Earlier this week, January 6th 2016 the final performance of Disney Hollywood Studios “Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights” was completed. The lights have been entertaining guests and creating magical memories for 20 years. As you are most likely aware, Disney goes through great lengths to develop a “back story” for every attraction; for the Osborne lights the back story is real, and one you might not be able to make up. I covered the history of the lights in detail back in SamsDisneyDiary #21. The story of the Jennings family from Little Rock, AR: over 3 million lights, lawsuits, Supreme Court decisions and the Walt Disney Company to the rescue, offering to relocate the lights to then MGM Studios Residential Street, ultimately moving to the Streets of America where they started dancing in 2006.
It’s a remarkable history; check out that blog and video for more details. According to the official Disney Parks blog from September, 2015 will be the 20th and final year of the Osborne Lights citing “Construction” of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land” as the reasons, both previously announced.
Hearing the news, I had to get back to the Osborne Lights at least one more time and why not try the newly introduced dessert party “Merry and Bright Dessert Package”? Hosted at the Studios Catering Company, the dessert party reminded me of the Star Wars “Feel the Force Dessert Party”, the subject of SamsDisneyDiary #50.
Themed desserts and drinks along with VIP access to the Osborne Lights. The VIP access was the gated “turn around” area from the former Back Lot Tour, at the end of the lights directly under the globe. A nice touch, which provided me the opportunity to set up my tripod and record…. and record… and record… literally hours of the lights. That’s all part of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #67 (Click Below to Watch) – My tribute to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights!! A video that you can play in the background of your next holiday party – and by far the longest SamsDisneyDiary to date!
So why would Disney go through the trouble of adding new technology in recent years, like Made with Magic? Why would Disney go through the trouble of creating an event like the “Merry and Bright Dessert Package” (which I had the pleasure of attending in December 2015)?
My theory, is the lights WILL BE BACK but without the name “Osborne”. Here are my 5 reasons why, in my mind, it’s clear that Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios Christmas Lights will continue.
#5: “Osborne Electric Co.” The installation of a tribute window on the Streets of America: “Osborne Electric Co.” along with photos of the original house in Little Rock and photos of the lights on Residential Street and the Streets of America. If the Streets of America are being removed in 2016, why add the window in 2015? (Why, because it will be there for at least 5 years).
#4: The Merry and Bright Dessert Party. No matter how much we love Walt Disney World, it’s a business, and businesses are designed to make money. The introduction of the Merry and Bright Dessert Party represents the expansion of a new revenue stream for Hollywood Studios, expanding the Frozen Dessert Party added in 2014. And like every revenue stream at WDW the annual question is, how do you increase it year after year? Think Star Wars Weekend Dessert Package, what used to be 3 nights a week 5 weekends a year is now a daily event. Isn’t it interesting that the Merry and Bright Dessert Party doesn’t have the name Osborne in it? All of the signs can be reused next year when the lights return.
#3: 20 Years of Financial Investment. The original Osborne Lights were installed on Residential Street in 1995; 10 years later they moved to The Streets of America, making room for Lights Motors Action. The move included the addition of 33 snow machines high above The Streets of America. In 2006 Disney invested in 1500 dimmer relay circuits and control switches choreographed to music, making the lights “dance” for the first time. In 2011, just 4 years ago, all of the lights were replaced with LED lights; at the same time, Disney replaced the 1500 dimmer relays with “state of the art” lighting control boards. (The same boards I use at home for my 32 circuit display). At the same time, the canopy above San Francisco Street which had been all red with 8 circuits was replaced with color changing LEDs (red, green, blue) giving the canopy a video appearance with 21,600 pixels capable of over 16 million colors. That change allowed the addition of the hidden Jack Skellington. In addition, Disney has continued to add additional hidden figures every year: Tinker Bell for the 20th anniversary, Nemo, 101 Dalmatians, Figment, Kermit… and many more. These financial investments amount to 100s of thousands or even millions of dollars. Disney won’t just throw that away.
#2: Construction is Temporary. The construction cited as the reason the lights will be leaving is temporary. Toy Story Land will be located on the other end of the park behind Toy Story Mania in what is now back stage area (including parts of the now closed Back Lot Tour). Star Wars Land will be located on the Disney ReZoned Wetlands“Theme Park Expansion” land that was previously zoned as “Wet Lands”. That area is currently wooded and sits behind Indy Jones, Star Tours, Mama Melrose and The Premier Theater (which recently hosted its final performance and is now closed permanently). Neither of those areas will touch the “Streets of America”, at least not in the short term while Star Wars and Toy Story Lands are being constructed. There are additional expansion opportunities primarily where Light Motors Action and Catastrophe Canyon sit today. Consider those “Phase 2” of the Hollywood Studios reconstruction. Plans for this expansion could easily include the removal of Streets of America; but again, that’s years away and anything could happen between now and then. But wouldn’t the Streets of America look great as Radiator Springs with Mater’s Dancing Lights? It’s way too early to speculate what will happen then, but there is still room for Cars Land, not to mention another themed land!!
#1: The Devil is in the Details, or in this case, the fine print. What you won’t hear from Disney is: when the lights moved from Little Rock to Walt Disney World, they came with a 20 year contract as the “Osborne Family Lights”. Guess what? 2015 is 20 years later; the original Osborne Lights contract has expired, without being replaced. No more Osborne Lights! You also need to read between the lines of the official announcement.
“In order to prepare for some incredible experiences coming to the park, including the recently announced Toy Story Land and a Star Wars-themed land, we will not be able to present The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in the future.”
The announcement says “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” citing construction as a convenient reason for the cancelation. The short term construction won’t touch the Streets of America, and the release is very specific that it’s the Osborne Lights. That begs the obvious question, what are the “Osborne” Lights? I’m sure the contract is specific as to what the Osborne Lights are. Looking at video from the original display, there are elements you can pick out immediately. The Globe, Spinning Carousels, Angels, the Halloween Cat and a few other elements come to mind, but everything else? While I fully expect the Christmas lights to return, I’d also speculate that those “Osborne” elements won’t – but I expect Disney will plus them in ways we can’t imagine right now. More Disney characters, more animation, video projections, lasers, even water features – the possibilities are limitless!
Could the “Merry and Bright” Dessert Package be our first hint of the new name? “Disney’s Merry and Bright Dancing Holiday Lights” is my guess. The only question is, will they be back in 2016 or do we need to wait until 2017?
Of course, none of this if official and should be considered speculation, did you expect anything else from a Disney Nerd?. But, it all adds up, just remember. You heard it here first!!!
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the video edition of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #67, my tribute to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Please comment below. You can reach me at SamsDisneyDiary@mail.com
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