Star Wars Land v. Osborne Lights

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is an amazing addition to Walt Disney World, well worth the attraction and area closures in Hollywood Studios that were required to gain this land. It’s an objectively good trade-off, and going from Lights, Motors, Action to Rise of the Resistance is the best 1:1 attraction upgrade ever.

We love Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and want to be abundantly clear about that up front. This is especially important given the number of people with an axe to grind against how Disney has handled the Star Wars franchise. Many of whom take that out on Galaxy’s Edge, and have pointed to its early stumbles as evidence of supposed failure and whatnot. That’s not our perspective on Star Wars Land, and this is not that type of post.

Rather, this is mostly ‘just for fun.’ It’s based on a couple of paragraphs we wrote a few years ago that recently caught our attention in our 10 Things We Miss at Disney World (That Could Come Back): “The jury is still out for us on a personal level as to whether Star Wars land will compensate for the loss of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.” Now that we’ve experienced Christmas both with Galaxy’s Edge and in addition to several without the Osborne Lights, we figured this is worth addressing…

There were nights we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for no other reason than the Osborne Lights, and we’d spend hours just standing back on the Streets of America. Even when it was wall-to-wall people, the Osborne Lights just oozed happiness. The convivial atmosphere and communal energy of the crowd actually enhanced the experience–you wanted to see the Osborne Lights with a crowd.

For us, this was really something special, as we detail further in our Celebrating the Osborne Lights post. Suffice to say, no other attraction closure has gotten me as choked up as I was on our last viewing of the Osborne Lights. I’d further add that National Treasure Baby Sinclair appeared in the Osborne Lights, but does not reprise his role in Galaxy’s Edge. That’s a big strike against the latter.

On a substantive attraction front, the before/after is quite the comparison. By the time Star Wars and Toy Story Lands were announced, the Streets of America area was in pretty sad shape. The Backlot Tour was already significantly truncated, Lights, Motors, Action was nothing special, and there wasn’t much else there. Even if we throw in Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, not much of value was lost.

I’m not the biggest fan of Toy Story Land, but I’d trade all of that for Slinky Dog Dash alone. Meaning that everything Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge brought to the table is gravy. (Even though Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run isn’t perfect, both it and Rise of the Resistance are better than Slinky Dog Dash.)

The real question for us is whether as a land (or as lands, if we’re including both), Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land are places we’ll spend as much time as the Streets of America during November and December in the evenings when the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is running.

It’s hardly an apples to apples comparison. One is open all day, every day whereas the other only runs at night during the Christmas season. However, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot this Christmas season. At first, I was hesitant to share these thoughts due to the nature of the comparison.

However, we still see countless “That’s a Wrap” Osborne Lights shirts from several years ago every Christmas season. They are literally the most common shirt we’ve spotted this Christmas after the holiday Spirit Jerseys. Seeing that constant reminder of the Osborne Lights made me decide to go for it with this post.

Judging by those shirts, I’m guessing many of you share our strong sentiments for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, so it’s something worth tackling–at least in a ‘just for fun’ comparison.

The land is far from perfect and could definitely use some kinetic and atmospheric additions, but we’ve thus far had a lot of fun spending time in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

We enjoy wandering through the marketplace, looking at what’s new in the stalls, grabbing a Ronto Wrap or two (…or three!), popping into Dok-Ondar’s, and having dessert at Docking Bay 7.

We find it pretty easy to spend an hour or so in Galaxy’s Edge with each visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and this is before we even get to the attractions. Keep in mind, this is after visiting Batuu dozens of times at this point. It is far and away the most inviting space at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

For first-time guests, there’s even more to do. Trying Green & Blue Milk is a must-do and we highly recommend anyone looking for a splurge partake in the experience of Savi’s Workshop for Handbuilt Lightsabers. Other shops will similarly be more compelling to first-timers. (While we’re big fans of Savi’s Workshop, we don’t give the same enthusiastic endorsement to Droid Depot.)

Honestly, it’s been a bit since we’ve done Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run. In part because we did it so many times when it opened, and in part because the grunt work mission is a snooze. (I was secretly hoping there’d be a surprise drop of the “real” mission once Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released, but alas…)

Then there’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which has consumed an inordinate amount of our time since it opened. This has a ton of re-rideability, and is one of the very best attractions in all of Walt Disney World.

Of course, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was less about substance and more about being there. We could stand on the Streets of America for hours night in and night out simply soaking up the ambiance and people-watching.

The way the Osborne Lights brought smiles and awe to the faces of other guests was really a sight to behold. The joy was contagious–it was the embodiment of “holiday cheer.”

The closest Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has to this is the walk-around characters and the way they spontaneously engage with guests for impromptu interactions. That’s a lot of fun to watch. Wandering around and letting the action unfold all around (usually watching rather than actively participating) is what we do most in Galaxy’s Edge.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights had more warmth and (for us) sentimentality, but the small moments in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge give it a similar repeatability. We’d still like more of this all in the new land, but what’s there is good.

Ultimately, we really wish we could have this both ways. It’d be great if Walt Disney World would find another quiet corner to do an impressive display of Christmas lights. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights cannot return (although they deny it, there’s reason to believe they’ve been relocated to Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” in Branson, Missouri).

Even simply transforming Muppet Courtyard/Grand Avenue into a brilliant, lights-dense area during the holiday season would be a nice compromise (and judging by traffic flow, this could totally be accomplished even with the entrance to Galaxy’s Edge right there).

However, if forced to choose one or the other, we’ll take Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It will never hit the same emotional and sentimental high notes for us as the Osborne Lights, but there is a lot of depth, room for exploration, and tremendous year-round ambiance.

On top of that, Star Wars Land still has unrealized potential, and will hopefully only get better as time goes on. Much like how the Osborne Lights were iterated upon and improved, we’re optimistic that the same will hold true with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We’ll always have the memories of Osborne Lights, and look forward to plenty more in Galaxy’s Edge. Of course, one quick and easy “win” for Galaxy’s Edge would be evicting Oga and making Baby Sinclair the new cantina proprietor. 😉

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Your Thoughts

Do you miss the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights? Are Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land (collectively) a superior replacement, or would you trade it all for the Osborne Lights to return? Do you agree or disagree with our commentary? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

34 Responses to “Star Wars Land v. Osborne Lights”
  1. Cindy December 4, 2023
  2. Phil December 4, 2023
  3. jason November 29, 2021
  4. Brighter November 28, 2021
  5. Matt November 28, 2021
  6. Becky @ Disney in your Day December 30, 2019

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