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Ranking the Best of Christmas on Disney+

The new streaming service is about more than Star Wars and Marvel.
  • From Hannah Montana to the Muppets to Mickey and Minnie themselves, there's no shortage of holiday viewing options on Disney+.
    From Hannah Montana to the Muppets to Mickey and Minnie themselves, there's no shortage of holiday viewing options on Disney+.

    While Netflix has unleashed a slew of original Christmas content this year, from Hallmark Channel knock-offs to the animated Klaus, you might not have noticed that their newest competitor has also placed plenty of holiday cheer at your finger tips. Disney+ may be getting more attention for being the home of The Mandalorian and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with the holidays in full swing, it's also a reliable source for holiday programming that you can't get anywhere else. On top of originals like the Anna Kendrick-starring Noelle and nostalgic favorites like The Santa Clause trilogy and Johnathan Taylor Thomas' I'll Be Home For Christmas, Disney+ has a wide range of holiday episodes and films on tap. Here are the ten best Christmas options:

    10. Hannah Montana Season 3 Episode 5 - "Killing Me Softly With His Height"

    In this special episode, Miley's holiday shopping leads to a first date with a boy she doesn't realize is much shorter than her. But her initial cold shoulder eventually becomes a lesson in graciousness and the true meaning of Christmas: appreciating short kings. Even elves need love at Christmastime, and as Papa Cyrus points out: Christmas is about celebrating the little moments.

    9. DuckTales Season 2 Episode 6 - "Last Christmas!"

    Kind of a riff on A Christmas Carol that's also its own weirdly insightful look at an introvert's agony during the season, this episode shows how bizarre some of your favorite animated Disney shows could get. Though this is part of the revamped DuckTales series, it's still a funny and trippy time-hopping tale that folks who grew up on the original might enjoy with the accompaniment of, oh, a jolly substance perhaps.

    8. The Nightmare Before Christmas

    Once a cult obsession and redheaded Disney stepchild, Nightmare is now fully embraced by the Mouse House thanks to multiple successful rereleases and countless merchandising dollars. Though it's a classic that transitions smoothly from Halloween to Christmas, the story of Jack Skellington hijacking Santa's duties may be a better fit for the spooky season, but goths deserve "cheer" too.

    7. Decorating Disney - Holiday Magic

    Think of this special detailing the transformation of Disneyland into a winter wonderland as an HGTV-type offering for the Disney set. Going behind the curtain of Disneyland remains one of the prime fascinations of Disney diehards, and this is a holiday gem buried on the streaming platform to be discovered by those obsessed with the pageantry and decorative side of the season.

    6. Babes in Toyland

    This sometimes-forgotten live action Disney musical is like a strange fever dream that puts toy soldiers into battle and features its romantic lead being sold off to gypsies. It's sort of a musical spectacle for weirdos, but also a joyous antidote for anyone bored with the oft-repeated holiday films.

    5. That's So Raven Season 1 Episode 19 - "Escape Clause"

    A cautionary tale about sneaking peeks at your presents before Christmas day that also has Raven and her school-skipping friends deceiving a mall Santa in a scene set to the Nutcracker suite. While many of the Christmas installments of these Disney Channel shows didn't actually feature the holiday all that heavily, this one bookends the action with Christmas carols that sweetly turn the episode into one about family togetherness.

    4. The Muppet Christmas Carol

    Maybe the underwhelming performance of two recent original Muppets films has allowed us to forget that the Jim Henson crew are among the many beloved franchises now in the Disney domain. With Michael Caine as a perfect Scrooge and a bunch of songs that deserve a more prominent place in the Christmas music rotation, this film has built its own cult following. But it's also one of the better Muppets films.

    3. The Fox Movies

    Perhaps one of the few silver linings in Disney gobbling up the 20th Century Fox library is that several Christmas classics can now be found in one place. Claiming the Home Alone series, the original Miracle on 34th Street, and even the unseasonal-but-still-a-Christmas-tradition-anyway The Sound of Music makes for an impressive leg up in holiday holiday streaming wars. Just don't count on Die Hard showing up on Disney+.

    2. The Simpsons Season 1 Episode 1 - "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

    Too often we forget that The Simpsons' television reign began with the spirit of Christmas. Celebrating its 30th anniversary on December 17, the series got its launch with this somewhat melancholy episode that embraces the financial burdens of the middle class on the season while establishing its irreverent brand of humor. There are many Christmas episodes to choose from in the entire series, but this one remains the most special.

    1. Mickey's Christmas Carol

    There's plenty of Scrooge retellings on this list (thank you, public domain!), but this wildly underrated version brilliantly casts the Dickens classic in a Disney context while emphasizing the story's emotion. It has the most terrifying vision of Scrooge's Christmas future ever, an incredibly cinematic feel despite it's brief 25 minutes, and assigns familiar Disney characters in unexpected roles. While the likes of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer get all of the prestige among animated holiday staples, this is the Disney entry that deserves equal space beside them.

    Chris Feil is a freelancer writer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His previous work can be found at Vulture, Vice, Paste, and The Film Experience. Follow him @chrisvfeil on Twitter.

    TOPICS: Disney+, Ducktales, Hannah Montana, The Simpsons, That’s So Raven, Holiday Programming