Ten things you need to watch on Disney+ right now
Photo by Andrew "I Love Disney" Mrozowski / Arts & Culture Editor
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of cheer in the world right now. Your favourite places are closed and you’re likely cooped up in bed with very little to do. What if I told you there was a way to bring magic to your bedroom while skipping the “Salagadoola mechicka boola, Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!”
Disney+ has been live for a few months now. In light of the world needing a little cheering up, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favourite things to watch on the streaming service. This is by no means a definitive list and I can’t even fit my favourite movies on this list, but hopefully this will get the ball rolling for you. Hakuna Matata!
Just as a disclaimer: I am not being sponsored to write this article, but I sure wish I was. I am merely a life-long Disney fan, a Mouseketeer if you will! So, Disney, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t say no to anything from your brand new Disney castle collection! Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to the list we go!
For the theme parks fanatic:
The Imagineering Story, 2019 – 2020
“To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here, age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savour the challenge and promise of the future.” These words were spoken by Walt Disney on July 17, 1955—the opening day of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. On that fateful summer day, the world was exposed to a new type of entertainment that blossomed into the theme park empire that it is today.
Behind the magic of all the Disney parks, resorts, properties and cruise ships, are a team of individuals who can be described as part engineer and part dreamer, or “imagineers” as Walt Disney aptly named them. Through six episodes, The Imagineering Story guides you through the creation of the Disney Parks, their evolution and future, while exploring themes of creativity, imagination and magic. The series features archival footage from as early as the 1950s when Walt Disney was running the company and more recent documentation of current Executive Chairman and previous CEO Bob Iger’s visions for the future direction of the Walt Disney Company. Get a behind the scenes look at some of your favourite attractions and parks with interesting anecdotes from those who helped create and facilitate the magic.
For the princess in all of us:
The Little Mermaid, 1989
“When it’s my turn, wouldn’t I love, love to explore that shore up above? Out of the sea, wish I could be, part of that world.”
Journey under the sea with this timeless Disney princess classic. It will have you dancing and singing as a hot crustacean band plays music. Ariel, daughter of King Triton, longs to live above the water with Prince Eric, a man she fell in love with when she saved him from a sinking ship. She makes a deal with the sea witch, Ursula, to trade her voice for feet, and has three days to get a true love kiss. We see true love blossom and bloom to the legendary Alan Menken’s beautifully composed music. Menken is also credited for composing music for Beauty and the Beast and Tangled, both of which are available on Disney+. This is a tale that will inspire you to imagine your own fairy book ending.
If you love the animated film as much as I do, make sure to check out the live action musical version featuring Auli’I Cravalho as Ariel, Queen Latifah as Ursula, Shaggy as Sebastian and John Stamos as Chef Louis!
For those looking for a new series:
The Mandalorian, 2019 – 2020
Of course, I have to talk about the adorable Baby Yoda whenever I make reference to Disney+. Set in between Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we follow the bounty hunter known only as the Mandalorian. On one job, he is ordered to capture a person and through many twists and turns, the plot takes off and yes, Baby Yoda is in there somewhere, without giving too much away. Used to living in a life of solitude, the Mandalorian has to come to terms with being in charge of the child while trying to protect Baby Yoda from the galactic forces of evil. Not only is this story adding new lineage to the Star Wars catalogue, but it’s finding its own niche separating it from the stereotypical lightsaber battles. You don’t need to be invested in the lore to enjoy the show. The Mandalorian is great for both fans and newcomers alike.
For those wanting something a little more realistic:
National Treasure, 2004
I’ll simply describe the National Treasure as Disney’s answer to Indiana Jones, this time set in the United States and starring Nicholas Cage. You can make your own judgments on how good this is. I personally love these movies (yes, they made more than one and they are both on Disney+). Cage plays Ben Gates, a historian who is told of a family legend dating back to the 1820s involvings the Freemasons, the Knights Templar and of course, some treasure. What’s the catch you may ask? The treasure map is on the back of the Declaration of Independence, one of the most protected documents in the United States. Not only is this a fun movie to watch, but I’d say that this is one of Nick Cage’s better performances.
For the superhero in your life:
The Incredibles, 2003
Aha, you thought I was going to recommend a Marvel movie, didn’t you? Although I would definitely say to rewatch Captain America: Civil War, we’re going to kick it old-school with this Pixar classic. Join Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl in The Incredibles as they leave their superhero life to raise a family. Struggling to adapt to a normal life, Mr. Incredible gets a call back to action, but finds himself wrapped up in a ruse that requires the help of the entire family to save the day. The Incredibles is an homage to the Golden Age of Comics and proves that there is a hero inside all of us—all it takes is believing the good in people.
Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, 2017 – 2020
I’m sure you’ve heard of people getting married at Disney’s theme parks, have you ever thought to watch the magic that ensues? Stephen “tWitch” Boss and his wife Allison, host Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, a show that chronicles weddings that take place at Disney theme parks. The show gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to get married at the “happiest place on Earth”. Each episode typically has two or three couples featured, each with their own unique twist on their special day. Some couples seek out extravagant proposals on Disney property, while others say “I do” in front of Cinderella’s castle after arriving in a beautiful white carriage. Some couples even make their vows in front of the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. You can always expect something magical to happen for these couples, from special celebrity guests, an exclusive firework show, to even a Stanley Cup appearance. If you’re a sucker for wedding shows or extravagant romance, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings might be the next show you have to binge.
Although this film was released in theatres on March 6, Disney has already released the film on its namesake streaming platform to help bring some Disney cheer amidst the ongoing pandemic. In the film, Ian receives a birthday gift from his late father that allows him to bring back his dad for 24 hours using a magical wizard staff. Using the staff to perform a spell, only the bottom half of his dad comes back. Ian and his brother, Barley, embark on an adventure to bring back their father through a world once rife with magic before technology took it all away. This Disney/Pixar movie is fun and imaginative. It also references the importance of family, something that will hit close to home for many of us physical distancing. With an all-star cast of Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, this brand-new movie is a must watch!
For the Mouseketeer:
Steamboat Willie, 1928
The cartoon that started it all. Not only was this the first appearance of the now classic character, Mickey Mouse, but it also created a new standard for animation. Before Steamboat Willie, animation had never been synced with sound, but that all changed when Walt Disney released the short film about his animated talking mouse. Join Mickey, Minnie and Pete in this timeless classic that will be sure to put a smile on your face and have you whistling the tune popularized by the Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Andrew’s Top Pick:
Frozen 2, 2019
Look, I’m going to be honest with you. I was never onboard the Frozen hype train. That all changed in February 2019 when Disney released the teaser trailer for Frozen 2, promising a darker adventure, full of mystery—I was so intrigued, so I followed the movie until it’s release date. What I watched in theatres, and subsequently on Blu-Ray and Disney+, was a movie about the power of family. There were also immense feelings of joy, suspense and maybe a few tears here and there.
Frozen 2 picks up a few years after the events of the first film. The kingdom of Arendelle was prospering until one day when Elsa hears a voice calling to her seemingly out of nowhere. Suddenly, mysterious forces push everyone out of Arendelle. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf journey to an enchanted forest to find who is calling out to Elsa, encountering problems when they arrive.
“Andrew, why is this movie your top pick?” I’m glad you asked. For starters, I believe that the songs in this sequel are better than the first movie with some notable favourites: “Into the Unknown”, “Show Yourself”, and “Some Things Never Change”. Not only have the characters matured within the film, but we, the audience, have also matured since the first Frozen came out in 2013. It seems like the filmmakers were conscious of this and that’s why they were to make the movie feel a little more mature, while still keeping with the themes of a typical Disney movie. When Frozen 2 begins, the tone feels similar to the first film, but when they venture off to the forest, the whole movie dips into the unknown territory and proves itself as one of the best Disney sequels.
“Where the north wind meets the sea, there's a river full of memory, sleep, my darling, safe and sound for in this river all is found.”