Osborne Family Festival of Lights

Osborne Family Festival of Lights, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Christmas at Disney is an amazing time with all of the decorations and lights on display. Perhaps the most amazing display that we saw was the Osborne Family Spectacle in Lights in Hollywood Studios. Today's post (as well as yesterday's) features a small part of this wonderful display. I had never heard of the Osborne display prior to our visit and the story behind it is quite interesting. In 1986, a daughter in Arkansas asked her father (Mr. Osborne) to decorate their home in lights. Osborne complied, stringing 1,000 lights around their home. Each year after that, Osborne tried to outdo the previous year and even purchased the two properties next door to expand the display. By 1993, the display had over three million lights and had gotten so big that cars were backed up for miles to see it. Six neighbors filed a lawsuit, saying traffic congestion made trips to the corner store take two hours, and they feared emergency vehicles could not get down the street. Osborne responded by adding three million more lights. The Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately ruled to close the display.

Disney World contacted Osborne about moving the display to its Hollywood Studios Theme Park. Osborne accepted Disney's offer. In 1995, the display was set up in Disney and was known as "The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights". Today, the display is made up of over 10 miles of lights connected by another 30 miles of extension cords. It takes 20,000 man-hours to install the display each holiday season, starting in September. The lights are turned on at dusk each night, starting in mid-November and runs into the first week of January. In 2004, Disney added 33 snow machines to create an artificial snow effect to the display. In 2006, the park added over 1,500 control switches to the display to enable the lights to switch on and off electronically. The switches were choreographed to a musical scores.

Suffice it to say, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is an overwhelming display that must not be missed. I can't imagine that a more impressive display exists. This image is a small microcosm of the full display.

Merry Christmas

Osborne Family Festival of Lights, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Just a quick post wishing you and your families a wonderful Christmas. I hope Santa delivered the presents that you wanted.

Christmas Castle

Cinderella's Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Just being back from Disney World has put me in the Christmas mood. Disney does such a great job decorating their resorts and parks for the holiday season that you can't help from getting into a festive mood. One of the really cool things they do in the Magic Kingdom is the way Cinderella's castle is used during their "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" show. The castle is lit with over 200,000 lights and is used as a movie screen in such a creative way that your jaw drops in amazement. The castle appears to be covered in ice throughout the evening and when they change the color of the lights that shine on the castle, it takes on a different look and "personality". This image is just one of the many shots I took. I picked it to post because it had that "icy" look.

Beach Club Reflections

Beach Club Villas, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

It feels like I haven't posted in ages even though it has only been a couple of weeks. Had a great time in Disney World. The Christmas decorations are everywhere and the lights and parades are second to none. I will be posting a few of those Christmas shots in the coming weeks. In the meantime, this is an image from our home away from home, Disney's Beach Club Resort. I noticed this reflection of the resort but I was pretty tired so I decided to get it later in the trip. This is usually a mistake but the weather was so great (mid to high 70s) that I was sure that I would be able to get it. I captured this a few nights later and have decided I like taking night images.

The Bird Cage

Disney is one of the most popular and successful companies in the world. There are probably a myriad of reasons why that is so. Many of their resort hotels, as well as Epcot, are beautiful renditions of other places around the world. How do they seem to pull it off? To me, it is in the details. It seems that Disney has created or recreated places and things that, upon examination, are so detailed that they make you believe that you have been transported somewhere else and are seeing the real thing. This is everywhere you look at Disney. Take this bird cage that is in the middle of the atrium in Fort Wilderness Lodge. This is no ordinary bird cage. If you look at the image closely, the amount of detail is incredible. Sure, they could have put an ordinary cage there but that would not elicit a "Wow" form its visitors.

Wilderness Lodge Villas, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Rustic Getaway

Wilderness Lodge Villas, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Earlier this year, I posted this image of the Fort Wilderness Lodge from my first trip to Disney World in over 10 years. We had been invited to Disney by very good friends to stay with them at their timeshare. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Disney Vacation Club, some of them are separate buildings that are adjacent to an already established resort. While they are not as big as the resort itself, they are still pretty impressive in their own right. This image is of the ceiling of the one attached to the Fort Wilderness Lodge. As is the Disney fashion, you could imagine yourself somewhere in Wyoming instead of Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Time for a Dentist Visit

Animanl Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

A quick post for today. We recently visited Disney World this past February for the first time in over 15 years. The last time we were there, Animal Kingdom did not exist, so I was very interested to see the park. I had no preconceived notions and was suitably impressed with the park. This photo was taken as I walked through the Asia section of the park and spotted this Bengal Tiger yawning, obviously bored with the visitors. My first thought was how big those teeth were. My second thought was wondering when it had last visited the dentist.

Disney's Fort

Wilderness Lodge, Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Earlier this year, we visited Disney World for the first time in 10 years. Our friends, who own a timeshare in Disney, invited us to stay a week with them at Disney's Fort Wilderness Lodge. It was our first stay at the lodge and I was quite amazed on how big the lobby (pictured in this image) was. Even though it is one of the original resorts (opening in November 1971 -- a month after Disney World officially opened), the lodge was meticulous and so well maintained. I was determined to get a photograph of the lobby without the crowds of people that seem to be there night and day. I knew the only way to get a shot of a vacant lobby was to get up before dawn, set up my tripod and shoot away. As you can see in the image, I was the only guest up except for one other person. I left him in for readers of my blog to see if they could "Find Waldo".

Walk in the Park

Everglades National Park, Shark Valley, Florida

One of the national parks that I have always wanted to visit is Everglades National Park. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and encompasses about 1.5 million acres. I was hoping to visit the main part of the park before a cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale but the main part of the park was too far away to visit in the time that I had. As I was researching the park, I noticed a small entrance on the northern edge of the park named Shark Valley. Shark Valley is located along Tamiami Trail near the Miami Dade-Collier County line. While it is a small section of the park, wildlife abounds such as alligators, raccoons, deer, lizards, snakes and and all sorts of birds. Visitors can either hike a 15-mile trail or take a tram. There is an observation tower, seven miles down the trail that gives a great view of the surrounding area.

What amazed me the most when I entered the park was how close the birds and alligators were to the entrance. You could literally walk up and touch an alligator if you wanted to (but why would you?). This bird was having a nice leisurely walk in the park right next to the entrance to Shark Valley and I thought it's colors would make a great image.


Spaceship Earth, Epcot, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Quick post and run for today. This image is an abstract taken during my trip to Florida last month. I'm sure that fellow photographer and blogger, Jim Nix, will recognize this immediately as it is one of his favorite places. This abstract is of Spaceship Earth in Disney World's Epcot. Epcot to me is the park most designed for adults in the Disney complex and it was great to visit after a 17-year hiatus. It was great to see all of the new things they have added there since my last visit. The Test Track and Soaring rides quickly became my favorites. Have a great weekend everyone.

Beach Dreams

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Just a quick post and run today. The weather in New England has been quite cold this past week so when I came across this shot that I took last year in Fort Lauderdale, I started thinking about how nice it would be at the beach. The good news is that I will be headed to Florida in a few weeks and hope to get warm.