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!