Disney Plus Australia Review

Original content a big plus but Netflix still reigns for great UX and tech
Disney Plus Streaming Logo
Overall Rating 3.75 out of 5
Great price
Exciting originals
UX not quite on par with Netflix
Recent Updates: 2 weeks ago
Now that we've had the chance to test Disney Plus across devices, we've updated our impressions with a deeper look at the service's features, accessibility and user interface. Our score remains the same for now but we'll be updating this review as Disney works out some of the technical kinks.
3 weeks ago
With Disney Plus Australia officially launched, we've updated our price and content analysis with some hands-on impressions of the app on day one and officially scored our experience. The star rating is subject to change once we've tested the service on all available devices.
Poster art for The Mandalorian -Disney Plus Australia Review
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What we cover in this article

  • How much it costs: $8.99 p/month or $89.99 yearly
  • When it launches: Available now
  • What’s on Disney+? 500+ movies and 130+ TV shows
  • How many people on one account? 4 streams
  • Video quality: 4K, HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • Data usage: 3GB/hour on iPhone with data saver switched off

Australians were some of the first invited to access Disney’s vault on-demand but is the streaming service truly gearing up for greatness?

As Disney continues its global conquest to take every media enterprise under its wing, there’s growing concern that Walt’s legacy will eventually steamroll every last franchise on the face of the planet, resulting in history’s biggest Katamari ball of profitable IPs and one autocratic streaming service ruling them all… The Mandalorian is lookin’ tight, though.

Concern’s about Disney’s domination aside, there’s plenty of genuinely exciting aspects to the Disney Plus launch in Australia. Firstly, Disney  has brought a budget to the small screen that would make Scrooge McDuck blush; evidenced by the high-quality originals we’ve watched so far.

Next, there are the Disney classics: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King all come to mind but more recent Pixar fare such as Frozen and Mona are an on-demand godsend for parents across the world. Then there are the many TV shows and movies Disney’s recent high-profile acquisitions, such as 20th Century Fox, will bring. The Simpsons, X-Men and plenty more now call Disney Plus home, strengthening the case for the monolithic streaming service.

Here’s what we think so far.

The Disney Plus app UX and features

What’s the user experience like at launch?

After a somewhat rocky launch in the U.S., the Disney Plus app has had a comparatively smooth launch in Australia. Navigating the app has been snappy on every device we’ve tested on and we’ve only experienced a couple of insignificant hitches when it comes to stream quality, buffering and connection issues. However, Netflix is still the undefeated champ when it comes to streaming technology, UX and accessibility.

On the morning of launch, I was met with the following error on iPhone immediately after signing up “Oh no. Something went wrong playing Lady and the Tramp”. 

Disney Plus Australia Error iPhone Message

This lasted the until about midday; meanwhile, I had no issues streaming on desktop and every other iPhone user in the office could access it just fine. If that inconsistency across devices was an isolated issue, I would barely bat an eyelid but it’s just one example of a series of bizarre and incongruent issues I’ve been experiencing with Disney Plus on a variety of compatible devices.

Navigation UI

For example, there are some fantastic navigational options you don’t get on most services. A-Z movies and series lists, lists of 4K/UHD content. That sort of thing. The A-Z list has come in handy a few times because the Disney Plus search function just isn’t very advanced. For example, if I want to search for Christmas movies, running a search will bring up a handful of titles. Mostly titles with ‘Christmas’ in the name or description. But then you have a few edge cases, like Iron Man 3 (which is set at Christmas) or The Chronicles of Narnia because… I don’t know? Snow?

I’ve also been seeing different results in categories depending on the device I’m viewing on. For example, if I’m browsing the 4K/HDR list on my computer, I get a completely different list if I’m viewing on my laptop than if I’m browsing on my phone or PlayStation 4.

Missing features

Besides the general weirdness between apps, one of the biggest missing features so far is ‘continue watching’ function.

When you’re halfway through a series or movie on Netflix or Stan, that title/episode will be highlighted as soon as you re-launch the app so you can pick up where you left off immediately. Disney Plus doesn’t have that at launch, though it has announced it will arrive in a future update according to Comicbook.com.

There is the option to create a watchlist on any device but even that doesn’t tell you where you were up to when you last logged off. This isn’t an issue if you’re checking out something new, like The Mandalorian, but it’s annoying if you’re bingeing your way through The Simpsons back catalogue.

Disney Plus accessibility features

Overall, it’s pretty barebones. Disney Plus is touting a robust set of accessibility features, such as descriptive audio, closed captioning, and audio navigation.

Descriptive audio

The descriptive audio is the star of the show here. It’s clear, concise and does a bang-up job of describing every scene for the titles we’ve managed to test it on. However, the audio navigation and closed captioning could use a little work.

Audio navigation

Disney Plus is simply compatible with screen readers for text-to-speech audio navigation. Which is fine, that’s how most services handle audio navigation. But when Disney Plus touted ‘audio navigation’ as a feature, we were expecting something baked-in for all devices.

Subtitles and closed captions

Some folks have been able to access closed caption customisation (e.g. font style, size, colour and background) on several devices. However, we’ve not been able to access this feature on iOS, PlayStation 4 or Chromecast.

On top of that, many users are reporting some significant closed captioning glitches on certain devices, such as subtitles only showing at the top of the screen, slow or delayed subtitles, and some cases where only half of the text would appear.

Streaming quality issues are to be expected at launch but if you’re going to boast about your healthy lineup of accessibility options at launch, you absolutely need to nail it out of the gate. It renders the app useless for a lot of people who have already subscribed. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Disney Plus Australia launch date

When did Disney Plus launch in Australia?

Disney Plus launched 19 November 2019 in Australia and New Zealand, only one week after the service debuted in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands on 12 November 2019.

It’s quite rare for Australia and New Zealand to get early access to these global entertainment services (or movies and television in general) so while the week wait felt like an eternity for Star Wars fans looking to avoid The Mandalorian spoilers, we still had it better than many other countries, such as the UK, Germany, France and Italy, who have to wait until 31 March 2020.

Disney Plus Australia Price

How’s it stack up?

Disney Plus launched at $8.99 per month in Australia. There’s also the option to subscribe for a full year of Disney Plus for $89.99, saving $17.89 (nearly two months of access) for committing to the full year.

That’s a competitive subscription price when compared with Netflix, Stan, Prime Video and Foxtel Now. Though, if we’ve learned anything from Netflix’s time in Australia, pricing and plans can change quite frequently.

Here’s how the Disney Plus launch price compares with other Australian streaming services:

Service Disney Plus Netflix Stan Foxtel Now Prime Video
Monthly Price $8.99 $9.99 to $19.99 $10 to $17 $25 (Pop + Lifestyle) $6.99
Annual price $89.99 N/A N/A N/A $59.99
Equivalent monthly price $7.49 N/A N/A N/A $4.99
Free trial 7 days 1 month 30 days 14 days 30 days
Max. video resolution 4K (Included) 4K (Premium) 4K (Premium) HD (Included) 4K (Included)
Simultaneous streams 4 (Included) 4 (Premium) 4 (Premium) 2 (Included) 3 (Included)
Offline viewing (downloads) Yes Yes Yes No Yes

At $8.99 per month, Disney Plus is one of the cheapest streaming services available in Australia, with Prime Video and Apple TV+ coming in a little cheaper at $6.99 and $7.99 per month, respectively. It’s worth noting that Apple TV+ has an incredibly small library at launch, so it’s a tough sell even at that price. Prime Video, on the other hand, has improved significantly since launch, thanks mostly to its growing stable of top-shelf original productions (like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Undone and The Man in the High Castle) and still clocks in at just $6.99 per month.

If you decide to commit to a year of Disney Plus, it will set you back $89.99 upfront, working out at an equivalent of $7.49 per month (making it cheaper than Apple TV+). Prime Video also offers a yearly subscription at $59.99 annually (equivalent to $4.99 per month).

Should you subscribe to an entire year of Disney Plus?

There are benefits to subscribing for an entire year. Firstly, there’s the overall saving of $17.89, then there’s the simple convenience of not paying every single month but one of the biggest benefits to paying annually will be safeguarding against pricing increases. As we’ve seen from Netflix Australia, pricing and plans are subject to change regularly as content is added and appeal for the service grows.

The main reason you wouldn’t subscribe to a full year at this point is that we just don’t know enough about what the service might look like a year down the track. There’s plenty of original content in the works but whether or not that’s enough to keep you coming back to the service night after night is anyone’s guess and once you’re locked in for a year, getting your money back could prove difficult.

Will the Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle come to Australia?

The other part of this puzzle is the Hulu and ESPN+ bundle that’s launching in the U.S. For US$12.99 per month, American users will be able to bundle all three services together: Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+.

Hulu is already available in the U.S. but Disney plans to flesh it out with more adult-targeted content from its recent acquisitions, such as Fox. For example, the FX series Legion is an X-Men property that’s intended for adult audiences because of its depictions of drug use, sex and violence. It makes sense that Disney would want to steer clear of that sort of content for its family-friendly streaming services, so TV shows and movies like these will likely end up calling Hulu home.

ESPN+, on the other hand, is a sports streaming service more akin to Australia’s Kayo Sports. Regional sports broadcasting rights are a different kettle of fish altogether; streaming and broadcast rights are distributed across thousands of local TV stations and services across the world so launching in international markets would be a complicated mess.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has expressed interest bringing Hulu to international markets but ultimately didn’t have “anything to announce [right now] in terms of markets” during an investor’s call back in August 2019. He confirmed that, internationally, the focus right now is on launching Disney Plus.

If we had to put money on it, we’d guess Hulu would be next to launch globally, with ESPN+ coming much further down the track (and most likely with a much different sports lineup between countries). If and when that happens, there’s no doubt Disney will offer the services in a bundle for Australians.

There’s also the potential for Disney to partner with local streaming services, rather than launching these services internationally. For example, what if instead of launching Hulu in Australia, Disney decided to send its library to Stan and strike a deal to bundle Stan and Disney Plus in Australia? Alternatively, and god forbid, Disney could do the same with Foxtel Now (which is already home to FX) and Kayo, offering a three-in-one bundle,

The bundle will be available in the U.S. for US$12.99 per month and includes all three services. If the bundle were to launch as is in Australia, we’d be looking at paying around $15.99 to $16.99 per month based on the difference between US and AU Disney Plus pricing,

Disney Plus Australia Free Trial

How long can you stream for free?

Australians can take Disney Plus for a spin with a 7-day free trial. Once that week is up, you’ll be charged your monthly fee of $8.99 automatically, paying for your first full month of Disney Plus.

There are no restrictions linked with the free trial, so for one week you will have full access to the TV show, movies and features of the service.

The Disney Plus free trial is quite short when you compare it to Netflix and Stan’s full month and because Disney Plus will be releasing weekly episodes of original TV shows (as opposed to the all-at-once binge model Netflix started), it’s more than likely most people will be sticking around past that first week.

Disney Plus Australia content

What content is available in Australia?

Over the last couple of years, Disney has been slowly herding all of its franchises and properties back into its own stable. Buying back distribution rights across the world to launch Disney Plus with all the usual suspects.

Eventually, Disney Plus and Hulu will become the on-demand home for every major Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe and 21st Century Fox TV show and movie but there’s still a ways to go.

In an incredibly rare turn of events, Australia actually gets more of Disney’s major movies than the U.S.

The rights to Marvel films, for example, are currently licensed to a variety of streaming platforms in the U.S., meaning they weren’t all available. Same goes for the Star Wars movies. At launch, only the Force Awakens and Rogue One will be available to stream, with The Last Jedi arriving early 2020 and The Rise of Skywalker arriving within a year of release.

However, Australians have access to almost everything the U.S. is currently missing out on, with the exception of Toy Story 4.  That includes some of the latest Star Wars flicks, such as The Last Jedi, and recent Marvel movies, like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. 

Disney Plus Australia TV shows

Disney Plus claims there are over 7,000 TV episodes available at launch. Looking at the complete lineup, that doesn’t surprise us.

You can find the complete list of shows and movies here but we’ve also picked out some of the best Disney Plus TV shows available in Australia, including Gargoyles, Lizzie McGuire and Star Wars: Rebels, and The Simpsons, just to name a few.

The launch TV shows, in particular, are skewed towards a younger audience but the original series created for Disney Plus, such as The Mandalorian, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision and a Cassian Andor series, will all cater to a much broader audience.

There’s also a huge selection of National Geographic documentaries to stream.

Disney Plus Australia movies

The movies available uin Australia much broader appeal, ranging from the musical babysitter Frozen to Brie Larson’s badass Captain Marvel, to forgotten classics like The Rocketeer. 

There aren’t as many original Disney Plus movies in production as there are TV shows, but there’s a small handful of originsl movies such as the Lady and the Tramp adaptation, Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader’s Christmas flick, Noelle and… wait for it, a new Phineas and Ferb movie on the way. I mean, what more could you want.

We’ve dug through the entire list of movies available and have put together a solid binge list of the very best movies on Disney Plus.

Disney Plus Device Compatiblity

What devices can you watch Disney Plus on?

If you’re looking to stream Disney Plus, there’s a healthy lineup of compatible devices available (and more than likely, a device you already own). There are the usual mobile and tablet suspects (iPhone and Android), then there are set-top boxes such as Apple TV, streaming media devices like Chromecast and Fire TV Stick, gaming consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and Samsung, LG, Sony and TCL Smart TVs.

If you don’t have a compatible device, you can always stream Disney Plus via your web browser on PC or Mac.

Disney Plus will also be available on Roku in the U.S. so we may see Telstra TV box support in the future.

Here’s the list of Disney Plus compatible devices:

  • iPhone/iPad
  • Android Smartphones/Tablets
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Fire TV Stick
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Sony Smart TV
  • TCL Smart TV
  • Samsung Smart TV
  • LG Smart TV
  • PC and Mac via Web Browser

Disney Plus Australia FAQs

Here are the questions people are asking about Disney Plus in Australia.

Disney Plus AU vs US TV shows and movies

Unlike the Netflix Australia launch, which saw a fraction of the library migrated to our shores, the Australian Disney Plus library actually has more of the major Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar movies than the U.S.

Disney Plus login: Where do I sign up for an account?

That’d be over at the official website, disneyplus.com/au/.

If it’s your first time using the service, you’ll get access to the 7-day free trial. Otherwise, you will select “Log In” and enter the email address and password you chose when you first signed up.

Can I download from Disney Plus?

Yes. Disney Plus allows subscribers to download TV shows and movies for offline viewing. In our time with the app, we haven’t noticed any restrictions on content that’s available for download (as is the case for Netflix and Stan).

Your data cap will also be thanking Disney because not only can you download TV shows and movies on your home WiFi network, you can also select Standard, Medium or High for the download file size and quality. So if you’re running low on data, you can opt for the lower quality download.

Does Disney Plus support 4K/UHD, HDR and Dolby Vision?

It sure does. Unlike most streaming services, Disney Plus offers support for 4K/UHD resolution, HDR10 and Dolby Vision on its standard subscription tier. Disney Plus also doesn’t make you go searching for it; it has a dedicated category for 4K/UHD/HDR titles that’s accessible directly from the navigation menu.

All you need is a subscription and an eligible 4K television (here are our picks for the best 4K TVs available).

Does Disney Plus offer accessibility features like closed captioning and subtitles?

Yes. Not only will Disney Plus offer typical closed captioning and subtitles but it will also offer descriptive audio support and audio navigation assistance as an option for users. That’s a decent range of accessibility features straight out of the box.

How much data does Disney Plus use?

Disney hasn’t disclosed any particular details about the service’s expected data usage but we’ve ran a few tests streaming in HD and data saver mode to get an idea of how much data Disney Plus uses.

On average, we found that the Disney Plus app used 2.2GB per hour for HD streaming and 1.5GB per hour using the app’s data saving mode.

If those figures are giving you excess data shellshock, we might suggest upgrading to an unlimited broadband plan.

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