Ring in the holidays with this video of the 2015 Osborne Family Spectacle lighting ceremony. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
Walt Disney World‘s holiday season celebrations are in full swing, and the final season of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is drawing huge crowds each night to the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Recently, I brought you video of the Spectacle, featuring three full performances from the Dancing Lights. After that posting, some readers wondered whether the small ceremony that kicks off each evening’s illumination is still occurring. Well, wonder no more, because I’ve brought you this complete video of the 2015 Osborne Family Spectacle lighting ceremony:
If there is one disappointing thing about holidays at Universal Orlando it’s the fact that the festivities start so late in the season, especially by comparison. Some of the holiday celebrations at Walt Disney World started as early as November 6th this year, that means that Universal Orlando is basically a month behind. Even comparing to SeaWorld Orlando (whose Christmas Celebration is my absolute favorite holiday celebration in any Orlando theme park) Universal Orlando is two weeks behind (December 5th). So since we still are a few weeks away from the kickoff of holidays at Universal Orlando, let’s take a look at how you can get into the holiday spirit while we’re waiting.
New York and Hollywood Backlots
Here’s the good news. One of the most important parts of getting into the holiday spirit when visiting theme parks, the decorations, are practically fully up right now. Over the next few weeks the finishing touches will be put on, but enough sparkling ornaments and garland decorate the two most festive spots in Universal Studios Florida to put you in the spirit. Every year I love seeing the Christmas trees on the R.H. Macy’s facade and the delicate snowflakes on the Paradise theater facade, both in the New York backlot area. This section of the park is where you will find the big Christmas tree (though during my visit this weekend it was not yet up). While you’re visiting the New York backlot, stop in at Finnegan’s, my favorite theme park restaurant, and very festive to boot!
Start celebrating the holidays at the Magic Kingdom with the 2015 Jingle Cruise (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
It seems like it was only last week that we were celebrating Halloween…oh wait, it was only last week. Well, never mind the 90 degree weather, the winter holidays have arrived at Walt Disney World! Only days after it was decked out with spirited All Hallows decor, the Magic Kingdom is already dressed for Christmas. And to start the season in safari style, the 2015 Jingle Cruise has docked in Adventureland, bringing holiday cheer to the world-famous Jungle Cruise attraction.
First, let’s take a stroll from the entrance’s poinsettia planter and up Main Street U.S.A., where a towering Christmas tree has made its annual appearance:
Cinderella Castle with Holiday Lights. Photo – Laurel Stewart
This holiday season (and by “holiday season,” we, and Disney, mean the last two months of the year as soon as the Halloween decorations come down), the ceremony that illuminates Cinderella Castle’s “Dream Lights” has been reworked as A Frozen Holiday Wish. In prior years Cinderella and Fairy Godmother lit the castle in a show called, “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish.” The beautifully lit castle is a spectacle that makes seeing a huge crane in all your photos from the early fall and mid-winter mostly worth it.
This year the honors are done by Frozen‘s Elsa, with assistance from her sister Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf the Snowman. Lest you think Elsa just goes around lighting random castles, she does ask permission (from the crowd) first. SPOILER: The crowd says, “Yes”. The gist of the new show is that everyone wishes for snow at Christmas starting November 5. If only there were someone around who could create snow on demand….
Happy Halloween, everyone! Did you know that the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a week from today. And that it’s sold out? Enjoy your 6 days of downtime between the 2 month holiday of the Food & Hallowine Festival and the next 2 month holiday of Christmas and New Year’s.
Christmas will be here before you know it, and you might be asking yourself, “Hey, self, should I make my holiday season even more magical by going to Disney World?” I’m glad you asked. Disney World during the holidays is one of my favorite times of year to visit. It’s a time when there are several unique elements from decorations to food present that transform the parks into something special. That’s not to say that it’s the perfect time of year to go. Like any season, there are positives and negatives. While I believe that every Disney enthusiast should aim to visit at least once during the holidays, here are some of my personal pros and cons that should help you decide if it’s worth it.
PRO: The Decorations
Walking down a fully decorated Main Street, U.S.A., is almost worth the trip alone for me. I already enjoy spending time just wandering around the Magic Kingdom staple but when the decorations are up, the ambiance gets even better. The decorations don’t stop there. Obviously the rest of the areas in the parks have decorations, but the hotels do, as well. I enjoy hotel hopping just to see how each one is decorated. The level of detail will vary, but some of the hotels go all out: for example, there’s a huge gingerbread house at the BoardWalk!
CON: The Crowds
Like any popular time of year at Disney, you’re going to feel cramped at some points. If all you want out of a Disney trip is short wait times and you don’t care about Christmas, maybe plan a trip for some other time. I could be perfectly happy just walking around the parks and taking everything in, but I understand how some people might not enjoy this and need plenty of attractions. If this is you, whatever you do, do not go during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s the busiest time of year by far. Check out our crowd calendar for more information, but generally it’s less crowded the earlier you go in the season (besides the week of Thanksgiving, of course).
While it may well still be sweltering outside, the time has come for us all to start thinking about…Christmas. That’s right, nothing says preparing for the Holiday Season like knowing the second you step outside, you’re going to need to take another shower. However, for those who are eagerly planning a vacation for November/December, this is, of course, one key piece of news you’ve been waiting for.
You see, the dates for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which takes place annually at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, have been released! This season’s event is scheduled for Friday, November 7, 2014, through Sunday, January 4, 2015. (Note that – barring changes to park hours – they will be unavailable on December 10 since the park is scheduled to close at 6:00 pm.)
The dazzling showcase of festive lights takes place on The Streets of America. Guests marvel as they walk along, gazing up at the beautiful lights, made even more spectacular when they start to blink and dance to the musical tracks.
In addition, introduced last year and continuing this year, guests who purchase Glow With The Show ears will see them interact with the lights as the ears have been programmed to light up, both matching the colors of your surroundings and flashing to the beat of the holiday music.
For those who are unaware, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started modestly in Arkansas as each year, Jennings Osborne and his family set up an elaborate collection of holiday lights. Over time, the collection of lights grew until 1995, when the lights were brought to Walt Disney World Resort.
The event is included in the price of your admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Today is a day of romance … a day of love … a day for the celebration of those special bonds that we’re lucky enough to share with one another as we walk these hallowed roads together, two as one, without but a single worry in our love-struck hearts…
That’s what all of those hearts all over the place are all about, if you hadn’t heard!
And of course, those who find themselves in or around Walt Disney World today will no doubt be overwhelmed by a sea of romantic gestures as they meet characters walking hand in hand, and pastries dazzled with pink and red frosting, and that distinct aroma that can only mean that love is most definitely in the air … and also that there’s a turkey leg stand just around the corner … but mostly love, at least for today!
And yet that’s just the thing, right? How does one stand out with his or her own romantic offerings when you can’t throw a Mickey plush without hitting somebody making a grand gesture of proposing to their significant other around every bend?!
A well-timed smooch at the end of Wishes? Yeah, you and about a thousand other people!
A romantic lunch in the Rose Gallery at Be Our Guest? Take a number, and I hope you brought some snacks!
A nice walk through the typically quiet nature trails at the back of Animal Kingdom? Ok, so that one’s actually a pretty good one…
Fortunately, however, there are still a few special places out there – off the beaten path, if you will – where love and mushy stuff thrive just the same, but without having to compete with 100,000 other hopeless romantics at the same time! You just need to know where to look for them, and because I’m such a nice guy, here are some great places where I’d suggest you start:
Journey of The Little Mermaid @ the Magic Kingdom
It’s the tale (tail?) of a girl who sacrifices everything that she has for true love! Crustaceans sing, the plaice play the bass, and even though it doesn’t get as big of a production as Under the Sea, you’re missing out on a prime opportunity there just before the grand finale if you don’t take a quick moment to lean in close and Kiss the Girl…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year (at least according to that ubiquitous song) and there’s no holiday season quite like a Disneyland holiday. In the past, I’ve experienced Disneyland it all its seasonal splendor during Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Fourth of July. But until last week, I’d never visited the Happiest Place On Earth during Christmas time, and as an Orlando resident I was blown away by the quantity and quality of seasonal celebrations. As we enter the final weeks of the peak holiday season, here’s my personal top five favorite aspects of Disneyland’s 2013 special offerings to distract you from the epic E-ticket queues.
Seasonal Sweets and Treats
Christmas is no time to go to Disneyland on a diet, as I discovered an insatiable need to sample the limited-time seasonal snacks offered and nearly every quick-service counter.
While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).
Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.