By now we’ve all heard the news that this is the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This popular dazzling light display has been a favorite among Disney guests for 20 years. It’s hard to part ways with this festive frolic of millions of lights (over 5 million in fact). Yet, on the horizon we have a (hopefully) splendid Star Wars Land to look forward to.
I recently got to participate in the Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up at the Osborne Lights. The meet-up was only open to 500 guests, so you can imagine how cool it was to experience the Osborne Lights with so few people. This experience gave me an opportunity to cherish many of the moments and features that one must enjoy when saying farewell to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
I’m sure I am not the only one who simply adores the canopy of lights located on the San Francisco Street. I remember when this canopy was located on the original backlot; I was a kid then and I wished my neighborhood had such a covering of lights. Walking underneath a blanket of Christmas lights is simply enchanting.
A few years ago this canopy was made all the more magical when the red lights were changed into LED lights that are programmed to display patterns, shapes, and simple images. I highly recommend that you stop and stand under this canopy for at least one of the songs to which the lights dance, “What’s This?” from Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one.
DON’T go for the “lighting ceremony”
I know it’s tempting to be there right when they turn the lights on, I know it is. But it is the busiest time of the night to see the lights. If you want to avoid standing in a sea of people, often crammed shoulder to shoulder, then wait. Typically the last hour of park operations is when you’ll have the most elbow room. Now if you’re longing for the “wow” moment of when the lights come on, let me assure you there are plenty of wow moments when the lights dance. Nearly every single song recreates that moment when the lights go from off to on.
Hidden treasures, scenes, and characters
Here’s the part where you expect me to talk about the Black Cat. It’s kinda a cute story, I am sure most of you have heard it by now, but just in case… When the team at Walt Disney World unpacked the lights once they were shipped down from the Osborne Family in Arkansas they unexpectedly came across a black cat figure. Turns out it was from the family’s Halloween display. By the way, why don’t we have that Halloween display at Walt Disney World too?! Anyway, each year the cat is moved to a different spot so it’s always fun to try and find it. Over the years other little “Easter eggs” have been added into the mix.
Since I am a child of the 80’s and early 90’s I greatly appreciate the creepy, but cute Baby Sinclair from the TV series “Dinosaurs”. The leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” is also a popular find. This year there is an almost overwhelming amount of added characters (particularly plush dolls) and a few little scenes that make it even more fun to stroll and explore. I have missed feelings about all the added “stuff”, part of me prefers a more purist approach, but it is kind of fun to have something added for this special finale year.
Stroll the side streets and don’t be middle of the road
Naturally most people are drawn to the main, wide street, and there is nothing wrong with spending time here. When doing so, I highly recommend standing at one end (by the Peace on Earth globe) or the other end (by the New York City facade). This will give you a wide angle view where you can experience the entire package on a grand scale. Otherwise standing in the middle, near the big green tree is overwhelming and you’ll be missing 50% of the view.
Additionally, make sure you really spend some good quality time of the side streets. Again I refer you to the beloved canopy on the San Francisco street, but there’s also many great details and color schemes on this street. Towards the back, to the side of the Peace on Earth globe you’ll also find some great displays.
It was all started by one family
More than anything, take the time to reflect that this incredible display once belonged to one family. Mr. Jennings Osborne passed away in 2011 and it is clear that he was no ordinary man. This year there is a really cool window display that I adore. I wish I had taken more time during the meet-up to enjoy this window dedicated to the Osborne family and the history of the lights. I suggest making this either your first or last stop when saying farewell to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. It is a lovely homage to one of the most iconic holiday displays in Walt Disney World.
Special thanks to Brandon Glover for expertly snapping photos while I soaked up my last visit ever to the Osborne Lights. And thanks to Derek Burgan too for letting me borrow Brandon from the spectacular Saturday SIX staff. Happy Holidays, everyone!