Since it launched back in March, Disney Plus has become a roaring success, with its wide range of original series and classic films – however it also boasts some of the best documentaries on the web.
If fancy going for a swim by watching Dolphin Reef or learning more about Disney lyricist Howard Ashman, Disney+ has various docuseries and films on offer if you’re looking for some nonfictional entertainment.
With Marvel’s 616 arriving on the platform in November, get in the Marvel mood by checking out the studio’s behind-the-scenes documentary Assembling a Universe and Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute to a King, which celebrates the life of the late actor.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best documentaries available to watch on Disney Plus.
The Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
New to the service this National Geographic collab is the sweetest and most wholesome watch for all the family. A baby gorilla features, a giraffe gets a pedicure and you get to see the behind-the-scenes work at the Disney Parks’s Animal Kingdom. Not only is it educational, but it’s adorable. We defy you not to let out an “awww” during this one…and if that wasn’t enough a baby giraffe was born at the parks the week of launch. Perfect timing!
Not to be confused with Netflix’s Michelle Obama documentary, Becoming tells the life stories of some of the biggest stars in show business and how they battled adversity to make it where they are today.
Featuring the likes of Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin, Pitch Perfect’s Adam DeVine, Big Mouth’s Nick Kroll, Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough, High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale, presenter Nick Cannon and singer Colbie Caillat, this series executive produced by basketball legend LeBron James chronicles the world-class entertainers, musicians and athletes’ rise to stardom through interviews with family members, teachers and other significant people in their lives.
Howard tells the story of Howard Ashman, the playwright and lyricist responsible for some of Disney’s most recognisable soundtracks, having written songs for classics The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, which was released after his death in 1991.
Featuring never-before-seen archival footage of the composer, including personal photographs and interviews with Ashman’s friends and family, the film takes an intimate look into the legend’s life – from his humble beginnings in Baltimore to finding success in New York – and his song-writing process.
Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe
If you’ve ever wondered how your favourite Marvel films are made, check out this documentary, exclusive to Disney+, taking fans behind-the-scenes of the culturally-impactful global phenomenon that is the MCU.
With exclusive interviews and footage from the sets of all the Marvel films, Assembling a Universe shows viewers what it takes to make hits like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
This documentary from Disneynature takes viewers deep into the African rainforest, where they’ll met Oscar – a young chimp with “an entertaining approach to life”.
Narrated by Toy Story’s Tim Allen, Chimpanzee follows Oscar and his fellow primate friends as they create mayhem in the jungle, allowing ape fans to get to know their extraordinary personalities on a more intimate level.
Aliens of the Deep
Directed by Avatar’s James Cameron, this 2005 documentary follows NASA scientists on a deep-sea expedition to take a look at the creatures lurking in the vast depths of the ocean.
Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King
This ABC documentary honours to the life, legacy and career of Chadwick Boseman, the inspirational actor who sadly died this summer aged just 43.
Hosted by broadcaster Robin Roberts, Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King looks at the cultural impact Boseman made both on and off-screen, the medical condition he battled in private and his groundbreaking roles in Get on Up, 42 and Marshall. The special also features tributes from celebrities, political figures and fans from across the world.
Frank and Ollie
This 1995 documentary looks at the careers of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston – two of Disney Studios greatest animators.
Before the days of computer graphics, special effects and advanced technology, Thomas and Johnston were relied on to draw the animation for some of Disney’s classic films, including Bambi, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book. This film takes viewers on a journey through their back catalogue with behind-the-scenes footage and insight into some of the greatest animated movies the world has ever known.
Born in China
Born in China follows the stories of three animal families – a group of pandas, a gaggle of golden monkeys and a pack of snow leopards, led by their fearless mother in one of the harshest environments on Earth.
With never-before-seen shots of China’s terrain, this film takes viewers from the freezing mountains of the country to the heart of the bamboo forest.
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story
The Boys: the Sherman Brothers celebrates Disney legends Robert and Richard Sherman, the prolific songwriting team responsible for songs featured in Mary Poppins and the Jungle Book.
The documentary goes behind-the-scenes with the Academy Award-winning duo, exploring their successful careers, song-writing processes and volatile working relationship.
Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II
This docuseries is a must-watch for Frozen fans, taking viewers behind-the-scenes during production of the blockbuster sequel released last year.
Featuring footage of Frozen stars Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Josh Gad and Evan Rachel Wood, Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II follows the film’s director Jennifer Lee and her team as they race against time to finish the film.
Pick of the Litter
This Disney original docuseries follows an adorable group of six dogs as they train to become guide dogs for the blind.
Showcasing the people who care and train these energetic pups, Pick of the Litter shows the ups and downs of moulding canine cuties into obedient and loving guide dogs.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
This 12-part National Geographic docuseries follows Jurassic Park star Jeff Goldblum as he “pulls on the thread of a deceptively familiar object to unravel a world of astonishing connections”.
Throughout the series, the movie star explores the making of everyday objects, from trainers and ice cream, to coffee and cosmetics, discovering their sometimes whimsical back stories.
Disney’s Dolphin Reef follows Echo, a young Pacific bottlenose dolphin, as he explores his coral reef home and gets to know its intriguing inhabitants whilst learning to survive on his own.
Exploring the delicate ecosystem in which dolphins live, this documentary provides a fascinating look into the water mammals and the close-knit communities they live in.
This documentary film follows African elephant Shani and her spirited son Jomo as they travel hundreds of miles across the Kalahari Desert with their herd.
Led by elephant queen Gaia, the elephants battle brutal heat, low-running resources and swarming predators as they make their way to the Zambezi River.