If you watch the premiere of “A Royal Christmas Holiday” at 8 p.m. December 23 on the Great American Family Network, you might recognize some Western New York landmarks in the movie, including the USS The Sullivans.
The now-decommissioned World War II destroyer, named for five Iowa brothers who died together aboard another warship, is now stationed at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park—one of the many Western New York settings in the movie. Here’s the trailer:
A romantic comedy about a dogged American journalist who scores a rare interview with a prince visiting New York City during the holidays, “A Royal Christmas Holiday” isn’t the first Christmas movie filmed in Western New York—and it likely won’t be the last. The area has a staunch fan in veteran writer/director/producer Fred Olen Ray, who grew up in Florida but has made Western New York a professional home of sorts with a string of feel-good, royal-themed Christmas movies filmed in the area.
So, if you ever wondered whether there was a Christmas movie filmed in East Aurora, NY, or any Hallmark movies filmed in East Aurora, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Ray, who wrote and produced “A Royal Christmas Holiday,” is the creative force behind Western New York-filmed TV movies dating back to 2015.
(And if you get your fill of sweet holiday movies by directors such as Ray, you might look for his 2022 film, “Piranha Women,” described thus on imdb.com: "Terror rides on high tides in this sexy and outrageous tale of science run amok...” But you, uh, might want to wait until the kids are in bed.)
The Western New York area’s popularity with filmmakers doesn’t end with Ray, nor is it limited to Buffalo. East Aurora’s Main Street and the historic Vidler’s 5 & 10 are favorite settings for scenes in holiday movies by several filmmakers. Here’s a list of Christmas films shot in East Aurora and/or Western New York, several of which feature Vidler’s:
“A Perfect Christmas List” (premiered 2014) As a last wish, a recently hospitalized grandmother, Evie, tasks her daughter and granddaughter, Sara, with a list of festive accomplishments to do together before Christmas, hoping that the adventure of the experience will repair their relationship
“A Prince for Christmas” (2015): Described on imdb.com as a film about a European prince who, to escape an arranged marriage, flees to the United States—where he meets and falls in love with “a struggling young waitress.” Buffalo/WNY landmarks:
“A Christmas in Vermont” (2016): Although this movie, which stars Chevy Chase, is supposed to take place in Vermont, it’s filmed mostly in Western New York, including East Aurora, Ellicottville, and Buffalo The plot? An executive must liquidate a small-town outerwear manufacturer at Christmastime. Local landmarks:
“A Christmas in Royal Fashion” (2018): “Handsome prince and fashion assistant fall in love amidst a Christmas fashion show.
“A Christmas Princess” (2019): Director Jessica is a struggling chef living in a trendy New York borough. Prince Jack, who's in the city for his family's annual Christmas charity dinner, finds himself in need of a last-minute chef for a royal event when he meets Jessica. Buffalo/WNY landmarks:
“A Royal Christmas Engagement” (2020): Ray directed this one. Buffalo/WNY landmarks:
“A Royal Christmas on Ice” (2022): This movie was which was filmed primarily in and around East Aurora, premieres at 8 p.m. tonight on the Great American Family network. Buffalo/WNY landmarks:
Vidler’s also was featured in the TV film “Romance on Ice.” Altogether, more than a half dozen movies made since 2015 contain scenes filmed inside or outside the East Aurora shop. Vidler’s is a popular spot to shoot holiday movies.
The screen time has drawn new visitors to the variety shop. A couple from northern Maine drove to East Aurora last summer to check out the charming village and variety store where Christmas movies were made, Vidler said.
All these films are now available on the free streaming service tubi.