Disney’s Hollywood Studios Osborne Lights 2013 Strategy

by josh on November 27, 2013

The Osborne (still no ‘u’) Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is one of Disney’s most popular holiday spectaculars.

The Lights are turned on nightly (currently with the exception of December 11th) through January 5th on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Before the Lights are turned on, guests are free to enter the Streets of America from a variety of locations, including the easiest, which is to the left of Sci-Fi Drive-In.

Once the Lights are turned on between 6pm and 6:15pm, guests will be directed further down to the left around Star Tours and Muppet Vision 3D. This facilitates traffic flow. You can also easily enter through Pixar Place and continue down past Backlot Tour and Studio Catering Company.

Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers perform Christmas favorites from 5:30pm to about 6pm.

The Lighting Ceremony, featuring Santa Goofy and a lucky family, occurs in the middle of the Streets of America in front of the tall tree and toy soldiers. It begins between 6pm and 6:15pm, so you’ll want to be in position by 5:50pm if you’d like to see it.

You don’t necessarily need to position yourself to see the show, but it isn’t usually difficult to find a spot. For whatever reason, people tend to sit on the curb waiting as if a parade is about to roll through.

Unfortunately, the Streets are typically at their busiest when the Lights are turned on for the first time.

On one hand, it’s pretty magical to see the Streets go from pitch black to dancing with light. On the other hand, the stifling crowds limit movement and make it more difficult to enjoy the show.

Crowds typically ease a bit by 6:45pm as guests wander for about 30 minutes and head elsewhere. Then another round of thousands of guests arrive at 7:15pm, just after the 6:30pm Fantasmic show lets out all the way over on Sunset Boulevard.

If you’re planning to see the 6:30pm Fantasmic, it’s impossible to see the lighting ceremony and arrive in time to see the show. If an 8pm Fantasmic is scheduled and you’re interested in seeing it, your best bet is to arrive at the Streets of America by 6:45pm and exit by 7:15pm. You’ll arrive at Fantasmic at 7:30pm to decent seats. For the best seats at Fantasmic, you’ll need to see the Lights from 6:15pm to 6:45pm and then make your way over to Fantasmic around that time.

The Osborne Lights are kept on for one hour after official close. The least crowded time to view them is from official Park close through the final song, which is typically 9pm. If you’re seeing the 8pm Fantasmic and the Studios “officially” closes at 8pm, you won’t arrive in time to see much of the Lights. So there are a few give/takes there.


Assuming you want to see the 6:30pm Fantasmic and Osborne Lights:

  1. Arrive at the theater by 5:30pm. By 5:45pm, the theater will be mostly full. Show lets out at 7pm.
  2. Visit an attraction or two until 7:45pm. Head over to Osborne Lights.

Assuming you want to see the 8pm Fantasmic and Osborne Lights:

  1. For the best Fantasmic seats, arrive at the Streets of America by 6pm. Enjoy Lights until 6:45pm at the latest and head over to the theater on Sunset Bouelvard.
  2. For off-center seats at Fantasmic and lower crowds at the Lights, arrive at the Streets of America by 6:40pm. Enjoy Lights until 7:15pm and head over to the theater.

No interest in Fantasmic and want to see Lighting Ceremony:

  1. Arrive at the Streets of America by 5:50pm and take up a spot in front of the unlit tree/toy soldiers. You can return later in the evening to enjoy the Lights in lower crowds if you like.

No interest in Fantasmic and want to enjoy the Lights with the lowest crowds:

  1. Arrive at the Streets by 7:45pm and enjoy through 9pm.

10pm or later close around Christmas:

  1. Visit as late as possible. With a 10pm Fantasmic, you can enjoy the Lights up until 9:15pm and then head over to the theater to catch the least crowded show. Arrive 15 minutes before official close to enjoy the Lights with the fewest people around.

Santa Goofy is another potential wrinkle. He meets during the Lights from 6pm usually through 45 minutes after official close.

The backdrop during the Lights is a lot of fun with icicle lights and Christmas trees lit up.

But you’re going to wait 45+ minutes for the pleasure. Lines start to build by 5:30pm, resulting in at least 30 minutes of waiting and the likelihood that you’ll miss the Lights turned on. You could get in line toward the end of the night, but you’ll give up seeing the Lights in lower crowds.

Fortunately, Goofy greets continuously from 1pm to 5pm this year in the same location.

The backdrop is not quite as impressive during the day, but waits are much shorter and you won’t be wasting time during the Lights waiting. Arrive by 12:50pm and you’ll wait about ten minutes. An arrival between 2:30pm and 3:30pm is your second best bet to avoid the crowds arriving/exiting nearby Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Santa Goofy also meets alongside Pluto in DinoLand at Animal Kingdom.

Snacks and drinks are available before and during the Lights.

Pretzel Garden is a permanent stand that expands its menu for the event.

And a temporary stand provides other refreshments:

If you’re going to drop 14 bucks on a souvenir Mickey, it might as well be here.

Considering egg nog is fairly expensive, the $1.75 price is relatively reasonable. This is, of course, the spiced egg nog which brings the warm comfort of bourbon to the chilled holiday beverage. It’s what you would expect from the Evan Williams bottled variety. The whiskey helps thin out the thick nog and the nog covers up the aftertaste of the bourbon. Like most things, it’s good if you enjoy it.

Herbie’s Drive-In, near the entrance to Lights Motors, is also open with its standard menu:

A quick spot to grab a water if nothing else.

NEWS used to be another dedicated food/beverage outlet during the Lights, but instead deals solely in Glow with the Show ears. The ears run $25 with tax and are heavy, uncomfortable, difficult to carry, and defective as they tend to magically drain battery power even when not turned on. They are popular among the people that received them for free during the media events though.

Around the corner on the Lights, Motors side sits High Octane Refreshments, which serves holiday-inspired drinks during the Lights.

This menu is from last year, but should be indicative of what’s offered.

A few more pix to close things out:

Couple videos:

A Mad Russian’s Christmas

Winter Wonderland

Jingle Bells

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

vinotinto November 27, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Ohhhh! I was wondering about Fantasmic and Osborne Lights. We’ll be there the last night of Osborne – Jan 5th. F! is at 7 pm. We’ll use the F! dining package. Will they also be turning the Osborne Lights (OL) between 6 and 6:15 in January or earlier/later? Any chance to see OL before F! in Jan?

mike November 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm

What awesome pictures thank you so much can’t wait till the 7th and to be at Disney world

Lucy November 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I truly hope rumors are just that and Disney do not do away with the lights next year. We’re really looking forward to see them.

Magic1106 November 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Is that $1.75 price point right? That doesn’t seem like a very Disney price?

Mary November 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Great pictures of the lights! What lens and setting did you use for the Lights pictures? Headed down in a few weeks and would love to experiment.

Erin November 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Is seeing the lights and a 6:30 Fantasmic AND Illuminations at 9:30 an impossible feat? How would you suggest doing it? Thanks!

josh November 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I’d expect Disney to extend the close on January 5th to 8pm to accommodate the Lights. When they do that, going over after Fantasmic would be best. Lights shouldn’t be turned on any earlier than 6pm on any date and you really wouldn’t have time to see them before having to sprint all the way over to the other side of the park.

If you’re at Fantasmic theater at 5:30pm, head over to Lights after at 7pm, you’ll have at least an hour before you need to leave and head over to Epcot.

wongck November 28, 2013 at 1:31 am

Wow…. Thanks.
I will be watching the 6.30 F! and will follow the herd to the lights after that.
Now I know I have time for another attraction before heading there.

Kim November 28, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Planning a trip there for next November so this is super helpful! Thanks so much for your hard work and great information.

Tam November 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Awesome advice once again! Thank you Josh! We went back to the park just before the 8pm F! Streets of America area was practically empty!

Christine November 28, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Thanks for the pictures! Seeing the lights was the highlight of our 2007 trip. All of our other trips before and since have been in the spring.

Paul November 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Are the lights on during EMH?
We will be arriving at park around 7:30 going to 8:00 F! And plannin to go over to lights after that?

Psac November 29, 2013 at 5:53 am

I agree with Lucy… it would be awful if this was the last year for lights. It’s one of the highlights of our annual November trips.

@Josh the reason people sit on the sidewalks is so they can see the whole hour or so cycle of songs without standing the whole time. Pure laziness. :) (Or other reasons why people legitimately can’t stand for that long.)

We like to take that hour in slowly, moving from place to place to see different vantage points. No real need to see the “lighting” itself in our minds, it’s more enjoyable after when the crowds aren’t super heavy. I wish I saw that $1.75 egg nog, though! I would’ve been in for one… or five.

Tiffany November 29, 2013 at 6:02 am

Thanks, Josh. Leaving in a week and happy for my 5 year old to see these for the first time. I still think the Glow Ears are super lame.

andrew November 29, 2013 at 6:29 am

Sadly high octane refreshments it’s not serving that menu this year. The wife and I love the sleigh ride, thankfully we make it at home.

Donna November 29, 2013 at 10:24 am

Last year we entered the park 30 minutes before closing thinking it was open later. It was great at the Lights because most of the people had left, and with the Lights staying on later than park closing the crowds just kept getting lighter.

William November 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm

4 days until our trip. Your pictures aren’t helping with my anxiousness

Phyllis November 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm

William….you mean to say eager. Anxious means worry. Sorry the English teacher in me.

melissa November 30, 2013 at 9:41 pm

We saw the lights last year. It was so much fun! We had even more fun looking for hidden mickeys. Thanks for the updated memories

DUSTY CHEATHAM January 4, 2014 at 5:10 am


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