26 Things To Watch On Disney+ When You’d Rather Be Anywhere But Home


You can’t tie thousands of balloons to your house and fly away but you can watch these!

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We can’t travel freely this summer because of quarantine and the pandemic but all hope is not lost! Disney+ has you covered with a whole range of movies that not only take you to different places around the world, but also to different time periods and cultures. The variety is spectacular!


Walt Disney Animation Studios

So buckle up and get ready to travel ✈️ with these amazing movies on Disney+ without having to leave your home!

1.

Big Hero 6 (San Fransokyo)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Do I love this movie with all of my heart? Yes. Did I watch it a million freaking times when it came out? Also yes. Does that make me biased? No because anyone who doesn’t like this movie probably doesn’t have a heart (or a brain).

The world of Big Hero 6 is set in San Fransokyo, where Hiro lives. Hiro is half-Japanese and similarly, his city is a hybrid city and fusion of San Francisco and Tokyo. Known for science and innovation, San Fransokyo is colorful, super high tech, and futuristic, with Japanese influences in the architecture. You’ll glimpse tall, modern buildings among temples and Japanese-style roofs, and also visit Hiro’s cozy home (he lives right above his aunt’s café, lucky him!) It’s amazingly creative and detailed, and I’d move here if it were a real place. But alas.

2.

Aladdin (1992 and 2019, Agrabah)


Walt Disney Pictures

If you’ve never visited an Arabian city, well, now you can with the radiant (fictional) Arabian desert kingdom of Agrabah, located near the Jordan River! You’ll love seeing the bustling marketplaces, the city’s royal palace — and its inhabitants, the kind sultan and the headstrong Princess Jasmine (you go, Jasmine!) — and of course, the beautiful clothes and culture.

Based on classical Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, Agrabah represents a mix of Islamic culture and empires found throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Its buildings were also inspired by Islamic architecture, and Jasmine’s palace was based in part on the Indian city of Agra’s Taj Mahal!


3.

Mulan (1998 and 2020, China, Han Dynasty)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Do I even have to explain myself with this one? Not only do you get to go back in time and see China during the Han dynasty, but you also get to witness an attempted Hun invasion, Chinese military training, the Great Wall, and the Emperor’s castle. It’s a beautiful depiction of historic China and you get to see it all alongside Mulan, a strong female lead. A win-win!


4.

Moana (the Polynesian island of Motunui)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

We’d all love to be sipping a nice cold drink on a beachy island right about now, kissed by the sun and feeling the turquoise waves at our feet. If you’re in that kind of mood, join Moana as she voyages across the ocean on a camakau, learns the art of sailing, visits other islands, encounters Kakamora (coconut-armored pirates), and sees Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters. During your time here, you’ll become immersed in the Polynesian peoples’ cultures, villages, costumes, and their ways of life.

5.

The Jungle Book (2016, the jungles of India)


Walt Disney Pictures

I feel like the live-action version of The Jungle Book is so underrated and no one ever talks about it. Why?! Neel Sethi was amazing and believable as Mowgli, and um, hello, the rest of the star-studded cast did so well? (You had Lupita Nyong’o, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, etc!).

Anyway, *takes deep breath* this film takes you to the lush, green, and sometimes menacing Indian jungles, where you’ll come across a variety of animals you don’t see everyday, like Bengal tigers, water buffalos, pythons, bears, and giant apes. It’s super cool, and you also get to see pack mentality and how animal packs work and move together! STOP. SLEEPING. ON THIS FILM.

6.

Coco (Santa Cecilia, Mexico)


Pixar

If you’re craving a hefty dose of Mexican culture, go past the big cities and capitals — the small towns are where it’s at! Spend some time in Miguel’s hometown of Santa Cecilia, a lively little fictional town known for music and decorated with papeles picados (decorative crafts made of tissue paper) and various stalls, both found in many Mexican towns. You’ll get to attend the talent show at Mariachi Plaza (the park center), and see landmarks like Pantéon Santa Cecilia (the local cemetery), and Rivera Family Shoemakers, the Rivera’s famous business!

And of course, don’t forget the fact that you also get to visit the Land of the Dead. No biggie.

7.

Zootopia (the city of Zootopia)


Walt Disney Pictures

There’s just so many spectacular urban cities in Disney’s universe and Zootopia is one of them! I don’t blame Judy for dreaming of starting her career here. A bustling metropolis, Zootopia has everything you can think of, including districts and neighborhoods designed to accommodate specific animals’ needs, just like how New York City or Los Angeles have Koreatown, Chinatown, and Little Italy!

During your stay in the city, you’ll see Savanna Central, the city’s downtown area, which is inspired by real-life cities like New York City, Shanghai, Barcelona, and London. Its architectural designs come mostly from Times Square. You’ll also see sights of Sahara Square, the Rainforest District, and more! Do I sound like a tourist guide yet?

8.

Annie (New York City in 1933, The Great Depression era)


Walt Disney Television

I grew up with this movie so it’s a beloved fave and I see it as a little bit of an underrated classic. My mom used to play this all the time to keep me busy so I probably watched it at least two or three times a week as a child (maybe even more 👀). I forgot about it as a teen and recently revisited it as an adult! The film does a great job with its winter setting: you’ll see the bleakness of the Great Depression era, people rushing to work huddled in their coats, sellers on the street with their carts of corn and vegetables, and the rundown buildings and clothes, which really take you back!

But if all that sounds a little depressing, don’t worry — Mr. Warbucks’ grand ol’ mansion, the lights of Broadway and Times Square, the horse carriages, and the snow will remind you why NYC’s so great!

9.

The Blue Umbrella (Urban city life)


Pixar

This critically-acclaimed Pixar short film is a love letter to the pleasing aesthetics of a rain-soaked city. Inspired by abandoned umbrellas and inanimate objects in the streets of big cities, this adorable short places you right in the middle of a bustling city caught in a rainstorm. You’ll pass lights, awnings, buildings, rain gutters, drain pipes, subway stations, and buses and cars, and in the end, you’ll wish you were sipping coffee at a cozy café while watching the rain from the window.

10.

The Princess and the Frog (New Orleans in 1926)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Hi, hello, yes, this is Tiana, one of the most underrated Disney princesses here to tell you to stop sleeping on her. Watch this film to get a taste of New Orleans’ distinct and vibrant culture, especially if it’s already on your travel list! You’ll get everything from Tiana’s beignets (beignets are a common breakfast food and dessert in New Orleans and popular in New Orleans Creole cuisine), a bayou setting, the famous Southern Belle archetype, and Louisiana voodoo (voodoo is a prominent part of the culture and there’s even a historic voodoo museum in New Orleans). Plus, you’ll catch a glimpse of Tiana and Naveen’s new restaurant!

11.

Lilo & Stitch (Kauaʻi, Hawaii)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Hawaii is a dream destination for many of us but until you can actually go there, this little gem will tide you over. Not only do you get to enjoy the idyllic beauty of the island, but you also get to experience many elements of Hawaiian life and culture, including the hula dance, surfing and beach activities, and Hawaii’s colloquial dialect and slang! Most important of course, is the Hawaiian concept of ohana, a sense of family that extends beyond just immediate and extended relatives. “Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten!” 😭✊

12.

Alice in Wonderland (1951 and 2010, Wonderland and England in 1871)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

Look, I get it. You might be sick of cities, small towns, islands, and the like and may be in want of a place that’s just absolutely fantastical, wild, and a little bit nightmarish. I’d say that warrants a trip to Wonderland. Fall down the rabbit hole with Alice and delve into the land of whimsy populated by colorful characters and creatures that might be somewhat loose in the head.

You’ll visit the Rabbit’s house, encounter talking flowers, join a mad tea party at the Hare’s house, see the Queen’s castle, end up on a chessboard-like battlefield, play an unfair croquet match, and even head to court! Phew, what a day. You’ll be totally exhausted by the end of it. Just make sure not to eat any of the food there or get on the Queen of Hearts’ bad side or it’s off with your head.

13.

WALL-E and BURN-E (Earth in the 29th century, and the spacecraft Axiom)


Pixar

If you’re tired of going back in time and want a glimpse of the (rather unsettling) future, join WALL-E as he tries cleaning up a wasted, garbage-strewn Earth, and then flies into space, only to find himself on the Axiom, a massive luxury cruise ship. Here, you’ll find a strange world indeed; while there are all the normal things a cruise has, like shops, restaurants, and swimming pools, the staff are entirely robots, the humans are all overweight and never walk or lift a finger, and everything is based on consumerism…but at least there’s an escape pod for emergencies!

Meanwhile, BURN-E, the short spinoff film, takes you to the outside of the Axiom during scenes from WALL-E, where the titular BURN-E gets locked out of the ship and tries to restore power to a broken light. You can’t help him but you can admire his surroundings!

14.

Finding Nemo and Finding Dory (the Great Barrier Reef; Sydney; Morro Bay, California; and Cleveland)


Pixar

If you’re tired of life on land, go underwater and visit the vast and colorful ocean world with Nemo, Marlin, and Dory. Explore the variety of sea life, like sharks, turtles, and sea lions; the coral reefs; and everything the ocean has to offer. You even get to see how the East Australian Current and the California Current work when the gang uses them to travel!

15.

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (Paris, 1502)


Walt Disney Animation Studios

You’ll be entering a darker world here. Visit Paris in the 16th century and you’ll get to see much of France’s culture. Of course, there’s the famed Notre Dame cathedral, with its passageways, stairwells, towers, and even a hidden room. Explore the dark and foreboding Palace of Justice, the famous River Seine, and Esmeralda’s home, the hidden catacombs underneath Paris, known as the Court of Miracles. The Court of Miracles actually refers to the slum districts of Paris, where migrants from rural areas lived, and the film depicts this!

You’ll also attend the Festival of Fools, where Esmeralda performs. It’s based on France’s Feast of Fools, a specific feast day celebrated by the clergy. And have fun learning all about Romani culture and Esmeralda’s marginalized group, referred to as “gypsies.” You’ll have a grand trip with this one!

16.

Penguins (Antarctica)


Disneynature

Has anyone here been to Antarctica? Yeah, I figured. Well, bundle up (it’s the coldest and driest continent and about 98% of it is covered by ice!) and head to this polar desert to watch the penguins. In this Disneynature documentary, you’ll find yourself following an adorable family of Adélie penguins, getting a front-seat view of their way of life. There’ll be other Antarctic wildlife too, like killer whales (they are quite fittingly the villain to our hero’s story), leopard seals, and skuas!

17.

Up (Paradise Falls, Venezuela)


Pixar

Fly up, up, and away with Carl and Russell and explore the plateaus, tepuis, waterfall, and colorful exotic birds of Paradise Falls, based on the real Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall! It’s great for when you need a change of scenery but are looking for something a little different than the two default choices of urban landscapes or the countryside.

18.

Maleficent and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (The Moors, a magical forest realm, and Aurora’s kingdom)


Walt Disney Pictures

Tired of cities and towns? Visit the magical Moors in the world of Sleeping Beauty. Its fairytale (and almost cottagecore) aesthetic will take you straight back to your childhood and Disney’s Silver Age. The visuals are so gorgeous your eyes won’t get enough — you’ll see beautifully blue skies, green hills and blossoming trees, cozy cottages, and silver-blue lakes. There’s just so much to explore. In the winter, things get dark, icy, cold, and blue, just like you’d imagine a fairytale winter to be like. It’s a world in which you’ll def want to lose yourself.

19.

The Chronicles of Narnia series (Narnia and London, World War II era)


Walt Disney Pictures

Ah, Narnia. We’ve all visited it at some point during our childhoods so why not refresh your memory and go through the closet once more? You’ll find talking animals, mythical beasts like witches, werewolves, and wraiths, and magic everywhere.

Narnia was created by the great lion, Aslan (according to its history), and its landscape is inspired by C.S. Lewis’ native Ireland. As a result, you’ll see lots of rolling hills, low mountains, marshlands, and a whole lot of forests!

20.

All the Thor films (Asgard; Tønsberg, Norway; New Mexico; and Sakaar, the garbage planet)


Marvel Studios

Learn all about Norse mythology and cosmology with the mighty (and super dashing) Thor. From the Svartálfar (dark elves) to Vanaheimr (home of the Vanir, a group of Norse gods), the Nine Worlds (from old Norse texts), and the Bifröst Bridge, these films are full of Norse culture and references. And when you need a break from that, Thor: Ragnarok takes you on a wild ride to Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes and you’ll wonder where the heck you ended up. It’s a roller coaster of adventures from start to finish!

21.

Elephant (Kalahari Desert and Victoria Falls, Southern Africa)


Disneynature

Feel the heat in the Kalahari Desert as you follow a herd of elephants during their migration. This documentary takes you to Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River and the swampy Okavango Delta too so on the whole, you’ll get a great tour of Southern Africa. Besides, if you’re tired of your daily life, watching the daily life of a cute elephant is a good (read: great) alternative.

22.

Brave (Medieval Scotland)


Pixar

Go back to medieval Scotland with Princess Merida, where you’ll get a taste of Scottish and Celtic culture with the Highland games (an event held every spring and summer in Scotland), and everything from kingdoms and clans to castles and ancient ruins. Brush up on your Scottish — it’s all here, folks!

23.

Black Panther (Wakanda)


Marvel Studios

Take a trip to the Black Panther’s stunning home country of Wakanda and forget all about your dreary, boring old home that you have to wake up to every day. Inspired by the southern African kingdom of Lesotho, Wakanda has an interesting history and is very futuristic and technologically advanced. It’s famous for vibranium, a rare and valuable resource that affects all of its flora and fauna, and causes the country’s high rate of mutation.

Expect to hear different languages, see tall, sleek buildings, witness its compelling military force, and encounter religious cults who worship African gods. Wakanda forever!

24.

Monkey Kingdom (the jungles of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka)


Disneynature

Follow a family of toque macaque monkeys as they navigate the challenges of living in ancient ruins in the jungles of Polonnaruwa, a town in Sri Lanka. In this documentary, you’ll see leopard attacks and villainous monitor lizards, a brief visit to the city, and the various seasons of Sri Lanka, including monsoon season, termite season, and jackfruit season. At the end, you can cross Sri Lanka off your list (at least for now)!

25.

Mary Poppins (London in 1910, the Edwardian era)


Walt Disney Pictures

If you love the aesthetics of the Edwardian era, go along with Mary on her musical adventure! Romantic and magical, it’s a film that perfectly captures the idealized London during that time, with its whimsical sets and colors, lovely prim-and-proper costumes, and a joyful lilt to every scene.

26.

Born in China (Qinghai Plateau, Western China)


Disneynature

Yes, I may have included this Disneynature documentary because I love pandas and would you please just look at that picture???!!! But that’s not the only reason, guys. You get to see a variety of Chinese animals and their lives and struggles, including a snow leopard and her cubs, a golden snub-nosed monkey, a female giant panda and her daughter, and a herd of chiru, along with special appearances from a domestic yak and a red panda. All this with beautiful cinematography of China, from mountains to rivers, and a little bit of Chinese mythology too!

Are you ready for all these incredible trips? Then get your Disney+ subscription now for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. And if you’re not ready to commit, you can test it out free for seven days! Now, get flyin’!


Walt Disney Animation Studios

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