The launch of Disney+ in 2019 was widely anticipated, but not just for the films and TV shows that we grew up with. Disney Originals produced exclusively for the on-demand streaming service play a big role in convincing families and fans to join Disney+. We’ve compiled everything we know about these Disney Originals going into 2020.
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What You Need to Know About Disney+
Back in the days of VHS tapes and DVDs, Disney’s strategy was to keep its library of classic films in limited circulation. Each time it re-released films like Dumbo, the company generated more sales of movie tickets and home media. But then the film would disappear for a decade or more.
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Disney+ changes all of that. With a single, low-cost subscription, you can stream almost everything Disney has ever produced. That also includes everything from Lucasfilms, Pixar, National Geographic, 21st Century Fox and Marvel Studios.
Better yet, each Disney studio is producing original programming — films, TV shows, documentaries and more — to add even more value to Disney+.
Disney Originals Available Now
The November 2019 launch of Disney+ included nearly a dozen Disney Original titles with a few more premiering before the end of the year. Nearly two dozen more titles will appear in 2020.
For the TV series, Disney+ will not follow a Netflix-like release-for-binging approach. Instead, the streaming service will release a new episode each week much like traditional television.
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Original Scripted Live-Action Content
Diary of a Female President
Elena, played by Tess Romero, is a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl who knows she’s destined to be the President of the United States — if she makes it through middle school. Created by Ilana Peña (writer, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Diary of a Female President will also feature Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) as grown-up Elena during her Presidential campaign.
Lady and the Tramp
Disney+ will combine live-action and computer graphics to retell the canine love story. Directed by Charlie Bean (Lego Ninjago Movie), the film casts Tessa Thomson (Thor: Ragnarok) as the voice of Lady and Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) as the voice of Tramp.
Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) stars as, Noelle, the daughter of Kris Kringle who must save Christmas. Marc Lawrence (Miss Congeniality) directs.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Disney+ goes full meta in this TV series about a high school theatrical troupe putting on a production of High School Musical. Broadway’s Kate Reinders (Wicked) stars as the drama teacher leading an ensemble cast. Producer Timothy Federle was the screenwriter of animated hit Ferdinand.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Sing Along
If you’re the kind of person who can’t watch a musical without bursting into song yourself, then Disney has you covered. You can watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series with the lyrics on the screen.
Much anticipated by Star Wars fans, The Mandalorian is the first live-action TV series in the franchise. Set during the time between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the titular character, played by Pedro Pascal (Prospect), is a gunfighter operating on the edge of civilization.
Based on Jerry Spinelli’s bestselling young adult novel about teenage non-conformity, the Julia Hart (Fast Color) directed film stars singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal (America’s Got Talent) as Stargirl Caraway and Grahame Verchere (Fargo) as Leo Borlock.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
Stephan Pastis’ middle-grade children’s books become a Walt Disney Picture in 2020. Timmy Failure, played by Winslow Fegley (Fast Lane), is an 11-year-old private investigator who solves crimes with the help of an imaginary polar bear.
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) stars as a sled dog trainer who, with his lead dog Togo, helped deliver diphtheria serum during a winter outbreak in Nome, Alaska. Ericson Core (Point Blank) directs.
Original Animated Content
Forky Asks a Question
This series of ten animated shorts features the most recent addition to the Toy Story menagerie. In each episode, Forky — voiced by Tony Hale (Veep) — ponders some of the deepest questions in the universe such as: What is cheese?
This animated short film from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise features Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts (Any Day Now). The film will explain why Bo Peep “was M.I.A.” during Toy Story 3.
Similar to Pixar’s SparkShorts, Short Circuit showcases Disney’s animators and let them explore creative storytelling and visual styles.
Another animated option from Pixar, SparkShorts gives up-and-coming animators the chance to explore new storytelling techniques.
Original Non-Fiction Content
A Celebration of the Music from Coco (April 2020)
Recorded live at The Hollywood Bowl, this “concert appearance” celebrates the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos as imagined by the hit movie Coco. An all-star cast of performers appear on the stage.
Get behind-the-scenes glimpses at Disney’s production studios and theme parks. Each weekly episodes tells three stories of the Imagineers, actors and others making the Disney magic happen.
Dolphin Reef (April)
Narrated by Natalie Portman (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) and directed by Keith Scholey (Our Planet), this live-action film tells the story of a bottle-nosed dolphin named Echo who must learn to fit into dolphin society.
This unscripted series executive produced by Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) reunites the former castmates of high school musicals who then recreate their performances for a high school reunion.
Fairy Tale Weddings
For many people, their dream wedding happens at a Disney theme park. Fairy Tale Weddings tells the stories of couples and their wedding-of-a-lifetime experiences. This docuseries got its start on the Freeform network, and has now moved over to Disney+.
Crafter and blogger Amber Kemp-Gerstel guides young families through unique DIY projects that kids and parents can do together.
Marvel’s Hero Project
Marvel creates real-life superhero comics by telling the story of kids who are doing remarkable things to make a difference in their communities.
The Imagineering Story
This documentary reveals the inside story of the engineers and artists who create Disney theme parks’ magical experience. Directed by Leslie Iwerks (The Pixar Story).
One Day at Disney
A full-length documentary feature ten employees of The Walt Disney Company around the world. From ESPN sportscaster Robin Roberts to Disney World veterinarian Natalie Mylniczenko, One Day at Disney ”takes an in-depth look at the unique and surprising roles these Disney cast members call their daily jobs.”
One Day at Disney Shorts
These brief companion pieces for the full series focus on individual creators and cast members.
Pick of the Litter
This series follows six puppies as they learn how to become guide dogs for the blind. Six adorable puppies doing adorable puppy things. Just watch it.
Pixar in Real Life
Disney’s special effects experts have a little fun by creating real-life versions of favorite Pixar characters and letting them roam the streets. Dori escapes from an aquarium and WALL-E thanks people for their kindness.
This National Geographic-produced documentary follows nine teens from around the world competing in The International Science and Engineering Fair. The film won audience awards at Sundance and SXSW. Directed by Cristina Costantini (Pimp City) and Darren Foster (The OxyContin Express).
Teams of students compete to design and build gadgets. A panel of experts will judge the teams’ creativity and engineering as the teams compete to become Shop Class Champs.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
In each episode of this National Geographic series, actor Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) takes a simple object, like ice cream, and traces a “wonderful world of astonishing connections.”
Disney Originals in 2020 and Beyond
Over the course of the next two years, Disney plans to release dozens more Disney Originals. Here’s what’s on the slate. Titles that Disney has scheduled for Year One are already in production while those scheduled for Year Two are in development.
A few titles have a big TBD next to them since Disney has revealed little beyond the shows’ existence. Even shows scheduled for this year may need a TBD next to them as concerns over the corona virus has suspended production.
Original Scripted Live-Action Content
Flora & Ulysses (TBD)
Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel gets the Disney treatment. Cynical comic book fan Flora, played by Broadway’s Matilda Lawler (The Ferryman), saves the squirrel Ulysses whose superpowers trigger a series of “antic-filled” adventures. Directed by Lena Khan (The Tiger Hunter).
Hawkeye (Year Two)
This limited series from Marvel expands the story of Hawkeye, the bow-and-arrow wielding superhero played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker). The series will include the character Kate Bishop who takes on the Hawkeye mantel in Marvel’s comics.
Lizzie McGuire (TBD)
Former Disney teen star Hillary Duff (Casper Meets Wendy) returns to the role of Lizzie McGuire. All grown up, Lizzie is navigating life and love in Manhattan but she’s still accompanied by her animated 13-year-old self. Original Lizzie McGuire creator Terri Minski is the showrunner of this new series.
Loki (Year Two)
Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager) brings the Norse god of mischief to Disney+ in 2021. Little is known about the plot of the limited-run series, but Hiddleston has said that it will answer questions that remained after Avengers: Endgame.
Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk (TBD)
At Disney’s D23 fan conference, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige revealed that three more Marvel superheroes will get their own Disney+ series.
Muppets Now (TBD)
The Muppets return to the screen in this unscripted series. Little is known about the format other than each episode will feature a special guest. A scripted comedy series, Muppets Live Another Day, was canceled in the wake of creative differences between its producers and Muppets Studio executives.
Secret Society of Second Born Royals (Year One)
This feature film stars Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Andi Mack) as a princess whose second-in-line to the kingdom’s throne. Upon learning she has superpowers, she enters a training academy where she learns how to save the world. Anna Mastro (Bench Seat) directs.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Year One)
The first Disney+ original in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is this mini-series from showrunner Malcolm Spellman (Empire). Starring Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) and Sebastian Stan (The Martian) as the titular superheroes, filming began in late 2019 with an expected release in late 2020.
Untitled Cassian Andor Series (Year Two)
This prequel series to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will tell the backstory of rebel spy Cassian Andor, played by (Y Tu Mamá También), and his droid sidekick K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk (Firefly).
Untitled Obi-wan Kenobi Series (TBD)
Not much is known about this series which Disney announced at the 2019 D23 conference. Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting) will play the Jedi, presumably as he deals with the aftermath from Revenge of the Sith.
WandaVision (Year Two)
Another Marvel Cinematic Universe series will reunite the superheroes Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen (Kill Your Darlings), and Vision played by Paul Bettany (Wimbledon). Jac Schaeffer (TiMER) directs this mini-series which will bridge the time between Avengers: Endgame and the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Original Animated Content
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (Year One)
Vincent Martella (Everybody Hates Chris) and David Errigo (Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V) voice the titular characters. When their sister Candace, voiced by High Shcool Musical’s Asley Tisdale, is kidnapped by aliens, it’s up to Phineas and Ferb to save her.
Chip ‘n’ Dale (Year One)
Disney’s comedic chipmunks are getting their own series of seven-minute episodes chronicling their adventures in the big city. Jean Cayrol (Oggy and the Cockroaches) directs the non-verbal reboot.
Marvel’s What If…? (Year One)
The second of Marvel-centered Disney+ originals is an animated anthology series. Stars of the Marvel movies will return to voice their characters in episodes that explore what would have happened if critical moments in the films played out differently.
Monsters at Work (Year One)
The world of Monsters, Inc., returns — as do Billy Crystal and John Goodman — in this Pixar animated series. Bobs Gannaway (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) developed this sequel in which mechanic Tylor Tuskmon, voiced by Ben Feldman (Superstore), dreams of a brighter future.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Year One)
Disney+ is bringing back the 2008 animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars for a final season. Set in the time between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, the original show followed Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and new character Ahsoka Tano voiced by Matt Lanter (90210), James Arnold Taylor (Ratchet and Clank) and Ashley Eckstein (Blue Collar TV).
Original Non-Fiction Content
Be Our Chef (Year One)
Angela Kinsey (The Office) hosts this cooking competition in which families come to Disney World to prepare traditional family dishes. Whichever team wins will see their dish served at one of the theme park’s restaurants.
Behind the Attraction (TBD)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is producing this docu-series that goes “behind the curtain” of Disney’s theme parks. The ten, one-hour episodes will interview Disney Imagineers and cast members and dig into the history of Disney’s most famous rides. Brian Volk-Weiss (The Toys That Made Us) is the director.
Earthkeepers (Year Two)
The production team that created Chef’s Table has signed a deal to create new original documentaries for Disney+. Earthkeepers examines the lives of conservationists casting new light on the animal kingdom.
Howard (Year One)
This documentary tells the story of Howard Ashman who created Little Shop of Horrors and wrote the lyrics to modern classic Disney animations like Beauty and the Beast. Don Hahn (Beauty and the Beast) directs.
Ink & Paint (Year Two)
Another inside-Disney documentary, Ink & Paint spotlights women who brought many of Disney’s most popular animated films possible — but never got the full credit they deserved.
Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 (Year One)
This feature-length documentary follows the development of the sequel to the 2013 hit film Frozen.
Magic of Animal Kingdom (Year One)
This film will show you what it takes to care for the critters at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s SeaBase aquarium.
Marvel’s 616 (Year One)
This documentary anthology series will explore the role Marvel’s comics and films have played in society. Episodes will focus on cosplayers, artists and more. Gillian Jacobs (Community), Paul Scheer (The League) and David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) are among the directors.
People & Places (TBD)
This docu-anthology series will highlight people around the world who “embody the Disney ethos.”
Prop Culture (Year One)
This documentary series examines iconic props from many of Disney’s most popular movies like Mary Poppins and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
(Re)Connect (Year One)
This unscripted show challenges families to set aside their digital devices and other outside influences in order to address some conflict in their lives.
Rogue Trip (Year One)
TV journalist Bob Woodruff (ABC Nightly News) and his son Mack travel the world — but not to places most tourists would think to go.
Untitled Mickey Mouse Documentary (TBD)
Produced by Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) and directed by Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol), this yet-to-be-named documentary aims to become the “definitive analysis” of Mickey Mouse’s cultural impact.
Director David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi) examines the life of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.