Disney Plus: How to sign up, exclusive 2020 content guide, movies & more

Your Disney favorites, anywhere
Your Disney favorites, anywhere (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / iMore)

Your Disney favorites, anywhere

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Finally. The most anticipated streaming service is here. Home to not just Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and all your Pixar favorites, but educational entertainment like National Geographic and storied series like The Simpsons. Oh, and all the Disney movies and TV shows you could ever want to watch. Available in over a dozen countries — with more on the way — Disney has finally given us an all-in-one destination we Disney fans have been waiting almost two decades for.

Welcome to Disney Plus (Disney+).

What is Disney Plus?

Disney+ is a streaming service that brings together all of the content in Disney's massive media empire — from Disney and Pixar to Marvel to Lucasfilm to National Geographic and 20th Century Fox — in one easy-to-use app. Available on nearly every single major platform and with hundreds of films and TV shows from the Disney Vault and recent theatrical releases, Disney+ is a tantalizing realization of a dream many Disney nerds (like myself) have had of being able to watch their favorite shows and films in one place rather than having to hunt for them across a half dozen services — and this is also the first time a great deal of legacy Disney television content is available for streaming.

In short, Disney+ is simply everything we ever wished it would be.

This is the future of video for Disney. Anything and everything that falls under the Disney umbrella — and make no mistake, it is a huge umbrella — will eventually go through the Disney+ app, on whatever platform you wish to watch it on. If that sounds impossibly big, well, you're right. But Disney has done well to pave this road with the also extremely successful ESPN+, which also is owned by Disney and runs on the same technology. (In fact, Disney bought the company that built the streaming side of ESPN+ in order to jumpstart Disney+'s development.)

The best part of Disney+ is that it is ridiculously easy to sign up for the service whether you're at your desktop computer or on the go with your phone.

What countries is Disney Plus available in?

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

The above countries have Disney+ right now and the next batch of countries getting it on September 15, 2020 includes Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden. Disney plans to launch Disney+ globally in dozens of countries over the next two years, but like anything involving international law, it's going to take a while. The tentative timeline for the rest of the global rollout right now is:

  • First half of 2021: Eastern European countries
  • Throughout 2020-2021: Asia-Pacific countries
  • First half of 2020: Latin America

While the roll out is a bit slower than some would hope, there's always a chance that Disney will move things up. Keep an eye here for more information as it's made available.

What devices support Disney Plus?

Disney+ is available on quite a few devices at launch, but it's not as universally available as Netflix — yet. Whether you're on a phone, laptop, TV or gaming console built in the last 3 years, chances are Disney+ is available right now or will be available soon.

iPhone and Android devices

Disney+ launch day platforms

Disney+ launch day platforms (Image credit: Disney+)

Disney+ is available on Android phones and tablets, as well as Apple iPhones and iPads. The benefit of using Disney+ on a phone or tablet rather than watching on a smart TV is that on these devices you can download videos for offline playback, which is something you can do on up to 10 devices per Disney+ account, meaning everyone on the plan can keep a few videos downloaded in case of emergencies like being trapped on a Wi-Fi-less flight.

Desktop and laptop computers

Like all modern streaming services, Disney+ allows you to stream directly from DisneyPlus.com on Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS computers (sorry, Linux). You can't download videos for offline playback when streaming through the browser, but you do have some handy keyboard controls.

If you're on a Chromebook, just keep in mind you'll probably have it error out the first time you try to watch but after a quick refresh it should work just fine. Chromebooks are also the only laptops that can download videos for offline playback because Chromebooks also use they can use the Android app via Google Play.

It's rather unfortunate that Disney didn't release a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, especially since in order to release an Xbox One app, they've already done most of the work needed to make one. Since 4K streaming isn't currently supported when streaming through the website, a UWP would be a great way to allow Windows 10 media PCs to stream Disney+ in UHD.

Xbox, PlayStation & Streaming Hardware

Most people want to stream on a bigger screen so that they can enjoy Disney+ with their friends and family, and that means that supporting the gaming and entertainment consoles that we use now more than ever. Support for Android TV, Roku devices, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Fire TV devices has been here since launch day.

On the gaming console side, both the PlayStation 4 series and Xbox One series are supported right now, and the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X are expected to be supported when they launch at the end of the year. I honestly believe that gaming consoles are the best for watching Disney+ because you can use your controller triggers to fast forward and rewind more easily than using the on-screen controls.

On the mobile console side of the equation, no mobile consoles are currently supported, although Disney has hinted at bringing Disney+ to Nintendo Switch in the future. We have no concrete timeline on when it could launch on Switch, though.

Smart TVs

Smart TVs is one area where Disney+ has somewhat limited support at the moment. Only a handful of Smart TVs have Disney+ apps at the moment:

Beyond these brands, there's support for TVs that run Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, or Roku TV through their respective app stores. This is great news because you can't stream Disney+ through browsers on Smart TVs. Vizio TVs don't have a built-in app for Disney+, but can use Chromecast built-in and Apple AirPlay.

Which devices support Disney+ in 4K?

There's more UHD content on Disney+ right now than I thought there'd be, but unfortunately playing it will require a 4K Smart TV that supports UHD playback — or an 4K supported entertainment console connected to a 4K TV that supports HDCP 2.2 — so even if you have a 4K screen hooked up to your gaming PC, you won't be streaming 4K that way. There are plenty of 4K devices supported, such as the NVIDIA Shield TV 2019, as well as a whole host of excellent 4K TVs at every price point from $300 to $3000.

What shows and movies are on Disney Plus?

Start with Phase 1

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Disney has prided itself on its Vault of extensive content for decades. While the Disney Vault strategy was starting to decay in the digital age, Disney+ will reap most of its rewards by hosting most of the Disney Vault as well as an impressive array of content from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, and National Geographic. Right now, Disney+ has about 500 films and over 7,500 TV episodes, including most of films in the Marvel Infinity Saga and Star Wars Skywalker Saga.

There's tons to watch, but unfortunately Disney didn't see fit to put all of its films in ordered playlists for easy marathoning. This would be especially handy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but since Disney doesn't have a handy playlist, we went ahead and made one so you can focus on prepping snacks for your Marvel movie marathon!

Speaking of tons to watch, I waited a long time to get all of my favorite shows and movies in one easy-to-use place, and as such that meant that I had a long list of things I needed to watch, rewatch, and rewatch again because it's been so long since I've seen them. These are the first 16 films and shows I watched on Disney+.

What more can I watch with the Disney Plus Bundle?

Disney+ is just one of the major digital platforms Disney is serving up in this new streaming era. It's the largest, for sure. But it's also just one part of the puzzle.

Have a look at ESPN+

If nothing else — and if you're a sports fan of any kind — you also should consider a subscription with ESPN+. It runs on the same underlying platform as Disney+, so you'll be pretty familiar with how things work.

And as for the content, well. If you thought there was a lot of sports of TV, wait until you get a look at ESPN+. Yes, it's got live sports. All kinds of live sports. It's got college football games that you can't find on TV. It's got a huge amount of college basketball. It's got a smattering of NHL. It's got boxing and UFC — in fact, you have to have ESPN+ if you want to watch pay-per-view UFC events — and rugby and cricket and ... you name it.

And then there's the matter of original content. Think Peyton Manning was resting in his retirement? Not quite. Peyton's Places is keeping him plenty busy. Plus football coach Les Miles has a show, you can find the irreplaceable duo of Boomer and TJ — and so much more, right there on ESPN+.

And, yes, you can watch ESPN+ on your TV, too.

And don't forget Hulu

The third arm of the trifecta is Hulu, which also is controlled by Disney. It's where you'll find all the on-demand content you've come to know from that service, as well as original shows like The Handmaid's Tale. Hulu is where much content originally planned for Disney+ is ending up as Disney tries to keep Disney+ to more family-friendly fare, so the bundle will de the only way to ensure that you can see all of the content that's coming down the pipeline.

And perhaps more important for Disney's purposes is Hulu with Live TV which, as the name implies, gets you live (and local) television alongside all that other content. You can now get the Disney+ bundle with Hulu + Live TV, which allows you to watch current Disney Channel shows — and tons more channels — along with legacy shows and older seasons on Disney+.

How does the Disney Plus library compare outside the US?

There are differences in available content between countries — for instance, French law forbids theatrically released films from being put on a streaming service in that country for three years, so don't expect to see Avengers: Endgame on Disney+ in France until 2021 unless Disney manages some true shenanigans or gets that law changed somehow.

So far, however, the differences between the available content in the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands has been small, mainly that a few more of the recent Marvel and Disney films are currently unavailable.

How long will it take for new movies to be added to Disney Plus?

The newest films in Disney's repertoire aren't available on Disney+ right now, but for most of them we won't be waiting too long. Movies will launch on Disney+ after the full theatrical and home video release, which will vary between individual films but should be 5-8 months after the theatrical release.

It's worth noting this general timeline has shifted a bit in 2020, as Onward, Frozen II and Hamilton all came to Disney+ significantly earlier than expected.

What is Disney+ Premier Access?

Mulan on Disney+

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

As the pandemic continues to keep theaters closed and push back big blockbuster releases, Disney has decided to do something new on Disney+ with the live-action remake: releasing it through Premier Access of Disney+. While the movie is still slated to release in theaters where Disney+ isn't available yet, in Disney+ markets, Disney will allow subscribers to unlock the movie early through Premier Access.

Premier Access is an upcharge feature inside Disney+: you buy the movie for $30 and unlock it for however long you continue to subscribe to Disney+. You can download the movie for offline playback on Android, iOS, and Chromebooks (through the Android app) and you can watch the movie as many times as you want, a significant change from other "home premiere" movies, which have been 48-hour rentals through one of the major digital retailers.

Films offered through Premier Access will eventually be available to all Disney+ subscribers, so if you don't want to pony up to watch it early, you'll probably be waiting 3-6 months to watch it through the main Disney+ catalog.

Parental controls, profiles, and account limits

Fit for a princess

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Since Disney+ allows up to 7 user profiles on a single account — and up to four users streams at a time — it's only natural that Disney+ accounts are meant to be shared amongst family. However, when the kids are misbehaving or when a friend isn't chipping in the way they promised they would when you let them have your login, it's time to change the password and lock them out!

It's very easy to get sucked in while watching your favorite shows on Disney+ — I put on an episode of Kim Possible to watch during lunch and then POW, it's dinnertime! — but if you want to give yourself a leg up against being sucked in by the siren song of the binge watch, turn off Autoplay. Having to hit play every 20 or 40 minutes can help you break the cycle and get back to work, and since Autoplay is profile-based, you can turn it off for your kids account while leaving it on for yours.

As a streaming service that is geared so much towards towards families and kids, parental controls on Disney+ are pretty simplistic at the moment: you can set up a child's profile and set it to only allow content with a certain rating. Rather than giving age-based restrictions, Disney's content filter works based on the MPAA and US television content ratings systems, meaning that you'll have to decide if you want your child to see only G/TV-G content or allow in TV-Y7 and TV-Y7/FV.

How to get the most out of Disney Plus: Tips, tricks & more

Avoid errors by mastering your D+ settings

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Like any new, popular online service, Disney+ is not all smooth sailing, as magical as it may seem at first glance. Disney+ saw more users sign up on Day One as it expected in all of Year One, so overloaded servers have been the most prevalent problem so far, as evidenced by how widespread Error 83 has been.

Of course, not all connection issues are related to server strain, you might need to check and make sure your internet is fast enough. On some iPhones, you can get around Error 83 by switching from Wi-Fi to LTE, but you'll want to remember that streaming Disney+ that way can eat a capped data plan alive. When servers are slow or your network is down completely, you can still watch the Disney+ videos you downloaded to your phone, tablet, or Chromebook, at least.

How much does Disney Plus cost: Bundles, deals & more

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CountryMonthly rateAnnual rate
United States$6.99$69.99
Canada$8.99 CAD$89.99 CAD
Australia$8.99 AUD$89.99 AUD
New Zealand$9.99 NZ$99.99 NZ
Germany6,99 €69,99 €
Austria6,99 €69,99 €
Italy6,99 €69,99 €
Spain6,99 €69,99 €
France6,99 €69,99 €
Switzerland9.90 CHF99.00 CHF

The pricing of Disney+ varies a bit from country to country, but in all countries you can save yourself a few bucks by opting for the annual billing rate rather than the monthly billing. One account can have up to four streams going at one time and up to seven profiles on the account, so you probably won't need to shell out for multiple accounts in one family.

What's the best Disney Plus deal I can get?

Disney also has a bundle option that gives users Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-supported Hulu for $12.99 a month. It gets a little complicated, but the short version is if you have separate accounts on each of the three services, you can link them together in a sort of virtual bundle via a single email address. You pay Disney+ once a month, and Disney+ applies credits to ESPN+ and Hulu for their base subscription. You can keep the various Hulu add-ons like Hulu with Live TV and/or No Ads with the Disney+.

Disney offered a 33% discount on a three-year subscription to D23 members back during and after the D23 Expo in August that has since closed. You had to pony up for the entire three-year subscription upfront, but you essentially paid two years to get one free, so for die-hard Disney fans, this was an excellent deal.

Disney+ on Us: how to get a free year from Verizon

Disney+ on Verizon

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

If you have a Verizon unlimited plan, you could get a year of free Disney+ thanks to a promotion it's calling "Disney+ on Us. Now that the free year is almost up, though, Verizon and Disney+ have reached an agreement to extend the full Disney+ bundle with Hulu and ESPN+ to the Play More Unlimited and Get More Unlimited plans. You can get these plans through Verizon's website, or if you already have them, you just need to add your Disney+ account to your Verizon account to get your movie magic on.

Can I give Disney Plus as a gift?

Disney offers physical subscription cards at Disney Stores and offering digital subscription codes online that you can give as gifts, but before you buy them, there are a few things to know:

  • They can only be bought and redeemed in the United States right now.
  • The person who redeems the subscription card must not already have a Disney+ account or have ever signed up for the 7-day trial. If they have, they'll need to use a different email address and make a new account to redeem it.
  • This is only redeemable for a standalone Disney+ account, not the Disney+ trial. If you switch to the bundle, you lose whatever time was left on your gift subscription and immediately switch to monthly billing.

This means that you can't give someone currently loving their subscription a free year to redeem on their account right now, but we hope Disney expands it to function as normal account credits in the future the way that you can give gift cards for Netflix and Spotify. We're not there right now, though.

How does Disney Plus stack up to the competition?

Disney+ is entering an already crowded streaming market, pitting a brand new product against seasoned services like Netflix and Amazon. The content available for Disney+ is quite impressive, and the pricing is even more so, with the Disney+ bundle still costing less than a Netflix Premium subscription, which has made it quite easy for many to swap over to Disney's offerings.

Ara Wagoner