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December 2, 2008

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

"A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive." ~ Walt Disney

Like a lot of big stories do, this one has a humble beginning. In the mid-1980s a shy little girl in the Midwest US asked her father if they could put up some Christmas lights. This little girl was the family 'miracle'; she had arrived after five miscarriages and her Daddy could not resist his only child's request.

The father and businessman, Jennings Osborne, recalls a scene from his childhood when he began working for his father as a 6-year-old. "I'd sit for hours staring out that window of my father's automotive electric business, contemplating what I was going to make of my life. One thing my father taught me early is that if I worked harder than anybody else, I would achieve my dreams. Today my life's a fantasy land." (photos below)

Osborne, who had never had any lights on his home as a child, purchased a modest display of 1000 lights for their Arkansas home. Each year the family's lights display would grow and subsequently draw more and more spectators. By the mid-90s the estimated 3 millions lights display could be seen from up to 80 miles away!

Unfortunately, some of the Osborne's neighbors could not understand the benevolence behind his Christmas decorations. To appease his neighbors, Osborne tried to compromise; he shortened the time his lights were turned on and even hired four off-duty policemen to assist neighbors leaving and returning to their home. Still, his gift to the community was cited as a nuisance and a law suit was filed that eventually made it to the Arkansas Supreme Court. The family was ordered to immediately stop their Christmas lights display.

"It tears my heart out to this day,' Jennings says. "They don't get it. Our lights were Christmas for a lot of people.'

Enter the Dream-Makers at the Walt Disney Company. The WDW Company heard about the Christmas display and in 1995 the Osborne family was invited to bring their display to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

"As it turned out,' Jennings muses, "it's the greatest thing that ever happened. Now, millions get to see it. I get to share my gift with the world.' In addition to the lavish Orlando-based display, the family 'Osborne-izes' 32 additional Christmas displays throughout the state of Arkansas.

The Disney display sets stage on the Streets of America and everything stationary is dressed with twinkling holiday cheer. Lights drape everything from 'homes' to basketball goals to trees-much like the Osborne display which Jennings expanded bigger and better each year. Why did this family take a modest request from a small child and turn it into the incredible 4 million light (and counting) display it is today?

"We just like to make people happy," Jennings simply replies. In his home state Osborne is known as Little Rock's own version of Elvis; he is an ardent philanthropist whose gifts exceeds millions annually.

The crowds who have been serenaded under snow flurries and dancing lights at Disney know Osborne as the creator of millions of family holiday memories. Through his warmth and generosity Osborne has lit the faces and hearts of many during the holidays and we appreciate this quiet man who has touched many through his willingness to make a spectacle of himself"�

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights


Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

Information from the Osborne Family Website

Photos by Emily Owens

December 12, 2008

A Magical Encounter...in an unexpected place!

We are still shaking the pixie dust out of our suitcases after our recent trip and I wanted to give a special shout-out to an amazing cast member whom we encountered at our Port Orleans resort...Georgina Santiago.

Georgina was our housekeeper. We (my mom, myself and my three kids...Reagan, 12...Sage & Sawyer, 11) tried to keep our room tidy, but always appreciated the way it looked after Georgina swept through. Not only was it sparkling clean, she ALWAYS left us sweet little towel animals to make us smile. It truly got to be as much fun going BACK to our room as it was getting to the parks, always wondering what might be waiting for us.

Of course, we wrote her notes of appreciation (and a small tip) and it seemed that the animals just kept getting more and more elaborate and adorable until, on the last day, she made this FABULOUS creation...an alligator sitting beneath a tree with tiny animals all around.


Towel Alligator


We decided to track her down! The kids and I ran everywhere, on a mission to find this kind woman. We finally caught up with her...back at OUR room. She was bringing her manager to show him the alligator towel on our air conditioner. Such a fun encounter!

Georgina Housekeeper Port Orleans


Our kids gave her a big hug and thanked her for making our trip so special and gave her an extra tip (well deserved!). I'm glad her manager was right there to see/hear the way Georgina went above and beyond her duty to make the World a truly magical place!

Kristen Melby

December 22, 2008

BBC Radio 2's “The Music of Disney” - A Review

A special review from Carl Bayliss - England.

In the midst of the very frosty British winter, so many miles from the sunshine of Florida, what do two London-based Disney fanatics do to escape the cold and ward off the "when are we going back to WDW" blues? Well, there are photos, of course, and even some souvenirs from our previous trips, but sometimes those don't quite cut it, do they? So, if we can't get ourselves to WDW, then a little bit of that magic will just have to come to London.

On this occasion, the magic took the form of a performance of some classic and very favourite Disney tunes performed by a wonderful 70-piece orchestra and an amazing array of talented singers in one of London's finest theatres.

A few weeks ago, and a few months since we returned from our last trip to the World, an email pops up in my inbox from my DW (Lynn), informing me that tickets had just gone on sale to BBC Radio 2's "The Music of Disney" concert. "Look at this, can we go please?" was her plea and, well, I don't need much persuading so...

...on Monday December 8th we made our way to the Lyceum Theatre (the current home of Disney's "The Lion King" in London's West End), for an evening celebrating over 65 years of Disney music from stage and screen. Hosted by international recording artist, Josh Groban, the concert featured a galaxy of Broadway and West End stars and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The concert opened with an overture of Disney favourites. From the very first notes of "When You Wish Upon a Star" and for the next two and a half hours we could forget the freezing weather outside and let the music of Disney whisk us away to another place.

After the overture, Josh introduced the resident Company of "The Lion King" - if the opening bars of "The Circle of Life", performed live with a full orchestra and two percussionists up high in the theatre's boxes doesn't get the hairs on the back of your next rising, then nothing will.

From then on there was delight after delight, including all-time favourites from The Jungle Book, Lady and the Tramp, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White, Tarzan, Sleeping Beauty, Enchanted and High School Musical. Our personal favourites included a moving performance of "When She Loved Me" from Toy Story 2 and a medley of songs from Mary Poppins, which had the whole theatre out of their seats singing and clapping along to "Chim Chim Cher-ee", "Step In Time" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"!

However, the highlight of the evening, and a real treat, was kept for the finale when our wonderful host performed "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio. The score for this has only recently been discovered in the Disney archives, indeed, this was the first time that the original arrangement had been performed in full outside of the recording for the film back in 1939.

In all, a truly amazing evening, and if you find yourself in need of a little Disney Magic over the holidays, and have access to international radio stations, then the BBC will be broadcasting the event on December 26th on BBC Radio 2 at 7:30pm BST or 2:30pm EST
Happy Holidays!


Carl Bayliss lives in London, England. Both him and his wife, Lynn, are huge fans of all things Disney and have been lucky enough to visit WDW, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland together over the past 6 years. Their last trip to the World was in August 2008.

December 23, 2008

Celebrating the Holidays at Walt Disney World - Introduction

Last December, my husband and I went on the most magical Walt Disney World trip, yet! We celebrated our anniversary, Christmas and New Year's all at one of our favorite places, Walt Disney World. It was absolutely amazing, and before we left, we had already begun talking about when we'd be back. For quite a while, we thought another trip in the near future wouldn't be possible.

Fast forward to this December, and we're packing to go back again for our anniversary (which is during the week of Christmas), Christmas and New Year's again!!!! I know. We still can't believe it ourselves.

My husband and I absolutely love Disney World, and we can't believe our trip is here. We really look forward to returning for our favorite time of the year!

This is us, from this last December's trip, in front of Grand Floridian's lobby Christmas tree:

rachelbasden1.jpg


We'll be staying at POP Century this year, a resort where we've stayed before, and we plan to experience all the holiday magic Walt Disney World has to offer! Stay tuned, since we'll be sending live updates throughout our trip.

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About December 2008

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in December 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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