Disney and Christmas go together like an elf and a shelf. And if you want to get into the festive spirit with a family film this holiday season, you’d be hard pressed to find a better offering than on Disney Plus right now.
Even better, for an immersive cinema experience at home, many of these movies, including Soul and Frozen 2, are available to watch at home in high-end Dolby Atmos, for 3D sound, and in beautiful Dolby Vision picture quality, without any extra charge. Considering some services charge extra for 4K content or don't have it at all, this is one hell of a benefit.
From new-for-2020 blockbusters, to vintage shorts from the Disney vault, grab your Mickey Christmas jumper and get cosy with these Christmas classics from the House of Mouse. We've confirmed you can watch all of these on Disney Plus in both the US and the UK – though your region's selection of movies might vary.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Is it a Halloween movie? Is it a Christmas movie? The resounding answer, we think you’ll find, is the latter. Tim Burton’s beautiful, inimitably dark stop-motion fantasy is as magical as it was when it was first released, while its glorious soundtrack by Danny Elfman makes this a timeless Christmas favorite. A bone-afide festive classic.
Home Alone (1990)
If there’s a movie to make you feel better about spending the unprecedented circumstances of Christmas 2020 alone, this will do it. With Home Alone turning 30 years old, there’s never been a better excuse to revisit the stone cold Christmas classic, which sees Macaulay Culkin's Kevin McAllister accidentally left behind by his parents. While residing solo, Kevin fends off burglars Harry and Marv with brutal results.
Fun fact: Catherine O'Hara, who plays Kevin’s mum, appears again on this list, though you might not recognize her – she voiced Sally Stitches in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
This might just be the greatest Christmas double bill ever. The Home Alone sequel is just as much a Christmas staple as the original, even if it's definitely not as good, and repeats a few of the beats of the first film with diminishing returns. Settle in for a time-tested favorite adventure across the Big Apple – complete with toys, a Christmas-tastic Plaza hotel, and the pigeon lady with a heart of gold.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
There is a lot of debate about which adaptation is the best telling of A Christmas Carol. But anyone who tries to argue that it's not The Muppet Christmas Carol is simply wrong – and we’re such Charles Dickens would agree. Michael Caine as Scrooge, Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchitt, Miss Piggy as his wife Emily, and hecklers Statler and Waldorf as Jacob and Robert Marley are all perfect in their roles – charming, funny, and more tragically sentimental than it really has any right to be. The best part is, Caine takes the whole thing very seriously, making the contrast of having the Muppets there extremely entertaining.
Frozen 2 (2019)
Anna and Elsa’s saga continues in last year’s sequel to the wildly popular animated musical fantasy – and their return is almost as good as the original. Now the Snow Queen, Elsa has charge of her icy powers and the happy citizens of Arendelle – but still, she’s drawn to something strange.
Hearing a mysterious voice calling her, she follows the call into the unknown, through forests and seas and stunning icescapes to uncover her destiny, in a story which is a little darker, and a little more mature… but just as magical. Of course, the brilliant first Frozen movie is also on Disney Plus... but we doubt anyone watching with a child needs to be reminded of that.
A Christmas Carol (2009)
There are far too many adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic – hell, Disney Plus alone has three of them. This 2009 CG effort, featuring a motion-captured performance by Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman, is a colder film than the all-time classic Muppets version, but it's worth checking out if you simply can't get enough of ghosts hassling an old man until he starts behaving himself.
Decorating Disney: Holiday Magic (2017)
If you’ve missed going to Disney theme parks this year, this TV special is the perfect Christmas treat. Documenting the impressive feat that goes into turning the “happiest place on earth” into a winter wonderland seemingly overnight, this behind-the-scenes peek at decorating the Disney parks and resorts for the holiday season, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg is perfect virtual tourism for Disney fans.
Yes, it’s a little bit like watching an hour-long advert. But if you’re already watching it, you probably don’t need much selling on the wonders of Disney parks, anyway, and perhaps it'll fill the void if you were hoping to go for the holidays this year.
New for 2020, this Christmas-set comedy stars Jillian Bell as a fairy godmother-in-training, who decides to answer a letter from a 10-year-old in distress, only to find that the letter has been mislaid for a while. The girl in question is now a 40-year-old single mother (played by Isla Fisher). Together, they’ll rediscover the meaning of “happily ever after” – the result is chucklesome, light comedy that's fun family viewing, and not a bad entry into the Disney Plus originals canon.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas (1999)
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas is a perfect starting point for anyone’s festive movie viewing. Made up of an anthology of Christmas tales featuring Disney’s most beloved characters, including Donald Duck and Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Goofy, these heartwarming animations are really pleasant family viewing. When they want more, there’s also the sequel, Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas (2004) available to stream on the platform, too.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Academy Award-winning adaptation of the classic CS Lewis novel is a beautifully crafted fantasy epic that will capture the hearts of all the family – and the snowscape of Narnia makes this movie feel particularly festive.
It’s fitting that the special effects of the movie were created by the masters at Weta Workshop in New Zealand, also known for designing the special effects of The Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth. Tolkien and Lewis also happened to be members of the same literary discussion group, the Inklings, who would discuss writing their fantasy novels together. Their movie adaptations feature equally stunning effects – even if subsequent Narnia movies never hit the heights of this first entry.
The Santa Clause (1994)
More than just a punny title, The Santa Clause has earned its spot as a festive favorite. Tim Allen plays an ordinary guy who accidentally knocks Santa off his roof on Christmas Eve - and must take over the job and all its festive duties. Fun fact: The edit of the film available to watch on Disney Plus has removed a gag which originally involved a phone number that read “1-800-SPANK-ME” – because in 1996, a six-year-old called the number, which turned about to be an actual working sex line, and incurred a not-so-Christmassy $400 phone bill. Or so her parents said.
Anyway, great movie.
Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952)
One of the few actual hidden gems of Disney Plus is the archive of shorts, both new and old, on the platform. This vintage Mickey Mouse technicolor short film, in which Mickey and Pluto chop down a Christmas tree which chipmunks Chip n’ Dale happen to live in, could be the most charming thing you’ll watch all Christmas.
Anna Kendrick stars as Noelle Kringle, the daughter of Kris Kringle. When it’s time for her brother, Nick Kringle (played by Bill Hader), to take up the family business of becoming Santa, he manages to fail his training miserably, while the joyful Noelle is put in charge of spreading Christmas spirit. But when things go awry, she must take off, complete with sleigh and reindeer, to fix Christmas. Charming and fun, the concept of the movie was actually an unused idea for The Santa Clause 4, which sort of makes sense.
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)
Ah, the holiday season: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa… Life Day.
The original made-for-TV Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 has become the stuff of pop culture legend for being such a notorious stinker that it was never once rebroadcast or released for home entertainment. Now, the Disney x Lucasfilm x LEGO collective is owning the narrative of the infamous spinoff with an animated Lego Star Wars Christmas extravaganza.
This new movie directly follows the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In the festive special, (a blockier) Rey sets off on an adventure with BB-8, and is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through some of the most iconic moments in Star Wars cinematic history. But will she make it back in time for the Life Day feast? The Star Wars stakes have (allegedly) never been higher.
The new Disney Pixar animation is set to be the must-watch family film of the holiday season, and subscribers to Disney Plus can stream it included with their regular subscription at no extra cost. Boasting the voice talents of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, and holding a rare 100% review score on Rotten Tomatoes, the already-acclaimed film tells the story of a music teacher with a passion for jazz, who must navigate the worlds of the Great Beyond, where souls go when they die, and the Great Before, where souls develop their personalities before they come to Earth.
Coming on December 25, this is the Christmas movie you won't want to miss this year on Disney Plus.