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How to make Disney+ your secret weapon this Thanksgiving

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From Pixar to National Geographic, there's a limitless array of films and shows for kids and adults alike. (Photo: Disney+)

That final Thursday of the year brings a familiar annual ritual. No, not the gathering of you and your grown children around the dinner table for a bounteous post-harvest feast—the part all too soon after the last mouthful of dressing goes down their gullets when, amid exaggerated yawns and stretching of arms, your spawn start eyeing the plastic wrap and the leftovers and making noises about heading over the hills and through the woods back to their own homes. For you, their loving hosts, it can feel as if the holiday is over just as it’s begun. 

But take heart. It doesn’t have to be that way this year, because on your pre-Thanksgiving shopping list, along with the bird, the sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, you secured yourself a secret weapon: a subscription to Disney+. With thousands of movies and television series from its unparalleled—and ever-expanding—catalog of family-friendly classics, Disney’s new streaming service will bring your brood together again, reliving hilarious, heartwarming moments from childhoods past while forging new indelible memories.

We compiled a selection of Disney+ favorites that’ll get even the most restless millennial multitasker ensconced on the couch with Mom and Dad. 

Star Wars: A New Hope (Photo: Disney+)

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) The fourth (but really the first—you know what we mean) chapter in George Lucas’ intergalactic adventure/spiritual odyssey is as classic as classic gets. Snuggle up with Leia, Luke, Han, and Obi-Wan for that storied journey back a long time ago to a galaxy far, far away. 

The Incredibles (Photo: Disney+)

The Incredibles (2004) Released early this century but set in a reimagined 1960s, Brad Bird’s smash animated feature is the rare film that can provide multi-generational nostalgic kicks. And we’ll be damned if the world-saving exploits of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack don’t constitute a sublime metaphor for family love, unity and resilience. 

The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (Photo: Disney+)

The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (2005-08) You can check in anytime you like…and you won’t want to leave as you revisit the titular 12-year-old twins’ hilarious misadventures at the Tipton Hotel. Yes, that’s current Riverdale star Cole Sprouse as Cody! Keep your eyes peeled for guest spots by the likes of Vanessa Hudgens, Zac Efron, Tahj Mowry, Victoria Justice, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez.

So Weird (Photo: Disney+)

So Weird (1999) This quasi-cult series pioneered the family-driven supernatural adventure hour six years before, well, Supernatural. Those who grew up with it will cherish a revisit; those who only heard it from the other room as parents might want to take a closer look as Cara Delizia’s Fiona (“Fi”), joined by her mom, Molly, played by One Day at a Time Mackenzie Philips, confront the evil, the spooky, and the altogether ooky. 

Remember The Titans (Photo: Disney+)

Remember the Titans (2000) Why take a chance on real-life Thanksgiving Day football when you can re-experience this sure thing—a heart-lifting (and fact-based) story of an African-American coach charged with uniting a newly integrated school behind its tattered football team. Oh, yeah: Said coach is played by Denzel Washington, and he’s joined by fresh-faced Ryan Gosling, Daniel Faison, and Hayden Panetierre. Talk about something to be thankful for!

Lilo & Stitch (Photo: Disney+)

Lilo & Stitch (2002) The animated film about a girl and her intergalactic fugitive cyber-beast happens to be a profound meditation on humanity, friendship, and otherness. It’s also sweet, funny, and a feast for the eyes. PS: Disney+ also offers all 67 episodes of the spun-off L&S series (2003-06).

The Simpsons: “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” (1990) Rejoice! Disney Plus is the new home for America’s first and foremost cartoon family. And what better way to celebrate than a(nother) look at this early gem in which the family rapscallion runs away from home on Turkey Day only to learn the meaning of gratitude and family on the streets of Springfield. 

That's So Raven (Photo: Disney+)

That’s So Raven (2003) Sure, this sitcom was the highest-rated program on the Disney Channel in its day, not to mention the first to notch 100 episodes. More important, though, are the hilarious memories notched by Raven-Symoné’s eponymous teenaged psychic whose visions are as misleading as they are prescient. In other words: She sees the future and hilarity ensues.

10 Things I Hate About You (Photo: Disney+)

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) Modern meets classical, girl meets boy, comedy meets tragedy in this reimagining of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. On this day of gut-stretching excess, behold an overstuffed cast of stars, soon-to-be stars, and one prematurely extinguished star (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Stiles, Allison Janney, Gabrielle Union and Heath Ledger) bringing the comedy, angst, and romance.

The Santa Clause (Photo: Disney+)

The Santa Clause (1994) Are you a more forward-thinking type who wants to use your Thanksgiving family time to jump-start that Christmas spirit? Well, then, dive right into this neo-classic which finds Tim Allen’s prickly divorced dad forced into service as a Santa impersonator…only to find himself at the North Pole anointed as the real thing. 

So, get that coffee brewing, slice that pie, uncap that whipped cream, power up the flat-screen, and log on to Disney+; faster than you can say “tryptophan coma” you’ll have created a Thanksgiving evening to remember. Who knows…you might just wind up preparing a flannel-swathed Black Friday family breakfast!

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