Friday, December 21, 2012

Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights on Residential Street

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights has been a mainstay of MGM Studios since 1995, when Disney acquired the display from Jennings Osborne.  Jennings began his display when his daughter wanted their house decorated in lights for Christmas in 1986. Initially the display consisted of 1000 lights, and every year after it got bigger and bigger. Until his display got so big, that he purchased the properties on both sides of his own property to expand the display even farther.  Eventually the neighbors around him started filing lawsuits claiming that the traffic around the neighborhood made even the simplest errand take up to two hours or more. After much legal turmoil, in 1995 the state Supreme Court shut the display at his own residence down completely.
  John Phelan, project director at Walt Disney World, thought that the display would benefit Disney and also bring a pleasant addition to MGM Studios at the time. So he made an offer to Osborne, who was a fan of Walt Disney World and gladly accepted to move most of the display to Residential Street, which was located on the back lot at the time.  By 1996 Disney had added many lights to the display bringing the total up to 4.5 million.

     Residential Street was experienced as a ride through portion on the original Back Lot tram tour. It contained a "neighborhood" of  many various houses that consisted of no more than the Street side façades. If you got a good look behind these façades you'll see that it is pretty much bare steel and wood with no completed back structure of the house.  When Residential Street hosted the Osborne light display, the streets were opened up to guests to walk about the neighborhoods and admire the enormous display of lights draped about the facades. There were many other elements besides the lights on the houses.  Which included Santa, reindeer,  toy soldiers,  nativity scene, as well as many lights on real and fake trees and even lights on cars.
Golden Girls house

    Residential street was closed to the public on July 2, 2003. The street was scheduled for demolition to make way for the new stunt show: Lights, Motors, Action. Which resulted into an even more abbreviated Back Lot tour.  The Osborne lights were moved to an area of the park known as New York Street.  Which was eventually renamed to streets of America. The show has undergone many changes through the years, including a dancing portion of the light display. Which warrants the most recent name change to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
    This show really adds a nice holiday element to Hollywood studios which doesn't have the amount of offerings that the other parks do. I think some of the charm is missing compared to when the display was on Residential Street. But the wow moments and overall feelings are definitely there nowadays.  I hope Disney continues to utilize technological advances that are available, and invent new ways to plus this show to keep it relevant and exciting to park guests for years to come.  While keeping the charm and history of the display in tact.  Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Caribbean Plaza atmosphere

    Caribbean Plaza was added to Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom in 1973.  This was brought on by the Pirates of The Caribbean attraction being built in Florida; as well as extending the existing Adventureland, which pretty much ended right at the Tiki Room building and included a pathway running straight into Frontierland on the west side of The Country Bear Jamboree.  The addition of Caribbean Plaza allowed a better transition into Frontierland, as well as added a dynamic thematic element to that side of the park.   
      The well themed atmosphere was plussed by the performances of JP and The Silver Stars, a steel drum band that performed around the area.  The locations that they performed changed throughout the years, and ultimately ended in 1999 to make way for various meet and greet areas and character interaction elements that are less atmosphere based, and more product based.
     I have always had an affinity towards this area of Magic Kingdom.  I know as a child I absolutely loved the shop at the end of Pirates.  Back when the rifles sold actually looked like guns that would have been used by pirates, as well as many other treasures to plunder there.  My grandfather loved to stop and listen to the music that emanated harmoniously from their various instruments.  We always took the time to enjoy their performances, so in turn we spent a lot of time around here.  A taco salad was rarely missed at El Pirata y Perico, when it used to be open more frequently in the past.  It is now called Tortuga Tavern, and is only open during the most busy times of the year at the park. 
     Caribbean Plaza was a great addition to the park and is and always has been a fantastic area to spend time.  I do hope that experiences like this, that are strictly for the enjoyment of the guests, play a more prominent part in the expansion of the parks.  Entertainment options like this can span many generations, like JP and The Silver Stars, who brought so much more  to our Walt Disney World vacation experiences throughout the years.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"International" America Gardens Theater

     The America Gardens theater is a venue that has hosted many different shows throughout the history of Epcot.  The amphitheater was an open air stage for a number of years until a covered portion was erected around 1994.  The first show to premiere in the newly covered amphitheater was called The Magical World of Barbie. But I digress, I do have some photos of a show that took place at the Gardens theater around 1987.

  I have no real information on this show, but it seems to be an international display of the dances of the various cultures represented in World Showcase.  This show took place multiple times throughout the day for park guests.  It looks like each country had it's own portion dedicated to just their dancers.

     I do like how this show represented all of World Showcase.  As the American pavilion, it plays host to all of the countries around the lagoon.  What better way to play host than to invite them to show off their own unique culture at the forefront of the American pavilion.

    Nowadays, the theater is used mostly as a concert location for the festivals and special holiday offerings like The Candlelight Processional.  Things that mostly have nothing to to with World Showcase itself.  I do wish there were shows that encompassed all of the cultures together again.  That would perfectly represent the theme of World Showcase itself, as was done in the parks past.
   Thanks for taking a look and if anyone saw this show, or has more information on it, please let me know.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

PHOTO REPORT:2001 Polynesian pool refurbishment

    The Polynesian Resort Volcano pool has been a staple of Walt Disney World since the opening of the resort.  With a volcanic rock mountain formation, a waterfall cascading down the face, as well as encompassing a water slide that was carved out of the rock work, this pool was different than most pools available to guests staying at hotels around this time. This pool featured a deep end (9' 10") with a diving board.  The diving board was eventually removed by the early 1980's, but the deep end remained.
Removal of old volcano pool
     The public consensus towards pools changed around the mid 90's when deep pools were deemed too dangerous, as well as the fact that a lifeguard would have to be on duty at all times. In the beginning of  2001, a refurbishment of the original volcano pool was in order, to rid itself of a deep end and make a zero entry element, to better conform to government regulations as well as a money saver in the long run. With the zero entry element eliminating the requirement of permanent structures that lower physically disabled guests into the poolthis is the direction that WDW pools will be heading in the future. (Grand Floridian pool being
converted as of this post)

   These photos were taken over the course of the month of January of 2001.  I have many pictures from this portion of the refurbishment, and I am posting them all here, so I apologize for the amount of pictures in this article.  As a fan of the history of the resort, I believe every picture that documents a period of time in the evolution of Walt Disney World is important, and worth sharing.


      What is very interesting is how much area was torn up.  As a guest at this time, having this entire area behind construction walls had to put a damper on your resort experience.  In the grand scheme of things, this was a plus for many reasons.  The addition of cabana areas and an updated dry play area for children, even though I do lament the loss of the deep end of the pool; especially since the remodel of the "quiet" pool that took place semi recently, which used to be 8' deep.  The ability to actually "swim" in a pool has been lost these days.  Even though I do know that my kids will enjoy the new pool as much as I enjoyed the former, as the theming is still top notch; I will still hold fond memories of the original even though it is history.
     I do hope you enjoy these many photographs and many thanks for taking time to read this. Please visit again, as I will continue to post pictures from WDW's past.