The recent announcement that this would be the last year for The Osborne Family of Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was both not surprising and not welcome. As Disney’s Hollywood Studios makes its transformation into a park that is home to both a Star Wars and Toy Story land, it was a given that some attractions, including seasonal offerings, would be on the chopping block.
The overall response I have seen has been one of “Can’t they move it somewhere else?” Some people have suggested Disney Springs (which would be problematic because the roads twist and turn and already have large nighttime crowds and live entertainment). In my view, the best location to relocate the lights—and expand the entire event—would be Wide World of Sports. Here’s some of my thoughts.
- Better traffic flow and parking.
As surprising as it might be, people go to the Studios to see things other than the Osborne Lights during that season. The traffic along Buena Vista Drive is a nightmare on Friday and Saturday nights as locals flock to the Studios, causing frayed tempers, the need for additional security and police to direct traffic, and challenges for access to the Crescent Lake resorts. Once the evening is over, it can take an hour or more to just get out of the poorly designed parking lot at the Studios. By moving it to Wide World of Sports, and having the Dancing Lights being the only event going on there, you have more room to stack traffic on the road in, a dedicated light to let traffic out, and easier access to I-4 for people coming from off property.
- Separate ticket event increases revenue.
First and foremost, Disney is a corporation, and corporations are always looking for ways to increase revenue. By making the Dancing Lights at Wide World of Sports its own hard-ticket event, you are taking a venue that is only limitedly used at night and making it a profit-generating event. A price point similar to that of ICE at the Gaylord Palms (around $30 for adults, $17 for children) would make it an attractive alternative for the holiday season. It could also be rented out by corporations for their holiday parties for slow evenings.
- Open space for larger crowds.
Crowds at the Osborne Lights can be insane. On one Saturday night last year, the line to get in to the Streets of America stretched all the way back to Pixar Place. The Streets of America are fixed in their size and capacity, but at Wide World of Sports, putting free-standing structures with lights (similar to those seen at other outdoor light venues) means that you can make wider openings to hold more people in comfort. Who knows, maybe they could even bring back the Lights of Winter as a gateway into the light viewing area?
- Setup could be done during the day over a shorter period of time.
Because the Studios is open during the day and into the evening, the amount of time when setup can be done is limited to when guests are not in the park. For Wide World of Sports, setup work could be done during the day. This not only allows for more time each day for setup (and so fewer weeks to set the lights up), it also means that you’re not paying people to work night shift to set this up.
- New, improved, and expanded.
In addition to the Dancing Lights, which are a spectacle in their own right, you could have additional options available for entertainment at Wide World of Sports. An outdoor ice skating rink (similar to that set up each year in downtown Celebration) could be included. One of the indoor buildings could feature photos with Santa, meet and greets with Disney characters in their holiday finest, special food options for sale, merchandise offerings, a Rockin’ Rudolph dance party, and additional special entertainment.
So what do you think? Are you dismayed that this will be the last year for the Osborne Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Would you like to see it at Wide World of Sports, or does some other location sound like a more viable option?