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A photo tour of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Walt Disney World

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Published: December 9, 2008 at 10:12 AM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Tuesday Park Visit: Walt Disney World does holiday lights like no one else. And the biggest holiday light display at Disney World is the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

So... I just had to go.

I arrived at the Studios at twilight last evening, taking the boat from Epcot Center.

Photo from Disney's Hollywood Studios

The light display stands on New York Street in the park's Streets of America land. The light come on each night at 6, with a short musical interlude as the lights "dance" in synchronization with the music. After the music stops, the lights stay on in static mode, until the music begins again in about 15 minutes. (That same cycle continues until the park closes.)

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Pulling back from the marquee....

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Turning to the left....

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Walking back up the street....

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Mickey and Santa shake hands. (As I watched this, the smartass in me wondered what Trey Parker and Matt Stone could do with "Mickey versus Santa Claus.")

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Turning around, the lights scold me for my unspoken sarcasm. ;-)

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The light display spills over into the courtyard in front of the Lights, Motors, Action stunt show.

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Hey, how'd Mickey get over here so fast?

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Returning to the street, taking a longer view....

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

We walk off the street as carolers bid us farewell.

Photo from Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will continue each night through January 4. Check back tomorrow on Theme Park Insider for a photo report on Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.

Readers' Opinions

From Ray Schroeder on December 9, 2008 at 11:26 AM
Great Pics. Did they have the "snow" coming down? That's always great. They started late this year. I was down getting my Disney fix 11/8-11/15. Even though the lights were up, they didn't light them until 11/28. Anyone know why? Last year they started early Nov. I'm glad I saw them last year. I was disapointed this year. You would think with the Xmas party going on at MK, everything would be ready. None of the parks had their trees up, even MK during the party. Again disapointing. For the occasional guest, you wouldn't notice the way they cut back. But for the regulars... Very sad. Bah Humbug!
From Anthony Murphy on December 9, 2008 at 11:34 AM
Still seems good though I did enjoy when it was on the old backlot where the tour used to go through. Alot more houses and stuff and it was a nice stroll with minimal crowding. Glad they kept this around though!
From Robert Niles on December 9, 2008 at 12:27 PM
I would have liked to see the lights in a residential setting. This was a literal wall of lights. It was too overwhelming to leave a powerful and lasting impression, if that makes sense. Some space between the lights, as you'd see in a neighborhood, with a narrative emerging from house to house, could have provided more emotional power and created something that might have lasted longer in the memory.

Don't get me wrong, though, this is an impressive display, and well worth seeing. I just would have liked a little more room to breathe in the middle, to let the lights sink in, rather than a solid mass of light from beginning to end. That would have required a much larger display area, of course.

From James Rao on December 9, 2008 at 1:01 PM
What you are describing makes sense, Robert, almost like a Main street, USA-type atmosphere where not everyone in the neighborhood puts up tons of lights (or in some cases no lights at all). As you explore these neighborhoods, the breaks between decorated houses allow you to reflect on what you just saw as well as build up anticipation for the next decked out homestead. However, the origin of this light spectacle is such that excess is almost a requirement!

Nice photos...this light spectacle reminds me of something that would make Clark Griswold weep in adoration!

From Robert Niles on December 9, 2008 at 1:03 PM
Of course, then his tears would short out the whole thing....
From Don Neal on December 9, 2008 at 1:41 PM
LOL @ Robert

Nice pics. Does look a little overwhelming. Would love to see something referring to some of the classic Disney stuff. Maybe something a little more hometownish. I just remember a Disney movie, might be a short film, about Donald having Christmas at a cabin in the woods. Chops down a tree that Chip and Dale live in. They end up having this big fight using toy guns, nutcrackers, and more. Always a favotire of mine when I was a kid. You guys pretty much nailed it when you described a neighborhood decorated.

From Robert Niles on December 9, 2008 at 1:49 PM
To be fair, it is the Osborne family lights, not the Disney-corporate-family-of-'toons lights. But you bring up a great point. I would love to see what Disney Imagineers could do with storytelling in a Christmas lights show.

Think a holiday "Fantasmic!" in lights. (No lasers, no fireworks, just lights.) C'mon, you can't tell me that they wouldn't absolutely rock all over that.

From Anthony Murphy on December 9, 2008 at 2:08 PM
Well before the "Lights Motors Action" show, the backlot tour used to include passing by facades of houses used in Empty Nest, Golden Girls, etc. They were all decorated by the Osbourne Lights
From Domenik Jost on December 9, 2008 at 5:29 PM
Did you find all the "Hidden Mickey Heads" in the light displays? Every year there is hidden Mickey heads hidden somewhere among the thousands of lights. If I remember right there is more than 20 of them hidden in the set up.
One example of a hidden head is the smoke of the train in your pictures...those are Mickey heads.

I agree with you that it would be much more powerful in a more neighborhood kind of environment with each house being decorated differently. One other thing I would like to see them do is change it up. Don't make it look the same year after year and just maybe adding a light display here or there. I have to say I didn't go yet this year but from your pictures I don't want to go, it is the exact same set up as last year from the looks of it. I'm pretty sure the Disney Imagineers could come up with something new together with the Osborn Family. They do have the biggest light display around but yet I'm seeing videos of Families around the country who decorate their houses with thousands of lights, program them to music, and still put on a better show than Disney does with this.

Sorry Disney, but you need to change it up, it's getting old (in my own opinion).

From Joshua Counsil on December 9, 2008 at 9:46 PM
I always thought it was amazing, but I never reflected on how it doesn't bring the same feeling that walking through my hometown at Christmas does. Even though the lights are scarcer, they are done more tastefully and uniquely. One house, for example, does only blue and white lights, giving it a serene Christmas look. Their neighbors, by contrast, put up lots of various-colored blinking lights. The next house down doesn't do stringed lights, but rather red and green flood lights with projections of blue and white snowflakes.

Each of the houses' decorations kind of embodies the personalities of those inside. The blinking lights, for example, are from the goofy, happy-go-lucky family on our street. I'm sure that the designers could give these displays more heart by examining each building and tying to embody the building's personality through the display.

From Tony Duda on December 10, 2008 at 3:18 PM
I saw the dancing lights this past Friday and Monday nights. I enjoyed them as always but a few items are worth noting. First off, they gave out these "3D" glasses to enhance the show but they were more annoying than enjoyable, not like the "3D" glasses they used a few years ago which revealed dancing angels and such. This year's glasses seemed to just add multiple ghost images around the lights. The glasses were advertised as a perk for annual/seasonal pass holders but they were giving them out to everyone during the show. The crowd control seemed better but you were directed to walk all the way around the area and enter from near the motor show. They also did not have the area left of the San Francisco wall decorated. Snow did fall intermittently and it was nice to experience and see everyone go ooh and ah. It is a great spectacle, as named, but make sure you see the start for the best experience.
From Robert Niles on December 10, 2008 at 6:25 PM
I was there at the start on Monday and didn't see anyone handing out glasses. (Then again, I'm not an AP holder, so I wasn't looking.)
From Tony Duda on December 10, 2008 at 11:00 PM
Robert, I should have said anyone who went up to cast members and asked for one. How many cast members were handing them out, I don't know, I only saw one but there were probably more. Anyway, the glasses probably seemed better the drunker one was and I wasn't.
From Robert Niles on December 11, 2008 at 9:35 AM
Ah, the patented "Duff Beer Goggles!"

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