Disney+ is massively popular—but is it right for you?
Is Disney+ really worth it? We dive deep to help you decide.
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Disney’s decision to jump into streaming in November of 2019 may not have been surprising, but it was bold nonetheless. Arriving several years after established services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and many others, Disney+ had a lot of catching up to do. Luckily, the service joined the streaming war with a not-so-secret weapon: a truckload of beloved films, animated series, and TV shows from across Disney’s empire.
Even so, you might be asking yourself whether Disney+ offers enough value to make it worth signing up for yet another service. If you love any of Disney’s properties from Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, or Disney’s heralded "Vault," the answer is probably “yes”—at least in the short term. But before you sign up, let our handy guide take you on a virtual tour so you can come in as a Disney+ pro.
What is Disney+?
Like Netflix and other streaming services, Disney+ is an online portal to on-demand movies, TV shows, and other video content. Contrary to other streamers, Disney+ only streams Disney-owned content, including classic and modern films and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm/Star Wars, as well as National Geographic. The service also incorporates content from Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, most notably “The Simpsons.”
It’s important to understand that, while Disney+ offers hundreds of movies and thousands of TV shows, it is not a comprehensive collection of all things Disney. Due to licensing agreements and various other entanglements, you won’t find every classic Disney cartoon from your childhood, or even all of its latest studio films on Disney+—not currently, anyway. But if you're searching for anything Disney, it's the best place to look.
How much does Disney+ cost?
One of the best things about Disney+ is how affordable it is. The service costs just $6.99 per month (or $69.99 per year) for commercial-free access to all of its content. That price tag undercuts virtually every comparable ad-free service, which is no accident. As Disney ramps up to compete with streaming juggernauts like Netflix, the company priced Disney+ low enough that even renting a couple of Disney shows or movies per month would cost more.
You can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for a discount, and if you're a Verizon Unlimited subscriber, you may even be able to get a year of Disney+ for free.
In addition, unlike many other streaming services, Disney+ provides features like multiple streams, HD and 4K resolution, HDR, and commercial-free viewing at no extra cost. With Disney+, you get it all for one price.
So what exactly do you get? At launch, Disney said Disney+ would offer over 500 movies and more than 7,000 TV shows from across its extensive library by year's end.
For films, that includes the vast majority of Pixar, Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel Studios films. The collections aren’t comprehensive, but we do expect most major titles to arrive eventually, including all Star Wars and Marvel films, following the completion of a previous licensing deal with Netflix.
Disney+ also hosts a wide array of TV shows, including Disney/ABC series like That’s So Raven and Boy Meets World, newer shows like Agent Carter and the Clone Wars, select series from Nat Geo, and, as mentioned, The Simpsons. Classic Disney fans will also find old shorts featuring Mickey, Donald, and the rest of the gang.
As for original content (that is, titles originating on Disney+), the service has a small-but-growing collection of original movies and shows, many of which are geared toward younger viewers. Adult-oriented original series, however, are still quite limited. The Mandalorian, a megahit set in the Star Wars universe, is currently the service's most notable example.
More Star Wars series are in the works, however, including an Obi-Wan limited series featuring Ewan McGregor reprising his role from the prequel trilogy. There’s also a growing collection of Marvel series on order, including The Falcon and Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, and Hawkeye.
While many titles are (or will be) here to stay, Disney+ also follows other services in trading titles in and out so they can be licensed elsewhere. For example, both Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York were available during the holidays, but at the time of publication only the reboot Home Alone 3 was available.
Interface and features
At first glance, Disney+’s app experience feels a lot like Netflix—and that’s no accident. The smart ones always borrow from the greats, and Disney+’s rows of animated tiles, personalized avatars, and subheads like “Recommended for You” should feel familiar to anyone who’s surfed the streaming waves.
At launch, Disney+ was woefully light on basic navigation features: it originally failed to store your progress on any titles, and didn’t even offer a Continue Watching feature. While it didn’t take long for Disney+ to add those basics, navigation is still somewhat limited and search can be clunky, sometimes requiring exacting terms to find your query. That said, the app is still evolving, and organization continues to improve over time. It's also helpful that you can search by character to discover more content featuring your favorite Disney icons.
Disney+ allows for up to seven individual profiles and streaming on up to four simultaneous devices at a time. Each profile can be personalized, including avatars, child restrictions for younger viewers, and personal playlists called Watchlists. Subscribers can also download content for offline viewing using the Disney+ app for iOS or Android.
Disney+ supports 4K and HDR (including HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision) on select titles for those with 4K/HDR-supported devices.
On the audio side, the app supports surround sound, as well as Dolby Atmos on select content, but only for a select few devices at present, including Apple TV and Atmos-ready Roku devices such as the Roku Ultra and Roku Streaming Stick+. Atmos has reportedly been spotty for many viewers, so serious A/V enthusiasts will want to manage expectations there.
Disney+ is available on a wide array of devices, including the following:
- LG, Samsung, Vizio SmartCast, and Android smart TVs
- Web browsers
- Android devices
- iOS devices
- Apple TV (4th gen and above)
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire Tablet
- Nvidia Shield
- Playstation 4
- Xbox One
For the full list, visit Disney+’s help center
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.