Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights
I will never forget my first time visiting Walt Disney World around the holiday season. The place I visited so many times, often in the sweltering heat, that I could navigate with my eyes closed suddenly transformed into an unfamiliar landscape. It was overflowing with magic and infused with the holiday spirit and revitalized every reason I love visiting these parks.
It was on this trip we discovered the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (for those that do not know the history, read about it here). Walking around Hollywood Studios, we were suddenly met with bottlenecking traffic by the Writer’s Block Cafe. No one is typically back ever in the Streets of America area so we were confused what could be causing the hold up.
It was only once we broke through we found ourselves contributing to the stand still.
To say we were blown away was an understatement. I recall my family wandering around as if time had stopped, completely overwhelmed by the millions of lights. And then the music started. Our collcetive inner child erupted with excitment as we watched the lights dazzle us in flawless dance performance in sync with the music. We stayed here for hours watching and being present as the snow fell among the twinkling lights.
On September 11, 2015 it was announced that the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights would be discontinued after the holiday season, as the area would soon be under construction to make room for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land.
While I understand that exciting changes to the parks come with sacrifices, I felt sad for the people who would not get to experience this magic. I remember recounting the lights to my (now) husband and wishing he could get the chance to see them in person. Doesn’t every Disney fan love sharing these experience with first timers? We only needed one night to make dreams come true…
After some reseach, I found a cheap flight leaving on a December Friday morning and returning Saturday night (we had to make it back on Sunday for annual Christmas cookie baking with my in laws!). It would be just enough time – we could catch the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. We grabbed an inexpensive room off Disney property, packed one backpack that we could carry around all day with the bare necessities- a spare set of clothes and tooth brushes – and off we went!
We were the first flight out of the airport arriving in Orlando. Since we were not staying at a Disney hotel to use Magical Express, we took a ride share to our favorite hotel, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn.
Seeing all the holiday decorations was an uncalculated bonus to this trip. The Boardwalk was laid over with ornate garland and a pop up gingerbread cookie shop. Trees were propped up throughout the resort glistening with lights, draped with ribbons and hung with all sorts of ornaments.
Since our arrival was after breakfast but before lunch, we wandered into Epcot recalling that France has a delicious pastry shop in the back of the pavillion. Our breakfast consisted of croissant with cheese and ham and our choice dessert of creme brulee and chocolate mousse- breakfast of champions!
We strolled around World Showcase and Future world, jumping on a few rides (including our favorite Spaceship Earth) and enjoying the decorations.
Our next stop was our favorite hidden gem inside the Italy pavilion, Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. There is no greater escape from the crowds, the heat, or the madness than sneaking into this dark, secluded haven. We got wine flights and a large cheese spread.
We walked from Epcot’’s back entrance at the International Gateway to the Yacht Club and Beach Club to see their decorations. These resorts showcased a gingerbread carousel complete with chocolate horses and a large train display with a winter wonderland.
Our next stop was Hollywood Studios so we hopped on the Friendship Boat for a leisurely ride. I was able to snag a FastPass for Toy Story Mania – good way to burn off some cheese. With time to kill before the lights were turned on, we stopped by The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge for delicious mango margaritas, fried snacks, and their famous cobb salads.
As the sun disappeared from the sky, I knew it was time to make our way to Streets of America. And as we walked up to the mob of people clogging up the walkway, I could see the excitement build up in my husband’s eyes. We made the turn and the audible interjections of excitement made my heart burst! This is what being a Disney Parks fan is all about.
We spent hours looking for the Halloween cat, counting the Hidden Mickeys, watching the dancing lights from different angles, drinking hot chocolate under the light snowfall, and absorbing every moment.
The lights danced to the following set of songs:
“A Mad Russian’s Christmas” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
“Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12-24)” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
“Feliz Navidad” – José Feliciano
“Jingle Bells” – Barbra Streisand
“What’s This?” – Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas
We stayed here until the parked closed and we said goodbye and “Light’s Out!” to Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Making our way to the off property hotel that night certainly made us miss Disney transportation, especially from the convenience of the Boardwalk! We eventually got to the hotel, checked in, and snoozed until morning. Did the trick for an inexpensive night.
Bright and early wake up to make the most out of our second day at the parks. We hopped on a bus that took us to Magic Kingdom but then took the monorail to the Polynesian for our breakfast reservations at Kona Cafe– love me some Tonga Toast!
Since we were on the monorail track, after checking out the decorations at the Polynesian, we then stopped at the Grand Floridian for their famous life sized gingerbread house!
To complete the circuit, we stopped at the Contemporary for their gingerbread frozen display.
Finally at the Magic Kingdom and it was a gorgeous day outside!
We had just enough time to watch the castle lighting before we headed to the airport. And while we were exhausted, we made it back to New Jersey for Christmas cookie baking Sunday morning.
I was thrilled with what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time (reminds me of our Disneyland trip!). The purpose of the trip was to show my husband the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights before they were gone forever but we were able to hit our favorites around three parks and see the holiday decorations of five resorts, in two days!
I only hope that Disney touches like this are not lost amongst the expansions. These special things are what bring the magic into the parks and I hope they remember this as the new areas are being built out.
Have you every been on vacation around the holiday season?