Finally. The most anticipated streaming service is here. Home to not just Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and all your Pixar favorites, but educational entertainment like National Geographic and storied series like The Simpsons. Oh, and all the Disney movies and TV shows you could ever want to watch.
Welcome to Disney Plus (Disney+).
- What is Disney Plus?
- When is my country getting it?
- All the devices you can watch Disney Plus on
- So much to watch, here's where to start
- Parental controls, profiles, and account limits
- Disney Plus tips and troubleshooting
- What's the best price for Disney Plus?
- How Disney Plus stacks up to the competition
What is Disney Plus?
Disney+ is a streaming service that brings together all of the content in Disney's massive media empire — from Disney/Pixar to Marvel to Lucasfilm to National Geographic and 20th Century Fox — in one easy-to-use app. Available on most major platforms and with hundreds of films and TV shows from the Disney Vault and recent theatrical releases, Disney+ is a tantalizing realization of a dream many Disney nerds (like myself) have had of being able to watch their favorite shows and films in one place rather than having to hunt for them across a half dozen services — and this is also the first time a great deal of television content Disney has produced is available for streaming.
In short, Disney+ is awesome.
This is the future of video for Disney. Anything and everything that falls under the Disney umbrella — and make no mistake, it is a huge umbrella — will go through the Disney+ app, on whatever platform you wish to watch it on. If that sounds impossibly big, well, you're right. But Disney has done well to pave this road with the also extremely successful ESPN+, which also is owned by Disney and runs on the same technology. (In fact, Disney bought the company that built the streaming side of things.)
The best part of Disney+ is that it is ridiculously easy to sign up for the service whether you're at your desktop computer or on the go with your phone. It takes less than a minute to sign up for your free trial and there's no silly onboarding app to try and jump start your recommendations or watchlist.
Where is Disney Plus available?
Disney+ launched in Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States on November 12 and launched in Australia and New Zealand on November 19. Disney plans to launch Disney+ globally in dozens of countries over the next two years, but it's going to take a while. The tentative timeline for the global rollout right now is:
- March 24, 2020: UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.
- First half of 2020: Other western European countries
- First half of 2021: Eastern European countries
- Throughout 2020-2021: Asia-Pacific countries
- First half of 2020: Latin America
If you don't live in a country where Disney+ has launched and you're too impatient to wait for it to come to your own market, there's still an option, but you're going to have to jump through a few hoops, namely using a VPN to pretend you live in a country where Disney+ is available.
Can I watch Disney Plus through a VPN?
Yes, using a VPN, you can create a new Google Play or Apple account — or switch your current account to a US/Netherlands/Canada account — and add your credit card with a US zip code. It's then possible to sign up for Disney+ with payment being done through Google Play or Apple.
You'll have to use a VPN to watch on any and every device you watch Disney+ through if you do go through with this method, which can be tricky on some smart TVs. You'll also have to remember to turn the VPN on and off when you're not watching if you don't want it interfering in other accounts and services on your phone or laptop.
What devices support Disney Plus?
Disney+ is available on quite a few devices at launch, but it's not as universally available as Netflix — yet. Whether you're on a phone, laptop, TV or gaming console built in the last 3 years, chances are Disney+ is available right now or will be available soon.
Disney+ is available on Android phones and tablets, as well as Apple iPhones and iPads. The benefit of using Disney+ on a phone or tablet rather than watching on a smart TV is that on these devices you can download videos for offline playback, which is something you can do on up to 10 devices per Disney+ account, meaning everyone on the plan can keep a few videos downloaded in case of emergencies like being trapped on a Wi-Fi-less flight.
Desktop and laptop computers
Like all modern streaming services, Disney+ allows you to stream directly from DisneyPlus.com on Windows and MacOS computers (sorry, Linux). You can't download videos for offline playback when streaming through the browser, but you do have some handy keyboard controls.
While the Disney+ help page says that Chromebook browsers aren't supported — and back during the initial beta test in the Netherlands, they weren't — streaming through the Chrome browser has worked on every Chromebook I've tried so far after a timeout error on the initial DRM check. Chromebooks are also the only laptops that can download videos for offline playback because Chromebooks also use they can use the Android app via Google Play.
It's rather unfortunate that Disney didn't release a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, especially since in order to release an Xbox One app, they've already done most of the work needed to make one. Since 4K streaming isn't currently supported when streaming through the website, a UWP would be a great way to allow Windows 10 media PCs to stream Disney+ in UHD.
Most people want to stream on a bigger screen so that they can enjoy Disney+ with their friends and family, and that means that supporting the gaming and entertainment consoles that we use now more than ever. Support for Android TV and Roku devices was announced from the first Disney+ presentations back in April, along with support for Google Chromecast and for Apple TV, but the main holdout was Amazon Fire TV. After months of negotiations with Amazon, support for Fire TV devices was announced just days before the public launch of Disney+.
On the gaming console side, both the PlayStation 4 series and Xbox One series are supported right now, and the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Scarlett are expected to be supported when they launch next year. I honestly believe that gaming consoles are the best for watching Disney+ because you can use your controller triggers to fast forward and rewind more easily than using the on-screen controls.
On the mobile console side of the equation, no mobile consoles are currently supported, although Disney has hinted at bringing Disney+ to Nintendo Switch in the future. We have no concrete timeline on when it could launch on Switch, but hopefully it won't take too long.
Smart TVs is one area where Disney+ has somewhat limited support at the moment. Only a handful of Smart TVs have Disney+ apps at the moment:
- LG TVs running Web OS 3.0 produced in or after 2016
- Samsung TVs running Tizen OS produced in or after 2016
- Sony TVs running Android TV
Beyond these brands, there's support for TVs that run Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku TV through their respective app stores. This is great news because you can't stream Disney+ through browsers on Smart TVs.
Most TVs with Chromecast built-in or Apple AirPlay built in can play Disney+ content streamed via the Disney+ app on Android or iOS. The outlier to this support is Vizio TVs, which have an outdated, unsupported version of Chromecast built-in on them. AirPlay still works on Vizio TVs, but Android users will need to buy a standalone Chromecast that is being properly updated by Google.
Which devices support Disney+ in 4K?
There's more UHD content on Disney+ right now than I thought there'd be this early on, but unfortunately playing it will require a 4K Smart TV that supports UHD playback — or an 4K supported entertainment console connected to a 4K TV that supports HDCP 2.2 — so even if you have a 4K screen hooked up to your gaming PC, you won't be streaming 4K that way. There are plenty of 4K devices supported, such as the NVIDIA Shield TV 2019, as well as a whole host of excellent 4K TVs at every price point from $300 to $3000.
What can I watch on Disney Plus?
Disney has prided itself on its Vault of extensive content for decades. While the Disney Vault strategy was starting to decay in the digital age, Disney+ will reap most of its rewards by hosting most of the Disney Vault as well as an impressive array of content from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, and National Geographic. Right now, Disney+ has about 500 films and over 7,500 TV episodes, including most of films in the Marvel Infinity Saga and Star Wars Skywalker Saga.
There's tons to watch, but unfortunately Disney didn't see fit to put all of its films in ordered playlists for easy marathoning. This would be especially handy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but since Disney doesn't have a handy playlist, we went ahead and made one so you can focus on prepping snacks for your Marvel movie marathon!
Speaking of tons to watch, I waited a long time to get all of my favorite shows and movies in one easy-to-use place, and as such that meant that I had a long list of things I needed to watch, rewatch, and rewatch again because it's been so long since I've seen them. These are the first 16 films and shows I watched on Disney+.
What more can I watch with the Disney Plus Bundle?
Disney+ is just one of the major digital platforms Disney is serving up in this new streaming era. It's the largest, for sure. But it's also just one part of the puzzle.
- Want to keep your ad-free Hulu with the Disney+ bundle? Here's how
- How to upgrade from Disney+ to the Disney+ bundle with ESPN+ and Hulu
Have a look at ESPN+
If nothing else — and if you're a sports fan of any kind — you also should consider a subscription with ESPN+. It runs on the same underlying platform as Disney+, so you'll be pretty familiar with how things work.
And as for the content, well. If you thought there was a lot of sports of TV, wait until you get a look at ESPN+. Yes, it's got live sports. All kinds of live sports. It's got college football games that you can't find on TV. It's got a huge amount of college basketball. It's got a smattering of NHL. It's got boxing and UFC — in fact, you have to have ESPN+ if you want to watch pay-per-view UFC events — and rugby and cricket and ... you name it.
And then there's the matter of original content. Think Peyton Manning was resting in his retirement? Not quite. Peyton's Places is keeping him plenty busy. Plus football coach Les Miles has a show, you can find the irreplaceable duo of Boomer and TJ — and so much more, right there on ESPN+.
And, yes, you can watch ESPN+ on your TV, too.
And don't forget Hulu
The third arm of the trifecta is Hulu, which also is controlled by Disney. It's where you'll find all the on-demand content you've come to know from that service, as well as original shows like The Handmaid's Tale.
And perhaps more important for Disney's purposes is Hulu with Live TV which, as the name implies, gets you live (and local) television alongside all that other content.
How does the Disney Plus library compare outside the US?
There are differences in available content between countries — for instance, French law forbids theatrically released films from being put on a streaming service in that country for three years, so don't expect to see Avengers: Endgame on Disney+ in France until 2021.
So far, however, the differences between the available content in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands has been small, mainly that a few more of the recent Marvel and Disney films are currently unavailable.
How long will it take for new movies to be added to Disney Plus?
The newest films in Disney's repertoire aren't available on Disney+ right now, but for most of them we won't be waiting too long. Movies will launch on Disney+ after the full theatrical and home video release, which will vary between individual films but should be 5-8 months after the theatrical release.
Parental controls, profiles, and account limits
Since Disney+ allows up to 7 user profiles on a single account — and up to four users streams at a time — it's only natural that Disney+ accounts are meant to be shared amongst family. However, when the kids are misbehaving or when a friend isn't chipping in the way they promised they would when you let them have your login, it's time to change the password and lock them out!
It's very easy to get sucked in while watching your favorite shows on Disney+ — I put on an episode of Kim Possible to watch during lunch and then POW, it's dinnertime! — but if you want to give yourself a leg up against being sucked in by the siren song of the binge watch, turn off Autoplay. Having to hit play every 20 or 40 minutes can help you break the cycle and get back to work, and since Autoplay is profile-based, you can turn it off for your kids account while leaving it on for yours.
As a streaming service that is geared so much towards towards families and kids, parental controls on Disney+ are pretty simplistic at the moment: you can set up a child's profile and set it to only allow content with a certain rating. Rather than giving age-based restrictions, Disney's content filter works based on the MPAA and US television content ratings systems, meaning that you'll have to decide if you want your child to see only G/TV-G content or allow in TV-Y7 and TV-Y7/FV.
Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting: How to get the most out of Disney Plus
Like any new, popular online service, Disney+ is not all smooth sailing, as magical as it may seem at first glance. Disney+ saw more users sign up on Day One as it expected in all of Year One, so overloaded servers have been the most prevalent problem so far, as evidenced by how widespread Error 83 has been.
Of course, not all connection issues are related to server strain, you might need to check and make sure your internet is fast enough. On some iPhones, you can get around Error 83 by switching from Wi-Fi to LTE, but you'll want to remember that streaming Disney+ that way can eat a capped data plan alive. When servers are slow or your network is down completely, you can still watch the Disney+ videos you downloaded to your phone, tablet, or Chromebook, at least.
What does Disney Plus cost?
|Country||Monthly rate||Annual rate|
|Canada||$8.99 CAD||$89.99 CAD|
|Australia||$8.99 AUD||$89.99 AUD|
|New Zealand||$9.99 NZ||$99.99 NZ|
The pricing of Disney+ varies a bit from country to country, but in all countries you can save yourself a few bucks by opting for the annual billing rate rather than the monthly billing. One account can have up to four streams going at one time and up to seven profiles on the account, so you probably won't need to shell out for multiple accounts in one family.
What's the best Disney Plus deal I can get?
Disney also has a bundle option that gives users Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu for $12.99 a month. It gets a little complicated, but the short version is if you have separate accounts on each of the three services, you can link them together in a sort of virtual bundle via a single email address. You pay Disney+ once a month, and Disney+ applies credits to ESPN+ and Hulu paying . You should still be able to keep the various Hulu add-ons like Hulu with Live TV and Limited Commercials via this method.
This is the best deal in streaming today.
Since the Disney/Fox content that's deemed too adult for Disney+ will go to Hulu, this bundle ensures that you'll be able to watch all the content under Disney's big umbrella. You'll also be able to watch all the sports on ESPN+ like UFC fighting.
Disney offered a 33% discount on a three-year subscription to D23 members back during and after the D23 Expo in August that has since closed. You had to pony up for the entire three-year subscription upfront, but you essentially paid two years to get one free, so for die-hard Disney fans, this was an excellent deal.
Disney+ on Us: how to get a free year from Verizon
If you have a Verizon unlimited plan, you can get a year of free Disney+ thanks to a promotion it's calling "Disney+ on Us. You can sign up for your free year through Verizon's website, and if you'd already taken advantage of the D23 three-year subscriptions, congratulations, you can stack promotions and get four years for the price of two. Oh, how I envy you!
Are we expecting any Disney Plus deals on Black Friday?
Considering that Disney+ doesn't currently allow any promo codes, I wouldn't hold my breath on seeing any specific Black Friday discounts, especially since the service just launched.
Can I give Disney Plus as a gift this Christmas?
At the moment, Disney+ memberships have to be purchased directly, but Disney is supposed to launch Disney+ gift cards that can be given as gifts soon. No concrete timeline was given, but I'm optimistic we'll see Disney+ gift cards available by the first week in December so that Disney can capitalize on the holiday shopping season.
How does Disney Plus stack up to the competition?
Disney+ is entering an already crowded streaming market, pitting a brand new product against seasoned services like Netflix and Amazon. The content available for Disney+ is quite impressive, and the pricing is even more so, with the Disney+ bundle still costing less than a Netflix Premium subscription, which has made it quite easy for many to swap over to Disney's offerings.
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