After staring at the Disney+ subscription page for quite some time I gave in. My weary credit card got another jolt and I got 12 months of Disney for a bit less money than it will cost when the new Star service launches this week. Part of my decision was, of course, because if the price rise and getting the cheaper deal made sense. But there’s a lot more to Disney+ that made it worthwhile for me.
If you’re quick, there’s a few hours left to get the lower price which ends tonight, February 22. It’s currently £60 for 12 months, but that increases to £80 after Star appears, bringing with it fresh content. Pricing for the US service is different, and customers there get Hulu not Star but the offerings are basically comparable.
It wasn’t the price, primarily that drove my decision though. For me, Disney+ isn’t so much a rival to Netflix and Prime Video as it is to what used to be my Blu-ray collection. Disney seems to have developed its service in a way that encourages old-school disc collectors, like me, that most services don’t. I used to love the special features on discs, like behind-the-scenes documentaries, bloopers and deleted scenes, and Disney+ makes these a huge part of the service.
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After coughing up my money last night I went downstairs and popped on some of the Guardians of the Galaxy extras. I got to see some half-baked special effects with timecodes stamped into them and I loved seeing the work that went into making Groot and Rocket such fully-formed characters. There was also a brief, but worthwhile look at the importance of music in these films.
Then I switched over to The Mandalorian and watched a 30-minute episode of Disney Gallery exploring how the show had used pioneering technology based on the Unreal Engine and using massive LED screens to create on-set environments that provided both context for actors and real light to bring the scenes to life. There are nine episodes of this kind of thing, and I absolutely love it.
After spending money on a 4K OLED I wrestled with the reality that discs are dying. I really want a UHD Blu-Ray player, but the maths doesn’t add up. After a £150 player and discs that cost £20 each you can see that the financial aspect of Disney+ is rock solid. At either the pre-Star price, or even after it, the service is cheaper than three or four 4K Blu-rays a year. Of course, streaming will never have the quality you get with a disc format, but I’m tired of re-buying classic films. My VHS copy of Star Wars doesn’t cut it any more, but I paid for it once - so now streaming will do.
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After Star launches there should be a lot more here to keep me amused too. There’s a load of US shows that I never watched that I might catch up on. I won’t expect the depth of additional content for these shows, but there’s a pretty promising selection of things I’ve seen and loved and things I’ve never seen and should really get around to watching.
Before Feb 23 the Disney+ year-long subscription is just $69.99 / £59.99 / CA$89.99 / AU$89.99. That will give you 12 months of Mouse-themed entertainment with a decent saving. Of course there's more than just Mickey here, with Star promising loads of TV episodes to wile away the hours.