Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Magical Blogorail Green: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Welcome to those of you joining me from Adventures of a Disney Princess and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today I have the pleasure of sharing about The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. This display of Christmas lights dates back to 1995 in Walt Disney World. Originally, the lights were on display at the Osborne family's home in Arkansas. In 1986, Breezy Osborne, daughter of Jennings Osborne, requested lights on the outside of their home. Jennings obliged and put up over 1,000 lights. Each year Jennings added more lights and eventually bought the neighboring properties surrounding his house until the collection grew to over 3 million lights.

In 1993, the neighbors complained in a lawsuit about the traffic in the neighborhood from all over Arkansas and the US looking at the light display. The case went to the Arkansas Supreme Court and eventually to the US Supreme Court when it was shut down in 1994. This was when the lights were moved to Walt Disney World for the 1995 Christmas season. Originally, the lights were on display on "Residential Street" in Disney's MGM Studios. This street was mostly known for having the facade of the Golden Girls house where the trams from the Backlot Studios Tour would drive. On nights when the lights were lit, the Backlot Studios Trams would close at sunset so park guests could walk Residential Street and take in the Osborne lights.

In 2004, the lights were moved to the New York Street Set due to the construction of the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show which involved the demolition of Residential Street. This move included the addition of artificial snow each night. In 2006, they added dimmer relay circuits and control switches to synchronize the lights to music. Below is a video I took during our 2006 trip.

The display is made up of over 10 miles of lighting connected by 30 miles of extension cords. The extension cords and lights are held together using two million ties. Starting in September, it takes 20,000 man-hours to install the display for the holiday season. The lights are turned on at dusk each night, starting in mid-November and running into the first week of January.

This light display has been voted as one of the top 10 Christmas Lights in the USA several times. If you are going to be at Walt Disney World in November or December, I think it is a MUST to schedule a time to view these lights. I have seen them many times over the years starting in 1999. It's been a joy to see them progress into the display they are today! You can read an interview with Jennings from 2002 on the All Ears web site.

Jennings died this past July due to heart issues at the age of 67. I'm pretty confident that Disney will do an awesome job each year honoring the life and legacy of Mr. Osborne! Thanks for your contribution to the Most Magical Place on Earth!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Walt Disney World: Not Just for Kids.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Adventures of a Disney Princess
2nd Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts
3rd Stop ~ Walt Disney World: Not Just for Kids
4th Stop ~ Your Highway in the Sky
Final Stop ~ Heidi’s Head


  1. How interesting.  Thanks for sharing the story behind the lights. I've never seen them - never visited over Christmastime - but I really enjoyed your video.

  2. Osborne lights are a must do if you go to the parks at Christmas.  I can stand there forever.

  3. Always one of my favorite events at Disney...

  4. I have yet to experience this but I am dreaming of it daily. Thanks for sharing. 

  5. I have got to see this in person one day.  I can only imagine how amazing it is to see it!