11 hidden gems to watch on Disney+
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Staying in is much easier when you know that you have something comforting to do with your downtime. Disney has always been a source of comfort for me, and with ample time to scroll through the wide Disney Plus catalog, I can say with near-certainty that there's a little something in there for just about anyone's taste.
You know you can binge the Star Wars Skywalker saga, but did you know you could watch the critically acclaimed animated series The Clone Wars? You may have already watched Soul, but have you checked out Raya and the Last Dragon?
Whether you’re looking for a deep-dive into nostalgia, a quick bite to get your mind off of things, or an engrossing narrative to wrap yourself up in, Disney Plus has plenty of content that you might not have known to look for that will keep you happily entertained.
1. Literally just all of The Simpsons
The Simpsons is a new addition to the Disney+ repertoire as of 2020, and with their catalog comes around 280 hours of content—so you’ll never have to stop if you don’t want to. The Simpsons is a cultural landmark for much of comedy and animation—it made strides in both, and cemented animation as an adult medium in a mainstream way. Check it out for the first time or revisit it on Disney+.
2. Robin Hood
This gem of an old favorite always deserves a mention in my book. Robin Hood is one of the most quoted movies in my household, and is just generally a wonderful movie—the characters are fantastic, the story is lovely, and the one-liners are first-rate. It's a feel-good classic you can sink into, and you'll find yourself whistling along to the opening song for days afterward.
As a bonus, many of the animation sequences used in Robin Hood can also be viewed in The Jungle Book—if you have kids, it might be fun to watch both and try to spot the scenes that use similar animation.
3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars has so much lore. As in, so much. There is so much Star Wars content to explore, and The Clone Wars animated series is intended to fill in a lot of the gaps between movie timelines. It features favorite characters like Yoda, and has dynamic animation and storytelling across quite a few seasons. It's perfect for kids and adults looking to flesh out their Star Wars repertoire.
4. A huge catalogue of National Geographic shows and documentaries
Nature-lovers, rejoice. Disney+ has a massive catalog of National Geographic content, from The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great to How Dogs Got Their Shapes (a real thing, we swear). Scroll through their options and travel the world, learn about new topics, or hold your breath as you watch people perform feats of daring and skill.
5. Big Hero 6
It's truly a shame that people don't mention or talk about this movie more. Big Hero 6 has it all: Incredible action sequences, a collection of diverse, smart characters, an emphasis on science and technology education, and a heartwarming marshmallow of a robot—I could go on.
Essentially, the movie follows Hiro Hamada, a young man with a talent for robotics, through a journey of loss, acceptance, and found family. The movie also spawned an animated series and several shorts, so there's even more content to explore after the fact.
6. Marvel's Runaways
It wouldn't be a Disney+ roundup without a little Marvel thrown in. Broaden your Marvel horizons with Runaways, which is based on the Runaways comic and follows a group of teenagers as they grapple with newfound information about their villainous parents, as well as a few abilities of their own. There's a villainous cult, a dinosaur friend, and cool magic—what more could you want?
7. The Muppet Movie
Not only does Disney+ have the new Muppet movie, they also have the 1979 original. The Muppet Movie was made long enough ago that it's not terribly long, and features favorites like Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear, as well as some truly classic songs and iconic Muppet's humor. It's a great way to introduce your kids to The Muppets and there's plenty more Muppets content where that came from.
8. The Sound of Music
There's nothing that says "escape" like a period piece. If you're anything like me you had absolutely no idea that The Sound of Music was on Disney+, and you also let out a high-pitched squeal when you saw it. Musicals are a perfect escape, and The Sound of Music is beautiful, lush, and heartfelt. Put it on while you're cozied up on the couch with some schnitzel with noodles and lose yourself in the costumes and songs.
9. Waking Sleeping Beauty
This is for all the people who want to know how the sausage gets made (coughs in Lin-Manuel's general direction). Waking Sleeping Beauty follows the key players and events that spurred Walt Disney's Animation Studio's move into the next phase of their animation to produce works like Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King from the years 1984 to 1994. You get to dive deep into the processes involved in creating classic films, and there's great behind-the-scenes footage of people like Elton John and other icons who were involved in the making of your favorite Disney films.
10. Disney Channel Original Movies
Double Teamed. The Thirteenth Year. Johnny Tsunami. Literally all the classics in one place. Disney+ is a treasure trove of the movies you knew and loved growing up, and if you're looking for a comfort food experience in your movie-watching this is the place to go. Be warned—some of the movies may have lost a little bit of their magic, but you'll have fun revisiting the films that got your through your grade school years nonetheless.
11. Shorts galore!
Pixar shorts have really stuck with me throughout childhood. I can’t see a chess match without thinking about the old man from Geri’s Game, or sandpipers on the beach without thinking of Piper. Disney+ has tons of the shorts you know and love, like Lava and Bao, as well as new shorts like Kitbull and Purl from the Sparkshorts program—be warned, Kitbull will absolutely make you cry.
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