Disney Prep & Landing is a computer animated television special, based on an idea by Chris Williams at Walt Disney Animation Studios and developed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton into a half-hour Christmas special. It first aired December 8, 2009 on ABC.
The special was released on-line the next day, along with an original short film Tiny's Big Adventure. A second short, Operation: Secret Santa, aired on December 7, 2010. Another half-hour Christmas TV special, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice aired on December 5, 2011, on ABC.
Wayne, a Christmas elf, is part of an elite organization known as "Prep & Landing", whose job is to ready millions of homes around the world for Santa Claus's visit. After working with "Prep & Landing" for 227 years, Wayne looks forward to getting promoted. Instead, his former partner that Wayne had trained Peterson gets the promotion, and Wayne is introduced to Lanny, a rookie whom Wayne has to also train. Wayne is still bitter about the promotion, and decides to slack off during a mission. He permits Lanny to do all of the work, which is disastrous. Meanwhile, Santa is informed mid-flight of a massive snow storm and that Wayne and Lanny haven't fully prepared the house yet. He is told to cancel the landing, which has never happened before; they promise to make it up for Timmy, a boy living at the house. Wayne and Lanny discover that the re-routing was a final decision, but after hearing Timmy thank them in his sleep, Wayne decides to fix it. He calls up Santa, telling him that he must land at Timmy's house. Wayne and Lanny then work together to land Santa safely on Timmy's roof. On Christmas morning, Santa shows Wayne that Timmy had a merry Christmas. Santa offers a promotion to Wayne, but he turns it down so he can work with Lanny.
- Dave Foley as Wayne, the main character. He worked in "Prep & Landing" for 227 years and looked forward to being promoted to Director of Naughty List Intelligence, but he was stuck with Lanny to train as his partner. His call sign is "Little Drummer Boy".
- Derek Richardson as Lanny, an overly enthusiastic "Prep & Landing" rookie, whom was given by Magee to Wayne to train. He looks up to Wayne, being his biggest fan. His call sign is "Tree Skirt" and his catchphrase is "This is soo tinsel!".
- Sarah Chalke as Magee, the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator (NPCECCC) for Santa's flight. She was promoted to her current position from Toy Design after not listening to her friend Jerry and taking the job (something she admittedly regrets). Her call sign is “Jingle Bell.” She is almost never seen without a mug of eggnog in her hand. She is seen to get very stressed under pressure. This is most evident when she faints after Santa's sleigh almost slides off a roof.
- W. Morgan Sheppard as 'The Big Guy'. His call sign is “Partridge”. “Pear Tree” is his sleigh (in flight) (The coded message "The Patridge is in the Pear Tree" means Santa is in the sleigh) and “Big Red” (a tall, red, old-fashioned telephone) is the phone Magee uses to call him.
- Mason Vale Cotton as Timmy Terwelp, an excited young boy who befriends Wayne before he is put back to bed only seconds later. He takes a picture of Wayne which is promptly deleted by Lanny.
- Nathan Greno and David DeLuise as the Reindeer, Dasher and Dancer. Their call sign, along with the other six reindeer is "Eight Maids 'a Milking", something Dasher hates.
- Hayes MacArthur as Thrasher, Dasher's aggressive cousin and Reindeer for "Prep & Landing". Thrasher's P&L transport was the last one out before Santa's flight, making it imperative that Wayne and Lanny get onboard.
- Kasha Kropinski as Miss Holly, Santa's highly-efficient personal assistant.
- Tiny is Magee's assistant in the command center.
Prep and Landing was originally pitched by director Chris Williams as a short film for the newly re-opened shorts program at Walt Disney Animation Studios. 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 directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Goofy's How to Hook Up Your Home Theater) control.
The original premiere date was scheduled for December 1; however, a speech at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York on his Afghan war strategy by President Barack Obama delayed the special's debut one week to December 8, 2009.
Prep & Landing includes a number of references and in-jokes left by the animators. Many pay homage to other Christmas specials and traditions. For example, Magee's office has the Christmas tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. When Wayne prepares to enter Santa's office, Miss Holly is typing the lyrics to "Jingle Bells". The launch code given by Magee is "dash away," from the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas ("Dash away, dash away, dash away all"). Timmy Terwelp himself is named in honor of Tiny Tim, a character from Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol.
Others are related to Disney itself. Mickey's Christmas Carol is shown on the television of Lanny and Wayne's assigned house. Although Timmy's residence appears to be in the Ohio Valley region of the United States, the latitude and longitude given for his house (N 34' 9' 20" / W 118' 19' 23") are of The Walt Disney Company's world headquarters in Burbank, California. A license plate with the characters "12501 WED" is a reference to the birth date of Walt Disney. The German Shepherd shown 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. Timmy's night-light features Goofy in a pose from the poster for the theatrical short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.
Lastly, some of the references were inspired by the show's co-director, Kevin Deters. During a scene in which Wayne is "being naughty" and making himself a drink, the milk carton Wayne is using has the logo of Deter's Dairy, a real-life dairy located in Quincy, Illinois, Kevin Deters' hometown. A toy giraffe in Timmy's bedroom is based on a similar toy belonging to one of Deters' children. When Santa shows Wayne what happened at Timmy's house Christmas morning, the home shown is based on Deters' boyhood home.
On December 1, 2009, prior to its first broadcast, Prep & Landing was nominated for nine Annie Awards in seven categories by the International Animated Film Association, ASIFA-Hollywood. It won three awards, including the award for Best Animated Television Production.
On August 21, 2010, Prep & Landing was honored with four Emmy Awards including the Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) category.