clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Disney's first official Vive and Oculus app is barely worth the free download

The menu shouldn't be the best part of your VR strategy

Working the red carpet at a major film premiere looks exhausting. The photographers yell your name, you have to stand in front of the appropriate logo to have your picture taken, someone else yells your name so you turn a bit and face them, they thank you and you get to walk past. It's a part of the promotional cycle though, so no matter how much you were paid or how important you are, you walk. You smile. You turn.

When I realized I didn't know how much of this I would be watching in the Disney Movies VR app, out now for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, I tried to escape the 360 degree video. I'm not sure if there's a command to do so. I took the headset off and came up here to write this. Jon Favreau is still down there posing for all I know.

The program is free, and The "Trust in Me" short from The Jungle Book is interesting enough. You get to look around a virtual version of the film's jungle, and after a time a snake with Scarlett Johansson's voice talks to you for a minute and then eats you. It's a fun little gimmick and being swallowed whole was a pleasantly creepy experience, but there just isn't enough content here to keep your attention for long. The "Cold Lairs" experience is just as brief, but is also enjoyable as a short VR demo. There are two short 360 degree experiences for Star Wars of moderate quality, but you can see everything worth seeing in a few minutes.

The lack of even existing content is baffling. The thrilling Avengers diorama that was released for the Gear VR isn't included in the Marvel area of the app, but you can watch a red carpet video from the Captain America: Civil War premiere.

The inability to hit a button to confirm your choices, or to exit out of a video before it's over, makes the act of navigating the menus more tedious than it needs to be. Making the interface 100 percent gaze-based may allow you to port to any and all VR headsets, but it's not like Disney can't afford to add support to tapping a button as well. The initial download also only covers the Jungle Book experiences and the menu; each of the videos will require its own download if you don't want to settle for the middle quality of the video when you stream. Be warned: Even the downloaded version of the video is pixelated.

Don't let the word "movies" in the app's title mislead you. There is no way to rent or buy Disney films. There are no trailers. There isn't much of anything, to be honest.

The best part of the download, ironically, is the menu itself. It's hard not to feel a bit awed by the size of the Disney castle, as well as the scope of the Avengers' tower, complete with the Helicarrier floating nearby. The Star Wars area has towering AT-ATs and other sights to take in. It's fun to just look around at the spectacle of the whole thing, and enjoy what's possible for Disney in VR.

Maybe one day they'll add better content to go along with the impressive presentation.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon