The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is arguably the world’s greatest, most concentrated and most extravagant Christmas light display. Created by Jennings Osborne in Little Rock, Arkansas, the famous neighborhood show has since relocated to the tourism-saturated city of Orlando in Florida, where it is now seen annually by millions of visitors to the Disney Studios theme park. Since moving to Orlando in the 1990s, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights has become one of the cornerstone attractions of the holiday celebrations at Disney World, which itself has become the most popular Christmas vacation destination in America.
The Osborne Light extravaganza began in 1986 with a simple display of a thousand or so bulbs strung up at the request of Jennings Osborne’s daughter. Over the next seven years the display grew at an astonishing rate, with an estimated three million lights by 1993. The Osborne’s acquired several neighboring homes just to accommodate the burgeoning display. Tens of thousands of visitors swarmed to the Osborne’s street every year to see the spectacle, which at one point was visible from airplanes at cruising altitude. Unfortunately, complaining neighbors and a $10,000 fine forced the Osbornes to shut their lights off. Appeals reached as high as the United States Supreme Court, to no avail.
In 1995, the Walt Disney Company acquired the Osborne’s enterprise and began displaying the light show on the Disney Studios back lot. They have been a major part of Walt Disney World’s holiday season ever since. Dominating the New York City backlot and several adjoining areas, the lighting display sprawls over much of the rear of the park. Some of the favorites include countless Christmas trees, battalions of larger than life toy soldiers, squadrons of soaring angels, and of course, Santa’s sleigh and reindeer suspended over the main thoroughfare. Many of the displays now consist of dancing lights choreographed to the beautiful music of the season.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights dazzles holiday visitors to Walt Disney World, approximately fifteen miles southwest of downtown Orlando. The light show runs every evening from mid-November through early January (Christmas and New Years included), although hours vary widely. Check ahead. As of this writing, a single-day admission ticket was $75 (though prices drop significantly for multiple-day tickets). Web: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/hollywood-studios (official website of Walt Disney World)