There’s no better way to celebrate the spirit of the season than by kicking back with a tall glass of eggnog and enjoying these family-friendly Disney offerings with your loved ones. They are truly the gifts that keep on giving.
1. The Santa Clause
When Kris Kringle takes a header off Scott Calvin’s roof on Christmas Eve, it’s up to the divorced advertising exec and his wide-eyed son to finish delivering toys to all the good little girls and boys across the globe. However, what he doesn’t realize is that by donning the big man’s duds he’s unwittingly agreed to assume his duties in perpetuity. This laugher starring Tim Allen spawned a pair of sequels, though neither quite capture the magic of the original.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
What’s this?! Why, it’s that rare Halloween/Christmas hybrid that’s as fun to watch while rocking around the tree as it is while carving pumpkins. When Jack Skellington discovers, quite literally, a whole new world beyond the fantastical fright fest he calls home, it awakens his inner elf. Rejuvenated by the spirit of the season, a misguided Jack decides to kidnap Santa and commandeer his yuletide delivery route in order to escape his ho-hum existence in Halloween Town. Suffice it to say, Jack’s interpretation of the season of giving provides for one twisted Christmas.
3. Mickey’s Christmas Carol
One of three adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic that we’ll be covering on this list, the version starring Walt’s iconic mouse may also arguably be the best. This tale features Mickey as the put upon Bob Cratchit, sole employee of that miserly Scrooge McDuck who is visited by a trio of ghosts (as well as a horde of familiar faces from the Disney universe) as they attempt to show him the error of his ways one fateful Christmas Eve. Keen-eyed viewers will have fun spotting all the supporting characters from Disney films past and find the transformed Scrooge’s newfound joy particularly infectious.
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Nothing says Christmas more than a good old-fashioned snow storm, and this modern cartoon classic features a doozy courtesy of ice queen Elsa. Known best for reinvigorating the animated musical, Frozen is a blizzard of action and adventure as Anna, Olaf, and the rest of the gang set off in search of her sister, who’s fled the castle after unwittingly unleashing a catastrophic weather event on the kingdom of Arendelle. This heartwarming tale is sure to thaw even the most frozen of hearts.
5. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas
This pseudo sequel to the Disney classic is a direct-to-video offering in which Belle makes it her mission to help the grinchy Beast get into the holiday spirit. Set some time before the climax of the original film and featuring the entire voice cast, this story finds Belle planning a Christmas celebration against her hairy host’s wishes. The songs may not be as memorable as the Academy Award-winning original’s, but viewers will delight in seeing the Beast come to embrace the spirit of the season.
6. A Muppet Christmas Carol
Directed by Brian Henson (son of Muppet mastermind Jim Henson), this take on the literary classic features our favorite felt friends as they whisk Michael Caine’s Scrooge away on a journey through Christmases past, present and future. It’s one of the most beloved Muppet movies ever made and an annual must-see for fans of the eccentric icons of entertainment.
7. Babes in Toyland
Disney’s first live-action musical centers around evil Barnaby’s plot to wed Mary Quite Contrary so that he may pilfer her inheritance. In order to do so, he must first eliminate the competition in the form of Tom Piper, Mary’s husband-to-be. But Tom isn’t going to go down without a fight. The fantastical journey that ensues finds our fairy tale characters on an odyssey where they encounter gypsies, singing trees, and a gadget that shrinks them down to the size of a toy.
8. Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
When that silly old bear fails to deliver his friends’ Christmas list to the North Pole, he takes it upon himself to dress up as Santa Claus in an attempt to salvage the holiday for the Hundred Acre Wood. What they all come to realize is that each other’s friendship is the greatest gift of all.
9. Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Disney’s most recent retelling of Dickens’ holiday holdover is also the darkest and most foreboding of the bunch. It stars Jim Carrey as good (bad?) old Ebenezer in a film by Robert Zemeckis that features the same motion-capture technology pioneered in the director’s previous Christmas offering, the Polar Express. The film boasts breathtaking visuals and is packed with more action than any previous interpretation of the classic tale of the world’s biggest bah humbug.
When Santa’s heir apparent goes MIA, it’s up to the jolly old soul’s daughter Noelle to save the day. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, this Disney+ original debuted on the streaming service in 2019 and offers a unique spin on the do-gooder trying to save Christmas trope by handing the reins to a strong-willed woman who embodies the holiday spirit.
Bonus: Ernest Saves Christmas
Though not officially a Disney production, Ernest’s holiday outing was the first feature to film at what was then known as MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios). The home of the title character’s unseen pal Vern was also featured as a part of the Backlot Tour until that area was razed to make way for Toy Story Land. Coincidentally, Jim Varney (aka Ernest) also voiced Slinky Dog in the first two Toy Story films.