By Jocelyn Buhlman
Today, we’re celebrating the year anniversary of a moment streams are made of: The launch of Disney+! Disney’s first-ever direct-to-consumer streaming service is celebrating its inaugural year—and what a year it has been! From the can’t-miss original series to epic movie debuts, every moment has had something special for Disney fans of all varieties. To ring in today’s celebration, we’re rounding up some of the most epic moments and magical memories from the streaming service’s first year.
November 12, 2019
Meet the Mandalorian—and the Child!
Do you remember which movie or series you watched first on Disney+? For many, it was the highly anticipated first episode of The Mandalorian. Already noteworthy for being the first-ever live action series set in the Star Wars universe, the show immediately cemented its place in the hearts of fans with the end-of-episode reveal of character who instantly became a fan favorite: The Child!
Return to East High
For those who have their heads in the game and their hearts in the song, the first thing to watch on Disney+ was obvious: High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The weekly show continued the legacy of High School Musical with a loveable cast of new characters attempting to follow in the footsteps of the DCOM that had the whole world dancing. From the music we can’t get out of our heads to the dramatic moments we’ll never forget, the first season of this Disney+ original series bopped to the top of many a fans’ watchlist. While we wait for season 2, we will soon make merry with our favorite East High students in the all new High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Holiday Special, which debuts on the platform November 20.
A Darling New Movie Debut
One of the new films that debuted on launch day of Disney+ had us wagging our tails in delight: the live-action reimagining of Lady and The Tramp. The film featured the voices of Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux as Lady and the Tramp respectively, plus original music by Janelle Monáe, who also lent her legendary voice to the role of Peg. The human cast included Kiersey Clemons (Darling), Thomas Mann (Jim Dear), and one of our favorite Mousequerade judges, Yvette Nicole Brown (Aunt Sarah)! We were so excited for this original film that we were barking about it on the cover of our fall 2019 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine.
If you can stream it, you can do it
If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite Disney Parks attractions came to life, then you probably streamed the Disney+ original docuseries The Imagineering Story first! Narrated by Angela Bassett and directed and executive produced by Leslie Iwerks, the series pulled back the curtain on Walt Disney Imagineering to show fans how each Disney theme park from around the world was created.
Time to binge watch all of The Simpsons
While some fans tuned in first to a galaxy far, far away and others returned to East High, the first thing many viewers streamed on Disney+ was one of the newest additions to the Disney family: The Simpsons! Every season of the series was available for streaming at launch of Disney+, meaning lifelong fans could spend the day marathoning series and newcomers would discover Springfield’s most famous family for the first time. Fans had even more reason to rejoice in 2020, as now the series is available to stream in both its original 4:3 aspect ratio and in the remastered 16:9 aspect ratio.
February 21, 2020
Finished, the Clone Wars has
The fan-favorite Star Wars animated series detailing the events of the oft-mythologized Clone Wars made its triumphant return for a final season, debuting exclusively on Disney+. The series had a more than ten-year-long legacy, originally debuting in 2008 prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. Fans had long-awaited a proper ending to the beloved series, and the final season on Disney+ was highly anticipated since it’s announcement at San Diego Comic-Con in 2018. D23 celebrated the series finale with a special virtual cast reunion, which you can watch here.
March 6, March 15, and May 4 2020
Surprise! Your favorite movies are streaming early
In light of cinemas impacted by closures due to the global health crisis, three theatrically-released Disney films arrived on Disney+ months early, so fans could enjoy new adventures from the safety of their homes. In March, both Onward and Frozen II made their streaming debuts on Disney+, while Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker made the lightspeed jump to Disney+ on May the Fourth.
April 8, 2020
A milestone moment
Only five months after its initial launch, Disney+ achieved an epic milestone: 50 million subscribers! That meant since Disney+ had in the previous weeks rolled out in eight Western European countries including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland, plus becoming available in India in conjunction with the Hotstar streaming service, that all around the world fans were taking part in the joy and optimism of Disney+!
July 3, 2020
No more waiting for it
Just in time for at-home fourth of July celebrations, the Tony Award®- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Hamilton made its debut on Disney+ in a filmed version of the original Broadway production that combined the best elements of live theater and film to bring the cultural phenomenon to a streaming service for the very first time. The production was filmed in June 2016 featured the entire original cast. Originally intended to have a theatrical run, Hamilton was fast-tracked to Disney+, as most theaters were closed due to the pandemic. You can read more about how this musical sensation made its Disney+ debut here.
July 31, 2020
It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights…
One of the most anticipated (and surely the most Muppet-ational) debuts in Disney+’s first year was the launch of an all-new Muppets series! Muppets Now brought fans the weekly zaniness we’ve come to expect from Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, and all the other weirdos we love—but with an emphasis on the new, digital world that none of us really know how to navigate (expect for Scooter, maybe). Featuring lots of celebrity guests and exactly one legal weasel, the series brought much-needed silliness to the lives of Muppet fans everywhere.
August 7, 2020
He gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his heart—and now his story was being shared
The original Disney+ documentary Howard chronicled the life of Howard Ashman, the musical visionary behind beloved Disney songs from movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. D23 celebrated the launch of this heartfelt documentary with a special video episode of the D23 Inside Disney podcast, which you can watch here.
August 28, 2020
Ferb, I know what we’re gonna stream today
Both the young and young-at-heart fans of this beloved animated series had been waiting to find out what was next for everyone’s favorite inventive stepbrothers (and their high-strung sister). The Disney+ original film answered that question—and it involves going to space! Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe features not just a dash across space with our favorite characters, but the original voice cast and all-new songs. Read more about how the movie was made here.
September 4, 2020
Loyal. Brave. True.
Disney+ had become the debut home for both Artemis Fowl and The One and Only Ivan, two films originally intended for theatrical release but brought to Disney+ early due to the global health crisis, Mulan marked the debut of Disney+ Premier Access—and Disney fans were able to enjoy the live action reimagining of the 1998 animated film Mulan from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
September 20, 2020
And the Emmy goes to…
This is the way… to winning awards! The Mandalorian and Forky Asks a Question both brought home Disney+’s first-ever Emmys during the 2nd Emmy® Awards, with The Mandalorian smuggling home 7 Emmy awards, while Pixar won its first-ever award for the animated short Forky Asks a Question: What is Love?