We’ll set out for Hollywood Studios this holiday season to check out the Christmas decorations and Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
The sun sets around 5:30pm these days.
It often provides some of the nicest backdrops for scenery shots. But you’ve only got ten or fifteen minutes of pretty skies.
We may have to forgo the Grand Floridian Resort upgrade and shoot for the Hollywood Tower Hotel upgrade instead. Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports5/tot.jpg.
The Studios’ Christmas Tree sits out front. It isn’t particularly well-themed, unfortunately, but looks nice lit up.
Of course, the main draw for the holidays is the Osborne (no ‘u’ this isn’t an Ozzy/Sharon thing) Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, but you’ll find some decorations on the lamp posts that line Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.
And some traditional Christmas lights and Tree decorations up front.
And on Sunset Boulevard.
As far as attraction wait times, Osborne Lights, along with Fantasmic, help pull crowds away from the attractions between 5pm and Park close. This is at 5:47pm on the highly recommended November 13th.
The Lights run nightly through January 6th, 2013.
The entirety of the Osborne Family Lights experience takes place on the Streets of America.
At 5:30pm, Mulch, Sweat, and Shears arrive at the end of the Streets of America on the Star Tours/Sci-Fi Dine-in side with their truck to play holiday favorites.
They’ll play through 6pm and exit.
Just about in the middle of the Streets of America is where the lighting ceremony takes place.
The six minute ceremony features the family of the day flipping the off/on switch along with Santa Goofy. It will happen between 6pm and 6:15pm, so you’ll want to be in position by 5:45pm. I arrived at 5:50pm and was able to walk right up to the rope for a front row spot.
Here’s a video of the six minute ceremony or a direct link if it doesn’t appear.
For whatever reason, the area where the ceremony takes place is actually one of the least crowded areas on the Streets of America at 6pm. I’m not sure people realize anything is going to happen there since there’s so much going on. The ceremony is in no way a “must see,” but it’s kind of cute and fun to see the Lights turned on for the first time that evening. I don’t have any advice on how to become the family that gets to flip the switch. As far as I know, it’s just blind luck. Try to look cute and wholesome throughout the day. Rent children if necessary.
New this year is a Santa Goofy Meet and Greet, located where the Christmas manger used to sit. The manger has moved near Premier Theater next to the Cars Meet and Greet.
Unfortunately, lines are long.
If you have someone willing to wait in line at 5:45pm and you want to meet Santa Goofy, it may be wise for that person to get in line at that time. They’ll be waiting 45 minutes, but at least they’ll only miss 15 or so minutes of the Lights.
Otherwise, you’re going to wait an hour during the Lights from 6:30pm – 7:30pm. This is the end of the line across from Studio Catering Company. Goofy meets through close, so lines may ease in the last 45 minutes, but you risk Disney closing the line once it looks like enough people are in line to take them to Park close.
There are two places to purchase food and drinks on the Streets of America. This kiosk is to the left of Youse Guys Moychindice, which sells Christmas related items and light up stuff to wear during the Lights.
It offers a pretty limited variety of pricey items, but they’re here. For $7.50, that cupcake better dance or do tricks or something. But it just comes with a glow cube smashed on top.
The Souvenir Mickey Popcorn Buckets are pretty adorable though. Drop the glow cube inside for a fun light-up toy.
The Pretzel Garden will also be open, offering:
A much wider variety of pretzels than in past years.
To the left of Studio Catering Company is High Octane Refreshments, where you’ll find a holiday themed menu:
Along with the usual concoctions:
This is the first time I’ve seen Longboard Lager on draft at one of the theme parks, so that’s nice to see. Considering it’s brewed in Hawaii, they have surprisingly good distribution as my local Publix sells this along with the Porter and Fire Rock Pale Ale. Anyway, Longboard is a decent 4.6% American Pale Lager. I’d personally opt for the Samuel Adams Winter Lager, a 5.6% Bock, but the Longboard would be more interesting than the Miller Lite or Bud Light and shouldn’t offend the Budweiser palette.
I opted for the Captain’s Hot Cider. At $6.75, the cup size is pretty decent and it’s served piping hot. It’s premixed, so the bartender will serve it out of a beverage warmer.
I’m not sure if there was any rum in it or not. It certainly didn’t taste at all of rum, which may or may not be a good thing depending on if there is rum in it. It warmed me up approximately 39.7 degrees, to the point where I was uncomfortably hot on what was otherwise a cool evening. But it tasted very good and was nice to sip on while I strolled the Lights. High Octane Refreshments is only a two minute walk away from the Streets of America.
On to the Lights. Look out for the twinkle lights in the trees too.
Here’s this year’s new song, “Winter Wonderland.” Or a direct link. Camera work isn’t the greatest, but you can turn the quality up to 720p or 1080p and get an idea of what the Lights look like when they’re dancing.
I’ve seen advice that recommends avoiding the 6pm – 7pm timeframe because it’s more crowded.
But if you’re trying to decide between 6pm – 7pm or 7pm – 8pm, then I’d go with 6pm – 7pm.
Fantasmic lets about 9,000 people out right at 7pm and a ton of them will be headed to the Lights, which makes it much busier once that wave hits.
Visiting from 6pm – 7pm would also give you the 7pm – 8pm hour to ride the major attractions with the shortest waits outside of 9am – 10am.
But Disney keeps the Lights on and running for about an hour after the Studios closes.
If you’re looking for the lowest crowds, you’ll want to arrive at the Lights about 15 minutes before the Studios is scheduled to close.
At which point you can enjoy the Lights for at least an hour with crowds that will only diminish.
You’d also be able to enjoy the Studios’ regular attractions for as long as possible and have an opportunity to see the 6:30pm Fantasmic, something that wouldn’t be possible if you were planning to see the Lighting ceremony. You’re not going to be able to book it from the Streets of America at 6:20pm to see Fantasmic on Sunset Boulevard at 6:30pm.
I think I’d take coal over being arrested
But the Osborne Lights are a must see if you’re visiting over the holidays.
The Lights predominantly stay static.
You’ll know they’re about to “dance” when the voice comes over the “radio” briefly discussing the history of the Osborne family.
Which is about every ten minutes or so.
There’s a nice PhotoPass opportunity here. You can get your picture taken with the lights above and the toy soldiers and Christmas Tree in the background.
When the Lights are about to dance, I like to watch from one of two places. The first is where the PhotoPass photographer is located in the picture above this one.
And the other is from where this video was shot at the end of the Streets closer to the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action’s entrance.
A quick word about the “snow.” It’s actually soap and it will royally screw up your camera lens if it gets on it. If you have a lens cleaner of some kind, this is one day that you’ll want to bring it to the Parks. I was fortunate enough with my lens hood that I came away mostly unscathed, but if the soap hits the lens and dries, you’re going to end up with some smudgy shots. I point the lens down whenever I’m not shooting and put on the cap as often as possible to protect it.
Possible Plans of Attack
1. There are two options for experiencing the Osborne Lights with the least possible hassle. If you want to see the Lighting Ceremony, arrive at the Streets of America between 5:30pm and 6pm. Mulch, Sweat, and Shears will arrive on scene at 5:30pm and they should entertain for the 30 minutes up to the time that the ceremony is about to begin. Enjoy the Lights through 7pm or so and then hit the major attractions when they have shorter waits. You could also opt to head over to the 8pm Fantasmic if it’s scheduled. That show will be less crowded than the 6:30pm show and a 7:30pm arrival should afford good seats together. If you’re planning to exit after seeing the Lights, I’d leave the Streets of America no later than 6:50pm and make a beeline for the buses or tram. Although a lot of the people seeing Fantasmic head over to the Osborne Lights, many others will head straight for the exit. This creates long lines and standing-room-only bus trips.
2. Arrive at the Osborne Lights about 15 minutes before the Studios closes and enjoy them for an hour or so. Crowds will only diminish as it gets later in the evening and few people are aware that the Lights stay on after the Park “officially” closes. There will be plenty of buses to transport guests back to their resorts. If Fantasmic is scheduled at 6:30pm and you want to see the show and the Lights, this is your best option. Don’t head over to the Lights right after Fantasmic unless you want to deal with the heaviest possible crowds.
I don’t think there’s a good way to avoid a 45 minute wait. He doesn’t appear until 6:30pm and people will already be in line at 5:45pm. And he’s just so gawrsh down cute in his Santa suit that more and more people will get in line. I’d either get in line at 5:45pm or about 45 minutes before close. If he’s an absolute must-see, you’ll want to get in line at 5:45pm or be willing to wait as long as it takes earlier in the evening. Don’t save him for the end of the night unless you want to risk the line being closed.
If you’re visiting Hollywood Studios over the holidays, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a must do. At the very least, you’ll want to take 20 minutes to walk through at some point during the night. There are so many details that you may find that an hour or more flies by.