Where better to find the spirit of Christmas than on Disney Plus? The Walt Disney Company has been enchanting us with magical spectacle and fantasy worlds since most of us were knee-high to a grasshopper.
It’s not surprising, then, that the platform is stuffed with brilliant Christmas films to keep that festive feeling going throughout the holidays.
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Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, Disney Plus has something for you. There are old classics like Miracle on 34th Street, the wonderfully weird The Nightmare Before Christmas, box-office hits Home Alone 1 and 2, and multiple Disney-fied retellings of A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens’ tale of ghosts and seasonal goodwill.
So, snuggle up on the sofa and let Disney Plus douse you in a warm rush of twinkling lights, jingle bells and Christmas cheer – something that we all very much deserve after this difficult year. We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 Christmas films on Disney Plus below (in no particular order - we don't want to spark a raging debate over your turkey dinner), and they’re available to stream right now.
Home Alone (1990)(opens in new tab)
Christmas can be a crazy time for all of us. But for the McCallisters, it’s utter bedlam!
Oversleeping on the morning of their family vacation, they’re halfway to Paris before they realize they’ve left belligerent 8-year-old son Kevin behind (played by Macauley Culkin). He’s elated at the oversight – indulging in a bacchanal of ice-cream, pizza, and R-rated movies – until he’s forced to fend off two incompetent crooks (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) looking to burgle homes left unoccupied over the holidays.
Director Chris Columbus, writer John Hughes, and composer John Williams create a film charged with festive feeling: from the soaring ‘Carol of the Bells’, Kevin faking a raucous party in his living room to the soundtrack of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, to the inevitable emotional reunion with his mum on Christmas Day. It made a whopping $476.7 million worldwide and resulted in a number of sequels.
The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)(opens in new tab)
“Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas!” Brian Henson’s first feature film cheerfully retells Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella about a curmudgeonly money-lender who’s taught the true meaning of the season by three ghosts. It’s an endlessly adapted story, but this 1992 effort might be the most fun: effortlessly marrying the source material's darker elements with the family-friendly appeal of the Muppets.
Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo are our guides, hitting the icy, cobbled streets of Victorian London in pursuit of the indomitable Ebenezer. Rizzo never fails to entertain, whether being flung from great heights into the snow or balancing precariously on a rotisserie turkey, while by contrast Michael Caine plays Scrooge with Shakespearean gravitas. Miss Piggy is the chestnut-scoffing Emily Cratchit, and Kermit her dutiful husband and Mr Humbug’s browbeaten employee.
Full of warm-hearted sentiment and catchy tunes – One More Sleep ‘til Christmas evokes the magic of the night before, while Scrooge is a hilariously scathing character assassination – The Muppet Christmas Carol is a version of the classic tale that the whole family can enjoy.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)(opens in new tab)
What’s this, you cry? A “Nightmare” movie on a list of the best Christmas films on Disney Plus?! While you wouldn’t expect to get a warm glow from a film with lyrics like “there’s children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads”, Henry Selick’s feature film debut is awash with Christmas magic: a stop-motion marvel full of unforgettable songs.
Conceived by Tim Burton, it’s a delightfully ghoulish mash-up of our two favorite holidays. It follows “Pumpkin King” Jack Skellington, who, having grown tired of Halloween, finds a portal to Christmastown in the woods and tumbles in. It’s a cosy, candy-cane filled winter wonderland that sends him into gleeful rhapsodies. But, when he decides to commandeer the top job from “Sandy Claws”, he threatens to ruin Christmas for everyone.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, featuring an outstanding score from Danny Elfman, and a voice cast that includes Catherine O’Hara as ragdoll Sally and Ken Page as Oogie Boogie, Nightmare is a joy-filled treat packed with seasonal glee.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)(opens in new tab)
Do you believe in Santa Claus? You will after watching this iconic film starring Edmund Glen as Kris Kringle, who, despite the disbelieving adults around him, insists that he is…you know…Santa!
Encountering an inebriated Saint Nick at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Kris Kringle expresses his dismay to the event director, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara). So, with his part-appropriate white beard and wholesome character, he gets the gig instead. He’s soon promoted to store Santa, and befriends Doris’s daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) in the process. But when he repeatedly claims he is Santa for reals, then defence attorney Fred Gailey is tasked with keeping the men in white coats from calling.
20th Century Fox were wilfully obscure about the film’s Christmas theme, releasing it mid-year because they thought “more people go to the movies in May”. No matter, though, because Miracle on 34th Street is full of Christmas magic. It will leave you dewy-eyed, and finally posting that unmailed letter to the North Pole.
Noelle (2019)(opens in new tab)
All gift-wrapped and ready to stream when Disney Plus launched on November 12 last year, Noelle was the platform’s first holiday movie. What it delivered was a breezy, fun, modern spin on the Santa Claus myth, starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader as Kris Kringle’s grown-up kids.
It’s the run-up to December 25 and Nick Kringle has some large boots to fill given his Dad’s recent passing. But he’s overwhelmed. He just doesn’t have Papa Kringle’s flair for abseiling chimneys, or an innate awareness of who’s been naughty or nice. So, after his sister Noelle (the ever-endearing Kendrick) gives him the weekend off, he leaves…and doesn’t come back. It’s then up to his sister to find him and save Christmas: heading off to Phoenix, Arizona, with the reindeer to persuade her brother to return.
Mixing Christmas whimsy with cheeky humor, and a likeable cast including Billy Eichner, Shirley MacLaine and Kingsley Ben-Adir, Noelle is just like eggnog: a sweet treat to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas (1999)(opens in new tab)
You can’t have a top 10 Disney list without an appearance from Mickey Mouse, and this anthology of tales featuring beloved Walt Disney characters will definitely put a Goofy grin on your face.
There are three festive fables, entertaining and edifying in equal measure. Stuck on Christmas concerns Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie living every kid’s dream: Christmas every day. Meanwhile, Maximillian Goof’s dad does everything to convince him that Santa is real in A Very Goofy Christmas. And in Gift of the Magi, Mickey and Minnie discover that the greatest present is the thought behind it.
There’s enough heart-warming sentiment here to melt a snowman. And at the end, Mickey, Donald and friends come together for a medley of seasonal songs! Christmas. Cheer. Personified.
Frozen (2013)(opens in new tab)
Time to give yourself over to the chilly fantasia of Frozen, because it’s Christmas and little ones will definitely be demanding a few hundred viewings. But it’s alright, because we all love Olaf the Snowman!
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, it follows Princesses Anna and Elsa: two sisters kept apart when Elsa’s icy powers prove dangerous. Years later, after being crowned Queen of Arendelle, an altercation with her sister causes another frosty eruption, and she flees to avoid causing further harm. The outburst, however, plunges the Kingdom into eternal winter, so Anna sets out to find her troubled sibling with the help of Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and an enchanted snowman.
While you may want to “let it go!”, and never hear that song again, there’s no denying that Disney’s 53rd animated feature film is something of a masterpiece, winning two Academy Awards and raking in a record-breaking $1.2 billion worldwide in 2013.
The Santa Clause (1994)(opens in new tab)
Prefer your Yuletide yarns with a serving of snark? Then this 1994 comedy about a divorced father who inadvertently causes Santa’s death and is then legally obliged to take his seat in the sleigh on Christmas Eve, will keep you heartily amused.
After the incident Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) finds himself gaining weight rapidly, possessing an encyclopaedic knowledge of who the well-behaved and naughty kids are and suffering from an extreme case of 5 o’clock shadow. Why? As head elf Bernard explains, “when you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa Clause”. He’s given a year to adjust to life as the big man, while trying to convince his ex-wife that his snow-white hair and portly appearance are nothing to worry about.
Allen is perfect as the peevish dad in over his head, and it's highly entertaining to imagine how an ordinary man might cope with Santa’s otherworldly demands. It was re-released into 1,581 cinemas during the Covid-19 outbreak: proof, surely, that it’s considered an indispensable Christmas flick.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)(opens in new tab)
Everyone loves a Christmas special! Okay, so Steve Binder's attempt with Star Wars in 1978 has a few (million) detractors. But this animated Lego sequel, taking place after Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, is a ridiculously entertaining parody of that TV travesty that will have the family in fits of giggles - an all in Star Wars Lego form.
It’s the night before Life Day, and while Finn and Chewbacca prepare to celebrate on the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk, Rey travels with BB-8 to learn more about the Force. The discovery of a Time Key, however, results in her traversing the chronology of the Star Wars universe: encountering Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader swapping gifts (Palpatine is very unimpressed by his “Galaxy’s Best Emperor” mug), meeting Han Solo(s) young and old, and being distracted mid-lightsabre battle by the overwhelming cuteness of Baby Yoda.
It’s sublimely silly stuff, packing it’s trim 44-minute run time with unadulterated Star Wars nostalgia and irreverent, Lego movie humour. Everything is awesome – particularly if you’re a fan of any of the above.
Looking for merch? Discover the best Lego deals for Christmas, too.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)(opens in new tab)
If you made it this far, we guess you were thirsty for more – more Christmas mayhem, more of the dysfunctional McCallisters, and more of Harry and Merv getting outwitted by a 10 year-old.
The time round Kevin isn’t left home alone but accidentally boards a different flight - landing in the fairy tale world of New York City at Christmas while his family get stranded in swampy Florida. Which is fine with him. Armed with his Dad’s credit card and a Talkboy cassette recorder (remember those?), he’s soon maximising on the fruits of the Big Apple, including checking into the luxurious Plaza Hotel. But before long he's under suspicion of fraud by the obsequious concierge (Tim Curry), and pursued by the recently escaped 'wet bandits' after foiling their robbery of Duncan’s Toy Store.
It’s a cornucopia of festivity thanks to its New York setting, and was another box-office success, making $348 million worldwide on a $28 million budget.
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With more Marvel, Mandalorian, Star Wars, Simpsons, Pixar and classic Disney films than you can shake a stick at, a year of Disney Plus makes a fantastic present for a loved one...or yourself!
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