It’s been three weeks since Disney launched its Disney+ streaming service to much fanfare, offering access to hundreds of titles, ranging from Disney classics to the latest and greatest films in the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes.
As one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, Disney was able to launch Disney+ with a huge head start — not only does the company already own the rights to decades worth of its own beloved movies and specials, but it also owns Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, so Disney+ is able to provide a huge collection of popular movies right out of the gate.
If you’re still on the fence about trying out Disney+, there’s no better time than to jump in than during the holiday season; as you’d expect, it’s one of the most family-friendly streaming services out there, and there’s lots of content that the whole family can enjoy.
Disney+ is one of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit, with a non-stop cavalcade of seasonal specials. Disney itself has a history of making some of the best Christmas classics out there, and you can watch all of them on Disney+.
In fact, you might be surprised at just how many Christmas movies and specials are available on Disney+. Since Disney also owns the 20th Century Fox film library, you not only get great classics like the 1952 Pluto’s Christmas Tree, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, and of course Frozen, but there’s also Miracle on 34th Street — both the original 1947 version and the 1994 modern remake — along with The Sound of Music, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone, and The Santa Clause.
The Disney Vault
Even after the holiday season has ended, there’s still a lot more to watch on Disney+, and in fact the entertainment company is delivering a staggering amount of content that hasn’t been available in any other form in decades. We guarantee there are great shows here that you’ve probably never even heard of before, and lots more than you may only barely remember from your childhood.
The content available on Disney+ goes back to some of its earliest films from the 1930s and 1940s, including the original 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as well as other animated classics like Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi and lesser-known (but still great) features like The Reluctant Dragon, The Three Caballeros, The Adventures or Ichabod and Mr. Toad and much, much, much more.
Disney also made a ton of great live action films back in those days that are here too, such as Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and a lot more.
You could watch a different great movie on Disney+ every single night for a year and still not have made it all the way through the huge back catalog of content — and that’s just what Disney has to offer from its own studio.
Star Wars in 4K
You probably already know that Disney also owns the entire Star Wars franchise, so not only is almost every Star Wars movie and special ever made available on Disney+, but for the first time ever you can watch the original and prequel trilogies in full 4K Dolby Vision HDR with Atmos sound.
Disney+ will be the only way to get these remastered versions of the classic Star Wars films, which have never made it to Blu-ray in anything beyond 1080p HD. Purist fans may be disappointed that these are based on the 1997 special edition versions (so Han still doesn’t shoot first), but we’re still hoping that Disney eventually remasters the classic original trilogy and makes it available on Disney+ too.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Basically, this includes all of the Marvel movies except for those few that were co-produced by other studios like Sony and Paramount, so what’s there is far more significant than what’s not, and includes such titles as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War , The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy,, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2., and Captain Marvel.
There are a handful of Marvel titles that aren’t yet available due to Disney’s agreements with other streaming services like Netflix, but you can expect those to arrive on Disney+ as well just as soon as the exclusive contracts tying them to those other services expire.
The Simpsons isn’t usually associated with Disney, but because the company owns 20th Century Fox, it also owns the rights to all 30 seasons of the classic animated series, which means that the whole thing is now available on Disney+ for viewing on-demand.
While there are some issues right now with the earlier seasons being forced into a 16:9 widescreen presentation, which ruins some of the visual gags, Disney has promised to fix this by offering users the choice of viewing formats, but if you’re a Simpsons fan, right now it’s the best way to watch the whole series all in one place.
While Disney+ has an absolutely massive back catalog of shows and movies to watch, the company isn’t resting on its laurels, and plans to continue releasing a lot of original content. This is Disney, we’re talking about, after all, which has been creating its own shows for longer than most of us have been alive.
Disney has already released its first headline series, The Mandalorian, which premiered when Disney+ launched on Nov. 12. It’s a must-see for anybody who has even a passing interest in the Star Wars universe, and it’s only the first of several others; Disney is also working on an untitled spin-off series that’s focused on Cassian Andor from Rogue One, and a backstory series on Obi-Wan Kenobi that will see Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the venerable Jedi Master. These are all big-budget productions, too, with Disney expected to spend more than $100 million on The Mandalorian alone.
It’s not just going to be Star Wars content either; Disney has eight new Marvel Cinematic Universe episodic series’ planned, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk. It’s also working on “reimagined” versions of 20th Century Fox classics such as Home Alone, Night at the Museum, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Cheaper by the Dozen.
All told, Disney expects to put out between four and five original films and five original big-budget television shows each year.
There’s also a lot more here than just pure entertainment. Thanks to its ownership of National Geographic, Disney+ has a great collection of educational content too.
There are already over 50 National Geographic specials available on Disney+, and the entertainment giant plans to produce more educational and factual television content, both under the National Geographic brand and as part of its other properties as well.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum is one of its hallmark docuseries in this category, which follows the title character as he explores the world around him, covering kid-friendly topics like video games, ice-cream, and sneakers. Beyond that, there’s also Magic of the Animal Kingdom which will follow the people who take care of the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, along with Marvel’s Hero Project to showcase inspiring kids and The Imagineering Story that chronicles the history and work of Walt Disney’s research and development arm.
Fun for all ages
While early rumours suggested that Apple was taking a family-friendly approach to its shows, that’s not what actually materialized in its Apple TV+ service — about half of the high-profile shows that launched with Apple TV came with a “TV-MA” rating slapped on, and its first non-documentary movie is rated “R.”
However, Disney has even more of a reputation to maintain than Apple when it comes to focusing on family-friendly content, and Disney CEO Bob Iger has gone on the record as saying that Disney+ definitely will remain focused on family-oriented entertainment, and will specifically exclude R-rated movies and TV-MA rated TV shows.
While not everything on Disney+ is going to be suitable for young children — there are lots of frightening scenes in the Star Wars and Marvel movies, for instance — DIsney+ is a great service for parents who are concerned about what their kids have access to, and there should be little need to worry about parental controls when it comes to Disney+.
Even more importantly, however, Disney+ is easily the best streaming service out there if you want to have a lot of content for the whole family to watch together. Disney’s animated films have always been designed to appeal to all ages, so both parents and kids can enjoy them, and this isn’t likely to change any time soon as the company continues to produce new original content.