A Christmas Gift from Mickey, Santa, and The Osborne Family


Although I’ve already written about it previously this year, I couldn’t let this final season of “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Light” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios go by without one last look at this stunning Holiday tradition. While Walt Disney World may have been all started by a mouse, the “Spectacle of Lights” started with Arkansas businessman and philanthropist Jennings Osborne. However, that doesn’t mean Mickey hasn’t played a big part in the show over the years.

As the announcers explain each night before the massive display is turned on, Jennings Osborne was inspired by a request from his daughter to cover his house with Christmas lights. In addition to being lovers of Christmas, the Osborne Family were also fans of Disney and as such were sure to include characters like Mickey Mouse into their growing collection of light. When Jennings Osborne’s spectacle became too big for his Little Rock neighborhood, Disney offered him the opportunity to bring his lights to Walt Disney World starting with the 1995 Christmas season. As you would imagine, this association has only lead to more and more Disney characters being added to the display over these past two decades, ranging from dozens of tiny Hidden Mickeys scatter throughout the light-covered Streets of America to large props like the one pictured above depicting Santa Claus shaking hands with an identically dressed Mickey Mouse.

The “Spectacle of Dancing Lights” is far from the first time that Mickey has gotten to play Santa. In the 1931 Academy Award-nominated short “Mickey’s Orphans,” Mickey disguises himself as St. Nick in order to deliver presents to a group of rambunctious kittens that had been left on his doorstep on Christmas Eve. The next year, Mickey donned a Santa hat and beard once again in the Depression-era classic “Mickey’s Good Deed.” In this short, a poor Mickey decides give an underprivileged family a Merry Christmas, even if it means giving up his beloved dog Pluto in the process.

Like Santa and Mickey, Jennings Osborne gave an amazing present when he first sent his light display to Walt Disney World. “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” will certainly be missed now that its 20 year run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is coming to an end, but the joy and memories it has inspired over the years will live on for many Christmases yet to come. May your Holiday Season be filled with lots of joy and memories as well!


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