A look back at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

WDWMAGIC

By WDWMAGIC, Dec 14, 2016

WDWMAGIC Contributor

Christmas just isn't the same at Walt Disney World without the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and if you are missing them as much as us, we might just have the next best thing.

The show ran for 20 years, surviving the demolition of Residential Street, a move to the Streets of America, and a program of continual updates that saw the show become even more popular as each year went by.

During the show's final few weeks at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2015, we shot each dancing light sequence from multiple angles, and we'll be posting a new sequence each day on the run-up to Christmas Day.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24

Generally regarded as one of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's most recognizable recordings, "Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24" was also one of most popular dancing light sequences at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, and was often the first sequence to play each night after the show's switch on.

More than 5 million lights made up the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. The show's original incandescent lights, which used over 800000 watts of power, were replaced with more efficient LED lights over the years.

Lights covered every surface of the Streets of America

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - What's This?

The soundtrack from the 1993 stop-motion movie, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, was used for this sequence which was added to the display in 2014. Jack himself even makes an appearance in the overhead canopy on San Fransisco Street.

More than 30 miles of extension cords were used each year to power the 5 million + lights that made up the display.

Close-up of details at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
A packed Streets of American enjoys the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - A Mad Russian's Christmas

The Osborne Lights featured two tracks from the Trans Siberian Orchestra, with the second being "A Mad Russian's Christmas."

The installation effort began in August each year, and took over 20,000 man hours to complete.

Even the bikes were decorated with lights
Osborne Lights Nativity Scene

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Feliz Navidad

Puerto Rican singer and songwriter José Feliciano's 1970 hit Feliz Navidad was one of the first dancing light sequences, and was always a cast member and crowd favorite.

Each year over 350 miles of Christmas string lights were used to cover the facades of the Streets of America.

The Osborne Lights during the daytime

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Jingle Bells

Barbra Streisand's jazzy rendition of Jingle Bells.

The origins of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights was born at the Osborne home in Little Rock, Ark., 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.

Thus, a new tradition was born.

“I added more lights each year,” says Osborne. “And I just kept adding. I’m always chasing a dream.”

In fact, Osborne’s dream kept growing until 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 Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

The instrumental Parade of the Wooden Soldiers by Arthur Fielder & the Boston Pops Orchestra.

The Purple Cat

When the lights were originally transported from Little Rock to Walt Disney World, a purple cat from the Osborne's Halloween display was accidentally sent along with the Christmas lights. The cat became part of the holiday display and was hidden in a different spot each year for guests to find.

Purple Cat at the Osborne Lights

Check back tomorrow for the next installment of our look back at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

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