Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2014 Tips & Info

Just a guess, but I don't think I put up quite as many lights on my house as Disney puts up on the Streets of America for the Osborne Lights! View my photo gallery: http://tombricker.smugmug.com/Learn more about the Osborne Lights: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/osborne-family-spectacle-of-dancing-lights-tips-review/


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a Christmas light display at Walt Disney World, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For 2014, the Osborne Lights run from November 7, 2014 until January 4, 2015. When it comes to the Osborne Lights, “light display” is severely under-selling it. More like, amazing, light-up-the-entire park epic dancing light extravaganza! That’s right, the lights dance to awesome Christmas songs by the likes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (if you’re going to have a dancing light show, you better include music from TSO!) and many other legendary Christmas artists. The lights are so vibrant and plentiful that even Clark Griswold would be proud.

Approximately every 10 minutes, the lights dim and then begin their “show” as they start rocking out (dancing) to holiday music. The songs include:

  • “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12-24)” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • “Feliz Navidad” – José Feliciano
  • “Jingle Bells” – Barbra Streisand
  • “Christmas is Starting Now” – Phineas and Ferb

The new (as of 2011) canopy of lights at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This Osborne Lights are probably one of the most mesmerizing 'attractions' at Walt Disney World, and this is the new highlight of the display!More photos of the Osborne Lights: www.disneytouristblog.com/osborne-family-spectacle-of-dancing-lights-tips-review/Click to view full size!

Most people know the story of the Osborne Lights by now, but if you don’t, here goes. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights began in Arkansas when Jennings Osborne put up a lot of lights one year for his daughter, Breezy. Every subsequent year, he added more and more. Some of these light displays were just plain crazy (you can still find some of these odd items on display at the Studios), but crazy in a good way.

In the mid-1990s, Jennings was sued by his neighbors for the spectacle and traffic problems the lights were solving. A settlement was reached that seemingly ended the situation, but after violating the terms of the settlement, Jennings was sued again. Ordered to dismantle his awesome display (as Sam the Eagle would say, the judge must have been distinctly un-patriotic), the Osborne family decided to share their lights, and offered the display to Walt Disney World Resort.

The display first ran on Residential Street, but when that was eliminated for Lights, Motors, Action!, the display was expanded and moved to the Streets of America. The Osbornes were special guests for the lighting ceremony of the lights at Walt Disney World numerous times throughout the years. In 2011, Jennings Osborne passed away. It remains to be seen whether Disney will tribute him in some way with the lights Jennings created that shine so brightly on the World.

Before I get ahead of myself with the review, here are some tips.

Tips

In the way of tips, there really aren’t many. When The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights are running, the Streets of America can get packed. This is especially true right when the lights are turned on. For the first hour or two of operation, it’s really difficult to move. Although this can be one of the best times for photography since you will have the deep blue dusk sky to compliment the colorful lights, you will find crowds to be much lower if you wait. As far as photography goes, in general, the lights actually aren’t much of a challenge.

It’s so bright back here that most cameras should be able to handle photographing the lights fairly easily in an auto mode. If you shoot in manual modes, consider opening up the aperture a bit (wide open isn’t necessary). You might also have to lower the shutter speed a tad and raise your ISO a tad. All in all, though, it’s probably the single-easiest setting for nighttime photography at Walt Disney World from a technical perspective. The real challenge is avoiding the crowds to take the photos!

In years past, the lights have not been turned off until one hour after the park closes. Heading over to the Osborne Lights around a half hour before park closing will give you time to explore the display, and avoid the crowds.

Definitely make sure you give yourself enough time to see the lights, as there are a lot of “Easter Eggs” to look for within the Osborne Lights. Sarah and I typically spend around 4 hours per trip, spread out across a couple nights, wandering around the lights.

Review

As far as a review goes there isn’t really much to say. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights are one of the highlights of Christmas at Walt Disney World, and are absolutely not to be missed. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this display, other than that it makes the Streets of America really underwhelming the rest of the year. We could stand around and stare at those lights for hours, and hours, and hours. If you want to learn more about the Osborne Lights, you should definitely listen to WDW Today Episode 802, an interview with John Phalen, Show Director, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

osborne-lights-disney-world

For comprehensive tips for planning your Christmas-time trip to Walt Disney World, check out our “Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney World.

Your Thoughts…

Are you a fan of the Osborne Lights? What’s your favorite Osborne Lights fun-fact or hidden “Easter Egg”? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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28 Responses to “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2014 Tips & Info”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Amazing as always! How in the world were you able to get pictures with no people in them?

    Thanks for all the work you’ve put into this website- it’s great!

  2. Herman says:

    Been there done that. GOING BACK AGAIN!!!

  3. I’ve always loved going here! My first time was last 2009 and it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! I’ve never felt so happy, and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen anything that dropped my jaw! Such a great experience!

  4. Kim Hammons says:

    I’m from Arkansas. Saw the Osborne Family lights in Little Rock several times. The traffic snarls were legendary! Although we were sad to see them go (obviously we were NOT neighbors) I have to say, with his creativity and Disney’s “magic” – this display is Fantastical! Not to be missed!

  5. RaySharpton says:

    Another wonderful article and absolutely beautiful photos. I love going every December. I hope to get to see you this December and thank you in person for all of your articles and photos that you share here.

  6. Thank you ever so for you blog post.Thanks Again. Really Great!!!

  7. Beth Pyrdum says:

    Are the lights on for all of the Extra Magic Hours and then an additinal hour? Do they shut off when Extra Magic Hours start? I want to make sure I don’t miss it!!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      That’s a good question, and one I don’t know the answer to. I’ll see if I can find out. My guess is that at the end of Extra Magic Hours, the lights are turned off. If not immediately, within 10 minutes. That’s just a guess, so let me do some digging…

    • Katie says:

      Last year we visited during extra magic hours. So they’re definitely on during. Not sure how long they stay on after, though.

  8. Mary says:

    I agree that the Streets of America seem underwhelming without the lights. First time seeing the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights this year and loved it! The snow was especially magical. But it does make me wish they did something more with the streets during the year. Have the Streets of America ever been used for anything else?

  9. Frank says:

    Hey Tom,
    Thanks for the camera settings advice. Heading down next week for a conference, and have never seen them in person before.
    Look forward to experiencing Xmas photography in Disney for the first time!

  10. Daffystardust says:

    Based on lots of online love, I made sure to walk over to see the Osborne Lights at the end of a long day on a plane and in DHS. I found my way to what seemed like would be a good spot and waited a few minutes…then the show started…and I thought to myself “oh right… I’m not really a fan of Christmas lights…” I watched for about 30 seconds, shrugged, and trudged away. I understand that other people love these things (there were park hoppers entering the park as I left who were coming specifically to see the lights), and they are impressive in their own way, but I’d have to list them as one of the more overrated Disney experiences. But me saying that is sort of like a person who doesn’t like drop rides criticizing Tower of Terror.

    Your photos are beautiful, as always!

  11. Debbie says:

    I am hearing from some sources that they will be dismantling Osborne Lights and moving some of them to Epcot. Please tell me this isn’t true. We had to cancel our trip this year and it was going to be our first time when it was decorated for Christmas. We had to reschedule for next year. I don’t think it would look right at Epcot.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If they stop running them due to Cars Land construction, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be moved to Epcot.

      • Mary Ann says:

        Do you happen to know if the lights are still in the plans for DHS in Nov. 2014? If so, have you heard of a definite start date? We cannot find this information through any of the conventional methods quite yet. We are trying to schedule our trip so that the start date for the lights is the same day as the final day of our trip. Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Jane says:

    We are planning on going the week before Christmas. We can only stay one night and would like to know where the best place to stay. We would like to see the Osborn light display and also spend the day in one of the parks. Should we just plan on spending the day at Disney Studios and not go to another park? We are going with all adults. What hotel would be best for us to stay at if? We were thinking of downtown Disney but not sure if that is close to Disney Studios and easy to get to the park from there.
    Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Domenico Sorbara says:

    We have just returned from Disney and it’s our third visit there this time of the year. Fascinating as ever and would never get tired of watching the spectacle of the dancing lights. It’s just amazing and MAGICAL.
    I would love to get one tenth of the spectacle displayed at my home. It would be MAGICAL as well!!!! Keep up the good work!!

    Domenico

  14. Shannon says:

    We were there in Nov. last year and loved the light display. It was truly magical!! We had dinner and Mama Melrose…excellent by the way. We walked out and I think there is a Christmas shop right near there with a snow man and some fake snow on the street so seeing that before the lights kinda set the mood. I’m hoping they continue to do this year after year. Any news on 2014 if they are going to have the light show?

  15. paulo says:

    oi estou programando minha viagem pra ir ai em novembro 2014 quando exatamente comeca esse show ????

  16. Llouise says:

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures! I never tire of the lights, even though I have seen them many times now. I love showing them for the first to guests I bring to the park. Another amazing place for Christmas lights is the Moody Gardens show in Galveston. Among other features, it is a mile of non-stop lights on the waterfront. You can visit just to see that, or stay at the hotel and have it included in a package, which lowers the overall (already a bargain) price.

    We stayed there before and after a DCL cruise that included a day at WDW, so both sets of lights were there for the taking in one trip. DCL is returning to Galveston, and I wish they would do a repeat of the cruise that makes the stop for WDW.

    I might add that the hotel was particularly kind to us when we couldn’t make it back home did to the Ice storms and told us we could stay (at a very reasonable rate) until it was safe for us to make the drive.

    I love the tip about going after closing, as we have always gone with the crowds. It will be nice to take it in slowly. Again, thanks for the great write up!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I just looked up Moody Gardens show in Galveston. That looks great! Love the reflections of the lights and pyramids on the water. Thanks for the tip!

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  20. Paul says:

    Here’s a question. Is it exactly one hour after park closing that they turn off the lights? I have an 8:05 dinner reservation at Sci-Fi Dine In and am wondering if I need to see them before dinner, or can I go after dinner.

    Thanks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      When we have been there, it has been pretty precise, but I’m not sure if that’s always the case. I’d play it safe and go before dinner.

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