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 exceptions of November 20 and December 10) through January 4th 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 at 6pm, 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 Studio Catering Company.
Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers may or may not play prior to the Lights being turned on. I’ve heard that they are performing on the Streets this year, but their set was scheduled at the Sorcerer’s Hat when I visited on November 14.
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 should be scheduled at 6pm moving forward. On November 14th, it began at 5:52pm, which is earlier than I’ve ever seen 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 (or one hour after close over Thanksgiving, etc.). 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:
- Arrive at the theater by 5:30pm. By 5:45pm, the theater will be mostly full. Show lets out at 7pm.
- Visit an attraction or two until 7:45pm. Head over to Osborne Lights.
Assuming you want to see the 8pm Fantasmic and Osborne Lights:
- For the best Fantasmic seats, arrive at the Streets of America by 5:45pm. Enjoy Lights until 6:45pm at the latest and head over to the theater on Sunset Bouelvard.
- 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:
- Arrive at the Streets of America by 5:45pm 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:
- Arrive at the Streets by 7:45pm and enjoy through 9pm.
10pm or later close around Christmas:
- Visit as late as possible. With a 10pm Fantasmic, you can enjoy the Lights up until 9:30pm 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 6:30pm through close and usually for a while after that as the Lights remain on.
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 6pm, resulting in at least 30 minutes of waiting and you’ll miss the lighting. 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 serves its usual menu.
And a temporary stand provides other refreshments:
No cute souvenir buckets yet.
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, and difficult to carry as they can’t be squished into a smaller ball.
Around the corner on the Lights, Motors side sits High Octane Refreshments, which, for the second year in a row, serves only its usual menu during the Lights.
If you’d like a holiday-themed beverage, you’ll need to scout out one of the temporary bars, most easily found outside Sci-Fi Dine-In.
A few more pix to close things out:
“What’s This” from The Nightmare Before Christmas
A Mad Russian’s Christmas
This year, Disney is offering a “Frozen Holiday Premium Package.” It includes reserved seating at the Frozen Sing-Along show. It also includes a table here at the reserved seating section at the end of the Streets of America with a dessert party including alcoholic beverages, in addition to a pin and a lithograph. It runs from 7pm to 8:30pm through December 24th. Beginning December 25th, it runs from 5:30pm-7pm and 8:30pm to 10pm in two separate seatings.
Unless you’re seriously going to pound drinks during the party, my advice is to forgo it. The seating area does virtually nothing to help you take in the Lights. If you wanted to rest, you could simply walk another 30 steps to Studio Catering Co. where there are hundreds of tables. Anyone wanting to lock in a seat for the Frozen Sing-Along can simply book FP+.
Some decorations around the Park:
Osborne Lights are a lot of fun. You’ll have the least stressful experience if you can go late.