Christmas in Orlando is a unique experience. The city and its world-famous theme parks come alive with a riot of festive holiday lights and decorations, and you can enjoy it all while wearing a t-shirt and shorts thanks to the year-round sunshine and mild winter temperatures. If you’re planning to be in Orlando or Central Florida during the holidays, pack some sunscreen and be sure to include a visit to The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, an annual holiday spectacular and a must-see for every member of the family.
Located on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, 10 miles of lights blanket entire buildings and form dazzling carousels that twirl in the night sky. The lights seemingly revel in their own glory, as they sway and dance in synchronized rhythm to traditional holiday music. It’s what you’d expect from a Disney Christmas and more, as millions of lights perform a beautifully-choreographed holiday waltz.
Almost as fascinating as the light spectacular itself is the story of the origins of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. It started out as as a modest gift to a little girl in Arkansas back in 1986. Jennings Osborne was a businessman in Little Rock Arkansas, whose six-year old daughter Breezy asked if they could decorate their home in lights. Mr. Osborne strung around one thousand lights around his home, and each year after that, it grew to include more and more lights and elaborate displays. By 1993, the Osborne display had grown to include over 3 million lights, including an illuminated globe, two rotating carousels, and a 70-foot tall Christmas tree of lights.
In 1995, the massive light show outgrew its Arkansas home and Walt Disney World Resort offered to house the display. The exhibit now consists of some five million lights, 32 miles of extension cords, 66 snow machines, 100 gallons of Florida snow per night and 43 hidden Mickeys. Creating this massive display each year requires meticulous work, and Disney “elves” begin the project over the summer. The lights are unveiled in early November, and remain up and dancing until through the first week of January.
Because there’s so much to see, it’s not unusual for Disney visitors to return a few nights in a row in order to experience the full effect of the Christmas light show. The show is included with general admission to the park, so if you bought passes for more than one night, make sure to see see all you can see. Hold a family contest to see who can find the most Mickeys, or guess when the next Florida snowfall will be. Enjoy the holiday music, and meet your favorite Disney characters, too!