10 Shows to Stream on Disney Plus for the Winter Holidays
Here are our top picks out of dozens of choices!
The holidays look a little different this year, but at least Disney Plus makes it easy to stay safely at home and avoid large gatherings with new and classic content. We're especially excited that the latest Pixar movie Soul —Pixar's first film with a Black protagonist — will be released on Christmas day at no additional cost to subscribers, and that High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special will be added on December 11. In addition, the streaming service has a Happy Holidays collection with festive movies and episodes. Here are our top 10 picks for what to watch, no matter what holiday you're celebrating this month.
1. The Ultimate Christmas Present
This Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) from 2000 is the ultimate fantasy for everyone who wants to be able to have a snow day on command. In it, 13-year-old Allie (Hallee Hirsh) finds Santa Claus's weather machine and makes it snow in Los Angeles, which is fun, until she's unable to stop it. This movie is notable for being the first DCOM appearance for Disney Channel royalty, Brenda Song. The cast also includes Lizzie McGuire's mom, Hallie Todd, Bill Fagerbakke, former pro basketball player John Salley, and Peter Scolari. Something for everyone!
2. Full-Court Miracle
An actual Hanukkah movie! There are so few of those, which is maybe why this one is remembered so fondly by Jewish millennials. It's about Philadelphia Hebrew Academy's basketball team and their unlikely rise thanks to their new coach Lamont Carr. If you need a lesson about Judah Maccabee and the story of Hanukkah, this movie explains it in depth.
3. Arendelle Castle Yule Log
For those who like to have a fake fire to look at this time of year, ditch those boring regular yule logs and pretend you're in Arendelle Castle, warming yourself by the fireplace. And if you're looking for Frozen content (besides both movies, which are of course streaming as well), the short Olaf's Frozen Adventure is specifically about holiday traditions. And the new Olaf origin story, Once Upon a Snowman, is adorable.
4. Even Stevens, "Heck of a Hanukkah" (season 1, episode 15)
Aside from Full-Court Miracle and a few Disney Channel shows that mention Hanukkah in passing in their Christmas episodes, Hanukkah content on Disney is scarce. But this It's a Wonderful Life-like episode has the holiday in a starring role not as a supporting character. Louis, the youngest Stevens, played by Shia LaBeouf before he became infamous in the theater world, gets a chance to see what his family would be like without him.
5. The Proud Family, "Seven Days of Kwanzaa" (season 1, episode 11)
Unfortunately, Disney has even less Kwanzaa content than Hanukkah, but this classic Proud Family episode from 2001 shows why this program was so important in terms of representation and why we're lucky that it's coming back. Penny Proud and her family are all about the material parts of Christmas, until they see a homeless family asking for money. They invite the family to spend Christmas with them and the family returns the favor by celebrating all seven days of Kwanzaa with the Prouds, teaching them about their traditions. Margaret, Joseph, and their daughter Stephanie explain, "This holiday is not about gifts. It's about instilling strong values. And becoming in tune with our past, present, and future."
6. While You Were Sleeping
This one is for the rom-com fans. In this 1995 film, lonely fare token collector Lucy (Sandra Bullock) saves a handsome stranger, Peter (who, played by theater vet Peter Gallagher, is in a coma for a lot of the movie), from the tracks on Christmas, and due to a misunderstanding, his relatives thinks she is his fiancée. She gets to spend the holidays with a family for once and — spoiler alert for a 25-year-old movie — falls in love with Peter's brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). But the real star of the movie is Glynis Johns as Peter's grandmother.
7. DuckTales, "Last Christmas!" (Season 2, Episode 6)
This episode is a prime example of what makes the DuckTales reboot so good — its heart. You might want to have some tissues handy. Dewey dreams of getting to spend Christmas with his mom, Della, who he has never met (you should really watch the whole series before you get to this episode) and ends up going back in time and meeting her as a young adventurer. Russi Taylor, the voice of Huey, Dewey, and Louie in the original series, voices a young emo Donald — a nice full-circle moment. Also, Launchpad wears a Hanukkah sweater, which means Launchpad is Jewish. It's canon now. If you want more Scrooge content, Mickey's Christmas Carol is also on Disney and a staple of the season.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
This isn't as much a Christmas movie as some of the others in the collection (Home Alone, The Santa Clause, and others), but the whole thing is an allegory for Christianity, and Santa Claus is one of the characters, so it counts. And it's one of the best film adaptations of a book.
9. Phineas and Ferb, "Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!" (Season 2, Episode 22)
Phineas and Ferb famously takes place during the "104 days of summer vacation," but this is the show's Christmas special, complete with new theme song. Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Naughty-inator makes it so it appears that everyone in the tri-state area is naughty. There's also a sweet subplot about big sister Candace trying to get the perfect gift for her boyfriend, Jeremy, Major Monogram tormenting his intern Carl, and the funniest jokes about figgy pudding.
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
We didn't have room for this movie on our Halloween list, but since it is both a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie, we're making up for it now. Over the years, it's become a favorite of Hot Topic shoppers, and the music and animation make all the merchandise justified.