Disney+, the newest streaming service, launched on November 12, 2019 to loud applause from Disney and Pixar lovers everywhere.
If you’re like me, a thirty-something, you grew up on Disney channel original movies, TV shows, and VHS copies of classic Disney movies. As far as I can tell, a TON of the Disney+ users are in it for nostalgia, rewatching their favorite DCOMs and Wizards of Waverly Place, and replacing their DVD collection of movies.
Disney+ also includes Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, plus some brand new original things, like the very meta High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (what a mouthful), The Mandalorian, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum.
There are reportedly several more shows in the works specifically for the service, especially some Marvel shows like Loki.
Let’s get into the features, what’s missing, and what people are frustrated by, and then the cost of the service compared to other streaming services.
Features: What’s missing?
As with any new launch, it’s not perfect and people have a lot to say.
I have noticed some lag and glitching here and there, which to me is not a huge deal, but it does exist.
Disney+ does not currently have its entire library of movies and shows, nor does it have most of the content from 21st Century Fox.
The service lacks BASIC useful functions and features like a “continue watching/keep watching” list (you better just remember what episode you watched last), there is no “viewing history,” no feature showing if you already watched an episode (better remember), and a “resume” button (forcing you to start at the beginning of any episode and fast forward to where you left off)
- Many users reported bugs and a lot of glitches after the initial launch, though those seem to have mostly been ironed out
- No ability to curate or like/dislike content
- The watchlist is not on the main screen
- The search feature is clunky and does not work if you abbreviate or misspell words. It brings up “no results found” if you type in “nat geo,” so it’s weird that it’s not recognizing commonly used shorthand or populating with similar words.
- About 60% of shows reportedly have episodes missing or out of order
Gizmodo’s review of Disney+ said this:
“ In addition to an inability to understand slight variations on titles and topics, the service also appears to be returning some highly questionable search results. Based on a tip from a reader, Gizmodo learned that searching the term “bitch” on the platform not only returns multiple women-led titles but also a National Geographic documentary about Princess Diana. We reached out to Disney+ about the search function and did not immediately hear back.”
- No R-rated content
- Some users complain about a lack of flexibility in parental controls (right now you basically can only have it on or off, not make choices)
- Offline downloads are large files
- A ton of old Disney movies, DCOMs, and shows
- National Geographic, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars + other existing popular franchises
- Original programming
- Clean, sleek layout and easy-to-use interface
- Easy to add things to your watchlist and it is easy to navigate to your watchlist
- 4k streaming
- Offline downloads on mobile with basically no restrictions
- Up to 7 profiles and 4 simultaneous devices, and 10 connected devices (AppleTVan Hulu offer 6 profiles, Netflix offers 5)
- “Skip intro” button on some shows
As a stand-alone service, it costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year and you get up to 7 individual profiles. You can also do a 7-day free trial to check it out. They do have at least one bundle, where you can get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month, which definitely does save you money over having each of those three separately (Hulu’s lowest plan price is $5.99/month, Disney+ is $6.99/month, and ESPN+ is $5/month but not a stand-alone service — you have to get it through this bundle or the ESPN app).
Fun fact: Disney owns ESPN, has operational control over Hulu, and recently acquired 21st Century Fox.
To me, $6.99 per month is not unreasonable for a streaming service and is in line with other streaming services out there right now.
Other streaming services:
- AppleTV: $5/month
- Hulu: starts at $5.99/month
- Netflix Basic: $12.99/month
- Amazon: the price of a Prime membership, $12.99/month, $119/year OR as a stand-alone Amazon Video service for $8.99/month
- YouTube Premium: no ads, +YouTube originals, $11.99/month
- Sling: $25/month
- Philo: $20/month
- HBO NOW: $14.99/month (you can get it through Hulu for $5/month)
I am currently trying it out and so far, I’m enjoying The Mandalorian and rewatching a couple Disney shows from my tween years, but I am not likely to rewatch classic Disney movies very often.
The lack of “continue watching” and inability to know if you already watched an episode is VERY frustrating, especially if you plan to watch more than about 2 shows at a time. You just have to remember where you left off, AND you either look for the show again in the carousels or navigate to the watchlist to find it. The absence of these 2 features specifically is very annoying to me and to many other users, if the internet is anything to go by.
I am interested to see what shows they will be adding, especially since I am a huge Marvel and Star Wars fan, so I hope new shows are going to be added soon and with regularity. If it’s only one show per year, for example, and I am not really rewatching old stuff anymore, then I am not sure it will be worth it to me.
However, if you love Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars and you tend to rewatch movies over and over, you’re going to love that they are all available in one place with high-def streaming in a clean, organized interface.