Growing up, nothing matched the high of seeing all my favorite Disney characters come together at the end of Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse to sing “The Best Christmas of All” together around a beautifully lit Christmas tree. This was, of course, before I knew that fanfiction was a thing, so just seeing a mega crossover thrilled me. Lumiere lighting the fireplace? Amazing. Jasmine and Aladdin flying in on a magic carpet? Fantastic. Grumpy and the rest of the dwarves wishing for bunk beds for Christmas? Phenomenal filmmaking, cinema at its finest.
That was the biggest gimmick of House of Mouse, a Disney Channel animated show centered on Mickey and his friends running a dinner theater club — the fact that characters from across various Disney animated properties attended the club and watched various Disney shorts. Some of these shorts were created specifically for the show, while others came from Disney history. But the important thing was the fact that all the characters were hanging out and watching them together.
The Christmas special, as the name implies, takes place on a night when all the guests are snowed in. While Mickey is happy to play host for longer, Donald is in a grumpy anti-Christmas mood for an unspecified reason, so to cheer him up, the gang decides to play their favorite Christmas shorts.
Snowed in at the House of Mouse was not just my first exposure to various classic Mickey Mouse shorts, but also my first exposure to classic Christmas stories like A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. All other adaptations of those stories will always pale in comparison to my first time. To me, the Ghost of Christmas Past will always be Jiminy Cricket, and Uncle Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker will always sound vaguely like Ludwig von Drake. Eventually, our VHS player broke and our viewings transitioned to DVD… till that DVD player broke and the Christmas special lived on in memory only. When Disney Plus debuted, I was thrilled — I could finally spend the holidays watching my beloved childhood favorite.
Unfortunately, not a single episode of House of Mouse is on Disney Plus. The special itself is available to rent for $7.99 on YouTube and Prime Video, but the fact that it wasn’t readily available on Disney Plus, a service I am already paying for, irked me. I thought maybe I could cobble together a DIY version of the special, at least, using the shorts that are available on Disney Plus — but only two of them are! Hey, what gives, Disney?
While Mickey’s Christmas Carol and Pluto’s Christmas Tree are on Disney Plus, the other three shorts are mysteriously absent. After a little research, I learned that the three other shorts — a retelling of The Nutcracker starring Minnie; Donald entering an ice skating race; and Mickey creatively decorating his house — all came from a Disney series called Mickey Mouse Works. This show aired from 1999 to 2000 and was designed to replicate the golden age of Disney animated shorts. Some of them were short ditties, some of them were longer and based on classic stories (hence the Nutcracker one). None of them are available to stream or rent anywhere!
Funnily enough, House of Mouse essentially replaced this show when it started airing. The fact that neither of them are available on Disney Plus — or anywhere, really — is frustrating. Such is the state of modern streaming. Even though every media company out there wants its own individual service, it’s no guarantee that its own original content will even appear on it. There is somehow more content out there than ever before, yet it is simultaneously as accessible as it’s ever been and even more inaccessible than it ever was. Sure, there are a lot of shows and movies all at your fingertips, but that very specific forgotten childhood favorite? The chances of stumbling upon it nestled on a video rental shelf somewhere are low; the chances of it being on a streaming service are basically none.
There are certain movies and shows that people only watch during the holidays. It’s a tradition, as tried and true as making cookies or decorating a Christmas tree. But now that so many shows and movies are locked away and only released at the whims of corporate powers, some of that magic is lost. When Apple took control of the Charlie Brown movies, many people were not too keen on the fact that they’d be streaming exclusives. Sure, this Disney special doesn’t have as much of a passionate fan base as Charlie Brown, but man, it’s sad that this beloved holiday tradition is now inaccessible to me and many others out there.
Maybe I should shell out that $7.99 to rent it and stop being such a Scrooge about paying extra. Maybe I should accept the harsh reality of the streaming wars as a fun holiday bonus. Or maybe I should put a DVD-VHS player combo on my Christmas list, in hopes that Santa Claus will help me make my childhood favorites last just a little longer.
Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse is available to rent on YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play, and Prime Video.