Thursday, October 27, 2011

Attractions - The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Driving backstage at WDW recently I was able to see the Christmas decorations being prepared so that the parks can start being decorated for the holidays. It's hard to believe it's that time of the year again, but in a few short weeks the holiday festivities will begin all over WDW. One of my favorites and one that starts the earliest is The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which goes from November 10th to January 7th (there is no performance on 12/8, the park closes at 5). If you have an opportunity to go to WDW make sure this is near the top of your list of things to do.

Jennings and Mitzi Osborne lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1986 their daughter asked that their house be decorated with lights for Christmas, which Jennings and Mitzi did, stringing 1000 lights on the house. Every year afterwards the display got bigger and bigger eventually encompassing the two surrounding properties which the Osborne's purchased. By 1993 the display became so big and was visited by so many people some neighbors filed a law suit to end the display, complaining that it had become a nuisance. The case went all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court who ordered the display be taken down permanently in 1995. This is when Disney stepped in and moved the display permanently to Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Originally presented on the "Residential Street" in the backlot section, the display is now seen on the "Streets of America". With over 10 miles of lights it is truly a spectacular sight. The lights turn on and off automatically and are choreographed to the music giving the appearance that the lights are dancing to the music. After each performance the lights remain steady for about 10 minutes before the next performance. Some of the selections that the lights "dance" to are; Jingle Bells (Barbra Streisand), Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano) and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams). Along with the lights and music, "snow" falls during the performances.

Sadly Jennings Osborne passed away earlier this year, but it's nice to know that something he loved so much and put so much effort into continues to bring joy to thousands of people each holiday season. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is not to be missed! Keep in mind that Thanksgiving week and the weeks before and after Christmas are some of the busiest all year long, I try to see the display its opening week or the first weeks of December to avoid the crowds.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Magical Moments - An Update from the Food & Wine Festival

If you're heading to the 15th Annual Food & Wine Festival at Epcot this year you may notice the large crowds gathered in the area between Future World and World Showcase. A popular new exhibit has been created this year, a cranberry bog, built in partnership with Ocean Spray. The display celebrates "the taste, health and heritage of the cranberry" and contains more than 1,500 pounds of cranberries.

If you've never seen a cranberry bog before, and most people haven't, now is your chance. Cranberries do not grow in water, when it is time to harvest them the fields are flooded with water and machines knock the berries off the plants. The cranberries float to the top and are then corralled. The process takes one or two days, but the cranberry bog at Epcot will remain throughout the Food and Wine Festival.

The bog itself is quite beautiful, with the crimson of the cranberries surrounded by the green vines. Actual cranberry farmers (and also WDW cast members) will be standing knee deep in the bog answering any questions guests may have. If the sight of the cranberries whets your appetite, you'll be in luck; samples of Ocean Spray Craisins Dried Cranberries will be given out from a kiosk next to the bog. Make a point to stop by this unique display, you will be glad you did.