Minnie's Bow-Toons: Oh, Christmas Tree (2013), Minnie's Bow-Toons: Party Palace Pals: Clarabelle's Christmas Sweater (2021), Minnie's Bow-Toons: Camp Minnie: Campground Christmas (2023)

Here's another parent review for y'all. At some point earlier this year, my daughter decided that she was interested in the Minnie's Bow-Toons shorts that are available on Disney+. And I discovered that there's a whole dang animated Disney Junior universe.

As far as I can tell, first there was a popular animated show for preschoolers about Mickey Mouse and friends called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Minnie's Bow-Toons is a series of shorts spinning off of that show. But after the original MMC stopped airing, it was retooled and returned as a new show in a similar style: Mickey Mouse Roadster Racers, which ran for two seasons before the format was changed again and it was renamed Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures. This spawned more sets of spin-off shorts, including new seasons of Bow-Toons, now called Minnie's Bow-Toons: Party Palace Pals. The latest season of Bow-Toons, Camp Minnie, changes up its format even further to focus on outdoor activities. There are even more shows and shorts than that in an expanding web of cheery tunes, edutainment, and CG slapstick. But I think that's enough for now.

What the shows have in common are a style, a basic set of characters, and an approximate setting, although all of those elements shifted over time. 

My kid refuses to watch the half-hour shows. My understanding is that some of those skew more educational than others, but the shorts seem to be almost exclusively comedy.

Minnie's Bow-Toons was specifically inspired by an episode in which Minnie opens a boutique that sells bows, and the shorts focus on Minnie, Daisy, and new character Cuckoo-Loca running the shop (later running a pet salon, going on a world trip, running a party planning business, running a campground, and more) and engaging in any type of wacky hijinks that can be resolved in 3 minutes flat. The female focus gives these characters a bit more substance than usual. It's less "Minnie is Mickey with a bow" and more "Minnie can do anything Mickey can do, only more efficiently and in high heels." 

During at least some parts of the series, Minnie and Daisy are roommates as well as business partners, as seems to be the case for the first Christmas episode. 

Minnie's Bow-Toons: Oh, Christmas Tree

This is an almost wordless short about Minnie and Daisy each trying to decorate their apartment's Christmas tree with their own personal style, and shenanigans ensue as they try to outdo each other. This is resolved by combining their decorations into something beautiful that they can agree on. Awww. 

The weirdest holiday aspect here is one of set dressing: both a menorah and a kinara appear without comment on the mantelpiece above the fireplace. What holiday(s) are they celebrating?


Minnie's Bow-Toons: Party Palace Pals: Clarabelle's Christmas Sweater 

This short is heavy on the singing, featuring a repetitive tune about wishes that, shall we say, isn't one of the better ones from this series. It follows Clarabelle Cow traveling to a "silly" Christmas sweater party, but her extremely extravagant holiday sweater is unraveling on route. Minnie and Daisy chase after her to try to stop her. On the way, the decorations falling off the sweater help grant other characters' holiday wishes in unlikely magical ways. Clarabelle is disappointed to arrive at the party and realize her sweater is gone, but the other characters instantly knit her a new one that symbolizes what a good friend she is ... even if it was by accident.

Minnie's Bow-Toons: Camp Minnie: Campground Christmas

Minnie, Daisy, Clarabelle, and Cuckoo-Loca are just finishing up making the campground into a winter wonderland complete with snowy cabins and decorations. They're expecting a Christmas visit from Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, but a phone call lets them know that snow has blocked the pass. The girls decide to head to the rescue. They grab shovels and add a plow to their big pink camper van and head down the mountain to a song about being together at Christmas. Clarabelle (wearing her sweater from the previous Christmas episode) drives them to the pass and they scale the huge drifts and get the boys and their stuff back over. Unfortunately, then a sudden snow slide buries the van and now they're all stranded. Mickey reassures them they can still have a happy Christmas since they're all together. Cut to them celebrating around a bonfire, having uncovered enough of the van to get out supplies. Santa flies over and we're done. Where they're all sleeping tonight, given the whole "stranded in the snow" thing, is not addressed.

These shorts accomplish exactly what they set out to do: be funny but not too scary or complex for the preschool set, while introducing classic Disney IP to a marketable demographic. Some of them are cleverer than others, none are brilliant. 

I think they're fine though. They're good-hearted and amusing, and I like the focus on this group of female characters and their friendships.