Disney+ Streaming Guide
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Disney+ recommendations for every kind of fan, from Pixar to old movies

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Nov 12, 2019

Begun, the streaming war has.

Disney+, the Walt Disney Company's new, direct-to-consumer streaming platform, launched on Tuesday morning, opening a new era in TV programming. Apple TV+ recently launched and in the next year, and by mid-2020, we'll see SYFY parent company NBCUniversal (with Peacock) and WarnerMedia (with HBO Max) enter the fray. But in terms of sheer volume, with a combination of new programming (such as the meta sequel High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and big-ticket items such as the first live-action Star Wars series, The Mandalorian) and a slate of classic programming so deep that it literally set a world record for number of successive posts on Twitter, Disney+ should keep you quite busy.

But where to begin, amidst this sea of content?

We have the handiest guide for all things Disney+, broken down for every kind of Disney fan.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

ANIMATION ENTHUSIASTS

Obviously, one of the key pillars of Disney+ is its ability to bring you most any Disney animated feature from its storied history, even those that have been largely impossible to track down or locked away inside the so-called Disney Vault. While not every Disney animated classic will be available on day one, a whole bunch of them will be — everything from original, Walt-supervised masterpieces such as Bambi (1941) and Cinderella (1950) to hallmarks of the Disney Renaissance such as Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Mulan (1998) and recent classics such as The Princess and the Frog (2009), Winnie the Pooh (2011), Frozen (2013), and Moana (2017).

But that's not all — there is also an impressive collection of animated shorts on Disney+, which is super exciting for animation fans and casual viewers alike (especially since we've had to contend with the shortened "Have a Laugh!" version of the same shorts that were uploaded to YouTube). Everything from early, influential shorts such as "Steamboat Winnie" (1928), "The Band Concert" (1935), "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937), "Lend a Paw" (1941) and "Chef Goofy" (1941) to more recently fare such as the charming "Inner Workings" (2016) and "Olaf's Frozen Adventure" (controversial because it was shown theatrically before Coco and is a whopping half-hour long).

Basically, there's something for everyone and there will be even more in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

'90s FANS

As if. Clearly, Disney has a soft spot for its millennial demographic, as is evidenced by its splashy, big-budget live-action remakes of beloved 1990s properties.

And if you need your fix of authentic Clinton-era entertainment, Disney+ has you covered. The '90s had pretty much anything that a Disney fan could want or need, really, from the only-this-decade wonders that have since become downright classics such as The Rocketeer (1991), Newsies (1992), Sister Act (1992), Blank Check (1994), Heavyweights (1995), and Kazaam (1996), which, it should be noted, stars Shaq and not Sinbad.

If you're feeling more bookish, there's a great slate of '90s literary adaptations, including (but not limited to) White Fang (1991), The Three Musketeers (1993), The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). There are also a number of prototypical Disney remakes (back before they were cool), including the live-action 101 Dalmatians (1996), Flubber (1997), That Darn Cat (1997), and My Favorite Martian (1999), along with the first-ever MovieToons (theatrical feature-length animated projects based on TV shows and not animated by Walt Disney Animation Studios), DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) and A Goofy Movie (1995).

Plus, if you're feeling Foxy, there are a number of terrific titles from the recently-acquired studio, such as the original Home Alone trilogy — Home Alone (1990), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), and Home Alone 3 (1997) — and a pair of baseball-themed standouts, Rookie of the Year (1993) and The Sandlot (1993). What a decade it was.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

DCOM DEVOTEES

Disney+ seems to be doing God's work, if God's work includes collecting the most beloved (and most ridiculous-sounding) Disney Channel Original Movies in one place. Because damn. There are so many on Disney+.

There's everything from the 1990s when the DCOM really started picking up steam, with stuff such as Halloweentown (1998), Horse Sense (1999), Johnny Tsunami (1999), and Can of Worms (1999). There are also many titles from the DCOM golden era, from the aughts to the '10s, including Buffalo Dreams (2005), the two Camp Rock movies (2008 and 2010), the two Cheetah Girls movies (2003 and 2006), Dadnapped (2009), and Lemonade Mouth (2011) to more recent, insanely popular features such as the first two Descendants (2015 and 2017), the musical Freaky Friday remake (2018), and Zombies (2018).

Rule of thumb: If you've never seen it or heard of it, and it has an insane premise, then you should probably watch it. There's probably a hidden DCOM classic waiting for you in the depths of Disney+.

Credit: Lucasfilm, Disney+

LUCASFILM LOYALISTS

One of the biggest draws for Disney+ is that every... single... Star Wars saga film will be up on day one.

So from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) to Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), you'll be able to binge a galaxy far, far away in the weeks leading up to the release of the saga-capping Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. (You'll also be able to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), but not Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).)

You'll also have access to premium Star Wars animated content, like the full range of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which will return in 2020), Star Wars Rebels, and Star Wars Resistance episodes, and more kid-friendly content such as the many Lego Star Wars series and shorts. (Sadly, Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars micro-series didn't make the cut.)

But that's not all! There's also odd Lucasfilm fare such as Willow (1988), rumored to be getting a sequel of some sort for Disney+, the bizarre animated musical Strange Magic (2015), and the surprisingly in-depth documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (2004).

Of course, the biggest day one draw, in terms of original programming, fits squarely within the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian, the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV series, follows a mysterious gunslinger (Pedro Pascal) as he traverses the lawless galaxy following the events of Return of the Jedi. We've seen 30 minutes from the series' first three episodes and it is jaw-dropping; a bold new chapter in the Star Wars universe that is unlike anything that has come before it.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

DOCUMENTARIANS

There is a robust amount of documentary content available for streaming day 1 on Disney+, thanks in part to Disney's recent acquisition of National Geographic, which will grant subscribers access to the Jane Goodall documentary Jane (2017), the Oscar-winning Free Solo (2018), and this year's Apollo: Missions to the Moon (2019), alongside equally wonderful TV shows (such as The Incredible Dr. Pol) and specials (who doesn't want to watch How Dogs Got Their Shape?).

But even beyond the Nat Geo content, there's a great line-up of nonfiction fare. There are a number of Walt Disney's original True-Life Adventures, which were the very first nature documentaries, things such as The Living Desert (1953), The Vanishing Prairie (1954), and, of course, Perri (1957), a documentary about a lovable squirrel (obviously).

There are also a number of the Disneynature movies, sort of spiritual successors to the True-Life Adventure films, in the line-up, including African Cats (2011), Secret of the Wings (2012), Bears (2014), and Born in China (2017). What's more, there'll be a brand-new Disneynature movie, Dolphin Reef, narrated by Natalie Portman, debuting on the service soon. So that's exciting.

There are also fascinating documentaries such as Frank and Ollie (1995), about two of Walt's Nine Old Men and some of the greatest, most groundbreaking animators of all time, and Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010), a frank examination of the Disney Renaissance. What's more, there's The Imagineering Story, a new, six-part documentary series by Leslie Iwerks that is one of the best things I've seen this year, period. It takes you behind the scenes of Disney's most secretive group, those responsible for the rides, shows, attractions, and experiences at Disney Parks, on the cruise ships and elsewhere in the kingdom.

On top of all this are a number of exciting nonfiction projects in the works for the streaming service, as well, including One Day at Disney, out in December, about various employees of the company, and a documentary feature about beloved Disney lyricist and writer Howard Ashman (out in 2020).

Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

CHRISTMAS CAROLERS

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas — especially if you turn on any of the cable channels, which are already flooding the airwaves with yuletide cheer. Disney+ will help you hang the mistletoe as well, don't worry. 

There's a wide gamut of holiday material on the service, including TV movies such as The Christmas Star (1986) and 12 Dates of Christmas (2011), animated shorts such as "Pluto's Christmas Tree" (1952) and home video favorites such as Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997), Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999), and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas (2004), which featured early CGI versions of Mickey and the gang.

There are also some stone-cold Disney Christmas classics, including The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (although it's unclear if it's the version with "When Love is Gone" included), the Jonathan Taylor Thomas vehicle I'll Be Home for Christmas (1997) and the holy trinity of Disney Christmas movies: The Santa Clause (1994), The Santa Clause 2 (2002), and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006).

Now pray for a snowstorm so you can watch all of this stuff.

Credit: Disney/Pixar 

PIXAR PURISTS

There is a truly staggering amount of Pixar content available to stream on day one of Disney+. It's sort of nuts.

There is everything from early short films such as "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B." (1984!) and "Knick Knack" (1989) to more recent short films such as "La Luna" (2012), "Piper" (2016), and the Oscar-winning "Bao" (2018) to almost all of the feature films, including certifiable classics such as Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007), Up (2009), and Inside Out (2015).

You'll be especially pumped for Disney+ if you're a Cars fanatic, as all three feature films are available along with a number of the truly adorable CarsToons ("Mater and the Ghostlight" is a favorite). Ditto if you're very into the Toy Story universe, as the original three films will be there, along with the three Toy Story Toons, "Hawaiian Vacation" (2011), "Small Fry" (2011) and the truly immortal "Partysaurus Rex" (2012). (Weirdly, neither holiday special is available, but hopefully they are coming soon.)

There's also a ton of new Pixar content coming to the service, including a new short film series called Forky Asks a Question and "Lamp Life," a short that fills in what happened to Bo Peep before the events of Toy Story 4, along with films from the studio's experimental short program, called Spark Shorts, that are really cool, unique, and heart-tugging (in that specifically Pixar way). It's an embarrassment of riches, really.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

MUPPET MANIACS

While the marketing for Disney+ has been relatively quiet in terms of touting its Muppet content, we know that there is at least one new short-form series in development and a bunch of stuff that'll be on the service from launch. This includes feature films such as The Muppet Movie (1979), The Great Muppet Caper (1981), the aforementioned Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), The Muppets (2011), and Muppets Most Wanted (2014), a tragically underrated modern-day classic that hopefully people will rediscover (seriously).

There will also be television content such as the bizarrely overlooked faux documentary series The Muppets (2015) and the recent Muppet Babies reboot (2018). So, yes, it's time to put on make-up, it's time to light the lights...

Courtesy of Disney

TELEVISION JUNKIES

First thing's first: on day one of Disney+ you'll be able to stream more than 600 episodes of The Simpsons, one of the crown jewels of Disney's recent acquisition of Fox. This is truly staggering and probably worth the $5 a month price tag alone.

There is, of course, way more television available on the platform (and this is without even counting new series such as High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Encore, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum), everything from beloved Disney Afternoon animated series like DuckTales (both 1987 and 2017 versions), Adventures of the Gummi Bears, and TaleSpin, to newer animated gems such as Amphibia and Big City Greens, along with many of the animated series that were spun off from the animated classics (Timon & Pumbaa, Hercules, The Little Mermaid, and Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure to name a few).

There's also a ton of live-action fare, like Lizzie McGuire (soon to have a sequel series at Disney+), Even Stevens, Phil of the Future, and Hannah Montana. There's also a ton of the aforementioned animated Star Wars material, and even more Marvel stuff, featuring all of your favorite superheroes, including the X-Men and Fantastic Four, characters that will soon make their appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And don't discount the amount of programming from the recently acquired National Geographic. There are so many nature and history-based TV specials and series, including Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan, Life Below Zero (brrr!), and Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue. The TV series Disney+ has planned are incredibly inventive and ambitious but many of them won't launch until 2020 or beyond.

Thankfully, there's more than enough classic programming to tide you over — and 600 episodes of The Simpsons to revisit.

Credit: Marvel

MARVEL SUPER-FREAKS

Just last week, Disney+ announced that Avengers: Endgame (2019), the biggest movie of all time, would arrive on the streaming platform at launch. Oh, snap!

There are a ton of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that will initially be available on Disney+, including Iron Man (2008), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Captain Marvel (2019). There is also a mind-boggling amount of animated content that will be up on day one, including a Guardians of the Galaxy series based around the recently-opened attraction at Disney California Adventure. There's also Marvel's Hero Project, a nonfiction series about kids that are making a difference (it looks really cute) and, of course, a robust line-up of series set for the not-too-distant future, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, WandaVision, and She-Hulk, all of which are said to tie in directly to the ongoing events of the MCU proper.

Sounds pretty super.


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