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Day 11- The Eleven Best and Worst Disney Christmas Movies and Specials

In the spirit of the well-known song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, our writers will be counting up from 1 to 12 as we bring you a numbered, Disney-themed subject on each day leading up to Christmas.


The Christmas season is a special time of year for many of us but, everyone has a different reason why it is important to them. Regardless, there is no better way to get in the Christmas mindset than by watching one of the many movies and TV specials out there. Disney being the huge multimedia conglomerate it is, is certainly not lacking in this department. If you are a looking for one to watch, I have a few recommendations, and a couple of warnings.


1. A Muppet Family Christmaschristmasfozzie

My love for A Muppet Family Christmas stems from my longtime love of the Muppets and memories of watching this year after year on a worn VHS tape. It really gives me the warm Fozzies (waka waka) being with the whole Muppet family. Also, the combination of Muppet Muppets, Sesame Street Muppets and Fraggle Muppets makes this a true must see for any fans of Jim Henson’s most beloved creations. Sadly, I’m afraid different parties owning rights to the different types of Muppets will keep this special from resurfacing anytime soon.

2. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

The very pinnacle of Direct-to-video movies, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas is a collection of heartwarming stories featuring Mickey and friends. The highlight is Donald Duck Stuck on Christmas which has Huey Dewey and Louie getting their wish for everyday to be Christmas with less than desirable results. Of course, they learn what the true meaning of Christmas is. It sounds hokey, but it is really well done.

3. The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause is a Christmas movie about Santa that does not rely too heavily on showing Christmas-y things. While they are still there, the best parts are when Scott Calvin, the new Santa, is dealing with his ex-wife and her husband’s determination to take away any form of custody he has with his son, as they believe he is gone crazy, because they don’t believe in Santa Claus. Joke’s on them.

4. Mickey’s Christmas Carolbahumbug

Putting the word Mickey in the title is a bit of a misnomer as Uncle Scrooge, as Ebenezer Scrooge, is the main character. This retelling of A Christmas Carol makes me miss the Mickey and friends of old. Beautiful animation is one of the highlights of a faithful rendition of the classic Charles Dickens novel. It can be sad at times, but it is also heartwarming, and heartfelt – just what I want in a Christmas special.


5. Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas
I’m not a fan of Tim Burton’s style generally, but A Nightmare Before Christmas is a great movie. While I do feel its popularity is sometimes a detriment (stop selling Jack Skellington merchandise at Pirates of the Caribbean, jeez!), there are very few Christmas movies that are good to start watching in October. The music is top-notch, but it makes it on this list for the beautiful stop-motion animation. The amount of effort and the size of the sets used, still today, remains a feat in animation.

6. Lizzie McGuire-  “Xtreme Xmas”

I think most people who read this blog will either be too young or old to remember when Hillary Duff was a big commodity for Disney. Of course, Disney Channel’s flagship show at the time, Lizzie McGuire starred her and had a special appearance by Steven Tyler (that guy from Rock n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, or you know just Aerosmith). It made it on this list because he gives out free batteries at the parade by throwing them at people, and that is pretty funny. There is also a Christmas episode with, then popular, Aaron Carter.

7. Recess– “Yes Mikey, Santa Does Shave”

One of the best animated shows to ever grace the ABC or the Disney Channel, Recess always seemed to grasp the reality of being in school with friends without being very realistic at all. One Christmas episode features Mikey trying to convince his classmates that Santa does exist. His classmates just don’t get it – who else eats the cookies and drinks the milk we leave out every year?



Not all Disney Christmas specials and movies fared as well as my first six picks.

8. Most ABC Family Original Christmas Movies:

When I was a young lad, the beginning of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas marked the beginning of the Christmas season. However, most of their original movies are pretty bad. However, Full House Christmas episode reruns were always welcome, but those aren’t Disney.
9. I’ll Be Home for Christmas:
Tim Allen was not the only actor from Home Improvement to make Christmas movies for Disney. Jonathon Taylor Thomas was also a hot commodity at one point. Unfortunately, I’ll be Home for Christmas is hard to watch. JTT gets kidnapped as a prank and gets a Santa beard glued to his face. The real lesson you learn watching this is that you should make sure your friends aren’t awful people.


10. The Santa Clause 3:
While not nearly as bad as the previous 2 movies mentioned, The Santa Clause 3 does not hold up in any way shape or form to the first movie, and manages to take what was entertaining about 2, and turns it into a non-sensical mess. Not even Martin Short as Jack Frost, who can be found at two major Disney theme parks, could save it. Bonus: Name the two parks in the comments and you’ll get my sincerest congratulations.


11. The Star Wars Holiday Specialstarwarsholiday
I debated whether I would include The Star Wars Holiday Special. While it certainly is the worst thing to come out of Star Wars, I feel talking about it has become quite passé among Star Wars fans because we have had over 30 years to contemplate what went wrong (a lot). However, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm I believe there is a whole new audience to expose to what Star Wars TV used to be. With 10+ minutes of Wookiees talking/growling with no subtitles, a musical number by Jefferson Starship, and the whole Red Snuggy Life Day thing at the end, it really is among some of the worst things ever to air on Television. What makes this special so interesting is how its legacy has lived on despite it only being aired once. While it is unknown if the original negatives still exist, fans have been able to watch it over the years through VHS bootlegs, and now, via the internet, it is easier to access. With the presence of all the main cast, and appearances by celebrities like Art Carney and Bea Arthur, this relic will always remain a beautiful and ugly part of my Holiday season.


(All images ©Disney)

Do you agree with these lists?  Which Disney Christmas specials do you think are the best/worst?  Let us know in the comments section below, and be sure to come back tomorrow for the final day of the WDW Radio Christmas Extravaganza!

Day 1 – Behind Walt Disney’s First Television Program, “One Hour in Wonderland”

Day 2 – Two New Ways to Experience Walt Disney World

Day 3 – Top Three Places to Buy Disney Décor in Your Hometown

Day 4 – Four Fantastic Walt Disney World Parades

Day 5 – The Five Best Golden (Onion) Rings in Walt Disney World

Day 6 – Six Favorite Local Stores to Purchase Disney Gifts

Day 7 – Seven Star Wars Items to Put on Your Christmas List

Day 8 – Eight Reasons to do the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Day 9 – Nine Disney Christmas Trees

Day 10 – Top Ten Walt Disney World Family Photos



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Zack Kaplan is a Disney fan with a intense passion that fuels his occasional writing. When he isn’t participating in Disney insanity he is probably playing video games, though many of them have Disney properties in them.  You can follow him on Twitter @SteelDiver