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Disney Plus New Zealand: Price, content, comparison and features
How Disney’s streaming service works and everything you can watch using it.
Disney Plus is a streaming service operated by entertainment giant Disney. Consider it the Mouse House’s response to platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus. The online streaming service gives users access to a generous library of TV shows and movies from the Disney catalogue, as well as titles from Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic.
Disney first announced plans for its own streaming service back in 2017. Disney Plus then launched in New Zealand on 19 November 2019, just a week after it debuted in the USA and the Netherlands. It has also expanded into Australia, Europe, Latin America and parts of Asia.
It’s growing with each passing month, regularly adding new titles to its library. Highlights include original show The Mandalorian, WandaVision and long-running series The Simpsons, as well as several other Marvel and Star Wars blockbusters. It also aded adult content in the form of more recent channel Star. More on that below.
Disney Plus NZ price
Subscriptions to Disney Plus in New Zealand cost $12.99 a month or $129.99 for an entire year. Both packages give you the exact same offering in terms of content, simultaneous streams and devices.
Does that price sound higher than you remember? If so, you’d be correct. The price of Disney Plus increased on 23 February 2021 due to the addition of new channel Star to the platform. Disney Plus formerly cost $9.99 monthly or $99.99 per year. The price rise resulted in an increase by $3 per month or $30 a year.
Disney Plus Star
In a November 2018 earnings call, Disney chairman Bob Iger outlined the company’s plans to expand Hulu’s availability to more countries once the purchase of Fox was finalised. On 11 December 2020, Disney Plus announced it would be adding Star to the platform on 23 February 2021.
Star looks to be the closest thing to Hulu that countries outside of the US can get. It’s not a separate service, but a hub within the platform, just like Marvel and National Geographic. Originally, Disney Plus was family-focused. However, the arrival of the Star channel added over 600 movies and TV shows for adults, with more content arriving regularly.
Star hosts popular titles such as the Deadpool franchise, Grey’s Anatomy, Family Guy, Aliens and Die Hard, to name a few. Even more content will be streaming in the coming months, including a highly anticipated reality series following the Kardashians and Jenners.
All existing subscribers will automatically get access to Star. However, it’s important to remember that since Star joined the platform, the subscription price increased. So rather than $9.99 per month or $99.99 a year, Disney Plus now costs $12.99 monthly or $129.99 annually.
Disney Plus free trial
Although there was initially a 7-day free trial at launch, this is no longer the case. Disney Plus removed the offer on 19 June 2020. Since then, free trials have typically only been offered in certain countries through various promotions with other companies. Special promotions or bundles may be available again in the future, such as with Disney Plus Day (see below).
The easiest way to create a Disney Plus account is via the official website. To sign up to Disney Plus, all you’ll need is an email address plus your debit or credit card. Register for an account, drop in your card details and you’ll be good to start watching.
If you’re looking for a different way to sign up, then you may want to purchase a Disney Plus gift subscription. There’s currently no option to get anything other than an annual gift card.
Disney Plus Day
As part of the celebrations as Disney Plus brings up its second birthday, the company decided to launch a special series of events. Falling on 12 November right around the world, Disney Plus Day will feature some new programming, the arrival of some fresh movies, a first-month discount and other announcements.
For a very limited time, the service will cost just $1.99 a month for current, new and returning Disney Plus subscribers. It applies to everybody whether you are new to Disney Plus or have had an account from the beginning. That is an 84% saving for New Zealand customers before the price reverts to $12.99 a month from the following month onwards. This offer is only available until 7pm NZT on 15 November, so you need to get in quick.
In terms of content, a sequel to the Home Alone franchise, titled Home Sweet Home Alone, will debut on the day, along with a Frozen spinoff called Olaf Presents and a closer look at Star Wars‘ Bobba Fett before his series drops in December.
Jungle Cruise and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will also be available to all Disney Plus subscribers as part of their subscription for the first time, along with a new season of The World according to Jeff Goldblum. There are also more announcements expected on the day itself, including new arrivals to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Disney Plus shows and movies
Disney is investing heavily in original content for Disney Plus. This echoes what competitors Netflix and Amazon are already doing. To begin with, the company relied on established brands instead of exploring new avenues, but its focus has shifted over time. Indeed, the arrival of the Star channel in February 2021 brought 4 Star Originals, with more coming in the future.
On the TV front, Disney Plus offers hours of Disney Channel programming, but also original productions made especially for the streaming service. The list features Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian, which became an international hit shortly after its release. The same can be said for popular Marvel TV series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and What If…? Other series created for Disney Plus include Big Shot, Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., Turner & Hooch, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Star Wars: The Bad Batch and more.
You can watch a whole lot of series courtesy of Star: Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Scandal, Bones, Station 19, Castle, Homeland and so on. Subscribers can even binge-watch 31 seasons of popular animated series The Simpsons.
On the movie front, Disney Plus is becoming the exclusive streaming destination for all titles under the Disney umbrella. Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, for instance, were available at launch, with remakes of The Lion King and Aladdin joining the platform in January 2020 and Frozen 2 not long after. The same applies for all subsequent Disney releases.
The catalogue also includes hundreds of animated titles from the Disney Vault, as well as Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar films. Disney Plus even secured the likes of Broadway musical Hamilton and The Greatest Showman. Meanwhile, Star hosts films targeted to a more adult audience, including Free Guy, Nomadland, Bad Times at the El Royale, Boys Don’t Cry, Jennifer’s Body and more. All in all, it’s enough content to last you a couple of lifetimes.
Disney Plus upcoming content
During an investors call in December 2020, Disney Plus laid out plans for 10 new Marvel and 10 new Star Wars series.
The Marvel expansion came first with WandaVision on in January 2021. That was followed by The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Loki (which will return with season 2) and animated series What If…? Hawkeye is premiering in November 2021, with titles such as Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, Ironhear, Armor Wars, Secret Invasion and She-Hulk all coming at a future time.
On the Star Wars side of things, The Book of Boba Fett is coming out in December 2021. It will be followed by several series including Andor starring Rogue One’s Diego Luna, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando, The Acolyte, as well as spin-offs from The Mandalorian titled Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic.
It isn’t all Star Wars and Marvel on the agenda either. Cars, Moana, Zootopia and Big Hero 6 will all be getting either a TV series or a spin-off. There will also be a series based on the fantasy movie Willow and one based on National Treasure.
Star Originals are also making noise. Mystery series Only Murders in the Building and movie Vacation Friends, for instance, became worldwide hits. Upcoming titles that will be released under the Star banner include drama The Dropout and crime thriller Culprits. You can see the full Disney Plus 2020–2023 release schedule here.
How to watch Disney Plus
Disney Plus can be viewed in a few different ways. You can watch on your laptop or desktop computer by accessing the website, or download the app on iOS and Android devices. There is also an app for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox One game consoles.
On the big screen, you can use Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku or Android TV to stream from another device. Some Samsung and LG TVs also have built-in Disney Plus support. All content on Disney Plus is in HD.
You can stream on up to 4 devices at once. Unlike Netflix, Disney Plus isn’t charging extra for the ability to watch on multiple screens. Parents will be happy to know you can set up a Kids Profile to ensure your children don’t see any inappropriate material.
Disney Plus features
- Multiple profiles. Disney Plus allows up to 4 concurrent streams, which means that more users can watch at the same time using only 1 account. On that note, you can create separate profiles for everyone so that each user can curate their own watch list and keep track of the content they’re most interested in. You can also choose a Disney character for a profile picture.
- Offline viewing. Disney Plus allows you to download shows and movies on mobile devices to enjoy on the go without burning through your mobile data. All titles are available for download, unlike Netflix where some titles (especially non-originals) aren’t. There’s no limit to how many downloads you can have, other than the storage capacity of your device.
- Accessibility features. The streaming service offers a variety of accessibility options, including closed captioning, audio descriptions, text-to-speech support, colour contrast, responsive design and keyboard navigations. Availability of closed captioning and audio descriptions varies by language. Thanks to Disney Plus being a global streaming service, you’ll find content available in multiple languages.
- 4K, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. The majority of the library is in 4K Ultra HD and HDR. There’s also content that comes with 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos and content that supports the Dolby Vision standard. More titles are continually having their quality upgraded. Keep in mind that you’ll need a compatible device and a high-speed Internet connection to enjoy these features.
- Kids Profile. Disney Plus lets you set up a special Kids Profile that only shows titles rated age appropriate. You can set it up as you would a normal profile. Just make sure you check the Kids Profile box when setting the profile name.
- Ability to request shows and movies. While the Disney Plus content library is pretty comprehensive, some shows and movies from the Disney catalogue are missing. If you can’t find your favourite title, you can request it to be added by accessing the Help Section and using the Give Feedback feature.
- GroupWatch. In late 2020, Disney Plus began rolling out its GroupWatch feature. This allows you to watch and react to the same show with up to 6 different friends at once. It can be used to help you create your own virtual watch party.
Disney Plus Premier Access
Since the coronavirus pandemic, Disney moved several of its cinematic releases straight to Disney Plus. Some of the titles that have received this treatment include Artemis Fowl, Mulan and Soul.
Premier Access is for titles that you can watch via Disney Plus but require an additional payment. Disney Plus first introduced Premier Access for the remake of Mulan. It cost $39.99 to watch but also required you to have an active Disney Plus subscription. Once purchased, you can watch the Premier Access title as many times as you like. Disney Plus also went down this road with Raya and the Last Dragon, Black Widow and more
There’s no other way to access these titles on Disney Plus without paying up or waiting for them to be added to the rest of the library. This usually takes around 3 months.
How does Disney Plus compare to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and others?
Despite joining an increasingly crowded marketplace, Disney Plus stacks up really well. Compared to other premium streaming services that offer 4K and multiple devices, Disney Plus currently costs significantly less than the likes of Netflix. The only 2 streaming services cheaper than Disney Plus before the price rise are Prime Video and Apple TV Plus.
Although it’s now more expensive, it still costs less than packages from Netflix except for the basic standard definition plan.
The interfaces for Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus are similar, but Disney may have an advantage due to its simplicity. As Disney Plus sorts its content via brands such as National Geographic and Pixar, it’s easier to navigate than others.
Disney also has the benefit of owning the rights to its own content, which has spelled disaster for other streaming services or pay TV providers as Disney has taken its own shows off other platforms. In the future, Disney Plus is likely to continue taking back its content from the other services.
Inevitably, the biggest battle will be that of Disney Plus vs Netflix, which are already engaged in a worldwide heavyweight streaming war.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Our verdict on Disney Plus
In Australia, Disney Plus has gone off without a hitch. Its price is a major plus compared to its competitors. What it lacked in content to begin with it is making up for in quality, with new originals. It will also only improve as more big exclusive releases make it to the platform.
Maybe even more important is all the content from Disney’s subsidiaries Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox Studios and National Geographic. These are some of the biggest media franchises in the world, so it’s obvious the Force will continue to be strong for Disney Plus.
The removal of the free trial hasn’t seemed to affect consumers’ willingness to test out the platform, as it has well and truly broken through the 100 million subscriber barrier globally.
If you have ever considered getting Disney Plus or you like what Star will bring, there has never been a better time to sign up. Signing up by 22 February can save you $30.
Disney Plus FAQ
Image Source: Disney Plus website
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