First Impressions of Disney+

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The day has finally arrived! Disney+ has launched in both the United States and Canada on November 12, 2019.

As a contributor on this site, Disney Plus Informer, naturally I was eager to give the platform a test whirl as soon as it went live. Here are some of my initial impressions with Disney+ within the first 72 hours…

Free Trial

It was a pleasant surprise to discover that a 7-day free trial is offered for the new service. A monthly subscription of $9 does not a king’s ransom make in terms of streaming fees, but my fiancé already offered to pay for the family; the free trial allows me to test the service from my own mobile device and not foot the bill.

Technical Issues

You’ll learn to hate Wreck-It Ralph. The star of Ralph Breaks the Internet, the eponymous character was seen often on Day 1 as he accompanied a message citing service issues. It was only inevitable, given the sheer number of users that signed up at launch, though now the issues have since resolved and the technical difficulty messages aren’t as frequent.

 Less-Than-Intuitive Browsing

There were a few titles I wanted to find for myself on the platform:  the 1995 remake of Escape to Witch Mountain (maybe Canada would have it?), X-Men: Evolution (a series I haven’t seen in well over a decade) and Recess (because duh – it was my number one must-have for the service).

First complaint: search is needlessly maddening! Unlike other services that offer a keyboard-style arrangement of alphanumeric characters, Disney+ arranges its search with all the characters in a straight alphabetical line! I hope this gets fixed in the future.

I tried to search for Escape to Witch Mountain by typing “Witch Mountain”— no dice, and  I was initially surprised that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Race to Witch Mountain did not pop up in the search, but my fiancé eventually uncovered it through a preliminary deep dive browse into the library.

The same issue with “X-men”; I had difficulty searching for the title, but it came up prominently after perusing the section categorized as “Marvel Collection”. (While the original animated series was found, regrettably, I will miss out on X-Men: Evolution as its one of the rare series that did not make the leap to Canadian Disney+).

Finally, I had some success when I searched “Recess”. After a false start, I was able to get it going on my phone; when I attempted to play an episode on the PS4 I somehow wound up playing a season 2 episode instead of the first one. Clearly my gaffe, but I was annoyed by how easy the mistake could be made. Fortunately, I was already familiar with the show and there were no major, enjoyment-ruining spoilers revealed in the first episode of season 2.

(And by the way, props to the Playstation 4 for being able to stream the platform. But the Switch? No such luck…come on, Nintendo, get your act together…)

Through our browsing, we found some good (films come packaged with the Special Features on Disney+), some bad (no indication of minute length when you select an episode), and some things that were a bit controversial.

New exclusive shows such as The Mandalorian and High School Musical: the Musical: the Series are releasing new episodes weekly, effectively putting a kibosh on the practice of binge-watching (and to ensure that all the die-hard Star Wars fans will stick around by forcing them to wait for new episodes beyond the 7-day free trial).

Also attracting newsworthy attention is Disney+’s aspect ratio of The Simpsons cutting off valuable visual gags. I didn’t think this would be a noticeable gripe, but when I watched the theme song I noticed I couldn’t even see the Simpsons’ roof and I had a lot of feelings about that.

All in all, a successful—if not seamless—launch of Disney+ in Canada and the United States. Should you get Disney+? If you’re a fan of anything Disney or Marvel or have been itching for a decent children’s library of content, then Disney+ has you covered. The gripes and nitpicks are overshadowed by the mountain of options you have for the molehill of the price.

Sylvie Soul is an American expatriate living in Toronto, Canada. She loves Disney animated films and will judge you accordingly based on your favourite (hers is Pinocchio). Sylvie provides inspiration to the future dreamers and writers of tomorrow on her website sylviesoul.com .

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