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Florida Guide > Disney General

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Hollywood Studios

If you are visiting Orlando anytime between Thanksgiving and the New Year then you should definitely visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see one of the most amazing displays of Christmas Lights in the world.

The display itself is breathtaking but when you learn a little of the history of the lights, it becomes an even more spectacular and magical show.

The lights are turned on each evening just after dusk with a brief introduction and music. It is worth getting there a little before the time stated on the daily events sheet to get a good viewing spot for the switch on. It actually doesn’t make any difference where you stand once the lights are on as there are so many of them you will be spend a good while walking round them all.

The history of the lights is a magical Christmas story. They were started by a man called Jennings Osborne when his 6 year old daughter, Breezy, as her dad to put up some Christmas lights at their house in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jennings was an adoring father and dutifully went and bought some lights to adorn the outside of the house as his daughter had asked. It was a modest display the first year (1986), a mere 1000 red lights!!

Breezy loved the lights so much that each year Jennings bettered the display until in 1993 there were over 3 million lights. The lights were so bright and spectacular they could be seen by a plane in the sky 80 miles away.

There were so many intricate scenes, from a three-dimensional replica of the world, which was suspended 100 feet in the air that would flash PEACE ON EARTH, to a computerized light display of a train driven by a waving Mickey Mouse.

Jennings called it “their own little Disneyworld”

As news spread of the wondrous sight people flocked from all over the state of Arkansas to see the worlds largest display of home Christmas light’s. TV crews from countries as far flung as Japan and Australia also came to see what the fuss was all about.

The Osborne's neighbours however were no longer impressed with the lights and more precisely, the crowds they drew. They said it was a nuisance, and filed a law suit, and eventually won their case.

As a legal compromise with his neighbours, Jennings agreed to several conditions to allow the lights to continue to shine during the Holiday season. He shortened the time they were turned on and even hired four off-duty policemen to help neighbours leave and return to their home.

All was well until a family from Pine Bluff arrived minutes after the lights were ordered to be turned off. The father had been late home from work and rushed his children to see the lights. Jennings took pity on their children and turned the lights back on for them. As a result, the Osbornes paid a $10,000 fine for defying the court order. His neighbours used this selfless act as ammunition to have the display shut down for good. The Osborne's appealed to the United States Supreme Court but Justice Clarence Thomas sent the motion back saying that it was not unique enough.

Meanwhile Disney had also heard about the Osborne Family Lights and had contacted the family to propose that they would host the lights at Walt Disney World in Florida.
And so began a new tradition for Disney. In 1985 the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights were officially switched on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There were 4 million lights and they have become the third largest attraction at Hollywood Studios.

Jennings, Mitzi and Breezy are the guests of honour each year from Dec. 26 to New Year's Day.

So it would seem that your dreams really can come true…..

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 18 August 2005
Viewed 4065 times since 1 September 2008.

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Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights Panaromic view

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