Disney’s answer to Netflix and Prime Video, Disney+ is a well-stocked video streaming service offering the entertainment giant’s range of films, documentaries and TV shows.
Considering signing up but aren’t quite sure what you’re getting in exchange for your hard-earned cash? We’ve assembled everything you need to know in this guide, so read it before deciding whether or not to take the plunge.
What does Disney+ offer?
There’s a lot more than just Disney-branded films and TV shows here: Walt Disney Studios owns Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar, 20th Century Studios (formerly 20th Century Fox) and Searchlight Pictures, and content from all of these is available to stream. (It’ll likely be the only streaming platform on which you can view future Stars Wars, Disney and Marvel films too).
That means you get all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and TV series, all the full-length Star Wars movies and TV series and everything Pixar has made, plus films including Nomadland, Die Hard, The Last Duel and The Grand Budapest Hotel and series including The Simpsons (32 seasons!), 24, Lost, The Walking Dead and Atlanta. There’s also the massive three-part docuseries The Beatles: Get Back.
Star, a general entertainment channel aimed at, er, ‘more mature’ audiences, is integrated into Disney+, also features new original series including Only Murders in the Building and Dopesick. You can read more about Star in our explainer here: What is Star on Disney+?
The service also occasionally offers subscribers the opportunity to rent a new movie release at additional cost. Called Premier Access, this has previously been used for films like Black Widow, Jungle Cruise and Cruella and has cost £19.99 per film. But there’s good news for those who’d rather not shell out the extra fee: all Premier Access films released thus far have eventually been made available on the standard Disney+ service, usually after a few weeks.
In short, there’s a lot to watch here, much of it very entertaining indeed. Disney+ arguably skews a little more child-friendly than Netflix or Prime Video, but there’s plenty for grown-ups to enjoy too. To see our top recommendations, check out our article on the 25 best things to watch on Disney+.
In terms of picture and sound quality, Disney+ is up there with the likes of Prime Video and Netflix in offering selected content in 4K Ultra HD resolution with HDR10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio. There’s even a small amount of IMAX Enhanced content, which Some classics have been given the 4K remaster treatment, such as Toy Story and the original version of The Lion King, while others are offered in Full HD resolution with 5.1 surround sound.
How can I watch Disney+?
Disney+ is available on a wide range of devices: smart TVs, streaming hardware (Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick) and Xbox One/Series and PlayStation 4/5 games consoles, plus via your computer’s web browser or a mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. It’s also available on Sky Q in the UK.
How much does Disney+ cost?
Disney+ used to keep things simple with a single pricing tier of £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year (to save a bit if you’re willing to pay for a year upfront) in the UK, and $10.99 a month/$110 a year in the US. However, that is changing from November 2023 onwards, with a few separate packages on offer.
A new Standard with Ads tier, which limits streams to 1080p, allows two concurrent streams, doesn’t allow downloads, and peppers content with adverts, will cost £4.99 per month. It is also rolling out to Canada ($7.99) and Europe (€5.99). It’s already available in the US as Disney+ Basic, costing $7.99 per month.
There’s also a new Premium plan, which ups the quality to 4K with HDR, allows for four concurrent streams, and includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. It’ll set you back £10.99 per month or £109.90 annually in the UK, or $13.99/month or $139.99 annually in the US. Everyone currently signed up to Disney+ will get bumped to this more expensive plan automatically, unless they choose to move to one of two cheaper Standard tiers.
The Standard tier sits between the two new offerings, and keeps the original £7.99 monthly/£79.90 annual price. It includes downloads and removes ads, but limits you to Full HD and 5.1 audio playback. You’ll only be able to stream to two devices at once, too.
In the US, there’s a few further options to consider, depending on whether you want to sign up to Hulu or ESPN Plus. Disney Plus (ads) and Hulu (ads) costs $10 a month, or $20 a month for ad-free. Disney Plus (ads), Hulu (ads), and ESPN Plus costs $15 a month, or Disney Plus (ad-free), Hulu (ad-free), and ESPN Plus costs $25 a month, while Disney Plus (ads), Hulu + Live TV (ads), and ESPN Plus costs $77/month. If you want the whole ad-free package, then Disney Plus (ad-free), Hulu + Live TV (ad-free), and ESPN Plus costs $90 a month.
Disney+ parental controls
When Star was introduced to Disney+, the service introduced some more robust parental controls to the streaming service. Because, prior to this date, Disney+ was primarily a family service.
And with Star, it suddenly wasn’t. Now Disney+ offers up to seven profiles per account which can be tailored by the main account holder to have a different level of control. It actually works pretty well. The Kid profile has a content rating of 7 and below and has most family favourites included.
Parents can create access limits for specific profiles based on content ratings. A Profile PIN also locks profiles with access to more mature content – mostly things on Star.