One of my top five favorite things about the holidays (behind giving presents, my tree, LH’ dinner, and the music) is going to see everyone’s’ houses lit up! This year was the first, and apparently the last, year that we were able to be at WDW to see the MASSIVE Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights display. I feel so blessed that I DID get to see it finally, but at the same time, I feel heartbroken that it is being discontinued and I will never see it again. When I was a child, we would always drive around in my dad’s big Lincoln blasting Christmas music and looking at lights. I continued this tradition after I was an adult, but when I married Loving Husband, it was impossible to keep it going because he was almost always deployed for the holidays. We had to recreate everything he missed, in the middle of summer half the time and by then the decorations weren’t up anymore. Once he left the service, it just seemed like nobody (where we lived, anyway) was even decorating their homes anymore. So, in the last 7 or 8 years, the only light displays that we have seen were public (Vernon Hills’ when we lived in Chicago and Virginia Beach’s when we lived there) and were seriously lacking in creativity. While the above-mentioned displays were pretty (and VB even included a time coordinated music CD), they were just lights on wood or PVC frames, it didn’t feel the same as a lit up building.
Flash forward to December 2015, we are now living in Lake Beuna Vista, LH is working for Disney so we have free passes to go to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Lights and it only takes us about 10 minutes to get there. Of course we had to go, we just had to! We brought along two of our friends who have lived here their entire lives and have never been to Hollywood Studios. Since the new Star Wars Launch Bay just opened and Star Tours was recently updated for The Force Awakens, we made a day of it and checked out everything new. Just after sundown, we headed over to the Streets of America section where the display is located. Once you get close enough to hear the music you start to think to yourself, “Okay, any minute now!”, but that’s not the case. As usual, Disney artfully wields the weapon on anticipation like no one else in the game can! Blocking every path where someone could cut through to the lights is a cast member waving marshalling wands, funnelling you into the courtyard in front of Muppet Vision 3D. From there you can peek between the back of the buildings and see a few of the lights. There were people milling about in that area like they didn’t know what was going on, honestly, this being my first year, I didn’t really know either. It seemed like everyone going up and speaking to the cast members was being turned away and I started to wonder if maybe there was an additional ticket required that I somehow didn’t know we had to have. LH just kept walking forward, down past the Muppets to the cross street and then turned to the right. This alley took us to another street and things were starting to get tight! WARNING: If you do NOT like crowds, are epileptic or are noise sensitive, this is not the place for you! The music got very loud and it seemed that the stroller terrorists were at my heels every step I took or didn’t take, more accurately! The lights frequently go CRAZY. I also advise you not to watch the videos if you have photosensitive epilepsy.
Once we reached what looked like the entrance to the street that was decorated, most people seemed to be turned away again. We hadn’t bought an additional ticket and from watching what was going on, it really looked like maybe you had to have one. I was starting to worry about how in the hell we were ever going to get back out of there, there was no way could we get back the way we came and it seemed everywhere you turned it was blocked off. I could, at least, see up the one street to the right and a few buildings ahead of us, so I wasn’t counting it as a total loss, I got to see something, you know. Finally, we opened up into another courtyard and most of the crowd were being allowed to go to the right, down the last street. I was overheated and needed some water. There was a concession trailer to the left so we went that way, but there was a cast member yelling (because the music was loud) that another woman and I weren’t allowed to be there. I know the special dessert party you had to pay extra for was in the middle of the courtyard, but this was not part of that, it was on the main street and had a line of people so why she and I weren’t allowed to buy a bottle of water (or to use the bathrooms behind him) I don’t know. He was letting other people walk right past him without saying a word, including the people who came with us. By the time he stopped talking and walked away, the drink-truck said they were no longer letting anyone else get in line. I’d like to take this moment to give a shout out to that jerk and say thanks for the dehydration!
We took a few minutes in this area to stop and catch our breath. We were so smashed together getting over to this section that it was crazy. LH went and found a cast member to double check that we DID NOT need an extra pass to see the decorated streets. The CM didn’t know why some were being admitted to enter up the one street instead of being corraled along with the rest of us. That was good news! Since I wasn’t quietly panicking anymore I was really able to enjoy what was going on around me now. We walked all the way to the back of this open area and turned around, I would say it is the best spot to take in the full effect of the “dancing” lights coordinating with the music! Below are a couple of videos we made of the lights and music from this vantage point. Sorry they are so shaky and blurry, I am still getting the hand of keeping the phone elevated and steady while recording.
While I think the first song in the top video (Christmas is Starting Now by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) best showcases the incredible synchronicity that they are able to achieve between the music and the lights, Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) by Trans-Siberian Orchestra was truly my favorite song of the night! Everyone loves this beautiful guitar-heavy mash-up of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells, but I, myself, find it so deeply touching that it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I can’t help it, beauty makes me cry, and something like this piece, inspired by beauty in the midst of war, especially with the violence that is currently all around us, breaks my heart. Quick history lesson if you don’t know the story behind this song: It was inspired by “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, Vedran Smajlović, who would play his cello in ruined buildings during the siege of Sarajevo to spite bombs going off and snipers shooting people dead in the streets. The heavy guitar is one side, the orchestra the other with the single cello in between them. I am old enough to remember watching the city turn to ruins on CNN and I have seen footage of Smajlović playing amongst them in the documentary Reporters At War (pt1). Every time I hear Christmas Eve, I think of that.
With the need for peace and love in mind, this photo above, of what is probably the most well planned out view in the entire display, says so much. Even if you are not a Christian or just don’t celebrate Christmas, at least, take this time, at the closing of another year, to perpetuate peace and harmony around you. Spread love and light to everyone you meet. Honestly, though, how anyone can feel anything but blessed to be able to stand there in the center of all of that is beyond me, you can’t help but emit joy! I am so thankful for all of the cast members who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make all of this happen. Say what you want about Disney, but no one does the holidays better! It was SNOWING! Man-made snow of course, but who cares? It was magic!
For some reason, my favorite part of the lights was the huge “fireplace” on the right-hand side as you go down the main street. It was sort of hidden behind some vendors and I had to go out around them and up next to the building to get good photos of it (below). Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to take enough decent photos of the lights to even have a featured image for this post, but I was trying out a new app on the phone and it seems to have worked well enough for me to, at least, have something to show you. The rest of the images that I took that night can be seen in the gallery at the bottom of this post.
I am so sad to see the Osborne Lights go at the end of this year! There are so many updates and renovations going on at all of the parks, I guess we have to lose something in order to gain something else. I’m holding out hope that they will figure out a way to bring this event back to life because it has become a tradition for so many families. With record attendance numbers this year, it would seem to be a no-brainer revenue generator. Almost every item of Osborne Lights merchandise they produced this year is now going for astronomical amounts on Ebay because they sold out of them weeks ago, with weeks of the event still left to go. I just can’t believe that Disney would let something this important go without having some new incarnation of it in the works, but we shall see.