After months, and months, and months of building hype, Disney+ has finally decided to grace us with its presence. The streaming service officially launched in Australia on November 19 – and now it’s time to dissect. At the moment, we know there’s a truck load of Marvel (R.I.P. Stan), Star Wars, Pixar and Disney Channel movies and content. Of course, we can’t deny that these are absolute classics.
But what about original content? Competing streaming giants rely on original content to pull in big numbers, so how has Disney stacked up?
Sign up to Disney+ Australia
To access Disney+ content, you’ll need a Disney+ subscription. There are two plan options to choose from – a monthly subscription at $11.99 per month, or prepay for a year at $119.99 and save on the monthly cost. Both plans include the same features, with unlimited downloads and the ability to stream on up to four screens at the same time. This table includes links to a referral partner.
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What original content is on Disney+?
Disney has actually been pretty relaxed when it comes to both the advertising and sheer amount of original content. Unlike Apple TV+, who pushed their Originals as their primary selling point, Disney+ didn’t feel the need to – they were fully aware of the brand’s pre-existing fanbase thanks to a catalogue of classics becoming available exclusively to Disney+. That being said, they did reportedly shell out $15 million per episode for The Mandalorian, with Disney choosing to release episodes weekly instead of all at once, like other companies have done with original content. Most new episodes will be released every Friday at 12pm U.S time, but be wary of time zone differences between America and Australia.
Now, there may not be a lot so far, but let’s take a look at the original content available for streaming on Disney+ upon release date.
This is the headline act. If you’re an adult without children and signed up for Disney+, chances are you signed up for this bad boy. For Star Wars fans, there’s an obvious appeal to The Mandalorian; it’s set several years after Return of the Jedi, but before the events of The Force Awakens so there’s a whole new timeline to be uncovered.
The warrior of the story, ‘The Mandalorian’ (played by Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal), works as a bounty hunter who starts to develop a conscious and sets out on an adventure, set to impact the greater Star Wars future. The show has been described as Space-Western style, with a splash of comedy and plenty of Star Wars references to delight the fangirl within. If you know nothing about the Star Wars universe, there’s a really cute baby Yoda thing going viral that may be enticing. There are eight episodes in the first series (season two has already been picked up and filming has begun) and Disney is releasing one episode per week, with the first few episodes already up and streaming.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
You’d have to be lying if you aren’t missing Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez just a little bit. 2006 was the best year ever – and it was all down to the release of the Disney Channel original movie High School Musical. Every tween girl fell in love. The combination of that forbidden high school love, Zac Efron in a basketball uniform and the glory that was Sharpay Evans was enough to make it an instant hit. Oh, and the fact that the entire thing was a musical.
13 years on, Disney+ have a reboot – but it’s not quite what you’d think. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (awesome name) is a documentary style show (think The Office) set in a high school environment where teenagers are auditioning for and putting on their annual school musical – and this year it’s High School Musical. Exceptional. Originally brushed off as a bottom-of-the-barrel reboot, the premise and the lines so far seem surprisingly super witty – “I watched the original movie 37 times… and the first 15 minutes of both sequels.” They get us.
Forky Asks a Question
Disney and Pixar’s Toy Story universe brought us some great characters – and now one of the most endearing from Toy Story 4 is back for his own little spin-off. Forky Asks a Question stars the lovable Forky (voiced by Arrested Development’s Tony Hale) – a craft project created from rubbish.
Forky is joined by some guest stars from the franchise in ten shorts that answer ten timeless questions such as ‘What is cheese?’ and ‘What is time?’. It looks cute and fluffy, so if it’s a hard-hitting drama you’re after this may not be the one for you. The shorts are written and directed by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and director Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo, Up) and produced by Mark Nielsen (Toy Story 4, Cars).
You can always count on Pixar producing the cutest, lump-in-your-throat, interesting animated stories. Lucky, Disney+ thinks so too, and have created an entire show, SparkShorts, allowing Pixar animators to go crazy and do their thing. The show features six brand new stories from six new storytellers.
Purl tells the story of a sweet pink yarn ball who takes a job in a fast-paced, male centric startup company and things start to quickly unravel, and is forced to ask herself how far she is willing to go for acceptance. Smash and Grab is about two robots who hatch a plan to escape their mundane lives in a factory. Float is the story of a little baby boy who floats, whose Dad has to decide between hiding or accepting his son as he is once his condition becomes public. Wind is about a grandmother and her grandson as they become trapped deep down an endless chasm and want to escape to a better life, while Kitbull showcases an unlikely friendship between a kitten and a pitbull.
To any current, or ex, theatre kids out there, get ready to feel all the feels with Encore!, the newest reality series from producer Kristen Bell. Each episode Bell rounds up a group of adults who performed together when they were teens, and gives them literally five days to re-learn and perform their old high school musical.
Emotions are all over the place as the former students, now well into their 30s and 40s, reunite with old friends, flames and memories. Luckily they’ve got the help of some of Broadway’s best to help them pull of musicals such as Annie, Grease, Oklahoma and the Sound of Music. The feel-good series will sure to hit close to home to any theatre buffs out there, no matter how old you are.
Marvel’s Hero Project
If you’re a fan of Marvel, or you like to happy cry, then you will fall in love with Marvel’s first unscripted series Marvel’s Hero Project. Editors of some of the best-known Marvel comics have come together to work on a special project – surprising kids who are creating extraordinary positive changes within their community with a Superhero comic of themselves.
One boy, Elijiah, is leading marches and speaking out to prevent child abuse. Another, Jordan, was inspired by her limb difference to create an inclusive workplace for other people with disabilities in the industrial design community. Marvel said, “in life, it doesn’t take wearing a suit of iron, carrying a mythical hammer or swinging from spider webs to be a real hero. Sometimes the person who can make a positive difference in the world is the person who simply sees a problem and has the passion to find a creative solution.” This is a real tear-jerker.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
One of the weirdest and funniest people on the planet has been given his own show – and we’re pretty damn excited. The World According to Jeff Goldblum is literally just Jeff Goldblum discovering things, because, as he puts it, he ‘knows nothing’ and is a ‘late gold bloomer’.
Each episode of the 12-part series follows Goldblum investigating the backstories and the ‘how, now and why?’ of different every-day objects, food or things. He takes a deep dive into the world of sneakers, ice-cream, tattoos, denim, BBQ, gaming, bikes, RVs, coffee, pools, cosmetics and jewelry, through the people and communities that know each ‘thing’ better than anyone. Disney stated, “These ‘modern marvels’ are so commonplace; we take them for granted… but Jeff doesn’t.’
Lady and the Tramp (live-action remake)
It’s a tail as old as time… that’s right, Disney+’s Lady and the Tramp is a re-telling of the 1955 animated classic. Tessa Thompson stars as the voice of ‘Lady’, a pampered pooch who resides with a family in an upscale suburban neighbourhood who dote on her every waking moment. But, when a baby enters the picture suddenly Lady isn’t the top dog.
Finding herself lonely and sad for the first time in her life, she takes to the dangerous streets – and meets stray dog Tramp (voiced by Justin Theroux) who teaches her the way of the lower class. The two quickly find themselves attached to each other, spending their time together on romantic strolls and (iconic) candlelight spaghetti dinners. But Lady has to make a decision – Tramp and the streets, or the safety of her family?
There’s no such thing as a bad Christmas movie. That’s just a fact. Disney+’s new Christmas movie starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, Noelle, is no exception. The movie follows Noelle (Kendrick) as Kris Kringle’s daughter, who is clearly more talented, prepared and eager for the job of Santa – but as the (outdated) tradition has it, the role of Santa Claus is passed down to different generations of men in the Kringle family.
So, when her Dad steps down as Santa, it’s up to her brother Nick (Hader) to take over the family business and deliver presents to all the children on Christmas Eve. The only problem? Nick is crumbling from the pressure and he doesn’t think he can be Santa. Noelle tells him to ‘take a weekend off to calm down’ – but 7 days later, Nick is nowhere to be seen. In order to save Christmas, Noelle must track down her brother, bring him back to the North Pole, and force him to do the job that everyone knows she should be doing. And you thought Christmas at your family’s place is rough.
The Imagineering Story
Ever wanted a backstage pass to all things Disneyland? Well, now you can with The Imagineering Story – a six-part behind-the-scenes look into the hard work that really goes into creating ‘the happiest place on Earth’.
Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks is given complete access to the otherwise tight-lipped ‘Walt Disney Imagineering’ – the design and development centre of The Walt Disney Company. Here, for nearly seventy years, a unique blend of creatives and engineers – called Imagineers, a title thought up by Walt – work tirelessly together to design and build the twelve Disney theme parks around the world.
More Disney+ Originals coming soon
While there’s plenty to keep you occupied for the time being, there are a number of shows and movies on the way, giving you plenty to also look forward to, with Disney also releasing a teaser trailer of all upcoming titles for 2020.
Live action series:
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Love, Simon
- Lizzie McGuire
- Pick of the Litter
- The Mandalorian: Season 2
- Diary of a Future President
Animated series and shorts:
- Monsters At Work
- Short Circuit
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
- Chip ‘n’ Dale
- Lamp Life
- Marvel’s What If…?
Documentaries, unscripted series and live specials:
- Be Our Chef
- Dolphin Reef
- Ink & Paint
- Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2
- Magic of Animal Kingdom
- Marvel’s 616
- Muppets Now
- Prop Culture
- Rogue trip
- Shop Class
- Flora & Ulysses
- The Phineas and Ferb Movie: Candace Against the Universe
- Secret Society of Second Born Royals
- Timmy Failure
- Aladdin (2019 Live Action remake)
- The Lion King (2019 remake)
- Toy Story 4
Surely that should be enough to keep the kids, adults, grandparents and everyone in-between happy for now. For more info on how to stream Disney Originals, check out our guide to Disney+ in Australia.
Picture credit: Disney+ media centre