This week on WDW ESCAPE, take a journey of the imagination with us, as we IMAGINE Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Imagine Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Welcome to WDW Escape, brought to you by WDW Magazine. The December issue of WDW Magazine is “The Season to Sparkle,” which means it is the Christmas issue, and we at the WDW Escape podcast are very merry indeed to be playing along.
Join us now as we escape to Walt Disney World and pay a visit of the imagination to a beloved holiday favorite: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Put magic in your mailbox every month with WDW Magazine, the ultimate print magazine for lovers of Walt Disney World. Subscribe in the month of December to start with our 100th issue.
There is nowhere in the world that does Christmas magic quite as well as Walt Disney World. There are a lot of reasons why this is true, like holiday light displays that you can probably see from space, or the unimaginable array of holly jolly snack options, or the seasonal overlays that transform beloved attractions into completely different experiences that you can only ride at this very special time of year.
It all combines to make the kind of Christmas experience full of love that your dear old Granny would concoct for you, if only she had a decorating budget that would rival a NASA mission, an army of wonderful Cast Members that would put Santa’s workshop to shame, and a recipe for some pretty excellent yuletide churros.
But most of all, what makes Christmas at Disney World so special is the same thing that makes it so wonderful everywhere—the opportunity to come together and join in celebrations with people we care about, sharing the magic of the season.
At Walt Disney World, that includes our entire extended family of Disney friends; thousands and thousands of folks we might not know well, but who all call the same magical place “home.” When a family that size gets together, the love and joy begin off the chart and skyrocket forth, propelled by that unique cocktail of Christmas spirit and Disney magic.
We all know, however, that the past couple of years have not been the easiest of times for us all to gather together to celebrate. This year, things seem to be getting back to normal at last, though there are some traditions of the great big Disney family to which we all belong, that we are still waiting patiently for.
For example, the beloved holiday nighttime spectacular that has made many Christmases merry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
Now don’t despair. No one has actually called off this year’s edition of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! At least, at time of writing, it is still officially listed as “Temporarily Unavailable,” but returning in 2021.
Perhaps by the time you hear this episode the night sky will once again be ablaze with holiday magic. But, just in case, maybe we should embark on an escape together and visit this holiday favorite in our imagination.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a nighttime spectacular built around that most “tinsel” of Disney Properties, Lanny and Wayne, the Christmas elves who first appeared in the 2009 ABC Holiday special “Prep and Landing,” though the title was actually the catchphrase of Wayne’s brother Noel in the sequel, 2011’s “Prep and Landing 2: Naughty vs. Nice.”
Noel only appears in Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! for a few seconds, but his catchphrase makes a great title, so Jingle BAM indeed.
There are certainly fireworks on display, and of course they are stunning, but this show is really a masterpiece of projection mapping, turning the Chinese Theater and the surrounding structures into an enormous animated plaything, with the clarity of a flat movie screen.
The show is more than just shock and awe and includes a return of the original voice cast, including Dave Foley, whom Pixar fans will recall as Flik the ant from A Bug’s Life, not to mention the attraction It’s Tough to be a Bug! at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The story of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a simple one, but has high stakes, real heart, and surprise twists and never failed to delight my family and the thousands of new best friends we saw the show with.
“The Big Guy,” Santa Claus himself, has a special greeting for the people of Hollywood Studios, but when the moment comes, he is suddenly nowhere to be found. Santa Claus is missing, and Christmas is coming fast! What stakes could possibly seem higher for a crowd of children?
Thanks to the wonder of suspended disbelief, my hands were always gripped a little bit tighter by certain small people, just in case it might really be true.
With no hesitation, because after all this is only a 15-minute show, the powers that be summon an elite team of Prep and Landing elves to find the big guy and save the day. Prep and Landing is the action-hero unit of elves who act as advance agents for the Big Guy and his eight tiny reindeer, ensuring that there are no creatures stirring, and other important jobs.
Lanny and Wayne take a “secret agent” approach, bathing the crowd in lights and scanners, before turning to Santa’s collection of magic snow globes that can see anywhere and everywhere.
Of course, it turns out that where they can really see is wherever there are beloved Disney characters playing in snow or on ice. Pluto and Mickey, Donald and his nephews, Beauty and the Beast, Riley from Inside Out, and of course the stars of Frozen. The many screens surrounding you are filled with countless beloved Disney characters and then more and more as the winter connections grow increasingly dubious.
The music swells and you realize that these characters and their stories are like extended family too, all of us gathered together for the most wonderful time of the year, if only Santa could be found.
In a move that, incredibly, no one in my family saw coming, we learn that Santa has been kidnapped by a completely different holiday, and Oogie Boogie himself has whisked him away to a Nightmare … Before Christmas.
The lights blaze fantastic shades of pumpkin orange and rockets roar overhead as Lanny and Wayne help the Big Guy make his escape at last. Celebrations abound as the most over-the-top display of joyous elves in history plays, bathed in the glow of red and green fireworks that light up the night sky.
Christmas has been saved once again, and certain children of my acquaintance will pretend that they never had any doubt. The massive, happy audience celebrates the season together, as will the one tomorrow, and the next night, and the next night too, until it is Christmas at last.
If that imaginary visit is the only one we get to make to jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! this year, then at least we can be happy to have shared the season together. Whenever Lanny and Wayne do make their triumphant return, that enormous and very merriest Disney Christmas family will be ready to welcome them home.
Jingle BAM!, indeed.