Looking back on much missed Walt Disney World holiday memories

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Events, Magic Kingdom, Parties, Walt Disney World

The holidays are a time for family and friends and magical memories. No place on earth evokes enlightened elfish excitement like Walt Disney World with its over-the-top holiday decorations, extra special holiday entertainment, and decadent December desserts.  Over the years, the holidays have evolved and what was once a special treat is now just magical holiday memories. Listed below are a few special Santa-time memories that are missed at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The Country Bear Christmas Hoedown

Also known as the Jingle Bell Jamboree in Japan’s Tokyo Disneyland Resort, this holiday overlay of the Country Bear Jamboree first appeared during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland in Anaheim CA, some thirty-two years ago.  Featuring festively festooned characters and a countrified collection of classic Christmas tunes, the seasonal show would run annually until 2005 at the Magic Kingdom (as well as closing a few years earlier at Anaheim and Tokyo).

Pleasure Island – Adventurers Club Christmas Show

The Adventurers Club was a zany, immersive experience in a 1939 club for “world explorers” and adventurers to gather together to toast and regale one another with epic tales of astounding, often unbelievable feats. During this “open house” regular guests would be “allowed” to partake in the various ceremonies and shows the club had to offer. This unique and well-loved entertainment venue was part of Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World. The Adventurers Club closed with the rest of Pleasure Island in 2008 after 19 years of operation. During the holidays, some of the regular shows in the club’s library would be replaced with special holiday events.


Epcot’s Lights of Wonder 

These “dancing” holiday lights formed a magnificent archway of multi-colored illumination along the transition from Future World to the World Showcase. Installed in 1994, this majestic magical manifestation of Christmas wonder appeared annually until retired in 2009 – allegedly because the technology was obsolete. Old tech, however, did little to detract from this delightful display that we sincerely hope Disney one day will bring back to the Epcot park.


Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Though this well-loved holiday tradition first appeared at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (aka Disney MGM Studios) in 1995 (sans the “dancing’ element), their actual origin begins in Arkansas with Jennings Osborne’s epic light display. Mr. Osborne started the seasonal sensation with a mere 1000 lights in 1986. Traffic and safety concerns, due to the worldwide popularity of the display, eventually brought about its end in 1993 when the display by that time was running from sunset to midnight and had over three million lights.

Disney took over the festivities and moved them to the Studios park in Orlando when they acquired the massive display. Adding hidden Mickeys and over 40 various iconic sets from the original Arkansas arrangement, the Spectacle would run for 11 years (adding “dancing” lights, which were choreographed to various holiday hit songs, in 2006). The final “performance” of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights took place on January 6, 2016.

What magical holiday memories do Disney Parks hold for you? Of things faded to memory and no longer offered at the parks, what do you miss the most? Please share your Christmas stories in the comments below.


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    Cheryl Machado

    There are almost NO signs of Christmas. There are almost NO decorations, in every park. I have been going to Disney for over 29 years, it used to be, decorations were everywhere and amazingly beautiful; now there are a few things thrown up in a VERY limited way. It is heartbreaking. I am glad my children saw DisneyWorld in all it’s glory, I am saddened that now, we live here in the Orlando area, but my granddaughter will never experience the sheer beauty and magic of Christmas at Disney. The only special celebration is if you attend the Very Merry Christmas Party. I miss all of the things listed and so much more.

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    The Osbourne lights brought out more people each year. The children grew up, the family expanded and a family gathering to see the lights was one of our holiday traditions. The precious memories will stay, but it’s sad to know we don’t have that to look forward to each year.

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    Mario B

    I really will miss the Spectacle of Dancing Lights. It was my favorite Christmas display and holiday tradition for me. It will be missed by many.

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