A week of Disney+ with my kids: What I learned streaming 'Mandalorian,' Marvel and Jeff Goldblum
I predict that by the end of the year, there will be two days in 2019 that my kids will call the best days ever: Christmas and the launch of Disney+.
My family is not a "Disney family," per se. We don't take annual trips to Disneyland or rush to see every Disney movie when it's released. My two sons, ages 7 and 10, couldn't care less about Disney princesses and princes.
We are, however, a big Star Wars and Marvel family. We've seen the movies and the cartoons from both franchises. My oldest son once told my husband and I that he knew more about the Star Wars universe than we did, and he's right.
So when Disney announced Disney+, its new streaming service that includes all the Disney-owned franchises, you can imagine the excitement in my house. In the weeks leading up to the launch, any Disney+ TV commercial made my youngest son literally jump up and down with glee.
But how did things go once we actually got our hands on the newest streaming service?
Disney+: The first day
The Disney+ launch on Nov. 12 was the perfect storm in our house – literally. My sons, Eli (the 10-year-old) and Josh freaked out when I told them winter had come early and they had a snow day. Their first question was immediately, "Can we watch Disney+ now?"
So we hunkered down on the couch with blankets in our pajamas at 8 a.m. to start exploring. I downloaded the app on my phone and tested it to make sure it was compatible with our Google Chromecast. We were ready to go!
That's when we hit our first problem. Apparently, we weren't the only ones with this genius idea – Disney later said 10 million customers had signed up on the first day – which led to connectivity issues. It probably took me almost an hour of reloading the app and clicking around before it finally started to work.
I gave the kids a few options for movies we could watch, and they settled on "The Muppet Movie." My kids had never seen it before. But with just a few taps, I was able to stream it to our 48-inch TV set and settled in to watch. The good news was they loved it. The bad news: I've had to hear them sing "Movin' Right Along" for more than a week, complete with incorrect lyrics.
From there, they wanted to try some of the cartoons they hadn't seen before, and picked "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man," the most recent version of the web-slinging series that aired from 2011-15. We autoplayed through five consecutive episodes with no problems.
At that point, I figured I should be a responsible adult and give the kids a break from the TV. We waited until that night to watch "Star Wars" spinoff series "The Mandalorian" as a family, and really enjoyed the first episode. The kids especially liked the new characters and creatures. My only gripe was the episode was shorter than I expected, clocking in at only 39 minutes.
With time to spare, I thought we'd try "The World According to Jeff Goldblum." I didn't have high expectations, because the previews made me think the show was a little too adult and quirky for kids. But the whole family loved the first episode, as Goldblum explored some of the weirder corners of the sneaker industry.
A week with Disney+
In the days since, Josh kept insisting that Disney+ had "LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales."
"You just have to search for it," he told me.
But I kept insisting I didn't see any LEGO cartoons on the home page so they probably didn't have any. I finally searched for it, and I was wrong. You'd think I'd know better, considering the depth of content that Disney touted. We spent an entire afternoon watching all five episodes.
We spent Friday with more new content, including another episode of "The Mandalorian." The kids adored it, especially the baby Yoda. Then we watched two "Forky Asks a Question" shorts, featuring the character from "Toy Story 4." We enjoyed those as well, although I was surprised it took us four days to get to Pixar.
Our first Disney+ weekend meant more "Spider-Man," the 1981 cartoon series. The kids also begged to watch the next "Goldblum" episode about ice cream. Goldblum's show has been a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect the kids to like it as much as they did, but it's probably their second-favorite new show behind "The Mandalorian."
The kids also seemed to start and stop a few different cartoons and movies. Marvel-loving Eli liked seeing the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" movies again, but only watched his favorite parts. More proof of the short attention span kids have, and the ease of skipping around.
What's ahead for our Disney+ home
I downloaded the Disney+ app to the kids' Amazon Kindle Fire tablets. Afternoon activities mean one kid usually has to entertain himself while the other is doing some sort of after-school sports, so the Kindle is perfect for portable viewing.
We have one family profile for our Disney+ app that has our only watch list, and we'll stick with that for now. The good news is we all seem to like the same things.
"Sleeping Beauty" is one of my all-time favorites, so I may watch that one by myself. I'm also looking forward to the new Disney+ Christmas movie "Noelle," starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, but I'm not sure the kids are enthusiastic about that one yet. I've talked Eli into watching the former ABC series "Agent Carter" with me.
So that's my first week with Disney+. Lots of fun, easy to use, and with content limited to family-friendly fare, I never had to worry about setting the kids free to roam. And with a deep archive and new shows that have been hits in our house, I have a feeling the kids won't get bored anytime soon.