When you wish upon a streaming service.
Between theme parks, movies, and merchandise the House of Mouse is a force to be reckoned with. Disney's streaming service is no different. Since its launch at the end of 2019, Disney Plus has smashed expectations. It now has over 100 million subscribers worldwide, making it a major competitor to Netflix.
While the company has relied upon its various franchises to attract subscribers, original content based on Star Wars or Marvel remains somewhat limited. The streaming service also still has to deal with the perception of being a kids-only app (at least in the United States, more on that later). Some might wonder if Disney Plus is still worth it in 2021.
This Disney Plus review will explore the pros and cons of the service and if a subscription is right for you.
What's On Disney Plus?
The content on Disney Plus is made up of both movies and shows from Disney's extensive back catalog, as well as original series made specifically for the service. The homepage features content hubs for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic.
You'll find the animated movies you would most closely associate with the Disney brand. Plenty of princesses and talking animal friends to go around here. There's some content that might surprise you, too. Movies like Avatar, The Greatest Showman, The Simpsons Movie, and Hidden Figures are on Disney Plus as a result of Disney's acquisition of Fox-branded content.
Then, of course, there's an extensive catalog of Marvel and Star Wars shows and movies to satisfy the nerd in all of us.
Original content includes the breakout Star Wars hit The Mandalorian (which unfortunately won't be returning until next year), Marvel shows like Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and family comedies like Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Recent Pixar movies Soul and Onward have been released as Disney Plus exclusives at no extra charge.
Meanwhile, certain movies have been released on Disney Plus and in theaters on the same day under their “Premier Access” feature. Unlike HBO Max, however, you must pay extra on top of your regular subscription to watch these movies.
How much is Disney Plus?
The price for Disney Plus was recently raised from $6.99 per month to $7.99 per month in the U.S. Even after this price increase, it is still cheaper than many of their competitors.
They also offer a bundle with ESPN Plus and Hulu (with ads) for $13.99 per month. Or if you want the ad-free version of Hulu that is six dollars more. This bundle rounds out the kid-friendly content of Disney Plus with more adult-oriented content on Hulu, making the package deal a more direct competitor to Netflix or HBO Max.
Premier Access movies like Raya and the Last Dragon and the upcoming Black Widow are $29.99 for unlimited viewings for as long as you subscribe to Disney Plus.
What's the Disney Plus app like?
In my experience the app has run pretty smoothly. More so than HBO Max but still not quite as superior as Netflix. Many of the technical issues present on Disney Plus at launch have since been fixed with updates.
The content hubs and “collections” help sort out different types of content to view. The app allows up to seven profiles per account and parental controls help you sort out which content your kids have access to (although nothing is currently R-rated in the U.S. version of the app).
One promising feature that has proved disappointing for me was GroupWatch. This is supposed to allow you to watch movies and shows with other households that have Disney Plus in exact sync with one another. When I tried it, though, it was buggy and unusable.
Should I get Disney Plus?
I'm going to sound like an old man here, but Disney Plus really makes me think that kids today don't know how good they really have it. Seriously, nearly EVERY Disney movie constantly at their fingertips and they don't even have to dust off the VHS tapes!
Between Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Muppets, Disney Channel, and more, your children will have no problem being entertained by this subscription service. If you have kids, it is an absolute must.
Yet herein lies the dilema- this easily COULD become a Netflix killer. But it hits a bit of a wall when it comes to content for grown-ups. Disney includes adult-oriented content directly in the app in other markets outside of the United States thanks to their partnership with a company called Star.
For adults in good ol' U.S. of A., however, that want access to the occasional Pixar movie and Star Wars content but still want to binge on gritty crime dramas we must depend on the Hulu bundle to do the heavy lifting. It seems like there could be a better solution. Perhaps in combining Disney Plus and Hulu into their own, combined, separate app maybe?
Otherwise, adult fans of Star Wars and Marvel will find plenty to binge on, and maybe sneak in a nostalgic watch of Snow White while they're at it, too.
Best for: Families with children, adult fans of Star Wars & Marvel
Shall I Stream It? For the most part, yes, For households with kids, this is a must-have. Others might consider the alternatives or bundle with Hulu.