Do You Recall Prep and Landing? ABC’s Trilogy Christmas Elf Specials.


With Christmas just around the corner most Disney fans will be looking for films to watch for the Holiday Season. Of course you have your classic like The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Santa Clause and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas. But do you recall a series of short films that aired a new special every year? Buckle up your safety belts and hold on to the reins as we go in on the Prep & Landing series.

On December 8th, 2009 Walt Disney Animation released the 22-minute short Prep & Landing on ABC as part of their annual 25 Days of Christmas program block. In this world before Santa visits a house commando elves would infiltrate the house and prepare it for Santa’s arrival and would signal him to land on the roof, hence the title “Prep & Landing”.

The first short, Prep & Landing, follows Wayne (Dave Foley), and elf who has worked in P&L for 227 Years and was hoping he would finally be promoted after all his art work. He is informed by Magee (Sarah Chalke) that he was passed up and instead is assigned to break in a new recruit, Lanny (Derek Richardson). During a mission in protest Wayne let Lenny do all the work, which ends up in a disaster. Meanwhile Santa (W. Morgan Sheppard) encounters a massive snow storm. Since Wayne and Lenny haven’t finished prepping the house Santa is told to cancel the landing. After befriending a boy named Timmy, Wayne and Lanny work together to fix their mistake and are able to re-rout Santa back to the house to make his landing. After the mission Santa is proud of Wayne for his efforts and offers him a promotion, but he turns it down in favor of working with Lanny.

On December 7th, 2010 Disney released the second short, Operation: Secret Santa, on ABC. The 7-minute short follows Wayne and Lanny as they are tasked with a secret mission from Mrs. Claus (Betty White) to retrieve a package from Santa’s Workshop. They infiltrate the workshop while Santa is asleep and retrieve the package. Mrs. Clause reveals that the package contains the last pieces to the first toy Santa ever made. With the final piece obtained she is able to put it back together as a gift for Santa.

On December 5th, 2011 Disney released the third and final short Naughty vs. Nice on ABC. The 22-minute short follows Wayne and Lanny as they try to find a hacker who is trying to remove their name from the naughty list. Wayne and Lanny then seek the help from Noel, Wayne’s little brother and member of the Coal Brigade. The hacker is found out to be a girl who’s little brother destroyed her favorite toy and thought she would be on the naughty list for being angry with him. Wayne and Noel have brother issues but are able to put them aside to save the naughty/nice list. This makes the girl realize that she shouldn’t be mad at her brother anymore. On Christmas her little bother gifts her with a new toy to replace the one he broke, and both Wayne and Noel with “Elves of the Year”.

The directors of the series, Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers, did have plans to continue the series but none have been made since 2011. The two later went on to direct Olaf’s Frozen Adventure in 2017.

It is a shame that this series has seemingly ended and that most people have seemingly forgotten this series. It would have been nice to have seen more adventures with Wayne, Lanny and Magee.

There was a DVD/Blu-ray set in 2012 Prep & Landing: Totally Tinsel Collection which collected all 3 shorts and a bonus 4th short Tiny’s BIG Adventure. The 1st and 3rd shorts are on Disney Plus in most countries while the 2nd is only on Disney Plus Australia and New Zealand.

Perhaps more people would recall this series if they had been made-for-tv movies with a 40-50 minute runtime. Funny enough the concept of Commando Elves was later used in 2011’s Arthur Christmas from Aardman Animation.

Will you be watching Prep & Landing this Christmas Season? Do you think Disney should revisit this series? Perhaps even make a feature length film?

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