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Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Archives

December 17, 2014

What's new at Disney World's Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in 2014?

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Who doesn't like to admire holiday light displays? It's fun to see how the neighbors decorate, especially if that Orlando neighbor is Walt Disney World.

My family and I joined AllEars editor Deb Koma and contributing photographer Jason Dz of DisneyGeek.com for a stroll through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios this past weekend. No matter how many times we see this display, which Walt Disney World acquired in 1995, it's never boring. Still, the folks at Disney try to offer a little something new each year for the many returning visitors.

** This year, the song "What's This?" from "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" has been added to the playlist. Jack Skellington's image also can be seen on the canopy of lights over Brownstone Street as the song comes to a close. Like a challenge? See if you can spot Jack in another location on the street, as well. (Skellington dressed as Sandy Claws meets guests during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for this first time this year. See the AllEars.Net video here.)

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** If you are an avid hidden Mickey hunter, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is the place for you! Not only are there almost 80 hidden Mickey symbols, but cast members are adding more through the last day of the show, which is Jan. 4. That means that each visit has the potential to be a different experience.

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** When the lights arrived in Orlando from Jennings Osborne's home in Arkansas, a lighted purple cat from the family's Halloween display was mistakenly included. Each year, cast members hide the cat in the Christmas display. This year, however, they are moving it within the display each day. Happy hunting!

** New Made With Magic light-up items, such as a wand, a Mickey glove and a Minnie ear headband - as well as the original Glow With The Show ear hats - are synched with the dancing lights. The accessories are sold at carts on the Streets of America for $25 each, but if you purchase them in one of the merchandise stores ahead of time, you can apply any discounts you might have, such as one for having a Walt Disney World annual pass or a Disney Vacation Club membership.

Here's a recap of some of my best tips from previous years, which still apply to this year's show. I hope they will help you make the most of your experience.

** Cast members direct the flow of guests onto the Streets of America, and you'll be asked multiple times to walk with the crowds. This really is in your best interest, both for safety reasons and to lessen your frustration at trying to see the lights along with so many other people. You will be asked to walk past Star Tours, Pizza Planet, Muppet Vision 3D and the Phineas and Ferb meet-and-greet, before finally rounding the corner of the attraction. From there, you're on your own to explore the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at your own pace, exiting on the opposite end of the Streets of America and walking past the ABC Commissary.

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** Guests also can enter the lights display by walking down Mickey Avenue, past Studio Catering Co. This may be the best bet for your family if you would like to meet Santa Goofy first in Tri-City Square. Goofy's Winter Wonderland debuted in 2012, and it's back again as a fun photo op. I recommend getting in line a little before 6 p.m., when he appears, because the line can grow quickly.

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** Speaking of photo opportunities, there is so much to capture here on your camera or videocamera so you can enjoy it again at home. Don't panic, though, if you forget your equipment or find your view blocked by others. Disney's PhotoPass photographers are set up in multiple locations on the Streets of America, in addition to the Santa Goofy meet-and-greet. One of the most popular spots year after year is in front of the 70-foot Christmas tree in the center of the display. We've also seen photographers roving by apartment steps, the lighted bicycle and other fun backgrounds.

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** Stay on The Streets of America long enough to see the lights dance and the snowflakes fall. After each choreographed song, there is an intermission of about seven minutes when the lights don't dance while other holiday music plays or characters talk.

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** The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights begins each night at 6 p.m. with a small opening ceremony when a lucky guest "flips the switch." The attraction usually stays on past park closing, so guests can linger a bit as the crowds clear. The show is included in regular theme-park admission.



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November 16, 2013

What to know before you go to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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Every year about this time, folks start to climb up into their attics to drag out boxes of outdoor holiday lights and inflatable decorations. That's all fine and good, of course, but if you and your family are looking for a really spectacular holiday light display, there's really only one show in town.

What began as one Arkansas family's Christmas lights is now a 5 million-light display at Disney's Hollywood Studios that guests to Walt Disney World won't want to miss during the holiday season. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a breathtaking display that covers the Streets of America and includes spinning carousels, angels, toy soldiers, and Santa and his reindeer. You might even see a few hidden Mickeys, too.

Unlike a stroll through your neighborhood, though, there are a few things you might want to know before you go:

** Cast members direct the flow of guests onto the Streets of America, and you'll be asked multiple times to walk with the crowds. This really is in your best interest, both for safety reasons and to lessen your frustration at trying to see the lights along with so many other people. You will be asked to walk past Star Tours, Pizza Planet, Muppet Vision 3D and the Phineas and Ferb meet-and-greet, before finally rounding the corner of the attraction. From there, you're on your own to explore the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at your own pace, exiting on the opposite end of the Streets of America and walking past the ABC Commissary.

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** Guests also can enter the lights display by walking down Mickey Avenue, past Studio Catering Co. This may be the best bet for your family if you would like to meet Santa Goofy first in Tri-City Square. Goofy's Winter Wonderland debuted last year, and it's back again as a fun photo op. The backdrop for meeting Goofy is, of course, rows and rows of holiday lights, lighted Christmas trees and even toys covered in lights.

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** Speaking of photo opportunities, there is so much to capture here on your camera or videocamera so you can enjoy it again at home. Don't panic, though, if you forget your equipment or find your view blocked by others. Disney's PhotoPass photographers are set up in multiple locations on the Streets of America, in addition to the Santa Goofy meet-and-greet. One of the most popular spots year after year is in front of the 70-foot Christmas tree in the center of the display. We've also seen photographers roving by apartment steps, the lighted bicycle and other fun backgrounds.

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** The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights can get claustrophobically crowded on weekends, so if you have young children, be prepared to keep a close eye on them. Even seasoned park-goers may be surprised how easy it is to get separated in these crowds.

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** Light-up necklaces and other accessories are popular at this experience. New this year, though, are the Glow With The Show ear hats, whose colors are synched with the dancing lights for the first time. The hats and other accessories are sold at carts on the Streets of America, but if you purchase them in one of the merchandise stores ahead of time, you can apply any discounts you might have, such as one for having a Walt Disney World annual pass.

** Stay on The Streets of America long enough to see the lights dance and the snowflakes fall. After each choreographed song, there is an intermission of about seven minutes when the lights don't dance while other holiday music plays or characters talk.

** The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights begin each night at 6 p.m. with a small opening ceremony when a lucky guest "flips the switch." The attraction usually stays on past park closing, so guests can linger a bit as the crowds clear. It stays in place through Jan. 5 and is included in regular theme-park admission.



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November 17, 2012

What's new at Disney World's Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

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There is nothing quite like The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios to put everyone in the Christmas spirit. And this year, the Disney entertainment team has added two more goodies to the experience.

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Goofy's Winter Wonderland has been set up in Tri-City Square, to the right of the huge lighted globe as you approach it from the Streets of America. It's in the location where the Nativity had been for many years. Don't worry, though, the Nativity is still part of the annual display, just as Jennings Osborne intended when he created this Christmas experience. Look for it near the Premiere Theater.

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Goofy's Winter Wonderland is the place to meet Santa Goofy and get your photo taken. When we visited on opening weekend, the line snaked back to the gift shop across from Studio Catering Co. and I thought we were in for a long wait. It turned out to only be about 20 minutes, though, before we were posing with Goofy. Cast members do explain that no autographs are allowed, so that the line does keep moving. In addition, there are Disney PhotoPass photographers stationed in key spots on the Streets of America for those who want to capture other memorable moments.

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For those not familiar with The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the display was created by an Arkansas man for his 6-year-old daughter in 1986. To her delight, he added more lights and features every year. But many neighbors were upset by the traffic the lights generated and sued Osborne, which ultimately forced him to shut down the display.

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Disney offered to acquire the lights in 1995 and has continued to expand the display over the years, adding nightly snow flurries, Hidden Mickeys, more lights -- the total is up to 5 million now, and a growing musical playlist. This year, a special arrangement of the classic "Winter Wonderland" by Disney Creative Entertainment Music Director Dan Stamper joins the lineup.

The current music includes:

** "Jingle Bells" by Barbra Streisand
** "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano
** "A Mad Russian's Christmas" and "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
** "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops
** "Christmas Is Starting Now" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy from "Phineas and Ferb"
** "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas" by the Plain White T's from "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice"
** "Winter Wonderland" originally by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith (1934), arranged by Dan Stamper (2012)

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No matter the temperature of the Florida night, my children -- and many other guests -- associate winter activities, such as seeing the lights at Hollywood Studios, with drinking hot cocoa. Disney recognizes this and offers the sweet drink at concession stands on the Streets of America. From what we saw this year, it appears to be only available in souvenir mugs for about $5 per serving. A tip for those not interested in the mug: stop by the ABC Commissary on your way to the lights to purchase a cup of hot cocoa for about half the price.

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Guests who wish to wear some lighted holiday cheer themselves can buy the popular light-up necklaces at gift shops in the park and on Streets of America. There are several varieties from past years, including the holiday string of lights and winking snowmen styles. New this year is a light-up Santa Mickey.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights begin each night at dusk, which usually means about 6 p.m. in Florida at this time of the year, and continue until park closing. The experience is included in regular admission to the Walt Disney World park.


RELATED LINKS:

** Hidden Mickeys (and Cat) in Osborne LIghts

** An Interview with Jennings Osborne, circa 2002

**Tell us Your Review of the Osborne Lights!

** Look Back at the 2007 Osborne Lights


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