Disney Plus review

Our Disney Plus review looks at how this streaming service manages an affordable price and large content library

disney plus review
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Disney Plus streaming service is affordably priced and packed full of content.

Pros

  • +

    Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar content

  • +

    4K UHD, family sharing included

  • +

    Clean, lively interface

Cons

  • -

    No Spider-Man movies

  • -

    Short on hit original content

  • -

    Increasingly high price

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Disney Plus isn't just popular, it's one of the best streaming services. But right now, Disney Plus is about to hit a snag. Right after two of its best shows ever aired, a $3 per month Disney Plus price hike is arriving to make people re-think how much the House of the Mouse is actually worth.

Fortunately, Disney Plus has been doing things to make itself more must-have. For example, Doctor Who comes to Disney Plus for its next seasons. Disney's actually offering other stuff, too, as the Willow release date is here, bringing the aspiring sorcerer back.

More great originals, though, will make Disney Plus a service you stop unsubscribing to after a season finale. Yes, it's the exclusive home of all things Pixar, Marvel (including the upcoming Wonder Man series) and Star Wars (we need Mandalorian season 3 right now), but some may not always need those archives.

The Disney Plus app just gets better and better, with useful features such as remote Group Watch viewing and forthcoming support for Apple’s SharePlay service beating others to the punch. It’s also incredibly easy to use, for instance listing out the Marvel movies in order by MCU phase for maximum convenience. Plus, it earns points for giving you everything in the highest resolution available, and for listing when its Disney Plus Premier Access movies will be available to watch for free online — a nice touch that it didn’t need to do. 

 A must for families and devotees of the MCU comic book films, keep reading our Disney Plus review to see how it's one of the best streaming services yet. 

Disney Plus review: Pricing and availability

Starting Dec. 2022, Disney Plus will cost $10.99 for its current ad-free iteration, which is being re-christened Disney Plus Premium. A new ad-supported "Disney Plus Basic" will launch at its current $7.99 per month pricing. And unlike Netflix with ads, Disney Plus' ad-supported tier will have 4K streaming. 

Want to try Disney Plus? Disney Plus free trials are rare. Have beef with Disney over its pricing? Take it up with Disney Plus customer service. That said, even Disney Plus' base price looks even better when you see that the service includes 4K HDR image quality at that price. This is in stark contrast with Netflix, which reserves Ultra HD image resolution for its $19.99 premium plan.

Disney Plus launched in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands on Nov. 12, 2019, and our friends in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain gained it on March 24, 2020. Disney Plus is available on all of the best streaming devices, and that will likely never change. 

Disney Plus review: Design

The Disney Plus home page looks and feels a lot like my favorite interface: Apple TV's tvOS home screen, but it isn't exactly as great. Let's start with the delightful: For the main content sections of the app, logos animate when your cursor selects them. That means fireworks fly at the Magic Kingdom behind the Disney logo, stars speed behind Star Wars, the Marvel logo turns into the little page-turning graphic at the start of a MCU movie and clouds of Toy Story's wallpaper float behind the Pixar logo.

Disney Plus review: Home screen

(Image credit: Future)

Disney Plus' home screen is built on the system that most streaming apps run on, with rows of curated content. Those start with Originals (which include The World According to Jeff Goldblum, Noelle and Forky Asks a Question), Recommended for You (why this includes the live-action Dumbo remake is beyond me), Hit Movies (some people want to rewatch Avatar, and I won't ask why), Trending (Simpsons, at the time of my reviewing, to see how badly the formatting cuts work) and Out of the Vault (classics that Disney wasn't streaming on other platforms or selling either). 

That all sits below a giant slideshow reel promoting the big content of the moment — such as The Mandalorian, Encore! and Captain Marvel — and I wish this were more under your control or built around what you've watched or set as your preferences. How do I know it's not? There has been zero reason for the cards for the live-action Lady and the Tramp remake or High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to show up there, but there they are anyway. At $6.99 per month for the service, though, this is a quibble. 

To sort through Disney Plus differently, navigate to the menu on the left, which is where you'll find the option to search, open your Watchlist — tap the plus (+) in a show or movie page to add it — and sections marked Movies, Series (Disney for TV shows), Originals and Settings. It's all fairly self-explanatory, and I like how the Movies and Series sections have subsections, so you can drill down to animated TV shows or Ultra HD movies, for example.

Watching shows on Disney Plus feels pretty normal. Once I finished Episode 1 of The Mandalorian, I got an elegantly designed screen suggesting I watch The Empire Strikes Back next, though I would have preferred a note about when Episode 2 of that show debuts, since it wasn't available at that time. (Disney releases new episodes on a weekly basis instead of unleashing everything at once, so Episode 2 of The Mandalorian arrives Nov. 15, with subsequent installments coming every week after that.) Apple TV Plus has a similar aversion to telling you when future episodes are coming.

Disney Plus review: Captain America

(Image credit: Future)

At launch, I found that Disney hadn't nailed the basics when it came to continuing a program you paused or didn't finish. While a Continue Watching row appeared on the home screen early on, it disappeared hours later. Thankfully, Disney got it fixed in the two weeks following launch.

Disney Plus review: added continue watching row

(Image credit: Future)

After its launch, I noticed a "resume" button appear on movie pages, such as on Avengers: Endgame. Later, the home screen finally felt complete, as the Continue Watching row came arrived on the home screen. 

Currently, the one thing I'd like Disney to add is a Restart button next to the Resume button, in case you'd rather start over. For those of us who can't remember where we left off (late night binge-watching can lead to sleepy eyes) it would be a helpful addition.

Disney Plus review: Avengers Endgame

(Image credit: Disney Plus/Marvel Studios)

Disney Plus review: Supported devices and simultaneous streams

Disney shot for the moon, aiming for Netflix's level of ubiquity for Disney Plus. My makeshift test lab at home shows off the wide array of supported platforms that Disney Plus launched with, as it's running on a PS4, an Xbox One, a Roku Ultra, an Amazon Fire TV Cube, an LG Smart TV, a MateBook X Pro, a MacBook Pro, an Apple TV HD (3rd Gen), an iPhone 11 Pro Max and an Amazon Fire HD 10. 

Disney Plus review: supported devices

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, other iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and Android devices support Disney Plus, as do Samsung and Sony Smart TVs, Rokus, and Amazon Fire TVs and Tablets.

You can stream Disney Plus content on up to four devices at the same time, which I tested by opening Star Wars Episodes I, II, III and IV (I'm not a masochist, just a lazy counter) at the same time. When I tried to open Empire Strikes Back on another device, I got the error screen saying that I'd reached the service's more-than-adequate limit. Netflix starts with 1 device at a time at its $8.99 per month Basic package, bumps you to 2 devices for the $12.99 Standard plan and then gives you 4 devices at the $15.99 Premium tier.

Disney Plus review: downloading content

(Image credit: Future)

Disney Plus review: Content library

Rome wasn't built in a day, but it's kind of amazing how many movies and shows Disney Plus launched with on Day 1. By our count, the service started with a 652 movies, TV shows, shorts and other pieces of content. 

Since it launched, Disney Plus saw a slow series of event-level arrivals, and not Netflix's steady flurry of content. While The Mandalorian and Hamilton have been hits, WandaVision and Falcon and The Winter Soldier poured in after that, Obi-Wan Kenobi came more recently and we're still at a point where it feels like Disney Plus still offers too few new original shows at once. The final Marvel show of 2022 will be the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

Disney Plus review: movies

(Image credit: Future)

That library is so big that Disney made a 3-hour-plus YouTube video to tease the lineup, and that was before the company doubled the number of Marvel movies appearing at launch. And at $6.99, it was a solid value. Now, it's up to $7.99, and going to $10.99 in December.

To help you make the most of your money, check out our lists for the best Disney Plus movies and the best Disney Plus shows.

Disney Plus review: Original programming

Disney Plus has been a house of the spinoffs for too long, but things are getting better. Originally, my The Mandalorian review showed a future where Disney Plus shows could be great. But then The Book of Boba Fett arrived, and the end of Moon Knight was not that great.

Disney Plus review: Originals

(Image credit: Future)

Things improved in late 2022, though, as She-Hulk and Andor are the two best recent Disney Plus shows, but it feels like Disney Plus is about to go cold on big new titles after Thanksgiving week, when the Andor finale airs.

Gael García Bernal as Jack Russell in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The more we can get like the daring and different Werewolf by Night, the more Disney Plus has a chance at being a great streaming service. Michael Giacchino's special event was a perfect dose of campy monster madness, and the more risks like that the better.

Disney Plus review: Star Wars movies and shows

The Force is certainly strong with Disney Plus. One of the first big surprises I found when cracking open the Disney Plus service was a new 4K with Dolby Vision HDR remaster of the original Star Wars films. 

In the time since, Disney's show after show, while its movie-arms are a little slow-moving at the moment. The Mandalorian is beloved, The Book of Boba Fett isn't and then you have the animated stuff such as The Bad Batch.

Disney Plus review: Star Wars

(Image credit: Future)

But going back to the films, As I watched Luke Skywalker ride a tauntaun around Hoth at the start of Empire Strikes back, I noticed that the snowflakes sticking to his gear seemed especially detailed. I saw similar fine resolution in the hairs and pores on Han's and Leia's heads and faces, as they awkwardly failed to properly flirt in the Rebel base.

In addition to the original trilogy (Chapters 4, 5 and 6), Disney Plus includes the prequels, the sequel trilogy, Solo and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And that might be enough Star Wars content for casual fans like me, but scrolling down that page, you will find The Clone Wars Saga show, Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance and multiple Lego Star Wars shows, including Droid Tales and All-Stars. 

There's even a 2-hour documentary (from 2004), Empire of Dreams: The Story of The Star Wars Trilogy. That's probably old hat to some, but it was a welcome discovery for me. Circle Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi release date: October 26 for more Ashoka and Dooku (and even Yaddle).

Disney Plus review: Marvel Cinematic Universe

You can watch nearly all of the Marvel movies in order on Disney Plus. The only issues right now are the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies and The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton.

Disney Plus review: MCU

(Image credit: Future)

That means Disney Plus, packs the Captain America trilogy. So that means you get all the Cap you could ask for, including the giant airport clash of Civil War, the inarguable excellence of The Winter Soldier and the uplifting origin story of The First Avenger.

Of course, because corporations fight like children, you don't get any of Tobey Maguire's or Tom Holland's Spider-Man movies. Those are stuck with Sony, which has spread them across the internet.

Disney Plus review: Parental controls

Originally, Disney Plus had laughable parental controls. But then when it added Logan and the Deadpool movies, it was pushed to add serious parental controls.

Now, we've got a whole walkthrough for Disney Plus parental controls, which you'll need to keep junior away from Mr. Pool's raunchy jokes and Wolverine's violent ends.

Disney Plus review: Bottom line

Is Disney Plus worth it? If you've been curious about the service, the answer is probably yes. Disney Plus is already ironing out initial bugs, and the service feels pretty complete given the hallmark franchises all under one umbrella.

At $6.99, Disney Plus began as a practically priced service. But, on the edge of its $10.99 price hike, we're less sure. But for now, Disney Plus has met the hype and possibly exceeded it. 

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.