Inside the Osborne Dancing Lights featuring a dazzling new multi-colored canopy at Walt Disney World

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Entertainment, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights gets more impressive year after year and Disney’s 2011 display tops all that came before it. While many still miss the lights’ previous home on the old Residential Street, the illuminated decorations that now adorn the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios shine in a few ways the former display never did.

Millions of tiny bulbs and animated displays cover the facades of New York street while a new overhead canopy featuring thousands of multi-colored LED lights impresses all who pass through the park’s San Francisco street. It’s one of Walt Disney World’s must-see Christmas time attractions, continuing nightly well beyond the holiday, through January 7, 2012.

The entire display is overwhelmingly stunning when lit, but becomes even more exciting as it “dances” synchronized to a variety of Christmas and holiday music. Between songs this year, a pair of unseen voices recount the history of the display, which originally began in 1986 in Arkansas, at the home of a man named Jennings Osborne, who strung 1,000,000 lights as a Christmas gift to his daughter. After the exhibit grew larger and brighter each year, it was transported to Disney in 1995 where the light exhibit now mesmerizes guests from all over the world each year, with the tradition continuing after Jennings’ death just a few months ago on July 27, 2011. (There are a couple tributes to him in this year’s display, including one white angel amongst a sky filled with blue ones. See if you can spot it in the photos below.)

There are only so many words that can describe a Christmas display of millions of lights. Instead, we offer a more visual treat, with three videos and many photos of the 2011 Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, including a look at that impressive new canopy of lights.

Video Highlights

Video: Osborne Dancing Lights 2011 on New York street
with “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Elvis Presley


Video: 2011 Osborne Dancing Lights canopy on San Francisco street
with “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” by Arthur Fiedler


Video: Osborne Dancing Lights 2011 on New York street
with “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Photo Highlights

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights 2011

If you’re planning on visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, plan ahead and arrive early. After dark, the line of cars entering gets very long and it can take 20-30 minutes just to park. And be ready for big crowds, particularly over the next two weeks. Not only is it one of the busiest times of the year for visiting theme parks, but the spectacle by design encourages people to enter the Streets of America and stop moving for long periods of time, while enjoying the lights, particularly while they’re “dancing.” As such, the streets are packed with people, shoulder-to-shoulder, with little room to walk around. And making crowd flow worse, Disney has set up a few PhotoPass spots right in the middle of the street, creating bottlenecks and blocking paths. So while the lights are pretty, they’re only enjoyable if you remember to bring some patience with you. For an extra treat, show up at sunset and gather around the big tree of lights for the nightly ceremony lighting the spectacle for the first time.

More photos from the 2011 Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights:

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