Disney+: A comprehensive and complete review
Carolina, who originally hails from Argentina is a movie buff through and through. She enjoys nothing more than binge-watching the latest Netflix series and is a big fan of their 'Originals' line. Her favourite movie is Frozen and she's a big fan of The Good Place & The Dragon Prince.
Disney+ is the new streaming service that has come to compete against the giants like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, among others.
It’s now been available enough that I’ve had plenty of time to test it, watch a bunch of shows and movies and put it through its paces.
Through this article, you’ll see a little bit of history, we’ll tell you the details about the technical features, how the service works, the fees, and we’ll take you on a tour through the available shows and movies in the ever-growing library.
And lastly, we’ll give you our final verdict about the service quality, the cost-effective fees, and the benefits of subscribing to the service even from regions and countries where isn’t available yet.
A little bit of history
In 2012, Disney and Netflix signed an agreement in which Netflix bought the streaming rights to Disney movies and several TV shows for around 300 million dollars per year.
This was a very radical decision made by a very traditional company like Disney since they had opted to distribute their productions in the rising streaming market instead of the premium cable networks.
In 2017, Bob Iger, the former Disney CEO, announced that the agreement with Netflix has come to an end and that Disney will be launching their own streaming service.
Rumours say Disney tried to buy Netflix, but the streaming giant refused the offer. So they changed their friendly partnership for rivalry.
No one in the business world thought the Disney+ creation was a good idea.
Most people predicted a substantial financial loss to the billion dollar corporation. The streaming market was already saturated with several offers making it almost impossible for an average user to access all of them at the same time.
However, Iger was confident in his strategy, and he expected that by 2024, Disney+ would have around between 60 and 90 million subscribers across the world.
At the moment of writing this (June 2020), it has been seven months since the platform was launched, and it isn’t available globally yet, but it already has more than 54 million subscribers.
Of course, the unusual circumstances the world has found itself in for a while due to the COVID 19 pandemic with mandatory lock-down in almost all countries has helped a lot this exponential growth.
With movie theatres and theme parks closed, Disney has been in a tight situation regarding the expected financial outcomes for this year. So, one of the few profitable options they got was to serve all their main courses on their brand-new and shinny streaming platform.
The decision of launching Frozen II three months early, Pixar’s Onward right after its premiere on cinemas, releasing Artemis Fowl and Hamilton musical directly on the streaming service without being in cinemas first, has guaranteed them hordes of new subscribers.
Definitely, Disney+ has come to stay, and probably for a while it will be our only way to enjoy some titles that unfortunately won’t be released at the cinema.
Now it’s time to fully enter in what most interests us: the platform features and the service performance.
1. Devices, Apps, and Platforms
Disney+ is available on almost all devices and platforms through the apps specially designed for each one.
Desktop PC or Laptop
Whether you access the service from your desktop PC or your laptop, the platform supports all the recent browser versions both for Windows and Mac OS.
So, you can enjoy Disney+ from Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Internet Explorer on Windows; and from Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on Mac OS.
It’s also possible to access it from the Chrome OS installed on the Google Chrome-books.
For now, it isn’t available on Linux.
Cellphones and Tablets
You can access Disney+ through the apps specially designed for Android devices, both cellphones and tablets, Apple devices, both iPhones and iPads, and from the Amazon Fire Tablet.
All smart TVs running Android as a native OS can access to Disney+ by getting the app from the Play Store.
Also, it’s possible to access the service as well from the pre-installed apps that are included with the LG TVs running WebOS, and Samsung TVs which were made after 2016 running Tizen OS.
Streaming devices, video games consoles and other devices
Disney+ can be accessed from Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Also, there are dedicated apps for the Amazon Fire TV, Apple AirPlay, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Vizio SmartCast TV.
2. Account configuration
Both the creation and configuration of an account are very easy tasks very similar to any other streaming service.
3. Profile creation and administration
Just like Netflix, Disney+ allows you to create several profiles and configure all you need, such as kids content.
The interface is very clear, intuitive, and easy to navigate.
In the header, you’ll find all the new additions in rotation, and then below, you can choose between the five main sections in which the library is split:
- Star Wars
- National Geographic
This thematic division is handy when you want to focus only on one of the universes that Disney offers.
In the test we made, we accessed Disney+ on Windows through Chrome and from a cellphone running Android. Both interface designs are identical, something we’re grateful for since is not necessary to get used to different ways of handling the service.
Something to keep in mind: Disney+ automatically detects the device language you’re using. In our case, for example, our Windows and Android are configurated in Latin American Spanish, and Disney+ took this language by default.
This does not only apply to the menu language but to the movies and TV shows titles and descriptions as well.
So, if you prefer everything set in the language of your preference, you just need to edit it on the profile.
Let’s continue with the service performance, quality, and technical features.
1. Video Quality
Besides the standard video resolution options, Disney+ offers 4K Ultra HD and HDR on selected titles.
Disney+ automatically detects your device video and audio playback features, and it adjusts the quality according to it.
Although is not possible to configure the playback quality on each video as is possible with YouTube, for example, it is possible to make a general adjustment to be applied to all the videos on the platform.
Of course, it’s advisable to have a stable and fast internet connection.
How is the video playback quality in comparison with other streaming services?
We ran a test with titles still available on Netflix Latin American such as Avengers, The Incredibles, and Tangled.
The verdict: Disney+ wins with better image sharpness.
Also, when you play on Full HD, the video loads faster than on Netflix and keeps a consistent quality through the whole streaming.
How many devices can you get connected at the same time?
Disney+ allows up four devices streaming at the same time.
2. Subtitles and Audio
Most movies and TV shows have several audio tracks in different languages, the same happens with subtitles.
Though some titles even have the Latin American audio track, they don’t have the subtitles in this language. Probably, this feature is reserved for when the service becomes available in that region.
A lot of movies include extras. In some cases like Frozen II or Onward, this section only has a promotional trailer.
The reason is these movies became available on Disney+ ahead of their planned releasing date.
Disney has decided to give priority to the physical format and the selling of blu-rays and DVDs, which include a lot of extra material.
But, in the case of The Lion King remake, the amount of extras is impressive, including the whole movie with the director’s audio commentary.
The same happens with Moana, which includes cut scenes, making of, and more. Frozen has several extra materials such as cut scenes and the sing-along versions both in English and Spanish.
And the list goes on. All this material is mostly available on physical formats as extras or special editions like the sing-along versions.
The question now is how is Disney going to handle from now on the physical format, and to what version they’re going to give priority. But, this is a topic for another discussion.
4. Offline Playback
The offline playback is only available on mobile devices, both Android and Apple. This feature allows you to download the movies and series you like in the quality you desire.
Of course, the material you download only can be played back from the Disney+ app, and it will be available all the time your subscription lasts. The only condition is log in to the platform at least once a month to keep the account active.
Just like happens with the playback quality, isn’t possible to choose the download quality for each title but in general.
It is worth mentioning that the higher the video quality, not only will you use more space on your device, but less material you can download in terms of video hours.
Like we already said previously, the Disney+ library is split into five sections: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
However, it’s surprising that at first glance, the 20th Century Fox titles aren’t available, but yes they’re, the little detail is they’re included inside the Disney section (!), except for the Star Wars movies, of course.
Now, let’s explore each section to see what we can find.
Although it seems obvious in the Disney section you’ll find all the Disney movies, you’ll also stumble upon all the available titles from 20th Century Fox.
But, let’s see in detail what other titles comprise this section.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
All the animated movies, both classics and new ones, that have been premiered on theatres from the beginning of the studio.
So, here you’ll find from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, going through to The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, until current movies like Tangled, Frozen, or Zootopia.
Additional Animated Movies
In this section, you’ll find animated sequels to the classics that were made straight to video, Fox animation movies, Disney animation alternative movies that don’t fit in the classic category.
For example, Thumbelina directed by Don Bluth and produced by Fox, A Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton, etc.
Here, you’ll find the most wide variety of titles.
In this section, you can see all the latest live-action remakes from the animated classics like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Maleficent, and The Lion King. Of course, also, the Disney classics like the Herbie film series among others, and finally, the Fox movies.
It worth mentioning that Disney+ is a platform meant for family entertainment.
For this reason, the titles that arrive at its library can have a maximum a PG13 rating.
Therefore, the Fox movies you can find are mostly family comedies and adventure movies like Dr Doolittle starring Eddie Murphy, Avatar directed by James Cameron, Cheaper by the Dozen starring Steve Martin, among a lot more.
Inside the Disney section, you can find as well the Disney+ Originals that are similar to ‘Netflix Originals’, you’ll find web series, movies, docu-series, and reality shows.
Also, you can watch all the movies and TV shows from Disney Channel and Disney Junior, the classic Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto animated shorts, and the documentary series Disneynature.
Disney and Pixar’s history is complex and fascinating, and although nowadays, Pixar is a branch of Disney, their animation and narrative style makes them stand out as one of the most creative companies from this century.
This section contains all the movies made until the present day, excepting Incredibles 2 which due to current agreements, it’s still available on Netflix in the USA and Canada.
This also includes all the shorts, both the ones that have premiered on cinemas and the ones produced as Disney+ Originals. And a new animated short series starred by Forky, the latest character who joined Toy Story in the fourth movie of the saga.
Something great to keep in mind in this section is the sub-category called Pixar Through the Years in which you can find all the studio’s titles, movies and shorts, in chronological order specially made for any animation fan.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been built for more than 10 years with 23 movies and several TV shows that have been intertwining characters, stories, and situations.
But, what can you find from all this vast universe on Disney+? And the most important thing: what stuff do you never see from Marvel on this platform?
At first glance, all the MCU titles seem to be available. However, there are a couple of missing titles.
Although Avengers: Endgame is already available, at the moment of writing this (June 2020), the first part, Avengers: Infinity War isn’t on the library yet.
Netflix still has the streaming rights in the USA and Canada. But, starting on June 26th, this movie will be added to Disney+ catalogue.
The same happens with Ant-Man and The Wasp which will be available on August 16th.
However, three movies belonging to the MCU for the time being, or maybe forever never will be on this platform. Spider-Man Homecoming, though was produced by Marvel Studios, the rights belong to Sony who has all the rights to the Spider-Man movies. The same happens with Spider-Man Far From Home.
Hulk (2003), the film directed by Ang Lee and The Incredible Hulk (2008) share the same fate because they belong to Universal Pictures.
Regarding the movies made by 20th Century Fox, their destiny is still a mystery.
X-MEN movies are likely to come to Disney+, but it’s too soon to know it because it would depend on the plans Marvel has for the mutants.
Logan, Deadpool and Deadpool 2 are most certain that they never will reach the library.
Since Disney+ aims to be a family entertainment service above all, they don’t accept R movies on their library. So, probably these titles will go straight to the Hulu’s catalogue.
The MCU has several TV series that complement the main story by developing secondary characters on the small screen.
Among all the series that Marvel has launched until now, Disney+ only has Agent Carter, Inhumans, and the Hulu production, Runaways.
So, here we have several missing titles due to different reasons.
First, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which airs on ABC in the USA and currently available on different Netflix regions. Cloak & Dagger, a production made for the cable network Freeform, and it’s still aired there.
All the series that were co-produced with Netflix deserve another chapter.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Defenders were all cancelled and their future remains unknown. For the time being, they will continue on Netflix until the agreement comes to an end.
Disney is making several original series only for Disney+ produced by Marvel Studios. Two of them, The Falcon and the Winter Solider and WandaVision, will be released through 2020.
Through the years, there has been a lot of animated series based on Marvel characters and comics.
Although not all of them are available on Disney+, it’s a pleasant surprise to find classics like Spider Woman (1979), Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (1981), and the most important thing: the animated series made by Fox in the 90s such as X-MEN, Spiderman, Iron Man, and Fantastic Four.
4. Star Wars
The vast Star Wars universe is almost complete on Disney+.
Regarding live-action movies, the only missing titles are the two telefilms starred by the Ewoks: Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) and The Battle for Endor (1985).
And about animated series, the missing titles are Star Wars: Droids (1985), Ewoks (1985), and the micro-series Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003), which was developed by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network.
Inside their original productions, Disney+ made The Mandalorian that was released the same day the platform was launched, on November 12 2019, and a second season is already in development.
5. National Geographic
If you love all kind of documentaries, you’ll find a lot of material on Disney+ belonging to the National Geographic that is not available on any other streaming service.
And among the Disney+ original productions is the docu-series The World According to Jeff Goldblum, where the actor explores everyday objects and activities we use daily and discovers a net of historical and social connections that we take for granted.
Fees and Plans
In general terms, Disney+ fee is half that of Netflix premium fee, which is the most chosen plan because is the only one with full HD and more and up to 4 devices connected at the same time.
Disney+ offers only one plan whose streaming quality adapts to your devices and internet connection, and it also allows up to 4 devices simultaneously.
Regarding the fee itself, these are the current prices:
- United Kingdom: £5.99 per month or £59.99 per year.
- Europe: €6,99 per month or €69,99 per year.
- Canada: $8.99 CAD per month or $89.99 CAD per year.
- The USA: $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year.
In the USA, there is also a combo of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN for $12,99.
Launching Around the World
The platform has to be launched yet in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and other regions.
On June 11, the service launched in Japan in partnership with NTT Docomo. Through September, the service will be available in all the Nordic countries.
And it’s expected a staggering launching in Latin America beginning in October. Brazil already has an estimated date around November.
In Latin America, the fees will be adapted to each country, but probably the best and most aggressive way to gain new subscribers will be offering a cheaper service than the rivals, as it already has been made in the countries where is already available.
It’s worth mentioning that if you live in Latin America or any other country where Disney+ is still not available, and you don’t want to wait until the end of the year to subscribe, you can access to the American service through a VPN.
To do this, please read our guide with all the details you need.
Disney+ has come to stay and stir up the streaming market. It was a big bet by Disney, and the outcome has been a success up until now.
But, we still have to see what will happen once the platform is available worldwide.
With more than affordable fees, excellent video playback quality with titles available in 4K and HDR, and an ever-growing library that in the near future will be exclusive, Disney+ is one of the strongest streaming platforms on the market right after seven months of launching.
When it comes to if it worth to subscribe to it or not, or if it is better or worse than the rivals, all these will depend on your likes, preferences, family, and economy. And of course, this topic deserves a whole proper analysis of its own.
For the time being, our mark is 10 out of 10 regarding the service, quality, app design, functionality, and content.
And you know, if you live in a country in which Disney+ still hasn’t arrived, a VPN such as ExpressVPN will allow you to watch wherever you are in the world.