The Best Christmas Stuff at Disney World You Can’t See Anymore – Tom’s Top 7

The Best Christmas Stuff at Disney World You Can't See Anymore - Tom's Top 7
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Welcome to another edition of Tom’s Top 7,  a continuing countdown of my favorite (and occasionally, least favorite) things at the Disney Parks around the globe. Why seven? Because seven ate nine. Wait…

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With the Christmas season looming, along with the debut of some new holiday offerings at Walt Disney World this year, I though it might be fun to look back at some of the holiday stuff that you can’t see anymore. From extensive light displays to parades and shows from Holidays past, let’s take a spirited trip down memory lane. The best part? We actually have video of each of the offerings so you can relive them all one more time.

While it may seem a bit early to start celebrating, here are my Top 7 Christmas Shows that you can’t see at Walt Disney World anymore.

1. The Lights of Winter & Epcot Tree Lighting Ceremony

While it was never quite the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, people did really love the Lights of Winter as part of the Holidays Around the World at Epcot. I more so miss watching the tree lighting ceremony with characters that they used to do here, illuminating the tree and the Lights of Winter every evening around dusk. There was never any real reason given for the removal of the Lights of Winter, other than Disney claiming it was old technology. Still, it was a nice atmosphere piece.

 

2. Celebrate the Season

What began as a show at the Top of the World at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in the early 1990’s became the longest running Cinderella Castle stage show in the history of Walt Disney World. Celebrate the Season packed more performers in than any other show to ever perform at the venue and was for the most part enjoyed by everyone who saw it. That being said, it probably was time for it to go. Celebrate the Season will be replaced by Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration on November 9th at the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

3. Cinderella’s Holiday Wish

Since replaced by a Frozen Holiday Wish, the original Cinderella Castle lighting show was Cinderella’s Holiday Wish. When the Cinderella Castle Holiday Dreamlights debuted in 2007, they were an immediate hit with guests. It’s hard to deny the magic of the holiday lights on the castle, but was the Cinderella lighting show better than Frozen? I’m not so sure. I’m not one to jump on the Frozen hype train, but Elsa creating a layer of shimmering ice on the castle makes a lot of sense. Regardless, the old show was still good, maybe just because it was the first time ever that we got to see the Castle decorated for the holidays in some significant fashion.

4. Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade

What seemed to some like a haphazard overlay of a parade to give Animal Kingdom some sort of holiday season offering was actually a pretty clever concept. Costuming and music changes, as well as the addition of a hot chocolate smell coming from Donald’s truck, made Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade a tremendous amount of fun. I still believe that every version of this parade was vastly underrated and I wish they would ring it back. Last I heard, all of thew floats were still in one piece. Glad to hear that they didn’t “SpectroMagic” this one…

5. The Country Bear Jamboree – Christmas Special

A true classic that it is hard to believe has been gone for 10 years now. There were three versions of the Country Bear Jamboree show at the Magic Kingdom, the original (1971-1986, 1991-present), Country Bear Vacation Hoe-Down (1986-1991), and every holiday season starting in 1984, the Country Bear Jamboree Christmas Special. Supposedly, the budget from this went into the Cinderella Castle Dreamlights, which without a doubt more guests see every year than ever saw this show. Regardless, I would still love to see this return someday (a version of it can still be seen at Tokyo Disneyland though).

6. Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas

Perhaps the greatest character stage show ever presented at the Magic Kingdom Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas combined live musicians, dancers, and Disney characters for a fun retelling of a holiday classic. The show ran for many years at the Galaxy Palace Theater before the theater was torn down. In its place, the often despised “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas” was created.

7. (Yeah, Seven) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

I know this one still looms heavy in the hearts of many, myself included. The Osborne Lights were a staple of the Studios before they ever danced, but once the display moved to Streets of America and was sychirmnoized to music, it became an indelible piece of Walt Disney World history. It was everything the holidays at the parks should be: larger than life, covered in lights, a display of cutting edge technology, all while still being incredibly heartwarming. Will they ever return to Walt Disney World? With the amount of money being left on the table by not offering this, I can’t imagine a Walt Disney World theme park won’t someday host the lights one more time.

Sadly, the display was a victim of where it was. The only thing that made the display possible was a large, mostly underutilized empty street towards the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Not to defend Disney, but there is nowhere that logistically could make this work today. Disney Springs would be overcrowded as the offering would be made free, no resort hotel has the parking area large enough, and no park currently has a space that could handle it. The only hope I see is a custom built area that is an expansion of a park, otherwise the Osborne lights will likely never return to Disney World.

Thanks for joining us on our Jingle Jungle holiday adventure! – Mickey Mouse

While these offering can not be seen anymore at Walt Disney World, it still promises to be an exciting holiday season with a new castle stage show and new fireworks spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Before we get into the new, I was feeling particularly nostalgic, so I wanted to give everyone a refresher course on the older offerings so as we can compare them to the new once they debut. Here’s hoping for a merry and bright holiday season at Walt Disney World, even without the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

What do you think? Which of these was your favorite? Are there any you missed that you wished you had seen in person? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

8 Comments

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  • I’ll really miss the Osborne Lights. I’ve only been going to WDW since 2010 so I didn’t see them a LOT (just a few times) but they were really cool. I never got to see the Animal Kingdom parade. The Totally Tomorrowland Christmas show was okay – the a capella group that performed on the same stage was pretty good (will they be back?). I’m looking forward to the new stage show – I had seen the previous one a few times and thought it was time for a change. Would have been fun to see any of those special Country Bears shows but I never did. I’ll be at the final MVMCP, on the 22nd….our first of two Magic Kingdom days on our very first Christmas trip to WDW (I’ve been to the MVMCP before but always in November).

  • Isn’t there a rumor floating around about the Osborne lights setting up at Disney Springs in 2017? Not sure how credible, came from Jim Hill I believe.

  • I really miss The Lights of Winter. I can’t walk through that area of Epcot any time of year and not feel a pang of sadness.
    I will miss the Osborne Lights @ the Studios. We loved to go the first time it was run each year. It was one of those things that ushered in the Holiday Season for me.

  • GREAT article and thanks for having the cajones to put it up, Disney would be most angry. Great memories, and the common theme in all of them is “enjoyment of the guest, just for their enjoyment”. So much at Disney going away, and so little coming (if anything) that isn’t JUST for profit. Very sad.

  • I’ve been going to Disney since 1973 I would include the Jolly holidays Dinner Show which used to be at the Contemporary Resort also at one time they gave you a photograph of your family or group as part of the Very Merry Christmas Party.

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