Disney World is about to end one of their most popular Christmas traditions


  • Photo via Disney

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is in the middle of the biggest change since the park first opened in 1989. With Star Wars and Toy Story now confirmed and numerous loud rumors of other major additions coming to the struggling theme park, many of the cherished and not so cherished (I’m looking at you Pizza Planet) are being moved, closed or updated.

Disney has now confirmed that one of the causalities will now be the popular Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This season’s run (Nov. 6 - Jan. 3) will be the final appearance of the lights.

The holiday light display dates back to 1995 when Disney first brought in the display after Jennings Osborne’s display was ordered to be scaled back by the Arkansas Supreme Court in a court battle that made national news. The lights were originally displayed along Residential Street, a backstage road with faux homes (including the Golden Girls house). After Lights, Motors, Action! car stunt show moved into that area the display shifted to the Streets of America area. In recent years the display has become a logistical nightmare for Disney, as thousands of guests clamor to see the lights along the rather narrow corridors. By some estimates it is the most visited holiday events at any Disney park in the world and has become an annual tradition for many.

Jim Hill, a well respected theme park historian, has suggested that the event might change names before next year to tie-in with the a holiday reality show on Disney owned ABC, which pits Christmas displays around the country against each other.

Others such as WDWThemeParks.com founder Tim Grassey, have suggested that the lights might change names and move locations to Disney Springs. Disney has confirmed that Disney Springs will feature numerous holiday displays starting this year but has not mentioned if those may include the Osborne lights in the future.

Most believe that the agreement with Osborne was for a set amount of time so ending the display exactly 20 years after bringing it to WDW would point to that. None of the lights used in the display today are original to the 1995 display, the majority were replaced in 2011 with long-lasting LEDs. No matter what happens to the full display it some are still hopeful that we will be seeing at least some of these ‘long-lasting’ lights somewhere at WDW for years to come.

Where would you like to see the Osborne lights? Would it be smart to move the lights to somewhere like Disney Springs to draw interest in the new shopping village? Would moving the lights to somewhere like Epcot ruin the ‘authenticity’ of the experience?

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