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May 25

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May 25, 1983 – The Specialty Store Mickey’s Christmas Chalet Opens in Disneyland

On May 25, 1983, the specialty Christmas store Mickey’s Christmas Chalet opened in Disneyland’s Fantasyland area. The shop sold Disney-themed Christmas ornaments and décor year round until it closed on May 17, 1987. The store could be seen as a promotional shop for the featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol, which was released in December of 1983.

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November 8

November 8, 1994 – The Christmas Compilation Navidad en las Américas is Released Through Walt Disney Records

“Elevemos al nino dios, el hijo de maria”

On November 8, 1994, the Christmas compilation album Navidad en las Américas was released through Walt Disney Records. Translated as “Christmas in the Americas,” the album features several popular Latin American artists singing their renditions of popular Christmas songs, ranging from “Noche de paz” to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Artists on the album include Tito Puente, Placido Domingo, and Ricky Martin.

October 20

October 20, 1983 – The Featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol Premieres in England

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“Merry Christmas, Uncle Scrooge!”

On October 20, 1983, the special Mickey Mouse featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol premiered in England. The featurette was Mickey’s first film appearance since the 1953’s short film The Simple Things. This British premiere had the featurette paired with a re-release of the animated feature film The Jungle Book. It was based on the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film. The short was written by Burny Mattinson, Tony L. Marino, Ed Gombert, Don Griffith, Alan Young, and Alan Dinehart; it was directed by Mattinson. The featurette starred Alan Young as Scrooge, Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, Clarence Nash as Donald, Hal Smith as Goofy, Eddie Carroll as Jiminy Cricket, and Will Ryan as Willie the Giant and Pete.

December 26

December 26, 1998 – The Christmas Episode of Recess Titled “Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave” Airs

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“It’s the Tooth Fairy incident all over again.”

On December 26, 1998, the Christmas episode of the animated series Recess titled “Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave” aired on ABC’s One Saturday Morning. The episode was directed by Susie Dietter, and written by Mark Drop, Holly Huckins, and Phil Walsh.

The episode begins on December 11th, where the kids are sweating in an above-average heat wave that has hit the area. The janitor Hank believes that there will be a blizzard approaching causing a white Christmas, but the gang doesn’t believe him. The kids then reminisce about Christmas when they were little, but realize that Mikey is the only kid in the gang that still believes in Santa Claus. Mikey then runs off to the Christmas Pageant tryouts, where he wants to just soak up the Christmas atmosphere. The auditions are interrupted by Principal Prickly, who is accompanied by a man from Hollywood looking to find the perfect school auditorium for a “global satellite non-denominational extravaganza.” Prickly almost loses the man, when he decides to use Mikey to sing, as he has a great voice. Mikey is then picked to play Santa, and decides to invite Santa to the show. Randall overhears the discussion, and announces quite cruelly to Mikey that Santa doesn’t exist. Mikey is furious, especially when he finds that his own friends don’t believe in Santa, and sets out to prove that Santa is real.

Later, Mikey rejoins his friends with a large stack of books as evidence that Santa exists. It gets worse when Mikey believes that there’s a global conspiracy to say that Santa isn’t real. Mikey then heads to the mall to meet Santa, but the “Santa” loses his temper and yells at the kids. They then head to the Christmas parade, and Mikey runs into the middle of the road, stopping the parade to ask Santa for proof. Unfortunately, the hat and beard fall off, revealing the mayor in disguise. Mikey then heads to the radio station after hearing Santa on the radio, only to find an actor pretending to be Santa. Heartbroken, Mikey heads home, realizing there’s no Santa, and decides not to be in the pageant. Late that night, Mikey wanders around town, dejected, when a man greets him from a porch of a nearby nursing home. The man convinces him that Santa exists, as long as he has faith. Back at the school, the pageant begins, and Randall is standing in for Mikey, although Randall passes out from stage fright. Just in the nick of time, Mikey appears to sing, and it starts to snow outside. The kids all rush outside afterwards to play in the snow, and Mikey sees the old man again, who congratulates him for a job well done. When Mikey asks how the old man knew about the show, the man says that Mikey had invited him, and hands him Mikey’s letter to Santa, which is now whole after being ripped up earlier. The kids are shocked when they realize that they really did just meet Santa, who flies away into the night.

December 8

December 8, 2009 – The Animated Christmas Special Prep & Landing Premieres on ABC

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“The operation has its challenges, but we’re always prepared.”

On December 8, 2009, the animated Christmas special Prep & Landing premiered on ABC. It was based on a story idea by director Chris Williams, who would go on to direct Bolt. The short met positive reviews, and ended up winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. The short was written and directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. It starred Dave Foley as Wayne, Derek Richardson as Lanny, Sarah Chalke as Magee, and W. Morgan Sheppard as Santa.

The story begins on Christmas Eve, where two elves are preparing a living room for Christmas day festivities, using special night-vision googles and other technical devices to ensure everything is perfect for when Santa arrives. The elves, named Wayne and Peterson, are part of the Prep and Landing team. Wayne has been doing this for a long, long time, and he’s ready for a change: a promotion to Director of Naughty List Intelligence, to be exact. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the promotion, but his old partner got it. He tries to put on a brave face when told the news, but he is actually rather hurt that his partner got noticed over him. Wayne then gets a new partner named Lanny, whose cheerful disposition is not exactly comforting to Wayne. As the pair head out to start Prep and Landing work, they meet Thrasher, cousin to reindeer Dasher, and Thrasher threatens Lanny, as he prefers to be thought of as a myth.

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Lanny and Wayne head out to their job, with Wayne barely making any moves in doing his work

The elves are let out over their first stop, and as Wayne doesn’t wish to do his job anymore, he convinces Lanny to do the job himself while he lounges in the living room. Poor Lanny continues to make one mistake after another, and Wayne doesn’t notice that the kid in the house has woken up. The kid takes Wayne’s picture, and all Wayne can do is stare. Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, Santa has just left the building, ready to deliver presents all over the world. In the house, the boy named Timmy, grabs Wayne and asks questions until Lanny is able to stun Timmy and put him to sleep. Wayne decides they should just head out, but Lanny points out that protocol says that all children need to be “snug in their beds.” As they carry Timmy back to his room, Lanny asks Wayne if something’s wrong. Wayne answers that he’s been working Prep and Landing for 227 years, and he can’t find the joy in it anymore. When Wayne continues to act sour, Lanny sadly admits that he thought Wayne was the Prep and Landing guy, but Wayne is just a lump of coal. Things get worse when Magee, the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator, finds out that the pair aren’t ready for Santa’s arrival, and initiates plan “Figgy Pudding,” eliciting a gasp from others in the NPCECC. This means that Timmy’s house is skipped for Christmas.

When Wayne finds out that Timmy is being skipped, he realizes that it’s all his fault, and is even more upset when Timmy thanks Wayne in his sleep. Wishing to make it right, Wayne is patched through to Santa, and convinces Santa to turn back around. He and Lanny then head to the roof to set up the roof, but they lose their landing lights. They head to a nearby neighbor’s light display, and rig it to mark the way for Santa. The two manage to work together to create a safe landing for Santa, saving Christmas. The next day, Wayne goes to visit Santa to apologize for what had happened. Santa then gives Wayne a present to see how well Timmy is doing on Christmas. As he leaves Santa’s office, he tells Lanny that he was granted a promotion to Director of the Nice List, but turned it down to stay in Prep and Landing with Lanny.

December 25

December 25, 1983 – The Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade is Broadcast on Television

Image Credit: startedbyamouse.com

Image Credit: startedbyamouse.com

“Live Christmas Day on ABC!”

On December 25, 1983, the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade was first broadcast on ABC, and has aired annually since then. The first hosts of the 90 minute special were journalist Joan Lunden and entertainer Mike Douglas (who was also known as the singing voice of Prince Charming in 1950’s Cinderella). The parade was broadcast live from Walt Disney World, and would continue to be a live broadcast until the 90s, when the parade was filmed at least a month beforehand to be ready to broadcast on Christmas Day.

December 11

December 11, 1992 – The Feature Film The Muppet Christmas Carol is Released to Theaters

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“A blue, furry Charles Dickens who hangs out with a rat?”

On December 11, 1992, the live-action feature film The Muppet Christmas Carol was released to theaters. It was the first Muppet film to be released after the deaths of creator Jim Henson and puppeteer Richard Hunt (it was released in their memory). The film is based on the classic tale by Charles Dickens, and is considered one of the more close adaptations of Dickens’ story; for instance, the character of The Ghost of Christmas Present is seen aging during his visit, as was written in the story. Directed by Brian Henson, the film stars Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, and puppeteers Dave Goelz (Gonzo, Waldorf, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew), Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker) Jerry Nelson (Robin the Frog, Statler), and Frank Oz (Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle). The film was a modest success, and has developed somewhat of a cult following in the years since its release.

Set in 19th century London, the film begins with an introduction by Charles Dickens (played by Gonzo) with his friend Rizzo the Rat, selling apples. Although Rizzo doesn’t believe that he’s standing with Charles Dickens, Dickens sets out to prove that he is, beginning the tale. We then meet the miser Ebenezer Scrooge as he makes his way through the town. The residents of London remark how cold and cruel Scrooge is, and he responds with a simple “Humbug.” He arrives back at his business, where his employees, including his assistant, Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog), are hard at work. Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, arrives at the door, trying to convince his uncle to join him for Christmas dinner, but Scrooge refuses. Late that evening, Cratchit timidly asks Scrooge if the employees can ­take Christmas day off, and Scrooge reluctantly agrees, so long as they arrive all the earlier the next day.

Scrooge is startled by all the strange disturbances he experiences on Christmas Eve

Scrooge is startled by all the strange disturbances he experiences on Christmas Eve

While the whole town seems to excitedly anticipate Christmas day, Scrooge arrives at home, disturbed by a vision of Jacob Marley (Statler). As he sits in front of the fire, strange things occur, startling him, until the ghosts of his former partners, Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorf), appear. They warn him that if he doesn’t change his ways, he will end up with their fate, wrapped in the chains of their wickedness. The two tell Scrooge that he will be haunted by three spirits, and without these visits, he cannot hope to avoid their fate. He is to expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one. Scrooge doesn’t believe them, but still crawls into bed, fearful of what could happen.

Sure enough, when the bell tolls one, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back to the Christmases of his youth. They watch as year after year passes by, with Scrooge sitting all alone at his school every Christmastime. They are then taken to his apprenticeship days at Fozziwig’s Rubber Chicken Factory, with Fozziwig’s (Fozzie Bear) annual Christmas party. It is there that Scrooge meets a young woman named Belle, and falls in love with her at first sight. Despite Scrooge’s protests, the Ghost shows him the Christmas where Belle breaks off her engagement, believing him to be more in love with money than with her. The ghost then returns a depressed Scrooge to his chambers.

The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge around town, including to the home of his loyal employee, Bob Cratchit

The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge around town, including to the home of his loyal employee, Bob Cratchit

When the bell rings two, Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, who takes him out into the city on Christmas morning, intent on showing him the joy of Christmas. Scrooge asks to see his family, suddenly inspired by the kindness he saw in the street. Taken to his nephew’s Christmas party, Scrooge is saddened to find that he is the joke of the party, and called an “unwanted creature.” The spirit then takes him to Bob Cratchit’s house, where Scrooge sees Cratchit and his son, Tiny Tim (Robin the Frog), walking home from church, full of joy. At their Christmas dinner, Cratchit raises a glass to Scrooge, although his wife Emily (Miss Piggy) strongly objects to this, but in the spirit of the season, she agrees; this touches Scrooge deeply. Scrooge is impressed by the good attitude of the sickly Tiny Tim, and asks the Spirit if Tiny Tim will live. Although the Spirit can’t give a confirmation, he says he sees “a crutch without an owner.”

The Spirit then takes Scrooge to the cemetery, to await the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Although frightened, Scrooge declares that he is willing to learn with an open and grateful heart. They arrive on a rainy Christmas day in London, seeing a crowd of pigs discussing someone’s death, declaring that no one would go to that funeral. They then move on to a back alley trader named Old Joe, with people trading with him items from the deceased, including his bed curtains and the blankets from his bed. Although Scrooge suspects that he is the deceased in question, he claims that with his new blossoming outlook on life, this may change. He then asks to see some tenderness in the world, and is taken to Bob Cratchit’s once again. Unfortunately, at this Christmas, Tiny Tim has passed away. Scrooge is taken back to the cemetery and sees his own grave before his eyes. He pleads that he has changed, that the future can change. He then promises to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year round, sobbing into the spirit’s robes.

Scrooge, having turned over a new leaf, finds the charity volunteers and offers them a large sum to help the homeless and destitute

Scrooge, having turned over a new leaf, finds the charity volunteers and offers them a large sum to help the homeless and destitute

All of a sudden, Scrooge looks around to see that the spirits have passed, and it is Christmas morning. He then sets out to make things right, buying the prize turkey from the butcher and bringing good tidings to all, including giving to a charity he had turned down the day before. Scrooge then goes to Bob Cratchit’s house to surprise him with the turkey, presents, and the offer of a salary raise. The movie ends on a high note, with Tiny Tim living after all, and the whole town of London celebrating Christmas.