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Florida Guide > Universal Parks

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights

If you are ever lucky enough to be in Orlando during the Christmas holiday season this is one attraction that you definitely must not miss! Commencing after Thanksgiving until just after the New Year this magnificent spectacle of lights is featured in Walt Disney World’s theme park Hollywood Studios. However, there are special previews just before Thanksgiving for anyone who is visiting then.

Millions, and I mean literally millions, of twinkling lights sparkle and dance along The Streets of America. The buildings are festooned with glittering lights whilst every fifteen minutes Christmas music is played and the whole street comes alive with dancing lights. The lights have been especially choreographed to “dance” in time with the music. Every building, tree, Christmas wreath and Christmas figure flashes, glows and dims whilst fake Florida snow falls from above and angels fly overhead. If you ever needed to get in the festive mood this attraction will not fail and will certainly not disappoint.

There is quite a history behind the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. It all began in Little Rock, Arkansas when Jennings Osborne, a businessman, started to decorate his home at Christmas time. He had asked his youngest daughter what she wanted for Christmas and her reply was that she wanted their whole house covered in lights. That year Jennings put up a thousand red lights to decorate their home. Each year after that he would add extra lights and when he eventually ran out of room he bought the houses on either side of his and began to decorate them also. Eventually, the three houses we covered with approximately three million lights. News spread about the lighting displays and people flocked from all over Arkansas to view them, causing traffic jams each Christmas. However, his neighbours began to complain and a court ruled that the lights were a public nuisance and he was barred from turning them on. Jennings continued to light his display and he was given a fine of one thousand five hundred dollars. He was also ordered to pay seven thousand dollars in attorney’s fees! What an expensive Christmas that must have been.

It was in 1995 that Walt Disney brought the lights to Florida to display in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. So now not only the residents of Arkansas are able to see the lights in Orlando but guests from all over the world! You can arrive for the “turning on” of the lights each evening but beware that everyone else will have had the same idea so expect large crowds. What we prefer to do is wait until about thirty minutes before the park closes, when the crowds have died down, and then stroll around the streets at a leisurely pace. That way is it far less crowded and you aren’t tripping over other people whilst looking skywards!

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Page added on: 1 January 2010
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