First take: Is Disney+ any good?
If you have kids or are a child at heart, Disney+ has a lot to offer. But otherwise, you might find the service a bit skimpy on content.
Disney+ has a slick interface and some interesting original programming. Bundling it with Hulu and ESPN+ goes a long way toward covering its weaknesses, but if you’re searching for hours and hours of new shows and movies, Disney+ is more of a pitstop than a final destination.
Although Disney+ has a lot of potential, it still remains to be seen if its future original shows and movies will appear in time to flesh out the service for current fans. That said, the high quality of its current original programming is an exciting glimpse into what it might look like if Disney+ manages to keep its promises.
In this writer’s case, Disney+ had me at “Mandalorian,” and the series’s wild popularity suggests that I’m not alone in that. But if Disney+’s exclusive Star Wars and Marvel content isn’t enough to tickle your fancy, the addition of Pixar and NatGeo just might scratch that itch. Disney+ also has all seasons of The Simpsons for binge-watchers like myself.
All in all, Disney+’s content really delivers on nostalgia, but it also raises a question that Disney+ has yet to answer: will past love be enough to justify a continued subscription to the service? As a bundle with Hulu and ESPN+, even those who aren’t feeling the draw of childhood memories have a reason to try out Disney+.
Disney+ deals and promotions
You can give Disney+ a whirl with a seven-day free trial if you’re feeling non-committal.
A much-coveted $12.99 bundle deal with Hulu (ad-supported) and ESPN+ is also available.
By fleshing out Disney+’s sometimes slim library with sports, live events, and on-demand shows, the bundle does a lot to cure what ails the solo Disney+experience. The bundle also lets you save more than $35 a year on the combined price of those services.
The sweetest deal of all is for people who are thinking about switching their phone service to Verizon. Sign up for a new 5G home internet plan or Unlimited service plan, and you can get a free year of Disney+ service.
Disney+ prices and packages
Get the Disney library for only $6.99/mo.
(Available for preorder now)
|Disney+ bundle w/ Hulu and ESPN+|
(Available after Nov. 12 launch)
The basic Disney+ plan already gives you a way to save on streaming entertainment. Its monthly subscription price of $6.99 is already substantially cheaper than ad-free Hulu ($11.99/mo.) or even basic Netflix ($8.99/mo.).
All things considered, that $6.99 definitely gives you access to a lot of content. And you can save even more by jumping in for a full year. The annual subscription rate of $69.99 means that you’ll pay only $5.83 per month instead of $6.99, which means yearly savings of $13.89.
The biggest savings come from bundling Disney+ with Hulu (ad-supported) and ESPN+. For only $12.99 per month, this bundle offers monthly savings of almost $5 when compared to the combined subscription price of all three services.
If you happen to be in the market for a new wireless carrier or internet provider, you should check out Verizon’s offer of a free year of Disney+ with select new services.
Confused about how to cut the cord? Take a deep breath, then check out our stress-free guide.
Bundle up this winter with Disney+
Disney+’s strategy is centered on attracting kids and parents, so it doesn’t feature any content rated above PG-13. This results in a narrower selection of content for people not in those categories. But bundling the service with Hulu and ESPN+ guarantees that adults can still play while the kids are away.
With a bundle subscription, Hulu’s vast content library and ESPN+ help fill in the gaps for those outside of Disney+’s typical audience. This is a great addition, since Disney’s family-friendly focus means that it won’t be bringing over R-rated franchises like Deadpool anytime in the near future.
Action junkies won’t be left out in the cold with the Disney+ bundle, either. You can still get your fix with ESPN+, whose exclusive deal with the UFC makes it the home for content from the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization.
ESPN+ also offers access to all of the action you would expect from the biggest name in televised sports. Signing up gives you access to tons of out-of-market games and other offerings from the NHL, MLS, MLB, and PGA, just to name a few. If you want more details on it, check out our full ESPN+ review.
All parents know that Disney movies are notoriously re-watchable, and Disney+ banks on that fact. But if you’re looking for new, exclusive programming, Disney+ is liable to keep you waiting outside of its few notable titles like The Mandolorian and The Imagineering Story. Bundling with Hulu and ESPN+ is your best bet for patching the holes in Disney+’s content.
Disney+ original shows and movies
The devil is in the details, and Disney+’s originals are a real mixed bag.
|New original shows||New original movies|
The live action series The Mandalorian (shout-out to our Boba Fett heads) is easily Disney+’s most alluring original offering. It is packed to the Mon Calamari gills with references and must-see moments from the expanded Star Wars universe. Its simplicity doesn’t approach the intrigue of Game of Thrones, but it’s classic Star Wars through and through.
But Star Wars isn’t for everyone, so what about Disney+’s other original programming? Although I might never live it down, I have to admit that High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is the next best original offering.
HMS:TM:TS is a clever, funny, and surprisingly self-aware journey through a maze of high school drama. Seriously, I actually care if Nini is going to stay with E.J. the jock or take another chance on Ricky the skater. You might start watching to keep the kids busy, but beware, the fun might suck you in too.
After The Mandalorian and HSM:TM:TS, the original offerings are pretty slim. In fact, another unassuming original, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, left me with the inconvenient impression that it could really be a great show–if not for Jeff Goldblum (but that’s just me). This one show is hardly going to tilt the balance for anyone on the fence about Disney+, but it does at least provide some much-needed docu-series flair for those who want the Goldblum vibe in their lives.
If you’re still craving documentaries, you might also want to check out The Imagineering Story, an exclusive, behind-the-scenes history of all things Disney. Its exploration of the intellectual achievements behind the business of Disney and their place in Disney history has a rare level of depth and quality that should appeal to many adult viewers.
But overall, Disney+’s original programming, or the lack thereof, is the service’s biggest challenge. New series and movies are few and far between for the time being, and what there is can be quickly exhausted. Compared with Netflix or Hulu, reaching the end of a category comes quickly in Disney+ and can feel like a real let down.
It’s clear that Disney is working hard to develop new content, but there is also a lot more gold nuggets from the past to check out while we wait. The rewatchability of movies from the Disney Vault, as well as all 30 seasons of The Simpsons and tons of classic Disney channel shows, are nothing to sneeze at. They should be enough to keep the content well from running dry, especially if you have kids around.
Some adult viewers might run out of steam sooner unless they are fanatically devoted to the Cult of the Mouse. Supplementing your streaming with Hulu and ESPN+ is the best way of avoiding feeling how I felt after The Mandalorian: that was great, but where’s the rest?
Only time will tell if and when quantity will match up with quality, but bundling is sure to make the wait easier.
Disney+ specs and features
Disney+ has all of the audio and video features that you could possibly want. Its video quality in particular really punches above its weight, and it’s easy to share the benefits of the service with multiple users.
Disney+ offers plenty of options for simultaneous streaming.
|Package||Simultaneous streams||Offline viewing||Price|
|All packages||4||Unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices||$6.99/mo.|
Whether in a bundle or by itself, Disney+ currently offers only one tier of service. But the basic package features simultaneous streams for up to four users, as well as unlimited downloads to up to 10 devices for your offline enjoyment.
You can get the same level of functionality from Netflix, but you’ll have to pay more for the pleasure. Hulu doesn’t have HDR, and while they won’t charge you more for 4K, their list of compatible titles is extremely limited when you compare it to what you get from Disney+.
Disney+ has a big tent approach to device compatibility, but Amazon users are getting left out in the cold for now.
|Amazon Fire TV||✗|
|Amazon Fire tablet||✗|
|Android mobile devices||✓|
|iOS mobile devices||✓|
|LG TV Smart TVs (2016 and later models with webOS 3.0)||✓|
|Samsung Smart TVs (2016 and later models with Tizen OS)||✓|
|Vizio SmartCast TV (select models)||✗|
|Windows 10 phones||✗|
The only glaring omissions from Disney+’s broad compatibility list are Amazon devices like the Fire Tablet and Fire TV Stick, as well as the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch’s absence is surprising, especially considering the recent Japan-only release of a Disney-themed Switch console. However, Nintendo’s current deal with Hulu indicates that its future inclusion is likely.
Best streaming devices
Disney+ has great quality video but offers little in the way of user controls.
|All packages||4K Ultra HD with HDR|
With a basic plan that includes 4K Ultra HD streaming with HDR, Disney+ really shines when it comes to video quality. The drawback is that users can’t adjust video quality on the fly in order to deal with hiccups in their internet connection.
You have far more control when it comes to downloading video. Disney+ has three different levels of download quality that make it easy to save your precious mobile data. The highest resolution takes up a ton of space, so downloading to mobile devices might call for lower quality video.
Having issues with your stream?
In a word, Disney+’s user interface is revealing. Its simplicity allows you to quickly find what you want to watch, but the separation between categories also makes the service’s limitations clear.
The Disney+ user interface is built around a series of franchise categories, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. This makes it easy to find all of the superheroes, blaster fights, and cutesy robots you could want. You can also search or go straight to Disney+’s limited selection of original content if you want.
Disney+ offers up to seven user profiles with hundreds of avatars. You can even create profiles specifically designed for kids. A kid’s profile has custom icons that focus on cartoons, shorts, and Disney Jr. content, making it even easier for children to navigate the service.
All in all, the new Disney+ user interface is an intuitive experience for anyone already accustomed to navigating other popular streaming services. Getting around with a kid’s profile is literally child’s play, and the smooth user experience will serve Disney+ well in the future as it expands its content collection.
Worried about sitting through endless commercials? Disney+ has two words for you: Hakuna matata. That means no commercials for the rest of your days.
However, those looking forward to the $12.99 bundle should remember that the included version of Hulu is still ad-supported.
Final take: Is Disney+ worth it?
Disney+ has content that goes beyond the children’s shows and movies that we would expect. It also has serious limitations on new content for the time being. This makes bundling it with Hulu and ESPN+ more of a necessity than an option if you’re looking to replace your other streaming services completely.
But if all you want is a little extra nostalgic spice added to your major streaming service of choice, Disney+ makes a robust side dish. Just don’t rely on it being a meal that fully satisfies without something else backing it up.
What does Disney+ include?
There is currently only one tier of Disney+ service. It has new original series and movies, as well as a host of classic movies and series, including all of Disney’s former Vault movies. It also packs some surprises, like behind-the-scenes programming exploring the making of your favorite movies, as well as all 30 seasons of The Simpsons—“Everything’s coming up Milhouse!”
How much does Disney+ cost?
Disney+ costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year (for an annual savings of $13.89). You can also get your feet wet with a free seven-day trial.
Does Disney+ have old shows?
Yes, Disney+ has a wide variety of Disney original programming, as well as classic shows from 20th Century Fox, ABC studios, and National Geographic.
Are Disney Channel original movies on Disney+?
Yes, Disney+ features a wide selection of original movies, like Disney Classics, and other original content from the Disney Channel.
Does Disney+ have an app?
Yes, the Disney+ app is widely available. You can download it on Android TV and other Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS mobile, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Roku, and a number of other devices.
Is Disney+ 4k?
Yes, the standard Disney+ service offers streaming in 4k Ultra HD with HDR.
Does Disney+ include Hulu?
No, but after launch there’ll be a bundle including Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month. This is a big discount when compared to a single subscription to all three of these services. If you already have ad-free Hulu, you can also save money by purchasing Disney+ as an add-on.
What devices is Disney+ on?
Disney+ is available on Android TV and other Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS mobile, Mac and PC computers, iPod Touch, Roku, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Disney+ is not yet available for Nintendo Switch.
1. Fortune, “Why the Price of Cable TV Stopped Going Up So Fast This Year”