Unfortunately, this year marks the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. To mark the last few days of the amazing Christmas lights display, Disney is hosting a buffet-style dinner under the lights called the Merry & Bright Dinner reception. Let me start out by saying this was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a Disney park. Here’s our Merry & Bright Dinner Reception Review.
There are actually two seatings for the reception, 5pm and 7pm. Each seating gets about an hour and a half to enjoy their meal. We were lucky to get the 7pm seating. It seems like that would be the more desirable of the two as the lights generally come on around 6pm. After waiting in line to check in, we waited in another line to be let into the reception area.
The tables and buffet were set up in the old Backlot Tour tram u-turn area under the giant spinning globe. This provided a really nice view of the lights going down the Streets of America for most of the guests. There were a few tables that had a blocked view down the Streets of America due to a scrim hiding some speakers.
There were two sides to the buffet. They were mostly the same with the exception of one side containing “surf” and the other “turf”. I put those in quotes because in actuality, both sides had surf and only one contained the turf, but it was explained to me that there was a difference. Either way, the food was exceptional for being served in the middle of the street, and away from any real restaurant. Here’s a look at some of the buffet stations.
Like I said, the food was of superior quality for something served away from a kitchen. There was a turkey carving station, beef, shrimp, and other holiday-themed foods. Here’s a look at my first two plates. The plates were super small, but you kind of expect that.
In addition to delicious food, there was a bar serving wine, alcohol, and other non-alcoholic beverages, all included. Just in case you didn’t catch that… all you can drink.
The Hollywood Studios Cast didn’t have to do much more than set some tables under the Osborne Lights to get my money. I love the Lights and have visited multiple times per year. When walking into the reception, we received paper glasses that magically transformed the lights into different shapes.
We got snowflakes and reindeer. Others at our table got gingerbread men and candy canes. Here’s a rough look through the glasses.
Being just two people, we were seated at a large table with two other parties of four. I honestly think that they added to the experience. The older group of four had been visiting Walt Disney World since 1976 and the younger family had two young daughters of about 11 and 9 years old. It was wonderful to talk about where Walt Disney World has been over the years and specifically the history of the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios. With the younger family, the daughters were soaking the lights in for the very first (and last) time. We were able to put together a scavenger hunt of over 20 things for them to find in the Lights.
In addition to the great company, we were given vouchers for a piece of the lights. Disney just throws the old strands of lights out each year, so cutting up small pieces of the Lights didn’t cost them any extra, but it’s a nice gesture as most people who will book this package are there to see the Lights one last time.
The final added value to the reception was that we didn’t have to fight with crowds to enjoy the Lights. We were able to sit, eat, drink, and be merry while the Lights danced around us. As someone who goes the the Lights weekly, this makes a difference in how you can enjoy them.
The cost of the reception was $99 per adult or $54 for children. Note that the price doesn’t include park entry. This price is in line with other upcharge dinners like last years Villain’s Sinister Soiree at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. For me, the value provided was well worth it.
Overall, I had one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a Disney park. We were able to enjoy the Osborne Lights one last time with a good meal, good company, and no crowds. The only bad thing I can write about the event is that it only ran 3 days and won’t be around anymore as today marks the last day of the Osborne Lights.