also arrived with Disney Plus at launch, starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader.
For classic Disney lovers there's a live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp, while '90s animation fans will eventually get a new live-action Mulan that will hit both theaters and the streaming service. Deadline suggests that projects based on Don Quixote, Sword and the Stone, and 3 Men and a Baby are in the works, along with other projects titled The Paper Magician, Togo, and Timmy Failure. A game show called The Big Fib was also ordered in November 2019.
If you're more interested in Disney's many decades of animated movies, however, the company says it will include every flick that's ever been locked away in the Vault. That may include some of the first, harder-to-find Mickey Mouse pictures.
Younger kids will have plenty to watch, with programming from Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD.
Disney Plus will also be a home for DisneyNature documentaries, including Dolphin Reef – narrated by actress Natalie Portman. Disney Nature works both in documentary films and animation, and will also be bringing animated feature Penguins to the Disney Plus service. A documentary series called The World According to Jeff Goldblum will also start when the series arrives. It's pretty much what you'd expect it to be from the title.
All of Disney Plus's original shows will roll out on a weekly basis, unlike services like Netflix and Amazon where every episode tends to drop at once.
Will Disney Plus have classic Disney movies?
Heck yes. It's been confirmed that every Disney film ever made is destined for the service, so everything from Snow White to Frozen 2 should be available on Disney Plus at some point after launch.
What will Disney Plus be missing?
The Disney streaming service won't have content from outside of the Disney ecosystem, as far as we know. The reason you see such a vast range of content on Hulu and Netflix is because they have a big web of licensing deals with external studios. Disney Plus is a more focused offering.
But, of course, Disney has plenty of content to draw from, especially with a slow drip of Fox movies and shows to come. It's also worth noting that there won't be any R-rated or adult-oriented content on the service. Expect mature-oriented Fox films to go to Hulu instead, according to a report from Deadline.
Even though Disney now owns Fox, for example, that doesn't mean you'll start seeing Deadpool swearing on Disney Plus. There's talk however of a PG-13 take on Deadpool 2's X-Force for the platform (via ComicBook).
It's pretty obvious, but the Marvel TV original series on Netflix won't be crossing over to the new Disney Plus service – as far as we know. That means the likes of Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones won't be rebooted on Disney Plus in their current iterations. They've all been axed anyway, but we can't see them leaving Netflix any time soon. It's possible you'll see them return some day, but maybe it's better to leave that era of the characters behind.
What you will see on Disney Plus, though, is the dreadful Inhumans series from 2017. That arrives on Day One.
What's next for Disney Plus?
We've got a long wait until some of the bigger Marvel shows start arriving in 2020, and some of the other Star Wars spin-offs feel even further away. But over time, as the service builds momentum, it'll likely grow in the same way Netflix has, with a steady stream of originals from the different content pillars.
The Mandalorian and Forky Asks a Question are just the start, then, and that back catalogue of Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar films should just keep growing with time.
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Original reporting by Andrew Hayward.