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. This month I’ve added a few of the latest Disney+ Originals on the list to offer some variety.
Here are the Top 50 Documentaries on Disney+:
50) 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 an extremely interesting series.
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 a groundbreaking 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) Expedition Amelia
This documentary sees 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.
47) Meet The Chimps
“Meet the Chimps” takes viewers into the secret life of one of the largest and most unique wildlife sanctuaries in the world – Chimp Haven—a 200-acre refuge tucked deep in the forested heart of Louisiana, which is home to more than 300 chimpanzees. Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Lynch, this six-part series, from National Geographic, tracks the ups and downs of this extraordinary group of chimps that are given a second chance at life by a staff whose dedication, compassion and commitment knows no bounds. Through a seamless blend of natural history and observational-documentary filmmaking, “Meet the Chimps” puts the chimps – the heart and soul of the series – at front and center. A real-life drama with a full emotional range, the series gives unparalleled access to everything happening at Chimp Haven, including food squabbles, alliances, romances, ‘bromances’, tears, tantrums, high jinxes and heartbreaks.
46) Weird But True
Did you know there are more stars in the universe, than grains of sand on the whole planet?! So weird! National Geographic’s newest season of “Weird But True!” on Disney+ gets even weirder! Children’s entertainers and educators Charlie Engelman and Carly Ciarrocchi host the third season of the Emmy Award-winning series, and this time, they’re embarking on even more imaginative and strange adventures to reveal surprising and interesting facts about the world. Set both in-studio and in the field, the award-winning “Weird But True!” integrates a mix of arts and crafts, unbelievable facts and real-life exploration. Season 3 can only be found on Disney+.
45) Apollo Mission To The Moon
National Geographic’s riveting effort recounts all 12 crewed missions using only archival footage, photos and audio.
44) Diana: In Her Own Words
In 1991, inside London’s Kensington Palace, Diana, Princess of Wales, participated in a series of secret interviews, recorded with her permission by a close friend on behalf of journalist Andrew Morton. Morton was writing a book about Diana’s life to reveal what life was really like for the most photographed woman in the world. The public was unaware that Diana, Princess of Wales’, marriage to HRH Prince of Wales was at a crisis point. Now, National Geographic Documentary Films reveals Diana’s thoughts and feelings at a very specific point in her life, presenting one side of a very complicated story…her side. Entirely in her voice, with no interviews, most of these unique recordings have never been broadcast before. Executive produced by acclaimed Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings of 1895 Films (Challenger Disaster: Lost Tapes; MLK: The Assassination Tapes), DIANA: IN HER OWN WORDS weaves archival footage and photography with these rarely heard recordings and is the latest presentation under the National Geographic Documentary Films banner. The film shines fresh perspective on the Princess’ emotional journey from childhood to her relationship with HRH Prince of Wales and her pervasive public life under the microscope. If you’ve watched the latest season of Netflix’s “The Crown” and what to know more, this is a good way of learning some of the real events.
43) 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.
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) Pick of the Litter
A docu-series based on the film of the same name, featuring the stories of service animals, their trainers, and their human companions. Follow the six loveable dogs ; Paco, Pacino, Tulane, Raffi, Amara, and Tartan as they embark on a fascinating and suspenseful quest to become Guide Dogs For the Blind, the ultimate canine career. This show is exclusive to Disney+.
40) Ice Road Rescue (S1-4)
On Ice Road Rescue, an elite force of rescue workers battles round-the-clock to keep these roads open. In this season, the men face a new enemy: the extreme weather. Unpredictable changes in temperature, heavy rain and sudden blizzards make this winter the roughest one yet in the ultimate battle of man versus nature.
39) Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian
This documentary series pulls back the curtain on The Mandalorian. Each chapter explores a different facet of the first live-action Star Wars television show through interviews, behind the scenes footage, and roundtable conversations hosted by Jon Favreau. The first season consists of 8 episodes based on making the first season, while the second season is covered in a single episode. If you love “The Mandalorian” and want to know more about how they made it, this is for you.
38) Rogue Trip
One for travel fans. Rogue Trip is a travel guide to all the places the average tourist is least likely to venture – the roguish nations, territories and regions often misunderstood and frequently overlooked, but each possessing a unique power to surprise, amaze and inspire. Led by ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff and his 28-year-old son, Mack Woodruff, the two will take viewers on a globe-trotting adventure that will expose the grit and glamour of travel. They’ll share inside jokes, dirty laundry and cramped hotel rooms as Bob teaches his son about the hidden places he loves most. Expect the unexpected in this father-son guide to the beautiful, breathtaking and often hopeful experiences to be had on the edge of chaos.
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.
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) Marvel’s 616
“Marvel’s 616” explores Marvel’s rich legacy of pioneering characters, creators and storytelling to reflect the world outside your window. Each documentary, helmed by a unique filmmaker, showcases the intersections of storytelling, pop culture, and fandom within the Marvel Universe. Episodes in this anthology series will cover topics including Marvel’s world-spanning artists, the trailblazing women of Marvel Comics, discovering the “forgotten” characters of Marvel, and much more.
33) Star Wars: Empire Of Dreams
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.
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) On Pointe
“On Pointe” is a six-part docu-series that captures a season in the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City. Featuring unprecedented access to the famous ballet institution, the series follows the lives of the students ages 8 to 18 pursuing their dreams to become ballet dancers. While older students from all over the country rigorously train for professional careers, younger students from New York City are put through their paces as they rehearse and perform in New York City Ballet’s holiday classic “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” onstage at Lincoln Center. If you’ve got a interest in Ballet, this one is a easy recommendation.
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) Taylor Swift – Folklore – The Long Pond Studio Sessions
Taylor Swift, accompanied by co-producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff along with a guest appearance by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), performs each song in order of her critically adored, five-star album, “folklore” and for the very first time, reveals the stories and secrets behind all 17 songs. If you’re a fan of Taylor Swift’s “Folklore”, this is a great way of learning more about the creative process.
27) Into The Grand Canyon
If you’ve ever wanted to get to know more about one of 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) Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Following the wildly successful “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” (which is also available on Disney+) Neil deGrasse Tyson returns as host to translate more revelations of science into a lavish transporting experience, taking audiences on a series of spiritual voyages of exploration. The show reveals previously uncharted realms, including lost worlds, worlds yet to come, and the worlds that humans may one day inhabit. Ann Druyan, original creative collaborator to Carl Sagan, whose iconic docuseries “Cosmos” provided inspiration for this series, serves as executive producer alongside Seth MacFarlane.
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. There are also multiple specials available from within the “Drains” franchise including one based on the Titanic and much more.
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 neighbour 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 sledge dogs for transportation.
19) 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+.
18) The Real Right Stuff
“The Real Right Stuff” tells the remarkable true story of the nation’s first astronauts, the original Mercury 7, and pulls from hundreds of hours of archival film and radio broadcasts, interviews, home movies and other rare and never-before-seen material to catapult viewers back to the late 1950s.
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) Wicked Tuna
Fishing is a hard life, and harder with bluefin stocks depleted. In Gloucester, Massachusetts, there’s a special breed of fishermen. For generations, they’ve used rod and reel to catch the elusive bluefin tuna. They depend on these fish for their livelihood, and the competition is brutal. Over the next 10 weeks, the most skilled fishermen will set out in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in hopes of catching the valuable bluefin tuna. When one bluefin can bring in as much as $20,000—they’ll do whatever it takes to hook up.
Directed by Don Hahn (“Beauty and the Beast”), “Howard” is the untold story of Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind Disney classics like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and creator of musicals including “Little Shop of Horrors.” Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, personal films and photographs, as well as interviews with Howard’s friends and family, the film is an intimate look at the Disney Legend’s life, his creative drive, and the process behind the music. Spanning his childhood in Baltimore, to his formative years in New York, and his untimely death due to AIDS, “Howard” goes in-depth to explore his journey to become the lyricist behind some of the most beloved and well-known classic family films in the world.
13) Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2
With the clock ticking and less than a year until the world premiere of Frozen 2, the filmmakers, artists, songwriters and cast open their doors to cameras for a six-part documentary series to reveal the hard work, heart, and collaboration it takes to create one of the most highly-anticipated films in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ near-century of moviemaking. For the first time, cameras were there to capture an eye-opening – and at times jaw-dropping – view of the challenges and the breakthroughs, the artistry, creativity and the complexity of creating the #1 animated feature of all time.
The series follows director/writer/chief creative officer Jennifer Lee, director Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, actors Kristen Bell (“Anna”), Idina Menzel (“Elsa”), Josh Gad (“Olaf”), Jonathan Groff (“Kristoff”), Sterling K. Brown (“Lieutenant Mattias”), Evan Rachel Wood (“Iduna”) and the talented artists and technicians of Disney Animation as they race against time to finish the film, with both creative breakthroughs and frustrations along the way. If you’re interested in what goes into making an animated movie, this is the documentary for you.
12) Running Wild With Bear Grylls
The famed survivalist takes A-list celebrities on journeys into the wildest locations around the world, forcing the stars to push their bodies and minds to the limit to successfully complete the adventure of a lifetime.
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 moreover a 10-year period. After the studio hit hard times in the mid-1980s 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 an 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) Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney+’s “Magic of Disney’s Animal Kingdom,” from National Geographic and narrated by the award-winning, fan-favourite Josh Gad, gives viewers a backstage pass to explore the magic of nature within Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at EPCOT. Each of the eight episodes dives into the details, unveiling the multifaceted aspects of animal care, conservation and Disney Imagineering and showcases the parks’ magnificent array of more than 300 species and 5,000-plus animals and the herculean tasks their animal care experts undertake to keep things running day and night. If you love the Animal Kingdom theme park, this is a must-watch!
8) 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.
7) One Strange Rock
This series takes viewers on a mind-bending, thrilling journey exploring the fragility and wonder of planet Earth, one of the most peculiar, unique places in the entire universe, brought to life by the only people to have left it behind – the world’s most well known and leading astronauts. The show is hosted by Will Smith and is a very polished documentary series that will get you thinking.
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 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 second season is also available in some regions.
4) Prop Culture
This Disney+ Original series takes a look at behind the scenes of the movie-making world, with film historian and prop collector Dan Lanigan reuniting iconic Disney movie props with the filmmakers, actors, and crew who created and used them in some of Disney’s most beloved films. Throughout this journey, Dan will recover lost artefacts, visit private collections, and help restore pieces from the Walt Disney Archives to their original glory. Among the films featured this season are Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Mary Poppins, The Muppet Movie, Tron and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? If you are interested in learning more about making movies, this is a must-watch.
3) 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.
2) Hostile Planet
This six-part documentary draws attention to the most extraordinary — almost supernatural — accounts of animals that have adapted to the cruellest evolutionary curveballs. Easily one of my favourite series available on Disney+ right now, if you’re only going to watch one 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+?
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.