Top 50 Documentaries On Disney+ | December 2019
Each month, I’m going to bring you my list of the top 50 documentaries available on Disney+, which include both movies and series from across the many brands available including Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and Pixar.
50) DisneyNature Bears
Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey chronicle a year in the lives of an Alaskan brown bear named Sky and her cubs, Scout and Amber. Their saga begins as the bears emerge from hibernation at the end of winter. As time passes, the bear family must work together to find food and stay safe from other predators, especially other bears. Although their world is exciting, it is also risky, and the cubs’ survival hinges on family togetherness. A great documentary for the whole family.
49) Mission To The Sun
In August 2018 NASA launched the first ever mission to a star. A historic quest to explore the last great frontier of our solar system – the sun. This will be the fastest man made object ever created. A spacecraft that will travel 450,000 miles per hour. It’s ground breaking mission, to fly into the ‘atmosphere’ of our star and revolutionize our understanding of it. This documentary will celebrate this world changing event. Exploring the amazing science of our sun and going behind the scenes of the NASA mission to reach it. Timed to coincide with the arrival of the probe into the sun’s atmosphere (Nov 2018) and the huge media spike this will create, this documentary will celebrate a key moment in human history, humanities first attempt to touch the Sun.
48) America’s Heart and Soul
Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg hits the road to capture America’s people and its natural beauty. sea to shining sea, from amber waves of grain to purple mountain majesties, it’s not merely the land that makes America beautiful — it’s her people. Captured with stunning cinematography, AMERICA’S HEART & SOUL takes you on a journey that weaves across this great nation, revealing a rich tapestry of ordinary people living extraordinary lives as they follow their dreams with the freedom of spirit that’s uniquely American. From the Vermont dairy farmer, to the blind mountain climber, to the father and son marathon runners, their inspiring stories are as different as can be — passionate, colorful, courageous, funny, touching.
47) Supercar Megabuild
If you want a break from animal documentaries, then buckle up petrol-heads, there’s a shiny, motoring show on the scene. In every episode these British motor-mad mechanics will embark on an ambitious mission to transform an ordinary car into extraordinary supercar, fit for the racetrack. But with limited time and other inevitable roadblocks piling on the pressure, will they succeed in creating the ultimate supercars?
46) DisneyNature Crimson Wing
If you ever wanted to know about the life of Flamingos, this documentary for the whole family tells the story of the remote and forgotten wilderness of Lake Natron, in northern Tanzania, one of nature’s last great mysteries unfolds: the birth, life and death of a million crimson-winged flamingos.
45) Bizarre Dinosaurs
For the Dinosaur fans out there, this one takes a look at some of the most bizarre creatures. Join world-renowned paleontologists and travel the globe to unearth some of the lesser-known but most surprising members of the dinosaur family.
44) Diana: In Her Own Words
If you have been interested in Princess Diana and the British Royal Family, this documentary uses home videos recorded by Diana’s voice coach, Diana takes us through the story of her life. Fascinating.
43) DisneyNature Wings Of Life
A beautiful love story in danger. Our future depends on an amazing love story between the flowers and fauna consisting of bees, butterflies, birds and bats, which allow these species to reproduce. Delicate and graceful, the flowers are not content to be the ultimate symbol of beauty. On the contrary, their vibrant colors and their exotic flavors are so many wonders that attract pollinators and drunk with desire. All these animals are involved in a complex dance of seduction on which one third of our crops, a dance without which we could survive … Pollen presents the unsung heroes of the global food chain. Their fantastic worlds are full of stories, drama and beauty. While a fragile and threatened, essential for the balance of the planet, it should now actively protect …
42) Into the Okavango
A passionate conservation biologist brings together a river bushman fearful of losing his past and a young scientist uncertain of her future on an epic, four-month expedition across three countries, through unexplored and dangerous landscapes, in order to save the Okavango Delta, one of our planet’s last pristine wildernesses.
41) Giants of the Deep Blue
For Whale lovers, this documentary shows how the pre-historic giants roam the world’s oceans. Go beneath the surface of the sea for an extraordinary look & listen at these majestic creatures, as we explore their social behavior & hunting strategies.
40) Sharks Of Lost Island
If you love sharks as much as me, you’ll want to check out this series, where we join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala as he journeys to the remote Pitcairn Islands in search of sharks and other marine life. Dr. Sala hopes to turn this unique ocean environment into a protected marine reserve.
39) Apollo Mission To The Moon
National Geographic’s riveting effort recounts all 12 crewed missions using only archival footage, photos and audio.
38) Roving Mars
Join the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity for an awe-inspiring journey to the surface of the mysterious red planet.
37) Before The Flood
A look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities across the planet.
36) Dr Oakley Yukon Vet
Spanning thousands of acres and incorporating hundreds of species of animals; Michelle Oakley’s veterinary practice is Yukon tough. There is no such thing as a typical day in Michelle’s practice. House calls can range from expelling dogs anal glands to getting chased down by the very large Arctic musk-ox. Accompanied by her teenage daughters and armed with humor as sharp as scalpel, Michelle deftly juggles being a full time Veterinarian, wife and doctor; taking us into unexplored and unexamined regions of the Yukon.
35) Titanic – 20 Years Later
For the 20th anniversary of “Titanic,” James Cameron reopens the file on the disaster.
34) DisneyNature African Cats
African Cats captures the real-life love, humor and determination of the majestic kings of the savanna. The story features Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother’s strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mother of five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a once banished lion.
33) Breaking 2
After six months of scientifically advanced training, three of the world’s most elite distance runners set out to break the two-hour marathon barrier. These pioneers go on a global trek to defy the unthinkable and break the two-hour feat, from testing in wind tunnels and running labs in the United States, to balancing training with their day-to- day lives in eastern Africa, to the final heart-pounding race in Italy.
32) Wild Yellowstone
Yellowstone challenges every animal that lives in this Rocky Mountain wilderness; in summer it pitches them into battle against one another for food, territories and mates, in winter it forces them into a struggle for survival.
31) Atlantis Rising
James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici go on an adventure to find the lost city of Atlantis by using Greek philosopher Plato as a virtual treasure map. If you love the idea of going into the deep to discover the past, then check this one out.
30) Expedition Mars
This is the story of the epic struggle to get the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to Mars. When they landed in 2004 the rovers weren’t expected to last much more than 90 days but instead they repeatedly cheated death for years, with Opportunity still going today. Their unprecedented record of discovery and resilience opened the Martian frontier for good and launched the modern age of exploration.
29) Dog Whisper With Cesar Millan
If you’re a dog owner, this one might be worth putting some time into, especially if they are a little misbehaved. Cesar Millan has been called the Dr. Phil for Dogs. With an uncanny ability to rehabilitate problem dogs of all shapes and sizes. Each episode of the Dog Whisperer documents the remarkable transformations that take place under Cesar’s guidance and teaching, helping dogs and their owners live happier lives together.
28) Lost Treasures of the Maya
This National Geographic series looks into a new “treasure map” of the Maya world that is transforming what we thought we knew of one of the world most mysterious ancient civilizations. I’ve visited many Mayan sites throughout Central America and found this to be a extremely interesting series.
27) Into The Grand Canyon
If you’ve ever wanted to get to know more about one of the America’s most stunning natural wonders, this could be one for you. Two journalists traverse the Grand Canyon by foot, hoping this 750-mile walk will help them better understand one of America’s most revered landscapes and the threats poised to alter it forever.
26) Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue
The extraordinary staff at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region risk their lives and give their hearts to save all animals big and small. With 5,400 square miles of rugged Colorado terrain in their jurisdiction, the Pikes Peak team works together to rescue and rehabilitate more than 40,000 animals a year. The job is risky, urgent, and unpredictable as the team responds to emergency calls in the untamed wilderness. Watch the incredible stories of nature, animals, and the unwavering perseverance of the officers and veterinarians of Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue.
25) Sacred Planet
This is a journey away from the hectic “world” we live in. Through stunning cinematography, it transports you to some of the most fascinating, exotic, and remote sites on Earth, giving you new insights into her diverse landscapes, peoples, and animals. You’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of these all-but-forgotten faraway places, the majesty of the creatures who live there, and the wisdom of the elders who hold the knowledge of the past. This magical around-the-world odyssey is an awe-inspiring wonder the entire family will enjoy.
24) Frankie and Ollie
If you ever wanted to know more details about they made the animated Disney classics like Bambi, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and others, this documentary from 1995 tells the story of two of the greatest animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. It was their creative genius that helped make Disney synonymous with brilliant animation, magnificent music, and emotional storytelling. Take a journey with these extraordinary artists as they share secrets, insights, and the inspiration behind some of the greatest animated movies the world has ever known! For Disney fans, this should be one to check out.
23) Kingdom of the White Wolf
Journey to the Arctic with National Geographic Explorer Ronan Donovan to witness a gorgeous and desolate world where wolves hunt, howl and raise their families. As we embed with the pack, experience unprecedented intimacy with a species steeped in legend, rumor and fear. This one-of-a-kind special blends classic blue-chip wildlife filmmaking with immersive, raw and breathless reality to showcase these wolves in their natural habitat. Highly recommended.
22) Great Migrations
Great Migrations is an epic nature documentary that features the great migrations of animals across the globe. The seven-part show is the largest programming events in the history of National Geographic If you love animal documentaries, this is one of the best and well worth checking out.
21) Drain The Oceans
Maritime mysteries — old and new — come to life in this series, which combines scientific data and digital re-creations to reveal shipwrecks, treasures, and sunken cities on the bottom of lakes, seas and oceans around the world. Another National Geographic series perfect for adults to enjoy.
20) Life Below Zero
This National Geographic series allows viewers go deep into an Alaskan winter to meet six tough and resilient residents as they try to stay one step ahead of storms and man-eating beasts to make it through to spring. The closest neighbor to Sue Aikens is more than 300 miles away. Eric Salitan subsists solely on what he hunts and forages. Chip and Agnes Hailstone catch fish for currency in bartering for supplies, and Andy and Kate Bassich use their pack of sled dogs for transportation.
19) DisneyNature Monkey Kingdom
This lovely DisneyNature film follows a newborn monkey and its mother struggle to survive within the competitive social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a dynamic group of monkeys who live in ancient ruins found deep in the storied jungles of South Asia.
This is a fascinating documentary about the life of Jane Goodall, who’s chimpanzee research revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. The film uses never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives.
17) Brain Games
“Brain Games” is a groundbreaking series that uses interactive experiments, misdirection and tricks to demonstrate how our brains create the illusion of seamless reality through our memory, through our sensory perception, and how we focus our attention. With 5 seasons to binge, there is plenty here to give your brain a workout.
16) The Flood
Surrounded by the unforgiving Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is a lush, vibrant oasis that pulses with life each year as the great flood rejuvenates the land with the return of water. Witness how incredible animals – like leopards, elephants, lions, hippos and more – adapt to this unpredictable and changing landscape. When the lands are flooded, the Okavango Delta is both a sanctuary and a trap, giving and taking life in equal measure. Then, like a living, breathing ecosystem, the waters soon recede and life becomes about one thing – survival. The fate of the tens of thousands of animals that live in this place of spectacular natural drama is at stake.
15) DisneyNature Born In China
This lovely DisneyNature documentary ventures into the wilds of China, “Born in China” captures intimate moments with a panda bear and her growing cub, a young golden monkey who feels displaced by his baby sister, and a mother snow leopard struggling to raise her two cubs.
14) One Day At Disney
This new documentary series has only been added to Disney+ this month, kicking off with a feature-length film highlighting the fascinating and inspiring personal stories of 10 incredible people behind the enduring magic of Disney. Through the lens of CEO Bob Iger, the film follows each subject throughout their day for an intimate glimpse into their unique journey. The documentary is narrated by Emmy and Golden Globe award winning actor Sterling K. Brown. There is also a weekly short series showcasing a Disney Cast Member, with a new episode every Friday, so its something to keep coming back to.
13) Free Solo
Quite possibly one of the most scariest movies available on Disney+, this Oscar winning documentary tells follows Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first person to ever free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000 foot high El Capitan wall. This one will have you watching through your hands as he climbs with no ropes or safety gear, in what would arguably be the greatest feat in rock climbing history.
12) Marvel Hero Project
This Disney+ series shares the remarkable, positive change several young heroes are making in their own communities across the country. These inspiring kids have dedicated their lives to selfless acts of bravery and kindness, and now, Marvel celebrates them as the true Super Heroes they are by welcoming them into Marvel’s Hero Project. Their stories are very heartwarming and well worth checking out.
11) Waking Sleeping Beauty
This documentary tells the story of how Disney regained its magic with a staggering output of hits – “Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast ,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” and more – over a 10-year period. After the studio hit hard times in the mid 1980’s with a series of box office flops. For animation fans, who want to know a little more behind the scenes details into that period of Disney movies, this is a easy recommendation.
10) The Incredible Dr Pol
Set in Central Michigan’s farm country, this reality series follows the work done at Pol Veterinary Services. Specializing in large farm animals, Dr. Pol treats horses, pigs, cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, chickens and even an occasional reindeer. The program also features Dr. Brenda Grettenberger, who has worked with Dr. Pol since 1992. There are also multiple special episodes available to watch as well.
9) Expedition Amelia
This documentary was only added this month and see explorer Robert Ballard sets out to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance as he and a team of experts travel to the remote Pacific atoll named Nikumaroro in search of her final resting place.
8) Star Wars: Empire Of Dreams
The only Star Wars documentary on the list, this 2004 film directed by Kevin Burns and narrated by Robert Clotworthy, documents the making of the original Star Wars trilogy and for Star Wars fans, this is worth checking out.
7) Disney Fairy Tale Weddings
This reality show gives us a behind-the-scenes look at weddings and one-of-a-kind engagements that take place at Disney Destinations around the globe, including Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Lines. The show is hosted by Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell. If you love weddings and Disney, this has everything you need. There is also a special Christmas edition if you want to get in the Festive spirit.
6) Paris To Pittsburgh
This fantastic documentary brings to life the impassioned efforts of individuals who are battling the most severe threats of climate change in their own backyards. Set against the national debate over the United States’ energy future – and the Trump administration’s explosive decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement – the film captures what’s at stake for communities around the country and the inspiring ways Americans are responding. Everyone should watch this, since we only have the one planet.
5) Gordon Ramsay Uncharted
Globetrotting celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay serves up an epic adventure in “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.” He travels around the world meeting with indigenous people to learn about their foods and cultures. In each location, he harvests new ingredients and samples new dishes. He also teams up with local legends to cook feasts to present to the native peoples. The show looks stunning and has been one of the shows I’ve been enjoying catch up on since Disney+ launched.
4) The World According To Jeff Goldblum
Through the prism of Jeff Goldblum’s always inquisitive and highly entertaining mind, nothing is as it seems. Each episode is centered around something we all love — like sneakers or ice cream — as Jeff pulls the thread on these deceptively familiar objects and unravels a wonderful world of astonishing connections, fascinating science and history, amazing people, and a whole lot of surprising big ideas and insights. You will only find this show on Disney+.
3) Science Fair
This award winning documentary follows nine high school students from around the globe as they compete at an international science fair. Facing off against 1,700 of the smartest teens from 78 countries, only one will be named Best in Fair. It’s a great documentary that gives you hope for the future with these talented kids.
2) Hostile Planet
This six part documentary draws attention to the most extraordinary — almost supernatural — accounts of animals that have adapted to the cruelest evolutionary curveballs. Easily one of my favourite series available on Disney+ right now, if you’re only going to watch on animal documentary, make it this one.
1) The Imagineering Story
Easily my favourite series right now on Disney+. Explore the past, present and future of Walt Disney Imagineering with noted filmmaker Leslie Iwerks. Ms. Iwerks comes from a family with deep Disney history — her grandfather was an early Disney animator and her father is a former Imagineer — and her previous work includes profiles of Pixar Animation Studios and visual effects house Industrial Light & Magic. For theme park fans, this is a must watch.
What documentary are you going to watch this month on Disney+?