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Disney Plus review: Great for families, but still behind on original content
Disney Plus has been out in the wild for US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealanders, and Netherlands residents since late November 2019. In late March 2020, it finally expanded to India and other European countries and has since expanded to other parts of Europe and Latin America. As a result, Disney Plus now has over 100 million subscribers. However, is the service still worth the $7.99 a month price? Our Disney Plus review will give you our answer, based on using the service since its launch date.
Read more: Best streaming services
Want to check out Disney Plus after reading our review? Make sure you click on the link below to sign up for the service.
What makes it different from other services?
Disney Plus is basically your one-stop shop for all things Disney-related in terms of movies and TV shows. Most other streaming services, including studio-based ones like HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount Plus, sometimes lack a lot of their own movie and TV library of content. With Disney Plus, you get nearly all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, all of its Star Wars movies, all of its Pixar animated films, and nearly all of its classic and current animated movies. That’s not to mention a ton of older and recent other movies, TV shows, short subjects, specials, and National Geographic documentary content.
If you are not a Disney fan, Disney Plus is not going to be your cup of tea. However, if you are, there’s a ton of content to dive into. Yes, that includes the very first Mickey Mouse short film, Steamboat Willie, which was released way back in 1928. In between, you can stream tons of classic and current Disney animated feature films and shorts, live-action films, and shows. Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are available. All of the Star Wars and Pixar movies can be streamed. If you love documentaries, there’s also a host of National Geographic movies and reality series to stream as well.
One thing we will mention is that there are many movies and TV shows from the former 20th Century Fox on Disney Plus. That’s due to Disney buying the library of TV shows and movies from that studio in 2018. You can stream the entire library of episodes from The Simpsons, for instance. Disney Plus has tons of family movies, and it even has a few family-friendly movies from Fox, like The Sound of Music and Avatar. More recently, you can stream many of the X-Men and Fantastic Four Marvel movies from Fox that are not officially a part of the MCU lineup.
One criticism of Disney Plus at this stage is there is not enough content that will appeal to a more mature audience. We know that’s part of the design of Disney Plus, but we think there’s some wiggle room to add more movies and shows for older audiences, particularly from the Fox library.
If you live in places outside the US, that is no longer a problem. Internationally, the Star brand-section is now available on Disney Plus. It includes more mature TV shows and content from both Disney and its Twentieth Century Fox library of titles, plus new content as well. Having said that, our Disney Plus review is very positive on this front.
Original content, or lack thereof
We knew going in that the exclusive new content on Disney Plus was going to be sparse at first. Most of the exclusive shows and movies at launch, like Noelle and the Lady and the Tramp remake, were geared mostly for a younger audience. However, there is a growing number of films and movies that have been added to the service for a more adult audience, most notably in shows like The Mandalorian, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki.
When the COVID-19 outbreak shut down movie theaters in 2020, Disney decided to move a few of their films that were supposed to be released in theaters to Disney Plus. That includes the filmed stage version of Hamilton, along with Artemis Fowl, The One and Only Ivan, and the live-action version of Mulan. Soul, another Pixar movie due for theatrical release, was added to Disney Plus in December 2020. In March 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon was added to Disney Plus. Disney has since added a few other films directly to the service, most notably the Pixar movie Turning Red. It also launched some movies on the service on the same date they appeared in theaters in 2021, but with a very big extra fee. However, we don’t expect that kind of business model to continue.
Even though movie theaters are fully open in the US, Disney will continue to add new theatrical movies to its streaming soon after they are released to theaters. That includes Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which hits Disney Plus on June 26, less than two months after it was launched in theaters. We expect most of Disney’s other theatrical films to be released in a similar fashion.
The good news is we will be seeing more new content coming to the service over the next year. That includes lots of all-new MCU TV shows and Star Wars content, including MCU shows like Ms Marvel and She-Hulk, and Star Wars shows like the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi and the upcoming Andor. Other original shows are being added in the next several months as well including sequels to Hocus Pocus and Enchanted, and a live-action version of Pinocchio.
The UI of Disney Plus is very clean, with colorful images serving as menu and content selections for the smart TV and web-based apps (you can read our guide to learn how to get Disney Plus on your TV). We like the fact that the search page also includes “collections” of various Disney Plus content. Hopefully, these will be useful for subscribers who want to dive into, say, all the Toy Story content on the service immediately. You can also just click on top to check out all of the movies and shows at once.
The Android mobile app has a similar UI, with a couple of differences. One is that you can download movies and shows to your device. There’s an icon at the bottom that shows which Disney Plus content you have downloaded. You can change the download video quality settings to standard, medium, or high. Obviously, the higher the quality, the more storage space it will take up on your device. Of course, you can set up your own profile, with a ton of great icons available to choose from the vast Disney library of characters. Up to five different profiles can be set up for one account. Overall, our Disney Plus review for this feature is positive. There is one annoying feature, autoplay of videos, but you can easily disable it.
Other positive Disney Plus features
We love the fact that there is a wide variety of platforms available for Disney Plus. That includes game consoles like the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 (although, sadly, not the Nintendo Switch). We also like that you can stream on up to four concurrent devices at once. And, Disney Plus allows downloads, so you can watch your favorite content offline on a variety of devices.
We like that Disney Plus supports 4K resolution and HDR for a number of its movies and shows. That includes its Marvel movies and all of the Star Wars films. Some movies even have IMAX Enchanced versions, so you can see it in the taller IMAX aspect ratio. We also like that the service has a variety of audio and subtitles for its content. You will need download speeds of at least 25Mbps for 4K content and 5Mbps for 1080p streaming.
Since the launch, Disney Plus has added a couple of new features. One is called GroupWatch, which allows up to 7 people to watch the same movie or TV show on the service at the same time remotely. The other allows mobile users to send links to others, via social media or text messages, to show which movie or series they are watching. That helps improve our Disney Plus review score.
Things Disney Plus still needs to work on
Until just a few months ago, the biggest issue we have had with Disney Plus were its parental controls. Previously, the service lacked many of those features, but in 2021 it was updated with some more secure parental controls. You can make a Kid’s Profile on your account which restricts the content on the service down to those appropriate for children that are seven years old or younger. Profiles can also be secured by a PIN number. You can also now restrict content on profiles not made for kids based on ratings.
However, there are not currently any time control features, nor is there a way for parents to ban specific shows and movies. It’s possible Disney Plus will add these features at some point, but for now, you will definitely need to be more proactive if you have younger kids in your household.
The lack of original content on Disney Plus has been mentioned already. Despite improvements in that area, the amount of original content still lags well behind other established services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
Disney Plus review: Is it worth it?
Overall, our Disney Plus review is positive. If you are the audience for this kind of content, we think it will be well worth your $7.99 a month. Of course, there are ways to also get Disney Plus for free. Our biggest gripe is the lack of original content, but even that is getting better each month. Finally, if you’re looking for a Disney Plus student discount, you’re out of luck, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth full-price.
Again, if our Disney Plus review has inspired you to check the service out, you can sign up right now at the link below: