If there is anything I’m willing to thank coronavirus for, it’s the extra time I now have to binge my way through Disney+.
The new streaming service launched earlier this year, and its enormous library of feel-good content is more than I could possibly hope to get through in self-isolation – whether I give in and watch Ratatouille five times a week or not.
So, to make the best use of your time, I’ve hand-selected the very best movies and TV shows Disney+ has to offer, including the top picks from Marvel, Star Wars, Disney classics and a few hidden gems.
The best Disney+ movies and TV shows for...
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a great starting point for little ones feeling restless at home. The animated series employs Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Daisy, Donald and other Disney pals to guide children through interactive adventures, imparting lessons along the way. The app’s Disney Junior Collection also has a lot to offer primary-school children.
If you’re looking to entertain older children, National Geographic’s Brain Games and Science Fair are both immensely charming and educational. The latter, a sort of ode to teenage science geniuses, even won the audience award at Sundance and SXSW.
One of the latest additions to Disney+, Cosmos: A Space Odyssey, is a must-watch for space buffs. In it, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson takes viewers through a fantastical exploration of space and humanity (featuring some dazzling visuals). It’s a delight for all ages.
2. Disney superfans
Naturally, Disney+ is brimming with Disney magic; everything from behind-the-scenes documentaries inside the House of Mouse to its very best films and TV shows. The collection actually goes as far back as Steamboat Willie (1928), the first Disney cartoon with synchronised sound and a fully post-produced soundtrack.
With far too many films to rank, I’ve picked a few classics (both iconic and lesser-known) from decades past to get you started.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (pre-1960s).
101 Dalmatians, Sword In The Stone, The Sound Of Music (1960s).
The Aristocats, Robin Hood and The Rescuers (1970s).
Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid (1980s).
Home Alone, Aladdin, Hocus Pocus, Tarzan and, well, that’s too many already (1990s – clearly the best Disney decade of all).
Wall-E, Remember The Titans, and Monsters Inc (2000s).
Brave, The Muppets and Inside Out (2010s).
Disney+ also has the re-imagined classics (i.e Beauty and The Beast, The Lion King, Cinderella) available to stream. Opinions on those have tended to differ.
Personally, my favourite watch has been The Imagineering Story. The six-part docuseries, directed by Academy Award-winner Leslie Iwerks, offers a deep yet sentimental dive into the history and creation of the world’s Disney theme parks. Which is much better (and beautifully crafted) than it admittedly sounds.
3. Star Wars aficionados
Unsurprisingly, on Disney+, space operas reign supreme. This is thanks, largely, to its smash-hit Star Wars spin-off, The Mandalorian.
The series is set between the fall of the Empire and the emergence of the First Order, following the travails of a lone gunfighter (Mando) and The Child (aka Baby Yoda) in the outer reaches of the galaxy. Both nostalgic and thrilling, the series has already filled an asteroid-sized hole in the hearts of multi-trilogy mourners everywhere.
Speaking of the now-defunct film franchise, Disney+ has all but the last two Star Wars film available to stream. That’s A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi from the original series; The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith from the prequel trilogy; and The Force Awakens from the sequel trilogy.
(The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker are expected later this year.)
Its anthologies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo (yet another Star Wars Story), are available alongside a truly wonderful look behind the original films’ legacy (Empire Of Dreams: The Story of The Star Wars Trilogy). On top of that, all seven seasons of Star Wars’ animated series, The Clone Wars, are available too. It’s set between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, therefore a decent gap-filler for anyone who felt the prequel trilogy didn’t live up to expectations (hand raised here).
Read more: Best movies on Netflix UK
4. Superheroes in training
Disney+ is the streaming home of all movies in the Marvel cinematic universe. I recommend starting with Iron Man, the universe’s first film, and moving on chronologically, rather than heading straight for the Avengers and ‘Captains’. There is a superhero epic for everyone.
The highlights include Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man vs The Wasp and Thor. (The latter is not the best Marvel has to offer, truth be told, but I’m not one to turn down a little Chris Hemsworth in self-isolation).
And though the show was cancelled a few years ago, Marvel’s Agent Carter is also worth your time; the two-season series is stylish, fun and delightfully deep, despite being critically under-loved at its launch.
Though most X-Men films are available on Disney+, there are a few exceptions: both Deadpool films, Logan, and Dark Phoenix, plus X-Men: First Class and Apocalypse (despite Days of Future Past, which came out between them, streaming now).
Still, Days Of Future Past is the best of the bunch, having roped in the original cast for the kind of action-packed time travel epic X-Men fans have longed for since the 1990s. (Fans can stream the wistful and binge-worthy Animated Series on Disney+, too.)
5. The after-hours crowd
If you’re looking for a treat after the kids have gone to bed, there’s plenty to choose from.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum, for example, uses ‘deceptively familiar objects’ such as trainers and bikes as an excuse to share Goldblum at his kookiest. Each 30-minute episode is thought-provoking and weird.
If you love musicals, meanwhile, try Encore! — a reality show that brings the cast of high-school musicals back together to reprise their roles, 10 to 50 years on. Though the host, Kristen Bell, spends no more than a few minutes on screen throughout the series, it doesn’t matter. The show is clever, the ‘cast’ is lovable, and the episodes will leave you singing from the rooftops (that’s still self-isolating, right?).
Read more: Best movies on Amazon Prime
In Disney Fairy-Tale Weddings, dancers and real-life couple Stephen Boss and Allison Holker make dream weddings and proposals a reality for couples across the US. A guilty pleasure with a few heart-warming stories, for good measure.
Movie-wise, anyone over the age of 30 will be pleased to find films like 10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed, Splash and While You Were Sleeping prepped and ready to give you a trip down memory lane.
And, last but not least, there are always over 500 episodes of The Simpsons to Disney+ and chill with. (A large five-person couch is not required.)