What Should Disney Fans Watch This Holiday Season?
I love the holidays because everybody gets plenty of free time.
Many businesses wind down before Christmas week, allowing workers a rare respite from work.
During this downtime, you’ll want to catch up on some Disney shows.
At the very least, you should have them on in the background while you listen to your uncle’s societal hot takes.
So, here’s my second annual 12 days of Disney+ programs to watch this holiday season!
Okay, I’m listing these alphabetically, but the first one comes with an asterisk.
Encanto is currently playing in theaters, where it’s the number one movie worldwide, at least until Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives in a few days.
As a special Christmas present, Disney+ will add Encanto on December 24th! So yes, you can watch the historic 60th release from Walt Disney Animation Studios on that date.
As I type this, Encanto is 90 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with an Audience Score of 93. It’s Disney’s latest masterpiece, and it’s free to watch next week!
Coincidentally, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the music for Encanto. Well, it’s not really a coincidence.
After Hamilton debuted to widespread acclaim, Disney openly courted the play’s creator.
Since then, Miranda has worked on Moana, Mary Poppins Returns, and now Encanto.
For first-time viewers, Hamilton will mesmerize you for three hours. It’ll hook you quickly and hold your interest until the final duel.
Once you’ve watched Hamilton, it works as perfect background music. You’ll find yourself singing along, a welcome distraction if you get bored over the holidays.
We will always remember 2021 as the Year of Marvel on Disney+. WandaVision debuted in January, and several other series have sustained its momentum.
Hawkeye comes last, but its timing feels most appropriate. After all, the setting here is Christmas week.
All Clint Barton wants to do is get home in time to spend Christmas with his family. But, alas, the Tracksuit Mafia stands in his way.
Thus far, the show is remarkably charming, and there’s a one-eyed puppy named Pizza Dog who will steal your heart!
Home Sweet Home Alone
Admittedly, I didn’t give this film the best review. Still, people are inclined to watch Home Alone movies during the holidays.
I actually find this one more charming than anything else in the franchise save for the original Home Alone.
So, I recommend it as a nice compromise choice with some entertaining slapstick comedy.
The Lion King
Fun fact: if you play The Lion King on your television, everyone will watch. They just can’t help themselves.
There could be an NFL playoff game in overtime or the first video of humans setting foot on Mars. It wouldn’t matter.
People would still want to watch Simba overcome his villainous uncle, Scar. We’re hardwired to love this film.
Okay, let me be specific. EVERY episode of Kim Possible delivers tremendous entertainment value. It’s one of the best Disney Channel series ever.
Frankly, the only other show I believe even belongs in the conversation is Phineas & Ferb. Sorry, Girl Meets World. You’ll have to settle for third place.
Anyway, while I highly encourage you to binge Kim Possible, that’s not the recommendation here.
Instead, you’ll want to play episode 2-13, A Very Possible Christmas. It’s my favorite Christmas episode for any television show ever.
My wife and I watch this on Christmas Eve every year as part of our family tradition. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
What’s better than the umpteenth retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? It’s one with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit!
Look, you know this story all too well, but it’s somehow better with Muppets characters involved!
The Peanuts Movie
This suggestion’s my compromise choice. At some point over the holiday, you’ll find yourself in a social setting.
Someone with control of the remote will inevitably say, “Does anybody want to watch anything?”
Suggest this movie for two reasons. First, it’s Peanuts, and who in their right mind would say no to that? Second, it’s a marvelous film that strikes the perfect tone.
Everyone in the room will smile throughout The Peanuts Movie. Is there another film that you’re confident could make the same claim?
Prep & Landing: Naughty & Nice
Last year, I recommended the first Prep & Landing episode. This year, you should watch its sequel.
The story here involves Wayne and his much cooler but overbearing brother, Noel.
Together, they must overcome their personal differences to track down a hacker who has stolen secret North Pole technology.
Okay, the story’s a bit silly, but I’m a superfan of Prep & Landing. This franchise provides the best kind of holiday entertainment for families.
Raya & the Last Dragon
Remember how I said Encanto was 90 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes?
After more reviews across a longer timeframe, Raya & the Last Dragon sits at 94 percent.
This film is the leader in the clubhouse to win Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy Awards. Well, it’s that or Encanto
Sadly, Disney released Raya & the Last Dragon at a time when people weren’t going to theaters. So, it’s somehow slid beneath the radar.
Even if you’ve watched it already, visiting loved ones probably haven’t. They’ll be grateful that you showed them this storytelling masterpiece.
For my money, Raya & the Last Dragon rivals Frozen, Frozen II, Tangled, and Moana in terms of movie quality. This one deserves a better fate.
By the way, I’m not just saying this. This year, my wife has already opened at least four Raya and the Last Dragon-related Christmas gifts.
We treasure this film, and you will, too.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
I’m old enough to remember a time that September blockbusters weren’t available on Disney+ by December. That time is…this year.
Yes, the old theatrical release window has evaporated. Disney now shows its blockbuster movies on Disney+ just 45 days after their theatrical debut.
Obviously, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings qualifies as the most noteworthy release thus far.
As of mid-December, this movie’s the number one domestic box office blockbuster of 2021. Yes, Spider-Man will pass it in a couple of weeks.
Still, I cannot believe that we can already watch Shang-Chi for free on Disney+!
Whether you’re alone and want some entertainment or want to show off your HDTV to your family, this one’s a great choice.
I’m ending with two more personal favorites. As a Simpsons superfan, I’m a bit of an outlier. I don’t love several of their Christmas episodes.
Some of them are a bit mean or dark, and I’m a Hallmark Christmas movie guy at heart. I don’t want cynicism with my holiday fare.
Thankfully, I can point to two spectacular episodes as fulfilling my wish.
In Skinner’s Sense of Snow, episode 12-8, Principal Skinner is a jerk.
He’s the type of principal who will NOT allow snow days, which accidentally strands the children of Springfield at school in an ice storm.
Even worse, he makes them watch quite possibly the lousiest Christmas movie ever. Thankfully, Flanders and Homer (?!) work together to save the day.
Finally, don’t let the name fool you on Kill Gil Volumes 1 and 2, episode 18-9. It’s just a Kill Bill reference.
The episode actually involves Gil becoming an unlikely house guest for The Simpsons during the holidays. Eventually, he (predictably) wears out his welcome.
The star of this episode is a subplot character who barely appears, though. I’ve never loved a tertiary Simpsons character more than I love The Grumple.
Homer somehow winds up on the wrong side of The Grumple, causing them to butt heads a few times.
Both these episodes are fun, and they don’t require your full attention to catch most of the gags. If you only have time for one, go with The Grumple!
Merry Christmas and happiest of holidays, my friends!
Feature Image: Atlanta Journal Constitution