“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is one of my favorite stories of all time. I’ve seen countless theatrical productions of this classic tale and have enjoyed various movie versions throughout the years. But did you know that there have been touches of “A Christmas Carol” found in the Disney Parks along with some unrealized concepts that never came to fruition?
Let’s begin with some content that actually did exist. Perhaps one of the most classic retellings of this tale among Disney fans is 1983’s “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.” That same year, you could find Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Scrooge McDuck at Magic Kingdom dressed in their attire from the film. They could be found as Bob Cratchit, Mrs. Cratchit, Nephew Fred and Ebenezer Scrooge respectively.
But that’s not the only place where you could find “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” featured. In more recent years, the windows of Magic Kingdom’s Emporium have featured scenes from the beloved film.
If you’ve been visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season for many years, you may even remember these vignettes from their previous home in the Disney Village Marketplace. One of the iconic scenes featured is Scrooge McDuck (as Ebenezer Scrooge) falling into his grave with the Ghost of Christmas Future looming over him.
This imagery is quite ironic for the festive holiday season. It has always amazed me that, albeit having a happy ending, “A Christmas Carol” has become such an iconic story for families to enjoy. At its core, it’s a ghost story. I love this story and I’m happy that it’s this way, but it’s still shocking nonetheless that it’s become synonymous with family entertainment – especially to be seen in a Disney Park.
Being such a big fan of the Dickens tale, I obviously love to see as much of it as possible in the Disney Parks. Therefore, it somewhat pains me to think of what could have been.
In this year’s new Disney Editions book release, “Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter,” there is an entire chapter dedicated to Haunted Mansion Holiday. In the book, it’s mentioned that, for quite a few years, the Walt Disney Imagineers were trying to come up with some sort of concept for a Haunted Mansion seasonal overlay. To my surprise, apparently “A Christmas Carol” (being one of the greatest ghost stories ever told) was one of the concepts being tossed around Imagineering. As much as I enjoy Haunted Mansion Holiday, I would have loved to see Jacob Marley along with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future spooking the halls of The Haunted Mansion.
I discovered an even more shocking fact while watching a YouTube video from Yesterworld Entertainment, titled “The Troubled History of Epcot’s Abandoned World Showcase.” In the video, it’s mentioned how Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion was to feature a state-of-the-art audio-animatronics show telling the story of “A Christmas Carol.” In this video, it mentions that there isn’t a lot of information available on the topic, but that it was originally intended to be an opening day attraction on Oct. 1, 1982. If that is true, it appears as though there would have been an “A Christmas Carol” attraction available at Walt Disney World year-round.
Of course, Disney also has the rights to “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (one of my personal favorite adaptations of this story) and their 2009 motion capture animated version starring Jim Carrey. We did get a little throwback to “The Muppet Christmas Carol” when the film’s song “It Feels Like Christmas” became the finale of Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration Show in Magic Kingdom.
With Disney having numerous versions of “A Christmas Carol” at their fingertips, I wish that we could see more of it in the parks around the holiday season. I’d even be in favor of an entire “A Christmas Carol” parade in the parks. Disneyland park could especially use an updated holiday parade.
Which version of Disney’s numerous adaptations would you like to see featured in the Disney Parks and what would you like to see done with it?
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. You can hear him discuss the various Disney versions of “A Christmas Carol” with an actor who has been portraying Ebenezer Scrooge for over thirty years in the upcoming seventh season finale of his podcast. “Dizney Coast to Coast” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more podcast listening platforms, or by visiting DizneyCoastToCoast.com.