It was three days before Christmas and I still had baking to do, gift making and wrapping to finish, and the lights on the front of the house kept blinking out. But what are the holidays if not busy, so I forgot about everything and my family headed out to Disney Hollywood Studios to see THE LIGHTS!
Of course I’m referring to the must-see yearly display of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, on display through January 6, 2013. Some history: In 1986, Arkansas residents Jennings and Mitzi Osborne’s daughter Allison asked her parents to decorate their home with Christmas lights. They started out like most of us do with a few strings of colored lights and a couple decorations. By 1993 the display had grown to over 3,000,000 bulbs, which actually became a distraction for their neighbors. Legal issues ensued so by 1995 the display was shut done completely by the Arkansas Supreme Court. This is where Disney stepped in, and it was agreed to transport the spectacle to Disney-MGM Studios (the original name of Disney’s Hollywood Studios). A new Disney holiday tradition was born, thanks to the Osborne family.
Crowds are usually heavy so don’t go if you are in a hurry. This is the one place I’m not upset by park guests stopping dead in front of me – I’m probably doing the same. When the music starts and the lights begin their ballet, people of all ages stop and turn 360 degrees to see what is happening around them! Carousels, angels and a Nativity high in the air, not to mention everything on the Streets of America is covered with lights. Get out your camera. The colors and the way the thousands of light strings are coordinated to the accompanying soundtracks are mesmerizing. There are all kinds of decorations, some really unusual. Keep a look out for them in windows, on sidewalks and in doorways.
This year the crowd was literally herded around to the back near Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show to enter. There are carts selling snacks and drinks but there are few places to sit. Still, the synchronized light display is a treat to both the eyes and ears, not to mention the heart. I love the fake snow (soap bubbles – I’ve tasted them accidentally) and so do the kids who have never seen the stuff. And it was about 40 degrees the night we went, so the snow was appropriate. Standing underneath the expanded canopy (which used to be in the Osborne’s drive) while the songs fill the air, the movement is just hypnotic. Our granddaughter Lily hasn’t been there since she was a toddler, so the effects fascinated her.
It’s hard to describe the beauty the light show. It’s as if there are fireworks going off all around you but without the booms and the danger. Over the years the lights have been improved to energy efficient LEDs and even more decorated items have been added. People are dancing and singing and everyone seems to enjoy the company of those around them.
The night we visited, we got to witness something that doesn’t happen quite every night – a guy asked his girl to marry him while having their photo taken by a Disney photographer! Really romantic, surrounded by all those colors, and the crowd offered applause and congratulations to the happy couple.
It’s really fun to look for the Hidden Mickeys within the decorating and since this was new to Lily, she was on the hunt for as many as she could find.
A new arrangement of Winter Wonderland was added to all the other songs we’ve enjoyed over the years; among them are Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, Feliz Navidad and a personal favorite of mine, Barbra Streisand’s Jingle Bells.
Santa Goofy is usually greeting visitors during the nightly light performances, but we didn’t see him – the crowd was just so heavy. However, Phineas and Ferb were there to have their pictures taken with visitors. Even Agent P popped up to say hello, a favorite of Lily’s.
Sadly, Jennings Osborne passed away July 27, 2011. In remembrance of him, an angel in the night sky in last year’s display was left darkened. This year all the angels were brilliant.
If you need a final boost of Christmas cheer, this is the place to find it. Have a Happy Holiday, and I’ll see you in 2013!
Learn more about this event, or see a video on OI’s YouTube channel.
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – photo gallery
Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery. If several thumbnails are missing, try reloading this page in your browser.
[sws_author_bio user=”iamdollie” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by debi” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]