Since 1994, one of the attractions at Disney World has been the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which was acquired by Disney when the display garnered negative attention in their home town. However, in January of 2016, the display will be closed to make way for other attractions.
The Osborne Family Light Display
In 1986, Jennings Osborne’s daughter asked if they could decorate their home for Christmas. That year, he installed 1000 Christmas lights. As the years progressed, the display got bigger and bigger. It became a real attraction, with features like lit up globes, carousels of lights, and 70 foot tall fully lit Christmas trees. At its height, the display contained millions of lights and had expanded to two adjoining lots.
In 1993, the displays were lit for over a month during the Christmas holidays. The amount of traffic going through the neighborhood created so many problems that several of their neighbors filed a lawsuit against him. They claimed that the traffic problems made a quick trip to the store a two hour ordeal, and also worried that emergency vehicles would not be able to get down the street.
The courts made an injunction that the display could only be up for fifteen days, and also that there needed to be a daily time limit on the light display, with only evening hours that it could be lit. Though Osborne appealed in higher courts, eventually even being turned down by the Supreme Court, in 1995 the state shut down the display completely.
Legal Problems Brought National Attention
The Osborne’s legal problems brought attention from other cities willing to host the display, including Walt Disney World in Orlando. When Jennings Osborne learned that the display would be hosted on a back-lot section of Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, he agreed to move the display to the resort. The attraction “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” was a popular holiday attraction.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Though at first the one at the Studio’s backlot was the family’s original display, Disney eventually started adding on commercial Christmas lights until the total number reached five million. Disney also included some “hidden Mickeys” for the spectators to find. The display was viewed via tram until after dark, when the trams stopped and visitors could walk among the displays.
The display contains many miles of rope lighting, as well as many more miles of extension cords. The display was moved to the New York streets section of the park in 2004 to allow for a renovation of the previous space. During this move, an artificial snow feature was added to the display. In 2011, there was a major overhaul of the entire display, changing all the lights to LEDs along with the dimming and music features.
The end of the lighting display will be in January of 2016. In its place will be displays themed for both Star Wars and Toy Story. No opening date has been given for these two themed areas.