Is it possible to watch Disney+ in China? Although Disney Plus technically hasn’t launched in the Asia market, it’s still possible to stream your favorite Disney, Pixar, and Marvel shows in China. Want in on the secret? Here’s a quick explanation on how you can access Disney+ in China too.
Being able to stream the TV shows and movies that I love while I’m living in China is part of what keeps me sane. Sure, I could watch shows in Chinese, but there are times when I just want to relax and pretend I’m not in China. Surely I’m not the only one, right?
That’s why services like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix or YouTube TV are a lifeline for expats in China, including me.
Unfortunately, Disney+ isn’t set to launch in the Asia market until an estimated date of September 2021. Even if you’re a US, Canadian or Australian citizen, you won’t be able to stream Disney+ movies from within China. Here’s what you need to know to make it work.
Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will be compensated if you use some of these services I recommend. The good news is that in many cases, such as this link to ExpressVPN, I’ve negotiated special deals to get you 3 months of free service.
Is Disney+ Blocked in China?
If you’ve paid for a Disney+ subscription but you can’t open it in China, does that mean that Disney+ is blocked in China? Perhaps you’re aware of China’s censorship that blocks multiple websites and streaming services in China. As I’ve stated above, though, the reason you can’t stream Disney+ from within China is that it hasn’t yet launched in the Asia region.
This is known as geoblocking, the act of blocking certain content based on the location of the user. Disney has decided to block their service from certain portions of the world as they roll it out in segments.
For most services like Hulu or Netflix, the reason for this is licensing restrictions. I’m not sure why Disney has opted to geoblock content since, technically, they own the license to all the content they will be offering.
But…that’s just they way it is.
Accessing Disney+ Using a VPN
For those who have never heard of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) before, don’t worry. You can think of it as software that tricks online streaming services like Disney+ into thinking you are in the United States, when in fact you are actually in China.
In other words, when you connect to a VPN server in the United States and then login into your Disney+ account, Disney detects a US IP address from your device instead of a Chinese one and then allows you to stream content.
Now you may be thinking that masking your location to get around Disney’s geoblocking sounds shady and potentially illegal. But if you’re a paying customer of Disney’s…what’s the big deal here?
For a more detailed explanation, check out this video explaining what a VPN is.
Connecting to a VPN in China
Ask any long-term expat in China and they’ll tell you how often they use a VPN. So far, it’s not illegal to use a VPN in China (contrary to popular belief) and it makes life in China just that much more bearable.
The big thing you need to keep in mind is that because China blocks access to VPN websites, you’ll want to set up your VPN prior to arriving in the country. Otherwise, it’s a whole lot harder.
The setup process for a VPN is quick and simple:
- You purchase a VPN service on your computer (5 min)
- Download the VPN app on your phone (3 min)
- Sign into the App and use the app to install server connections (5 min)
- Click “Connect” and you’re done!
Set aside about 20 minutes to get this all put together and you’ll be good to go. It’s thankfully quite simple, even for those who are less “tech-savvy”.
One more thing: If you’ll be spending more than a month in China, I highly recommend you download at least two VPN services for your phone as a backup in case one doesn’t work. China sometimes blocks certain IP addresses, which can cause major connection issues no matter which VPN you use.
Based on my past 10 years as an expat in China, I recommend the following VPNs that have been the most reliable for streaming online video content:
- ExpressVPN: One of the most popular VPNs on the market that has one of the best phone apps I’ve seen. I use this VPN every day. Best of all, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee in case it doesn’t work well for you. BONUS: When you use this link, ExpressVPN will give you 3 months free on any annual plan.
- NordVPN: Yet another VPN that has an easy-to-use mobile app and a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can’t go wrong with NordVPN to watch Disney+ in China.
- VyprVPN: My final recommendation is a VPN that has been very reliable for numerous expats in China.
Start Streaming Disney Movies in China
Once you are connected to your VPN, you can start watching Disney+. It’s that easy! Just remember to connect to a VPN server in the United States, Canada or the Netherlands as these are the countries where Disney+ has already launched.
Occasionally Disney+ might stop streaming when your VPN gets disconnected, but this does not happen too often. Just reconnect to another VPN server to continue streaming your favorite Disney movie.
Conclusion: Using Disney+ in China
Disney+ may not be outright blocked such as other websites censored like Facebook in China, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to just log on and watch without any problems. You’re going to need to have a Disney+ account as well as an additional VPN subscription to stream great Disney movies in China.
How has your experience been with Disney+ in China? Leave a comment below so that others can know what to expect!