The setting is a high-tech command center at the North Pole, where an elf named Magee (voiced by Sarah Chalke), the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator (NPCECCC for short) pairs a disgruntled elf named Wayne (Dave Foley), who after working tirelessly on Prep & Landing for 227 years, doesn't receive an expected promotion to be the Director of Naughty List Intelligence, which went to his sidekick Peterson. Instead, Magee partners Wayne with Lanny (Derek Richardson), an idealistic rookie who has an undying enthusiasm for Christmas, to prepare the world for the annual trip of Santa Claus. However, they get more than they can bargain for when a young boy named Timmy Terwelp captures them in action, enabling Lanny to respark the spirit of Christmas in Wayne. Meanwhile, Miss Holly, Santa's assistant gives a briefing back at the North Pole on the trip, and Magee gets word of a storm over Section 7, where they are located and utters "Oh, frostbite" and calls out a code of "figgy pudding", passing by Timmy's house, but Wayne decides to override Magee's call to pass by and visit the house. However, prep is lost when their tracking and landing device is lost in said snowstorm so they improvise from a display using an inflatable Santa snow globe, and save Santa's sleigh from disaster. In the end, Santa gives Wayne a snowglobe with a miniature version of Timmy's house, and they see him enjoying Christmas... and turns down a promotion to being in charge of the Nice List Intelligence.
Prep & Landing was originally pitched by director Chris Williams as a short film for the newly re-opened theatrical shorts program at WDAS. Liking the idea, John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation) considered it to work best as a television special and with ABC executives 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 directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Goofy's How to Hook Up Your Home Theater).
- In one scene, Mickey's Christmas Carol is shown on the television of Lanny and Wayne's assigned house in tribute to John Lassater'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 "Go" code for launch is "Dash away," used before Magee authorizes launch. (As in, "Dash away, dash away, dash away all")
- 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 site in question is in the Ohio Valley near Cincinnati, where it would snow a lot more than Burbank.
- 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.
- Look closely for the Christmas Tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas in Magee's office.
- A station wagon with the license plate "12501 WED" is the birthdate of Walt Disney (December 5, 1901).
- The German Shepard who was in the prologue getting dusted to sleep was a recolored version of the titular character of the 2008 film Bolt which was completing production as Prep & Landing was being made.
- The image of Goofy used in Timmy Terwelp's bedroom came from the poster for How to Hook Up Your Home Theatre.
- The scene of Christmas Eve prep is all shot from an elf's point of view, which is why you never see Santa's face.
- The home of Timmy Terwelp seen in the snowglobe is actually based on co-director Kevin Deter's boyhood home, and a giraffe in Terwelp's bedroom represents a plaything that one of his children plays with.
- As Wayne prepares to enter Santa's office, Miss Holly is typing the lyrics to Jingle Bells.
- Wayne - Dave Foley
- Lanny - Derek Richardson
- Magee - Sarah Chalke
- Timmy Terwelp - Mason Vale Cotton
- Miss Holly - Kasha Kropinski
- Coal Elf #1 - Adam Shapiro
- Dancer - Peter DeLuise
- The Big Guy (Santa) - W. Morgan Sheppard
- Dasher - Nathan Greno
- Thrasher - Hayes McArthur
- Brian - Kevin Deters
- Gristletoe Joe (a/k/a "Nancy") - Lino DiSalvo
- Rev-Up Elf - Stevie Wermers-Skelton
- Waterkotte - Peter Jacobson
Prep and Landing was the winner of the 2009 Annie Award for Best Television Production. It also won Annies for Production Design in a Television Production for Andy Harkness and Best Character Design in a Television Production for Bill Schwab. The show won a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Production (one hour or less) as well as three other Emmys.
Shorts and sequels
A two-minute short on the Disney.com site, titled Tiny's Big Adventure, feature Magee's assistant trying to make a pot of coffee and in the process, accidentally ruins the elves' break room.
A seven-minute short that debuted in 2010, Operation: Secret Santa, features Betty White as the voice of Mrs. Claus, who along with Magee, sends Lanny and Wayne into Santa's office on a special assignment.
A sequel, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice", premiered in 2011. In it, Wayne and Lanny uncover a hack by someone very naughty into the system, so they need the help of the head of the coal elves, not knowing that it is Noel, Wayne's long-lost and estranged brother.
Prep and Landing became the first Disney property to officially cross over with Marvel's characters with the story "Mansion: Impossible", in which Wayne and Lanny must prepare the Avengers Mansion for Christmas. The story appeared in Avengers #19, Super-Heroes #20 and Spider-Man #20 in November 2011.
A printed adaptation is available from Disney Press, and plush toys, pins and ornaments are available at Disney Stores in season. A DVD of the special, which also contained Tiny's Big Adventure and Operation: Secret Santa, was released on November 22, 2011. The special and Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, were later released together on the Prep & Landing Totally Tinsel Collection DVD and Blu-ray in 2012.
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