The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights kicked off officially last week and once again, this annual event is the pinnacle of Christmas events at Walt Disney World. Every year, Disney goes out of their way to make changes to the Osborne Lights in an effort to keep it fresh and interesting. Let's take a look at what's new this year and how it worked (or didn't work).
The biggest change to the Osborne Lights this year was the addition of Goofy's Winter Wonderland, which in essence is a meet-n-greet opportunity with Goofy dressed up as Santa Claus. It's probably the best (and cheapest) way to meet Santa Goofy outside of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.
When the idea was first announced, I was concerned that the wait times would be absurd, considering how crowded the Osborne Lights are to begin with and then add a popular character like Goofy and it spells trouble. Truthfully I found each time I walked by the meet area that the line wasn't that bad. It wasn't short by any means, but it seemed as reasonable as any character meet line I've seen recently. It probably helps that Goofy's Winter Wonderland is hidden in the back of the Osborne Lights where I'm sure most guests don't even look.
The new song that the Osborne Lights dance to is a special arrangement of the classic, "Winter Wonderland". Personally, I don't see any song topping the Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs but I will say I can see how the Winter Wonderland song looks like a step forward in how the lights dance.
What I like about Winter Wonderland is how the different instruments are represented by the lights, which is best shown in the beginning of the song. I feel like this song is a product of the people behind the scenes saying, "Let's take all the tricks we know and try to make something impressive" and I think that's what we have. While I feel many of the other songs that dance to the lights are impressive, they are more about flashing as much at you at once than anything else. Winter Wonderland is far more choreographed and it's a nice change and proof that slower songs (relatively speaking anyway) can still be good songs for the Osborne Lights. All that being said, I stand by my belief that the Trans-Sibertian Orchestra songs are still the best.
Of course, the main attraction at the Osborne Lights is the lights and there are a few changes of note. It felt like this year there were the least of the original lights that Jennings Osborne made personally on display. The train that Mickey Mouse was driving is gone and the light of Mickey shaking Santa's hand has been pushed further away from the main display. I know the big push is for the lights to be LED and to a lesser degree, have the ability to dance to the lights but I've always found the lights from the original display sentimental.
The animated windows were a nice improvement this year. Previousy they had just been windows that showed the same thing (snow falling, presents, etc) on a loop. This year, there's more variety and even cameos by characters from Prep and Landing. It's a cool display and definitely worth looking at.
One aspect of the Lights I was disappointed with is on San Francisco street, which has the richest detail to enjoy. The problem isn't the lights but with the way crowd control has been set up. There's a Photopass opportunity at the end of the block but Disney set up the queue for the photo right against the apartment buildings that have the best details to see. So the only way to see those details is hope the line is short (yea right) or stand awkwardly in front of people and look past them. I think they need move this queue to the outdoor MuppetVision 3D queue on the opposite side of the building.
I'm definitely impressed with the Osborne Lights this year and recommend everyone go check them out as soon as you can. I stand by my assertion that the Osborne Lights is the best holiday event at Walt Disney World and is something you should see a couple of times to truly appreciate.