"I often meet people who say they don't miss a year of seeing our lights at the Disney-MGM Studios (now named Disney's Hollywood Studios)," says Jennings Osborne, the Arkansas businessman behind the theme park's annual Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. "My family and I consider ourselves fortunate to be able to help make people happy. The magic is still there."
Osborne's display features five million holiday lights that turn the entire studio backlot into a winter wonderland. Guests at the theme park may stroll through the sparkling scenery, soaking in the beauty of the multi-colored bulbs and intricate ornaments.
It's all part of a sleighful of holiday activities across the Florida Vacation Kingdom. Other seasonal fun includes the Holidays Around the World celebration at Epcot and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, where it snows on Main Street.
Beginning in July, Disney's technical "elves" began testing, replacing and stringing Osborne's light displays on the backlot area of the Disney-MGM Studios — preparing the downtown facades with elaborate aerial creations like spinning carousels, giant globes, "chasing" lights, and sparkling holiday trees.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was born at the Osborne home in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1986. That year, Jennings Osborne strung a modest 1,000 red lights as a holiday gift to his 6-year-old daughter, Breezy. She had asked her father to make their house sparkle with holiday lights.
In fact, Osborne's dream kept growing until in 1993, when he strung more than three million lights. His 22,000-square-foot home, bathed in bulbs, was the site of curious sightseers and long lines of traffic — crowds too large for those who lived in the neighborhood. Calling his display a nuisance, Osborne's neighbors took legal action — all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Shortly after the court battle, Osborne packed his bulbs and took them to Walt Disney World Resort, where theme park guests — surrounded on all sides by bright bulbs — actually walk into his multi-colored display.
Osborne's dream has not stopped growing. Thanks to a little Disney magic, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights now boasts a few more million lights, including 10 miles of rope lights, 130 angels, 44 snow machines. Guests are also able to view the lights through special holographic glasses provided to them.
Included in park admission to the Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights will be presented nightly November 10, 2011 through January 3, 2012, as one of the many family-fun holiday activities planned for the Walt Disney World Resort in 2011.