Disney+ is The Most Wonderful, Dangerous Streaming Service on the Planet

I tried Disney’s new streaming service and I'm 100-percent hooked. Help!

Illustration by Ashley Nicole DeLeon.

 Lifewire / Ashley Nicole DeLeon

There was the very real possibility that I would start watching Disney+ and never stop.

It has everything. EVERYTHING! [Editor's Note: Okay, NOT everything, but as close to a complete Disney archive as I've ever seen] 

In case you hadn’t heard (I really don’t know how that’s possible), Disney officially joined the streaming wars this week with its own $6.99 a month option available on iOS, Android, Roku, FireTV, Apple TV, and other platforms. It’s entering an increasingly crowded field that now includes:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Apple TV+
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • CBS All Access
  • DC Universe
  • And a bunch of bundles that will remind you of Cable packages
Disney+ is a lot of content.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Do You Need This

I tried to resist the allure of Disney+. I’m a Netflix member and I pay for HBO Now, which means I’m already shelling out almost $30 a month for on-demand video content. This doesn’t even count what I pay cable each month for a mostly uninteresting lineup of cable and broadcast channels.

I did not need another streaming service. I did not until I found a loophole. First, Apple TV+ offered a free year of its $4.99 a month service to owners of new iPhone 11s (and anyone who buys a number of other Apple products like Apple TV).

Unfortunately, Apple TV+ has a limited number of decent, if not wholly inspiring shows. I’ve watched a few episodes of The Morning Show starring Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon. I like it but am not yet hooked. In short, Apple TV+ is not changing my life.

Disney+ Plus

Disney Plus
The Disney+ app home on my Apple TV.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

When I talk about the advantages Disney+ brings to the streaming game, I usually point to its impressive collection of media brands and franchises. Disney has:

  • Disney
  • Pixar
  • Marvel
  • Star Wars
  • Fox

This is only a partial list. Even before Disney began devouring the media world, it was producing TV, movies, and film at an impressive rate. The company has been conjuring up family-friendly content for 96 years (yup it’ll celebrate 100 years in 2023).

Still, I didn’t quite get the scale and scope of this thing. Imagine Disney, the brand name, is the small tip of the iceberg jutting out over the surface of the media landscape. All of its icy-good content is underneath and it’s the size of Australia.

At home, my son asked me almost every day if we were joining Disney+. He’d seen the trailers for the Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian and was desperate to see it. As a Star Wars nerd, I wanted to see it, too, but I wasn’t ready to sign-up. Then I found another loophole.

Verizon Wireless is offering one year of free Disney+ service to all Verizon Wireless Unlimited Service customers. Signing up was a no-brainer.

Getting On and Getting Hooked

Even though I signed up in the morning (no issues), I waited to try the service until I got home, which was a good thing. So many people tried to sign in and access content right away that Disney did a Goofy-style face-plant, frustrating many Disneyphiles. Okay, I lied. I did try to view a little bit of Disney+ on the commute into work, but only got a cute failure message featuring Wreck It Ralph.

When I got home that night, I told my son the good news, we installed Disney+ on my Apple TV and after dismissing a weird data privacy message from Apple, we started watching The Mandalorian.

Disney Plus
Even when things don't work, Disney+'s response is almost adorable.

I’m not here to review the 39-minute premiere episode, though I will say it had the right amount of classic Star Wars: A New Hope flair and kitschiness, combined with some very 21st Century special effects. It’s intriguing enough that’ll I’ll come back for Episode 2.

One really interesting thing about both Apple TV+ and Disney+ is that they are firmly in the one-at-a-time-episodic camp and not the binge all-you can eat one. This is an old-school approach that helps differentiate the new services and may help ensure that viewers return each week to view not only the new episodes, but perhaps to stick around and discover new content.

Literally Everything

Disney Plus The Simpsons
I found the first episode of The Simpsons, along with almost all the other episodes of the 30-year-old show.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Disney+, though, is different than Apple TV+ and even the now venerable Netflix. Yes, the latter spends $15B a year on original content and has massive libraries of its own shows and what it’s licensed from other media companies. However, Disney and others have been pulling that content back for their own services. Netflix may eventually have a library of only its own content.

Disney+ has an unbelievable library of franchise content across multiple genres and it’s constantly producing new hit shows, hit movies, and now original content for Disney+. Even if you leave aside the newer Marvel movies and fresh Disney+ fair like NoelThe Mandalorian and that Jeff Goldblum documentary, you have the archives.

After we finished The Mandalorian, my son and I started digging through the library. Disney+ appears to have every single movie (good or bad) the company has ever made. All the classic animations (PinocchioSleeping BeautyDumboFantasia) are there. Many parents will be planting their children in front of the Disney+ animation feed. All the classic Herbie the Lovebug films are there. So are the original films Witch Mountain and Freaky Friday. Kurt Russell’s earliest movies as the World’s Smartest and Strongest teenager are there. Failures like The Black Hole are there, as well.

Naturally, every Star Wars film is in there, too. As are series like Star Wars Rebels and the critical darling The Clone Wars (one more season is coming). The one thing Disney+ can’t fix, though, is George Lucas’s penchant for ensuring that his favorite versions of the original trilogy are the only ones you can find on Disney+.

The entire The Simpson’s archive (with some exceptions) is there, including the very first episode, an almost hour-long Christmas special. We watched that, too.

I couldn’t stop digging. I couldn’t stop watching. I had a problem.

Disney Plus Kurt Russell
For better or worse, Disney+ has all the content.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

So What

Disney+ is more than just another streaming player. It’s like the history of film, TV, animation, and more all in one giant, instantly accessible warehouse. I challenge you to find a title across any of your favorite now Disney-owned franchises that isn't in there.

This is a streaming service that threatens to suck the consciousness of a nation down a content rabbit hole, granted, a highly pleasurable one, but a hole, nonetheless. It’s also, probably, the one new streaming service you definitely want.

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