So it’s almost Christmas and this will be the last of my posts covering the most wonderful time of the year at Walt Disney World.
For those of us who have been to Walt Disney World at Christmastime we will have made our way over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to experience the wonder of ‘The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights’.
We all know the story; Jennings Osborne and his wife Mitzi had a daughter nicknamed Breezy. In 1986 Breezy asked her parents if they would decorate their home in lights for Christmas. Jennings obliged by decorating the house with 1000 lights. Each year following Jennings would cover the house in lights, the number growing and growing. By 1993 Jennings had bought the two adjacent properties to decorate and the display had grown to cover over 3 million lights. By now the display had become famous across the world, with news crews often visiting the street.
Unfortunately some neighbours became tired of the traffic congestion caused by visitors to the display and filed a lawsuit. Jennings was finally forced to shut the display down in 1995. But the media coverage of the court case had caught the attention of the Disney company, who contacted Jennings with an offer. And in late 1995 Jennings accepted the offer to set up ’The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights’ at Disney-MGM Studios.
Orignally the lights didn’t ‘dance’ like they do today, but for me the main difference is that they were originally set up on ‘Residential Street’ at the Studios. Residential Street was part of the original Backlot tour and was built to look like a working outdoor film set. The buildings resembled houses of famous movie and TV families, including The Golden Girls (who we all remember, right?).
During the Christmas season the houses were decorated as part of the Osborne display and when I first saw them in 2000 I loved it. Back then it was less common for houses in the UK to be decorated with outdoor lights so seeing a scene like this made me think of American Christmas movies, such as National Lampoons or Home Alone. Walking down that street with the crowd made me feel like I was looking around a studio set which was decorated ready to film a Christmas special.
In 2003 the Residential Street closed to make way for the construction of the arena for ‘Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show’. The Osborne Lights display was moved to its new location on Streets of America.
The display continues to grow each year and is now made up of over 10 miles of rope lights, connected by 30 miles of extension cords, held together by 2 million ties! It’s an impressive and festive sight to behold, with many hidden Mickeys to find along the way. I love that as technology moves forward so does this event….but I still miss my houses all dressed up for the season