Between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, Disney Plus (or Disney+) has a wealth of sci-fi riches, in addition to animated classics.
We’re assuming you already know you can find Star Wars: Episodes I – IX on the subscription service, and more Avengers than you can shake an Infinity Gauntlet at. So, for your streaming pleasure, we’ve highlighted some of the lesser-known best sci-fi movies and TV on Disney Plus.
Whether you’re looking for some classic steampunk, space-faring adventures, or a western-tinged space saga, Disney Plus has something extraordinary to offer.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Between its 1954 release date and dated practical effects that can verge on comical to modern eyes, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can be an easy film to overlook.
Don’t make that mistake. This adaptation of the Jules Verne tale is a classic for a reason and arguably remains one of Disney’s finest live action outings. It’s a swashbuckling adventure of the highest order.
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Flight of the Navigator
While it grapples with some heady concepts – specifically time dilation and interstellar travel – at its heart, Flight of the Navigator is a thought-provoking, family-friendly adventure that holds up remarkably well.
After being knocked unconscious in the woods near his house, 12-year-old David returns home only to discover eight years have passed even though he hasn’t aged a day. When he realizes he was abducted by aliens, David sets off to return to space and hopefully find a way back to his own time.
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The marquee series of the Disney Plus launch mostly lived up to the hype.
While one could argue there was a bit too much filler in the middle episodes, the story of a surly Mandalorian bounty hunter and his unexpected ward proved a welcome change of pace for the Star Wars universe.
The engaging series is tied ties to virtually all corners of the Disney Star Wars canon, and we can't wait to see what's in store when Season 2 hits Disney October 30th (watch the trailer here).
It may be difficult for modern audiences to understand just how groundbreaking Tron was in 1982.
Its extraordinary visual effects set a precedent that wouldn’t be matched for years, and made Disney the forefront of cinematic technology.
The story of a computer programmer transported to a virtual world inside of a mainframe computer was a revolutionary sci-fi adventure that laid the groundwork for the CGI spectacles we see today.
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While this cult-favorite series arguably skews more toward urban fantasy, there are more than enough sci-fi elements to warrant a spot on this list.
Taking a cue from Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles' dark tone, Shakespearean melodrama, and complex story arcs built a series that holds up incredibly well. Centering around a clan of gargoyles transported from 10th century Scotland to modern day New York, Gargoyles is well worth a look.
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Wreck-It-Ralph and its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, are two of the best non-Pixar animated films in recent memory.
The misadventures of the titular Ralph, a video game villain who dreams of becoming a hero, are filled to the brim with sly humor and pop culture references. It’s a fun, well-executed romp with just enough heart and tongue-in-cheek wit.
This 1991 romp is a throwback to Saturday matinee adventures and the serials of the 1940s.
It’s the story of a stunt pilot named Cliff Secord, who stumbles onto a rocket pack built by Howard Hughes. Donning the pack and custom flight suit, Cliff is quickly caught up in nefarious plot pitting him against Nazi spies and gangsters in pre-WWII Los Angeles.
It’s a real swashbuckler that calls back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, and is worth checking out for the scenery-chewing villainy of Timothy Dalton alone.
While I’d argue that the second half of Wall-E doesn’t quite hold up to the promise of the first, it is still one of Pixar’s most endearing efforts.
Wall-E centers around a solitary robot eking out an existence on a long-abandoned Earth ravaged by climate change. Wall-E’s unexpected encounter with a sleek robot named EVE who is searching for signs of life on Earth kicks off a galaxy-faring adventure.
More importantly, the eco-centric message at the heart of the story grows more relevant with each passing year.
Big Hero 6 and Big Hero 6: The Series
This underrated gem is just the sort of family-friendly adventure you’d expect from Disney Plus.
The story centers around a young robotics genius named Hiro in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo).
When his older brother dies in a lab explosion, Hiro discovers the medic/rescue robot dubbed Baymax and created by his brother.
With the help of Baymax and his brother’s eclectic group of friends, Hiro sets out to solve the mystery of his brother’s death. The animated series picks up where the film leaves off, and makes for an entertaining expansion of characters and lore.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
One of the major selling points of Disney Plus was having the entire Skywalker Saga (Star Wars Episodes 1-9) streaming in one place.
Another truly great byproduct of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm was that fans finally got a proper ending to The Clone Wars. The beloved series is a landmark in the Star Wars franchise and a must-watch for any fan.
The series is a deep dive into the Clone Wars conflict, a pivotal moment in Star Wars history. The series fleshes out a lot of key characters (you’ll actually care about Anakin!), and introduces some fan favorites as well (Ahsoka Tano and The Bad Batch).
If you’re a newcomer and want to fully appreciate the series, I recommend checking out Den of Geek's watch order guide. The timeline gets a bit jumbled, and this suggested order gives you the most bang for your buck.
Escape to Witch Mountain
Escape to Witch Mountain is classic 1975 live action Disney at its best, full of family friendly escapism.
Escape centers around two amnesiac siblings with extraordinary powers, who are on the run from an evil businessman.
The kids are rescued by a curmudgeonly widower and sent off to hopefully discover their past and who they are – which may be quite a bit more than they appear.
Escape to Witch Mountain is based on the 1968 novel of the same name by Alexander H. Key and is an endearing, fast-paced thrill ride.