Disney Plus review: The best streaming service for the young and young at heart - CNET

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Its marquee original seriesThe Mandalorian, gave fans Baby Yoda theoriesmerchandise and memes. Its archetypal Marvel Cinematic Universe-set bid WandaVision rapidly became 1 of the most fashionable shows successful America after its January premiere. All this occurrence has Netflix and different large names successful streaming taking notes. And adjacent aft a caller terms hike to $8 a month, it's inactive 1 of the champion values successful streaming.

The large question: Is it worthy the wealth to you? If you're a cord-cutter, particularly 1 with children, then Disney Plus is apt a must-have. With lone a fewer notable exceptions, Netflix is losing a big of Disney contented to the caller service, meaning if you oregon the small ones privation to watch Moana, for example, you'll need a Disney Plus subscription. 

Whether it allows you to ditch NetflixHulu or Amazon Prime Video depends connected your fund and priorities. But 1 happening is clear: Disney Plus already belongs successful the apical tier of streaming services, with a monolithic catalog of fashionable TV shows and movies you can't find anyplace else, a well-designed app and an affordable terms without making you ticker immoderate ads. For those reasons it deserves CNET's Editors' Choice Award.

Streaming compared


Disney PlusNetflixHuluHBO MaxMonthly terms Ads Availability Top titles Mobile downloads 4K disposable HDR disposable Number of streams
$8Starts astatine $9Basic $6 with ads, Ad-free for $12, Live TV for $55$15
NoNoYes, with basal tierNo
NowNowNowNow
The Mandalorian, WandaVision, Avengers Endgame, Toy Story, The SimpsonsStranger Things, The Crown, Breaking Bad, The Queen's GambitHandmaid's Tale, Catch-22, Lost, Bob's BurgersEntire HBO catalog, Studio Ghibli films, DC films
YesYesYes (on Ad-free program only)Yes
YesYes (on Premium plan)YesNo
YesYes (on Premium plan)NoNo
41 (2 for Standard, 4 connected Premium)2 (Unlimited with Live TV and a $10 add-on)3

A catalog of large hits and forgotten favorites

In opposition to the meager enactment of nine shows offered by Apple TV Plus when it launched astir the aforesaid clip successful November 2019, Disney deed the crushed moving with 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows on its archetypal day. There's a ton of Marvel, a shipton of Star Wars, a boatload of Pixar and a steadfast sprinkle of National Geographic (which is owned by Disney). You'll besides find 30 seasons of The Simpsons, and different programming from Disney's takeover of Fox. Depending connected the contented and instrumentality determination is enactment for both 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos surround sound.

With truthful galore movies and TV shows available, it's apt that if you tin deliberation of a Disney movie oregon TV show, it's there. Even earlier you effort searching, the interface serves up plentifulness of suggestions, including a large premix of nostalgia (Turner and Hooch) and princess movies (Frozen 2). And much besides.

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It's nary astonishment that Disney Plus is packed with kid-friendly shows and movies.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Disney's '70s play whitethorn beryllium denigrated these days, but the work helped resurface immoderate classics that appeared during that period, including the Herbie bid and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The interface volition reacquaint you with movies that you whitethorn person forgotten were Disney, specified arsenic Flight of the Navigator. And if your formative years took spot successful the precocious '90s and aboriginal aughts, you'll find each of the Disney Channel Original Movies from that epoch connected the level too, similar Halloweentown and Smart House. 

The contented isn't each perfect. At launch, The Simpsons was lone disposable successful widescreen, with nary 4:3 enactment for older seasons that were not HD autochthonal -- cutting retired immoderate large ocular gags. However, the level has since changed each 30 seasons of the show backmost to its archetypal form. And the Han-shot-first country successful the archetypal Star Wars movie, A New Hope, has apparently been edited yet again

For a while, The Mandalorian was the lone must-watch archetypal series. But present Marvel shows similar WandaVision, Loki and Hawkeye person further raised the illustration of the streaming service.

Read more: HBO Max vs. Peacock vs. Quibi vs. Disney Plus vs. Apple TV Plus vs. Netflix: How streaming stacks up

New theatrical releases aboriginal (some with a $30 catch)

During the pandemic, Disney Plus has go a level not lone for aged favorites and caller originals but for big-screen releases too. At first, it started streaming already-released movies months earlier than planned, including Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerFrozen 2 and Pixar's Onward. Then it began speeding up releases of smaller films. 

The movie adaptation of young big caller Artemis Fowl was scheduled to deed theaters successful May 2020, but alternatively premiered connected Disney Plus alternatively successful June. And the company's filmed mentation of the mega-hit philharmonic Hamilton went consecutive to Disney Plus connected July 3, coinciding with the Independence Day vacation play successful the US -- much than a twelvemonth earlier than its planned theatrical debut. Pixar's award-winning movie Soul besides premiered connected Disney Plus successful December 2020. All were included arsenic portion of the subscription cost.

Bigger films are different story, however. Last year's live-action Mulan remake arrived connected Disney Plus for a $30 fee, connected apical of your monthly subscription. Two months later, it became disposable connected the streaming work for nary added fee. The animated film Raya and the Last Dragon followed the aforesaid pattern. It debuted connected Friday, March 5, but subscribers again needed to wage an other $30 to watch.

This "$30 other for large movies early" treatment, which Disney calls Premier Access, is simply a stark opposition to HBO Max, which committed to releasing galore Warner Bros. movies -- including big-budget titles specified arsenic Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune and Matrix 4 -- connected the aforesaid time arsenic they deed theaters without charging immoderate other fees. However, Premier Access won't needfully use to each caller Disney film.

An easy-to-navigate interface

If you've utilized immoderate streaming work astatine all, barroom Disney's own Hulu, past the interface of Disney Plus volition beryllium instantly familiar. The precise apical of the location surface is simply a web-like carousel with a enactment of Disney's biggest hits.

Underneath the brand's astir fashionable properties look crossed the leafage arsenic static icons: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. Hover implicit each and the icon volition animate, and if you click connected it a abbreviated animation volition look earlier the branded leafage appears. While the interface is designed to standard to low-powered devices similar USB sticks we saw small quality betwixt immoderate of the twelve oregon truthful devices we tried. The plan is tile-heavy, dissimilar the newer HBO Max service, which gives your oculus much of a interruption betwixt titles, but it is casual to hunt through. 

Disney Plus

Disney Plus puts its large 4 brands (and National Geographic) beforehand and center.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On the branded pages arsenic good arsenic the location page, the rows of icons are arranged according to genre and assistance to hone the contented to your requirements. Disney told america that, similar the Netflix engine, the Disney Plus interface volition accommodate to the types of contented that you ticker implicit time. 

At the near of the surface is simply a Netflix-like sidebar that lets you hunt for contented oregon take from your preselected profiles. 

The lone existent mode to configure Disney Plus is done idiosyncratic profiles, and by default your Primary illustration offers entree to each of the content. It can't beryllium acceptable to a kids profile, but you tin crook autoplay disconnected oregon connected oregon change the main language. You tin acceptable up a illustration for your kid by toggling the Kids Profile mounting to On, which prevents PG and PG-13 contented from appearing connected the profile. But it's not cleanable for each property radical -- for example, you can't alteration PG contented and disable PG-13 content. Plus, a kid could technically conscionable power implicit to different illustration to ticker those shows. 

Outside of immoderate launch time issues owed to request that person since been resolved, the biggest occupation we recovered with the interface is that immoderate fashionable things mightiness beryllium hidden -- you whitethorn not cognize The Muppets is there, for example. But this is an contented that larger services specified arsenic Netflix besides endure from. 

Which devices tin you ticker Disney Plus on?

Pretty overmuch everything. Disney Plus has 1 of the widest distributions of immoderate streaming app, and is disposable connected conscionable astir immoderate phone, tablet, computer, connected TV oregon streaming media box, including those from AppleGoogleMicrosoft, Roku, SonyAmazonSamsung and LG

Disney Plus

Download Disney Plus shows connected astir immoderate mobile device.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With a Disney Plus subscription you tin ticker up to 4 antithetic shows connected 4 antithetic devices astatine erstwhile -- whether they are connected the spell (with offline downloads supported) oregon connected TV astatine home. 

We tested Disney Plus connected Roku, Apple TVFire TV, iOS, astute TV (LG and Samsung), Android TV and the web, and isolated from immoderate weirdness connected motorboat time backmost successful November, they each worked successful the expected fashion. If your streamer supports 4K HDR past determination is simply a steadfast enactment of titles similar the caller Marvel movies and The Mandalorian, but others similar the caller Muppets titles are lone successful HD.  

Voice commands worked good connected Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku successful directing america to the amusement rubric oregon the Disney work successful general. Apart from crashing Fire TV erstwhile the app wasn't yet installed, dependable searches worked each different time.

Should you get Disney Plus?

For Disney's legions of Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar fans who privation to bask those movies, and their other features, the work is easy worthy the comparatively debased monthly fee. The aforesaid goes for parents who privation their kids to bask Disney's myriad household movies and TV shows. And ditto for anybody who wants to travel the latest adventures of Baby Yoda

Are radical going to discontinue different services successful bid to spend this one? Possibly. If it's a prime betwixt this oregon Apple TV Plus, past get this. If it's a prime betwixt Disney and Hulu and you person kids? Get this. HBO Max has a strong slate of kids' content arsenic well, but is treble the outgo astatine $15 a month. For us, Disney Plus comes toward the apical of our streaming work reappraisal rankings, beneath Netflix and a notch supra Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Your priorities whitethorn propulsion 1 of those supra Disney -- particularly if you don't person kids.

Original programs similar The Mandalorian and WandaVision are great, and the operation of those with programming spanning astir 100 years volition apt promote users to renew their subscriptions each month. Disney Plus is fun, casual to usage and comparatively affordable. 

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Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Content 8Value 9

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