A Very Brief History of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

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1986 – Jennings Osborne (a successful businessman) and his wife Mitzi establish an elaborate Christmas display at their Little Rock home at the request of their daughter Breezy.

1993 – The growth of the display along with the traffic, noise, etc. spurs six neighbors to file a lawsuit demanding that the display be shut down.

Osborne responds by adding three million more lights.

1995 – The Arkansas Supreme Court pulls the plug on Breezy’s lights. Walt Disney World project director John Phelan contacts the Osbornes about moving the display to WDW. Initially the display is set up on the MGM Studios residential street backlot. Osborne continues to have a small display in his front yard.

2005 – With the demolition of the residential street, the display is moved to the much larger “New York Streets” section (by then, it may have been called the “Streets of America,” or something stupid like that, but it always looked like New York to me.) Eventually the lights become computerized, animated, swapped for LEDs and the size of a small country. They are renamed “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.”

2015 – Disney announces that this will be the final year for the display, as the area is being demolished to make room for Toy Wars / Star Story Land.

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My wife¬†and I only got to see the display only once, but I did shoot a lot of video. Here’s the resulting piece, produced almost two years ago for mouseplanet.com:

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Fastpass + and Slowing Down at Walt Disney World

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I read an article this morning about how Disney is serving breakfast in park restaurants that never had breakfast. For example, the Sci Fi Dine-in Theater will be offering a fixed-price breakfast beginning November 1. It appears that park management used to think there was little market for breakfast in the parks since families were more interested in squeezing in rides and attractions in the early hours before the lines got long.

Fastpass + is changing that to an extent. Now with a little planning, people can plan their day, make reservations for attractions, and spend time on more leisurely activities such as breakfast, enjoying the entertainment, absorbing the atmosphere, and – God forbid – enjoying each other’s company.

When our son and daughter were small, we would get to the parks at opening, cram as many attractions in the early hours as we could, then head back to the hotel for lunch and spend the afternoon at the pool.

While we always had a great time, I always felt a bit as though we were rushing our dinner so that we could go to bed early.

Of course I’m aware that Fastpass + is ultimately a big part of Disney’s strategy to get people off of the attraction lines and doing other things (such as shopping,) but overall I think that the new technology is good, and there’s nothing wrong with families slowing down a bit instead of rushing madly from queue to queue (even though Disney has spent a fortune making the queues far more entertaining.)

I’ve seen enough mid-afternoon overtired, crying toddlers to know that there just has to be a better way for families with young children, and for that matter all of us, to tour the parks. Fastpass + (and whatever else Disney has coming up the road) is more than a way to avoid lines, it’s a great tool to help us rethink how we approach our Disney vacations.

I’ve read some complaints about how making reservations for park attractions ruins the spontaneity of a Disney vacation. Really? What is spontaneous about waiting on 90-minute lines?

I would have loved to have the option of using Fastpass + when our children were small, and I look forward someday to using it with our grandkids.

And taking a little time to smell the churros.

Grumpy Old Fool’s Day@Disney – The Voices of Liberty in my Head

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I got a bit behind on this site so I’m posting two videos in one day. In this episode I catch a performance of The Voices of Liberty and wander over to the France Pavilion to see a “very exclusive” film screening. Then we get an inside tour of the Stormalong Bay pool complex.

As always, presented by mouseplanet.com. (BTW, if you are in the least bit interested in the Disney parks, you will love this site. They publish new articles every weekday, and my videos the first Tuesday of every month.)