Disney+: First Impressions and Review

Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, was released on Tuesday, November 12 with much enthusiasm after a period of anticipation that lasted since it was announced. This streaming service allows consumers and Disney fans an opportunity to watch numerous films and television series from the last 100 years of Disney history. After spending the last several days on the service, I wanted to offer my review of the product.

Disney has a wealth of content that they own, a lot of it offered on Disney+. Despite knowing much of what would be on here, it really is incredible that we now have access to so much material at our fingertips. No matter which era of Disney you grew up with or enjoy the most, there is something for you here. However, there is definitely room to grow, both in content and in the quality of the service.

The best and most obvious thing about Disney+ is that it has lots and I mean LOTS of content. It is quite overwhelming when logging on for the first time and just seeing everything that is available. From Disney animated classics, to documentaries, animated and live action television shows, and a small collection of Fox favorites such as The Simpsons and a few feature films, Disney+ is guaranteed to keep you busy for a long time. While not as much content as Netflix for example, Disney+ seems to be focused on quality over quantity. Netflix often has small, low budget films on their streaming service along with top hits. Disney+, however, has consistently top notch entertainment which is important for the consumer to have in one place.

Before Disney+ was released, the company allowed for other services like Netflix to stream their properties, which is still going in effect. Unfortunately, this means that not every film that Disney has released is available on Disney+ as of yet. However, icons of many of those films appear on the service and they are transparent in letting the viewer know when they will be available in the future, which is something that I am thrilled to see here. Not only does it give an explanation on why certain films on not on the service, but builds anticipation and shows that they have plans to grow their library.

Another thing that Disney+ has going for it is, like many other streaming services, it offers exclusive and original content. However, unlike many others, Disney+ has the advantage of owning several wildly successful properties and franchises, which gives them an incredible opportunity to offer films and television shows that will not be released elsewhere. Upon launch, they offered six original television shows, two original films, and four original shorts, all from various properties. After spending the last several days watching this content, I am pleased to say that the quality of these new productions are extremely high and I can’t wait to see more. I was particularly impressed with The Imagineering Story, a docuseries by Leslie Iwerks about the creation of the Disney theme parks, and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

A couple other things about Disney+ that I am happy to see is the inclusion of several classic cartoons as well as bonus material from many of the films. It is amazing to see some of the old Mickey Mouse cartoons and Silly Symphonies so readily available and in glorious HD. I am also glad that there are behind the scenes features available on some of the films. However, while we are on the subject of extras, I want to talk about an area in which I feel they could improve.

The extras that are chosen (or not chosen) are completely inconsistent. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why some are available and some aren’t. For example, on several of the Marvel movies, there are numerous behind the scenes extras available, even commentaries on the films. But when looking at Disney animated classics such as Fantasia or 101 Dalmatians, there is nothing. Looking again at something like The Little Mermaid or the Star Wars films, we can watch deleted scenes but nothing else. It is extremely disappointing that they have not better utilized this feature of extras, which offers a lot of potential. The least I would hope to see in the future would be the inclusion of the bonus features that are available on the digital copies of the films.

Something else that is disappointing about the service is the lack of Walt’s early ventures into television namely, Walt Disney’s Disneyland and The Wonderful World of Color. There are two episodes from these available on the service: The Plausible Impossible from the show Disneyland and Disneyland Around the Seasons from The Wonderful World of Color. Both of these are great episodes and quite famous, but they are already easily available as opposed to several other episodes that have never been released or are harder to find. In the future, I hope to see more of these on the service as I would love to have the opportunity to see more directly from Walt Disney. The same goes for classic cartoons. Despite offering a few, I would love to see more, specifically Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons of which there are none. Those are the main gripes I have about content and those come from the Disney history side of me that wants to see Disney celebrate and show off their early days, particularly with an introduction from a Disney historian such as Leonard Maltin to give the content the context it needs.

As for the technical side of Disney+, it definitely needs some polishing. The first thing I noticed was that there is no way to see if a title is in your watchlist if you are on the page of a film or show. Regardless of whether or not it is in your watchlist, it only allows you to add it again, which is confusing and unhelpful. Furthermore, once you go to your watchlist, there is no way to sort it. I also would appreciate a “recently watched” or “continue watching” tab.

Despite the few minor gripes that I have, this is indeed a wonderful service that I truly believe has something for everyone. I am so glad I can enjoy the plethora of content on there for now and the years to come.

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