If you’re one of the 10 million-plus folks who broke the internet by signing up for the Disney Plus streaming platform earlier this week, then you know, thus far, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times.
The streaming service’s debut had many of us waiting with bated breath and nostalgic, Disney Channel dreams filled with the California skate ‘tudes of Brink!, the full-court drama of Double Teamed, and Zenon‘s space station, coming-of-age kitsch. Not to mention the access it promises to past series, like Lizzie McGuire, Duck Tales, and Hannah Montana. Oh, and new original content—like the new Star Wars spinoff “space western” series, The Mandalorian (which may take a few episodes to get going).
But there have been a few, well, hiccups along the way. First there is the warning copy now tagged onto some of the synopses original Disney movies, such as Dumbo: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” While Disney’s acknowledgement of these prejudiced depictions is a step forward, many viewers feel that the one-liner doesn’t go far enough. (Warner Brothers, by contrast, shares the following statement alongside its older content: “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today.”)
And then there are the technical difficulties. Many users couldn’t find Disney Plus in the App Store. Those who did and were trying to sign up were met with an error message.
If you are one of the patient few who decided to give Disney Plus a day or two to find its sea legs, we’re here for you. Before setting up your account, know that you can get an even better deal than $7 a month Disney is touting. People with Verizon Unlimited 4G or 5G data plans qualify for one year free of Disney Plus. (Click here and log into your Verizon account to sign up.) And if you’ve been considering signing up for Hulu and ESPN, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, those platforms are joining forces with Disney Plus to offer a well-priced bundled subscription to all three services for just $13 a month.
As for the streaming goodies that make a subscription worth it, there are plenty. To help you avoid hours of scrolling through everything on offer, we whipped up a little primer on what to play first.
Marvel Hero Project
As Fast Company’s’ KC Ifeanyi put it, “This is what I needed from you, Disney Plus Originals. Marvel Hero Project profiles young people doing extraordinary things and honors them by turning them into their own comic book hero. This show hits at an important intersection for Disney’s audience, in that it shows relatable kids making real change in the world.”
This 2008 Pixar film brought to life a robot that was capable of awakening an entire generation of viewers to environmental catastrophe at a young age. The highly aware and entertaining film—a climate change classic, you might say—hasn’t been easy to stream over the past decade (unless you have a Starz account). Now, it is.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Shot mockumentary style (like a kid-friendly The Office), this spinoff has a plot that is completely and humorously aware of being a reboot. A drama teacher who’s obsessed with the original High School Musical comes to East High in Salt Lake City (where the original was shot) determined to make her own version of the show. Of course, drama ensues.
Disney Plus isn’t all animation and fairy-tale magic, thanks to the fact that National Geographic is a Disney holding. That means that you get to stream last year’s Oscar-winning Best Documentary about pro climber Alex Honnold’s puckering free solo (aka rope-less) ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, as many times as your blood pressure can handle.
Lo and behold, a treasure trove of Bart and co.’s most ridiculous and entertaining antics, care of Disney’s acquisition of Fox. Sure, there are other ways to watch The Simpsons online, but it’s never been as easy.
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