We've all seen it: buy the movie before it's out on Blu-ray, and you don't get any special features, and your copy is stuck in one store forever. It sucks, right? WRONG! Disney has a digital system that makes buying the movie early an actually tempting thing to do, and it all has to do with connecting digital stores and awesome app implementation.
Disney Movies Anywhere is a venture that Disney has undertaken in cooperation with Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, and other stores to offer their digital copies on all your favorite digital platforms. If you buy a Disney movie on Google Play, Disney Movies Anywhere can see the purchase once it's connected to your account and then give you that same film on iTunes, so you can load it on the iPad before a family trip. Here's what we do:
- Download Disney Movies Anywhere.
- Open Disney Movies Anywhere.
- Log into (or create) your Disney account. This is the same Disney account you'd use on Disney.com, the Disney Store, or a Walt Disney World vacation.
- Tap Connect Account
- Choose the service you'd like to connect.
- Log in to that service to connect the account.
If you want to connect your account to Apple iTunes, log into the Disney Movies Anywhere website on your desktop computer or Disney Movies Anywhere app on your Apple device.
Now, buy a movie. Any Disney movie you buy will show up on every digital store you've connected to your account, and with the copy of your digital film in Disney Movies Anywhere, you'll also be able to access any shorts and special features associated with the film. For big blockbuster movies like The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast, there will be a lot of special features. For smaller movies, like The Parent Trap, you'll only get the movie, but you'll get that movie anywhere that Disney has an agreement.
What if I want to buy the Blu-ray?
Great news! Remember those digital codes that come in a lot of Blu-ray combo packs? For Disney movies, those codes go right into Disney Movies Anywhere. This means that you can spend $20 buying The Lion King on digital and get all the special features on Disney Movies Anywhere, or buy a shiny Blu-ray combo pack for that same $20, pop that digital code into DMA, and get that magical digital copy with all the special features PLUS a physical copy for when you want to use that Blu-ray player gathering dust in your entertainment center. The physical copies are essentially free, so why bother buying a digital-only copy online, unless you already own the DVD from a previous release? The digital copy for The Lion King is available today, but the Blu-ray combo pack is available on August 29th, so if you can wait two weeks to watch a movie from 1994 — sweet Disney magic, I feel old now — you'll get more bang for your buck.
I am a huge Disney fan. I wait for the Blu-ray because it is the only Blu-ray I can buy that comes with a decent digital copy. Even better? This time, I don't have to wait an extra three weeks for that Blu-Ray combo pack!
Updated August 2017: This article was updated to reflect current Disney releases and which digital libraries are accessible with Disney Movies Anywhere.