One thing we all know and love around the holiday season is lights. Those beautiful, flickering, warm colors that don trees and homes each year add a sense of childish wonder and joy around Christmas. Adding to the allure of Christmas at Walt Disney World, lights are used often within the parks to bring holiday cheer to guests. However, one of the best light displays ever at Walt Disney World has come and gone in favor of galactic expansion, leaving many wondering if The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will ever return.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
The Osborne Lights were a beloved holiday tradition at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from 1995 to 2015. The display initially started as a personal Christmas lights display at the Arkansas home of Jennings Osborne in the 1980s. The collection grew larger each year, eventually becoming a full-blown tourist attraction. In 1995, Disney approached Osborne about bringing his display to Hollywood Studios, where it became a fan favorite.
The Osborne Lights featured millions of twinkling lights, synchronized to holiday music, and included special effects like snow machines and hidden Disney characters. It was a sight to behold as each multicolored bulb added a sense of magic to the already self-proclaimed “most magical place on Earth.”
Although some may say this wasn’t an ordinary light show, it doesn’t hold up to today’s LED, computer-generated displays we see on ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight. However, as Jennings built the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights for his six-year-old daughter, the display of over 5 million lights held a nostalgic place in the hearts of many.
Typically running from November to January at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, according to Inside the Magic, the light show “contained by 10 miles (16 km) of rope lighting, which itself was connected by another 30 miles (48 km) of extension cords,” and “required 20,000 man-hours to install and 800,000 watts of electricity to illuminate every evening.”
A Fan-Favorite Holiday Experience Says Goodbye
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights treated guests to Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a beautiful, festive backdrop perfect for their holiday photos at Walt Disney World.
Guests would travel to Disney World each fall, through the winter, to experience the joy and excitement of watching the famous light show turn on. That is until 2016, when the lights, typically illuminating the Streets of America, would say goodbye on January 6.
As you probably are aware, although we all love Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, the acquisition of Star Wars and including the extremely popular IP in Hollywood Studios meant there was no longer a place for the dancing lights. Streets of America would be part of a vast overhaul project to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge added to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, meaning the lights would shut down for good.
As Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge replaced The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s certainly exciting to see the beloved franchise come to life in a theme park. However, many fans of the holiday lights were sad to see them go. The Osborne Lights have been a cherished tradition for over 20 years, and their absence has been felt during the holiday season since their final appearance on the Great Christmas Light Fight.
Despite calls from guests to include the light show in other areas of Hollywood Studios like Sunset Boulevard, which isn’t likely due to obstructed views of famous park landmarks like the Hollywood Tower of Terror, the lights have yet to return to the park.
New Holiday Traditions at Hollywood Studios Don’t Measure Up to the Osborne Lights
Upon their absence, Disney World has supplied guests with other Christmas offerings at Hollywood Studios. However, none have lived up to the nostalgia and popularity of the Osborne Lights. Though inclusions such as Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! are nice, guests who’ve experienced the dancing light show often insist that the lights should be brought back in some way.
As the lights became part of holiday traditions for many, seeing them gone and replaced with what many consider to be a less-than-Christmas offering, it’s difficult for Disney to score a “w” in the win column with anything they attempt to provide as Christmas parties and events at Hollywood Studios.
However, Disney still needs to try to create new holiday traditions at the park. Despite Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party calling Magic Kingdom home this year, Walt Disney World introduced Jollywood Nights at their park, celebrating old Hollywood’s glitz and glam.
Despite the excitement around the new specialty-ticketed Christmas event, guests to the inaugural party quickly realized that Jollywood Nights needed to match their expectations. Although Disney World did what it could to salvage the Hollywood Studios holiday party, creating new family holiday traditions around the park seems like it could be better with Jollywood Nights.
Ultimately, at Hollywood Studios, Disney may be learning what we all already know: Christmas isn’t Christmas at the park without The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and they need to return sooner rather than later.