|“||Have you ever wondered how it all gets done? How Santa gets in and out of millions of homes, all in one night? Let's just say, he has a little help.||”|
— The first line of Wayne's opening narration
Prep & Landing (officially known as Disney Prep & Landing; sometimes listed as Prep and Landing or Wayne and Lanny the Christmas Elves in Prep & Landing) is an Emmy Award-winning computer animated television special produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It premiered on ABC on December 8, 2009 at 8:30 PM ET/PT, while in Canada, it debuted on CTV on December 10th, and it aired on Disney Cinemagic on December 13th in the UK. The original airdate was to have been December 1st; however, a speech at the United States Military Academy by US President Barack Obama postponed the debut for a week. The special also aired annually on Freeform as part of the 25 Days of Christmas from 2009 to 2018 (it was oddly absent from the line-up in 2019 and 2020, despite said event still including the sequel).
The special begins with an introduction to the eponymous Prep & Landing, an elite unit of Christmas elves who, on Christmas Eve every year, are sent ahead to secretly prepare the houses he visits for the arrival of Santa Claus (codenamed "the Big Guy"). The story focuses on Wayne, who has been working tirelessly as a Prep & Landing elf for 227 years and is expecting to be promoted to Director of Naughty List Intelligence. However, Magee, the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator (NPCECCC for short) informs him that the promotion has instead gone to his old partner and former trainee, Peterson. Thusly, Wayne is now partnered with Lanny, an idealistic rookie who has an undying enthusiasm for Christmas.
That Christmas Eve, Wayne and Lanny are brought to "Section 7", the neighborhood of the first house they have to prep for Santa. Wayne, feeling bitter about not receiving the promotion, decides to slack off during the mission and permits Lanny to do all of the work, which proves to be disastrous. However, Wayne gets more than either one of them bargained for when the kid who lives in this house, a young boy named Timmy Terwelp, comes upon him and attempts to befriend him. Lanny sees Timmy up and about and hits him with a "sparkle ornament" that puts him back to sleep. As the two elves bring Timmy back to his bed, Wayne admits to Lanny that he's lost his enthusiasm for the job. Lanny finds that unbelievable, pointing out to Wayne how much Timmy is looking forward to being visited by Santa.
Meanwhile, Miss Holly, Santa's assistant, gives a briefing back at the North Pole on the trip, and Magee gets word of a snowstorm over Section 7. When she contacts Wayne about the storm, she also learns that Wayne and Lanny haven't fully prepped Timmy's house. Magee calls Santa about this and says she is forced to declare "figgy pudding" (the equivalent of "code red"), meaning that Santa will have to cancel visiting Timmy's house.
Not wanting to let Timmy down, Wayne regains his enthusiasm for his job. He tells Magee to patch him through to the big guy, saying that he and Lanny have a plan as to provide a safe landing for Santa despite the snowstorm. However, their tracking and landing device is lost in the storm, so the duo improvise from a display using an inflatable Santa snow globe from a neighbor's decorations, and save Santa's sleigh from disaster.
Later, on Christmas day, Santa gives Wayne a snowglobe with a miniature version of Timmy's house, and they see him enjoying Christmas. The big guy then offers to give Wayne a promotion to be in charge of Nice List Intelligence, but Wayne turns it down; when Lanny asks him why, he says that "I'm more of a Prep & Landing guy."
Prep & Landing was originally pitched by director Chris Williams as a short film for the newly re-opened theatrical shorts program at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Liking the idea, John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation) decided that it would work best as a television special, and ABC executives, who were keen to repeat the success of the 2007 DreamWorks Animation special Shrek the Halls, approved the project.
Following Williams' directorial debut on the short film Glago's Guest, he was moved on to co-direct the feature film Bolt. The special continued production under the control of co-directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (who also directed the Goofy cartoon How to Hook Up Your Home Theater).
- A scene from Mickey's Christmas Carol is shown on the television of Lanny and Wayne's assigned house in tribute to John Lasseter's first stint at Disney, and Timmy Terwelp's name is a tribute to Tiny Tim.
- Santa's sleigh is codenamed "Rosebud", after the sled of Orson Wells' titular character in Citizen Kane.
- The latitude and longitude of Timmy Terwelp's residence (N 34' 9' 20" / W 118' 19' 23") are in actuality that of The Walt Disney Company's world headquarters in Burbank, California; however, the map shows the Ohio Valley instead.
- Director Kevin Deters' hometown is Quincy, Illinois, home to Deter's Dairy. During a scene in which Wayne is "being naughty" and making himself a drink, the milk carton Wayne is using has the Deter's logo.
- The tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas can be seen in Magee's office.
- A station wagon with the license plate "12501 WED" refers to the birthdate of Walt Disney (December 5, 1901).
- The German Shepard who was getting dusted to sleep in the prologue was a recolored version of the titular character of Bolt, which was completing production as Prep & Landing was being made.
- The image of Goofy seen in Timmy Terwelp's bedroom comes from the poster for How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.
- Timmy's house as seen in the snowglobe is actually based on co-director Kevin Deter's boyhood home, and a giraffe in his bedroom represents a plaything that one of Deter's children played with.
- When Wayne prepares to enter Santa's office, Miss Holly is typing the lyrics to "Jingle Bells".
Other then the above-mentioned pre-emption due to the Presidential speech, two ABC stations did not air the original premiere. WFAA in Dallas pre-empted the special and A Charlie Brown Christmas beforehand to air a Christmas-themed prime time special of their Good Morning Texas program, while WKRN in Nashville opted not to air the shows but broadcast a contractually obligated weekly Tennessee Titans show hosted by head coach Jeff Fisher. The shows aired both in other time slots; the most prominent being at 3:35 AM CDT in Dallas the following late Friday night/Saturday morning (December 18/19, 2009).
Prep & Landing was nominated for nine Annie Awards, and won three - Best Animated Television Production, Best Character Design in a Television Production (given to Bill Schwab), and Best Production Design in a Television Production (given to Andy Harkness). It was later nominated for two awards in the 8th Visual Effects Society Awards, winning for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or Special. It also won the 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour), and also won Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for Andy Harkness (art director), William M. George III (background key design), and Joe Mateo (storyboard artist).
Spin-offs and sequels
- A two-minute short titled Tiny's Big Adventure, originally released on Disney's official website, finds Tiny, an aide, helping Magee out by trying to make a pot of Yuletide Joe, but winds up destroying the break room by accident.
- A seven-minute short, Operation: Secret Santa, premiered alongside the special's broadcast on December 7, 2010 on ABC at 8 PM ET/PT. Betty White joined the voice cast playing Mrs. Claus.
- In 2011, ABC debuted a sequel, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice. This new special reveals that an undercover member of the Coal Elves is Wayne's brother, Noel.
- Also in 2011, Kevin Deters wrote an 8-page comic story, Prep & Landing: Elves Assemble, in which Wayne and Lanny prepare Avengers Mansion for a visit from Santa. Notably the first official crossover between Disney and Marvel Comics following Disney's acquisition of the latter company, it was illustrated by Joe Mateo and appeared in Avengers #19, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #20, and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #20.
- In a 2011 interview with Disney's insider website, Dieters and Wermers-Skeleton stated that a third special was in the works. However, due to the ratings for Naughty vs. Nice not being high enough, production on it was abandoned.
A DVD of the special, which also included the two aforementioned follow-up shorts as bonus content, was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on November 22, 2011. A year later, the special was featured alongside its sequel, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, on the Prep & Landing Totally Tinsel Collection DVD and Blu-ray, released on November 6, 2012.
A storybook adaptation was published by Disney Press in 2009, and plush toys, pins and ornaments of the characters were made available at Disney Stores during the Christmas season. In 2011, Hallmark had a line of Prep and Landing-related toys and ornaments.
|Mason Vale Cotton||Timmy Terwelp|
|Kasha Kropinski||Miss Holly|
|Adam Shapiro||Coal Elf #1|
|W. Morgan Sheppard||Santa Claus|
|Lino DiSalvo||Gristletoe Joe (a.k.a. "Nancy")|
|Stevie Wermers-Skelton||Rev-Up Elf|
- Yuletide Adventure Continues, Disney Insider, retrieved 8 December 2011.
- Official website
- Prep & Landing Wiki: Prep & Landing
- Disney Wiki: Prep & Landing
- Prep & Landing at the Internet Movie Database
- Prep & Landing at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Prep & Landing at TV Tropes (also covers the sequel special)
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