More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Disney Parks Blog Weekly Recap Nov. 8, 2009

Thomas Smith

by , Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks

This week, we had several announcements on The Disney Parks Blog and unveiled a pretty unique holiday television spot. If you missed it, our new video featured children from around the world coming together for a magical journey to experience the best of Disney Parks. Here it is:

Also, we introduced a few new authors from Disneyland and Walt Disney World photographer Gene Duncan shared an image he captured backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here’s the list:

A Mother’s Love Witnessed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — Gene Duncan captured a tender moment between mother and baby backstage.

Disney’s Handheld Device Adds Audio Description — Did you know the Disneyland Resort has several services available for guests with visual and hearing disabilities?

Disney – Shanghai Theme Park Project Update — The Walt Disney Company released information concerning the Shanghai theme park project.

Exclusive Bay Lake Tower Rooftop Deck Offers Amazing View of ‘Wishes’ Fireworks — Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort becomes a special place to celebrate during fireworks.

Festival of the Masters Art at Downtown Disney — A behind-the-scenes look at the Festival featuring art from more than 100 of the country’s top artists.

Top 5 Disney Gift Ideas for the Holidays — A sneak peek at this season’s top 5 Disney Gift ideas.

It’s Turkey Time! The National Thanksgiving Turkey Visits Disneyland Resort — A fun look back at all of our feathery friends.

Walt Disney Company Investing $7M in Projects to Protect World’s Forests — Disney makes a major investment in projects to protect forests in the Amazon, the Congo, the Lower Mississippi River valley and Northern California.


  • My wife and I are AP holders in Nebraska – quite a distance from WDW. While we have enjoyed WDW in the fall, the main reason we are AP holders is Christmas time at WDW – especially EPCOT. We loved spending time after Thanksgiving at WDW, and were returning at that time this year. We were disappointed when the MK Country Bear Christmas show was stopped; but nothing like the disappointment of the end of the EPCOT Lights of Wonder. This year (2009) was the 1st time my daughter, brother, and his family were going to see those amazing lights. Yes, we enjoy the Osbourne lights – but we can see huge quantities of Christmas lights many places (much closer to home). But the EPCOT Lights of Wonder – they were truly “Disney Magic”. I have talked to my family about them for some time since my wife and I first saw the lights. We visited EPCOT just to sit and stare in amazement at that unbelieveable tunnel of Christmas Lights! Now I feel like a fool bragging about the lights to my family. I am seriously considering cancelling our reservations for December this year, and see little reason to return to WDW for future Christmas’. Replacing the EPCOT Lights of Wonder with a gospel choir – are you kidding me? I can see a Gospel Choir anytime here in Nebraska – I certainly don’t need to travel to EPCOT for that.

  • How about keeping the Lights of Winter as is until some new technology can be found to replace present the “obsolete” control system?

    This should be viewed as an opportunity to update a very popular classic attraction instead of “retiring”, meaning throwing out, a wonderful icon of Christmas at Epcot.

    What ever happened to the idea of constant improvement at WDW instead of just disposing of anything that is “obsolete”?

  • What would Walt do? hummmmm…..

    My favaorite Walt story is from a fabulous tourgide in DL on a Walk in Walt’s footsteps tour.

    Walt wanted Gold Leaf on the top of the castle towers. Nothing would sparkle like Gold Leaf on even the most dreary day he explained. Roy said…nope! Gold paint it will be.

    Walt waited for Roy to fly to NYC for business, hired the contractor and since that day, there has been Gold Leaf on Sleeping Beauty’s towers.

    Now….what do you think Walt would have done about LOW?

  • The Lights of Winter is about the spirit of now and the life of the future.

  • What would Walt do?

  • The Lights of Winter is about about the spirit of now and life of the future.

  • I am very disappointed that you’ve chosen to drop the lights of winter from Epcot. This was one of those things that I just really enjoyed going and relaxing and watching for a while a couple nights during my winter stay at Disney World, it always put me in a great Christmas mood. One of the things I liked most is that it ran pretty much all night, I didn’t have to schedule my time around a group of performers, which also meant that the show quality was always mint, regardless of weather, who called in sick, or other factors which change a live performance. I cannot imagine that a “lively gospel choir” will ever be as warming as the lights of winter were.

    Best Christmas Wishes,

  • Now that it is official, I am VERY disappointed… our Grand Gathering of 30+ people are arriving at WDW this Friday and a lot of people in the group were talking about this very light display (Lights of Winter) during our planning parties… I felt very down and out when I had to announce to everyone that Disney has terminated the display with nothing comparable in replacement. EPCOT Center has just lost a very beautifull portion of what little Christmas displays there are….

  • Add my voice to the choir that is disappointed that Lights of Winter will not be displayed this year. My wife has been particularly looking forward to seeing LoW since we began to plan our holiday trip about 6 months ago.

    It is disappointing the Epcot and WDW management decided to cancel this attraction (and it is an attraction, not just a display) with the somewhat empty statement about the technology issues. In the past, plussing something meant an addition to improve a guest experience, not a removal based on a shallow excuse.

    And lest you think that this comment is just another complaint from someone who is an infrequent visitor who is opposed to all change and that a Disney park should be static and frozen in time, let me assure you that my family and I are fully committed to the Disney entire experience, from the unique sense of wonder and relaxation that we get when we pass through the WDW gates for our 2 or 3 times per year trips to WDW, to enjoying the entertainment and family time together through the movies and videos that Pixar and Feature Animation produces. We understand that change is needed for growth, but make changes for growth, not a thinly veiled attempt to cut some cost and hope that the guest does not notice.

    We are long time annual passholders, proud DVC members, subscribers to Tables in Wonderland, and carry our Disney Visa cards, all while about 1200 miles away from the nearest Disney park, and the cancellation of this year’s display of LoW is a great disappointment.

  • It seems an easy “fix” to update the technology and reinstate the Lights of Winter program. After all, it was done at Disney’s California Adventure for the Electrical Light Parade. So there must be some other reason. A shame, really.

  • Mine is another name to add to the long list of those disappointed by the decision to remove the Lights of Winter. When I see moves like this, I always have so many questions… Who made the decision? What were the reasons? Did they underestimate the disappointment of guests? Did they think we wouldn’t notice, or wouldn’t mind?

    I undertand that the current light system doesn’t use LEDs, and so may be considered “obsolete.” The solution to that is simple: Build a new LoW system with LED lighting. But keep the old one running until the new one is ready to go.

  • I have been going to Disney for years. While I visit several times during the year, December is my favorite. The Lights of Winter are an experience–not just an attraction. To stand under them while the music plays and the lights dance is just magical.

    Please, please light them up!

  • 🙁 🙁 Bean Counters Bah Humbug!

  • I would like to add my name to the dissappointed list on the Lights of Winter. This is something we all will miss!!!

  • Very, very, very sad. The Lights Of Winter were absolutely magical. I can’t believe they’re gone!!!

  • This is very disappointing! As new DVC members this will be our family’s first trip in December, we were looking forward to our PreOrdered Photo Pass, Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas, the tree lighting and the Lights of Winter display. My Disney Daughter has watched clip after clip of the events and can’t wait till our visit in about 2 week. It’s really disappointing to find out that NONE of these traditions are going to happen this year. What’s going on? All I hear is how wonderful it is in December and the holiday magic, but all I’ve seen is dedicated Disney fans having one thing after another taken away! I understand cut backs but isn’t that what the increase of ticket prices are for?

  • Can’t wait to see the Lights Of Winter! YAYYY!:(

  • Still waiting for a logical explanation from Disney. They must realize we’re not buying the twitter message.

  • I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am about the loss of The Lights of Winter! I have never seen a more inspiring holiday lights display. I will never forget the first time I saw the LoW! I understand that new technology makes things obsolete, but certainly, new technology can be formulated to bring back our beautiful LoW. Please, please, please find a way to bring back our beloved LoW!!!!!

  • Obsolete technology? There is “obsolete technology” all through Walt Disney World and most all of it is beloved. Main Street USA is designed to look like a period in time from which all of the technology is obsolete. It’s pretty, it’s festive, you already have it. Put it up!

  • Absolutely the best display on property. I was looking forward to once again seeing them! It’s all about cost-cutting, nothing more. Support the folks that choose to go!

    Very disappointed that there will be no lights of winter at my favourite park, EPCOT.

  • Lights of Winter at Epcot is gone!? Sad. I also heard that the elaborate train set around the Christmas tree at American Adventure is gone as well (?). Sad.

    So many things are being taken away from WDW at X-mas time… no more Country Bears Xmas show. No more x-mas show in Tomorrowland. Every year WDW loses more and more. But DL & other parks keeps getting things plussed. Not very magical at all for WDW. Oh sure… there is the Osborne Lights.. which are ok. But why take away what little Epcot has left? Its my fave park. 🙁

  • Add me to the list of disappointed and sad people to see the Lights of Winter being “retired”. I would have thought that the company that is able to create, upgrade and maintain the Castle lights, Osbourne lights, Spectromagic and the light parade on the lagoon would be able to work through “obsolete technology” easily. An additional experience was mentioned, but it was not stated what exactly it was. I would hope that Disney would not try to use the new gospel group as a replacement as no matter how great this group may be,they could not possibly measure up to the grand spectacle of the Lights of Winter (even if they danced around wearing lights themselves). My Ap expires in December, and I am sad to say that at this point I am considering not renewing it. Please don’t let us WDW fans down, put the lights up or replace them with something at least equally as great. ( hint: more lights!) And please let us know in a response.

  • I have been a passholder for many years and this is one of the things my wife and I get excited about every year. In fact, just last Saturday we were at Epcot talking about how when we came back we could sit under the lights and begin feelings of holiday cheer.

    Needless to say we are very disappointed in this decision. With continuing price increases throughout the parks and countless experiences that are continually taken away without suitiable replacements, our annual pass renewal may have to be reconsidered.

  • Count me in as another person very disappointed to hear about the Lights of Winter being canceled. I always considered them to be the pinnacle of the holiday decorations at Epcot and it surely will not be the same without them. I appreciate the need to update decorations and offerings, but I don’t see how if the technology to operate them was obsolete that it could not be replaced with updated technology vs simply retiring them. I look forward to seeing the new gospel choir offering, but I can’t imagine how it could provide the same holiday feeling, night and day, that the light arches did. I hope that a suitable and improved replacement will be offered in the upcoming year.

  • As a DVC Member and Annual Passholder this is just another Christmas Cutback that takes away from the Magic! Over the years we have lost the Country Bear Jamboree Christmas Show, Epcot Tree Lighting Ceremony, Studios Tree Lighting Ceremony and Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas(the best holiday show at the MK)

  • How many people do you need to hear their cry

  • Since my last post was not accepted, I’ll have to rephrase.

    It’s quite obvious from the comments here that this decision was a major mistake. Hopefully the “Powers That Be” will read this blog and the countless other comments all over the internet and come to their senses before they lose literally thousands of loyal fans.

  • Not happy at all about this. no need to really write more as the other 200+ comments have basically said it all, but it is just a beautiful display that is always nice to see at epcot every year and for it to be gone this year, it will be missed. Hopefully next year it will be back with updated technology.

  • I must say that I was disappointed to hear about the removal of the Lights of Winter. Our family is heading down for our first holiday trip and these Epcot lights were top on our list of must sees. Please reconsider for next year.

  • Can someone please give me some hope that a new and improved Lights of Winter type of experience is coming to Epcot next year? I love visiting Walt Disney World at the holidays, but the photo that I just saw of the area that once was the home of the Lights of Winter just looks depressingly generic right now. Disney is supposed to be about going beyond generic. Disney is supposed to be all about the show and creating the best possible guest experience. I want THAT Disney back. I want the a nighttime light experience to find a home at Epcot yet again. I want Epcot at the holidays to feel like it’s a special place, not the same old same old.

    Don’t get me wrong, gospel music has it’s place, but it’s not a suitable replacement for the Lights of Wonder.

  • I fully expect to see the new high-tech version installed for next Christmas.

  • BAH HUMBUG. A wish the Ghost of Christmas Past would whisk you back to a time when Disney World’s theme parks were overflowing with Christmas cheer from every corner. Because I remember that time period, and it is a sorry shame that it is gone.

  • I think people are being very selfish and childish about the retiring of the Lights of Winter when you consider the fact that two other MAJOR light displays, Cinderellas castle icicle lights, and the Osborne lights, have been ADDED in recent years. Perhaps they just meant that the lights, which have been around since the early 90s, were not in good working condition. It could also mean that they didn’t have the resources to get them in good working condition in time for the holidays. Take into consideration too, the fact that it takes almost half a year worth of man hours to put up, then take down the lights at Hollywood Studios, and about at least a couple months for the ones at Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s castle. With those two projects alone, they have a pretty full plate.

  • Although we look forward to what is new on every trip we make to WDW, it is the old favorites that keep bringing us back. If the Lights of Winter are to be considered out-dated and obsolete, then what is next?
    I don’t expect to be happy with every decision Disney makes, but I do feel that my opinion…especially when it is shared by so many…should count for something. You should listen to loyal customers and take note…this is just simply a very bad idea, one that is causing many of us to reconsider our loyalties.

  • Very disappointed. The lights were a highlight of our Christmas experience five years ago. We were looking forward to spending time listening and watching under them again this year. Please think about bringing them back in a new form next year and beyond!

  • I just watched the ad in this post. Buildings being covered in lights. Isn’t it obsolete technology? Does obsolete technology stop working once it becomes obsolete? No it doesn’t.

    Is the choir, which I guess is the replacement of which you speak, going to be stationed by the tree entertaining and delighting guests non-stop for hours and hours, from dusk until after every single guest leaves the park? You know, just like the LOW.

  • No Lights of Winter??? Oh please say it ain’t so. That is what made Epcot so magical at Christmas. I think I might actually cry when I walk under where the arch should be. Boo!! This is just horrible news!

  • I am so sad to hear this confirmed. Our jobs mean we cannot come during the regular Christmas season, so when we arrive on our annual January trip we always hurry to Epcot to see if the Lights are still up and running. For many years they were, and we had a chance to sit and watch and listen. The music and lights were a last gift of the holiday season for us. We would talk about how when we retire we will come to see the rest of Christmas at WDW, but the Lights of Winter were such a good taste of wonder. We watch the old technology of the Electrical Pageant every trip from the beach at Wilderness Lodge (DVC owners at the Villas; we keep annual passes even though we live in New Hampshire since we come often enough that they are our best deal); old technology doesn’t mean bad show, and I thought Show was a higher priority than “new technology.” We are fans who will be sad the quick check at Epcot for the lights won’t be necessary this year……

  • Disney, you could make a lot of very disappointed guests (and these are your regulars we’re talking about — the ones who come every year to share beloved holiday traditions with friends and family) very happy if you’d reconsider the decision to retire the Lights of Winter. If nothing else, they should go up this year as a last hurrah so those of us who adore them can say goodbye. As an annual passholder, I plan a December trip each year specifically to see the LOW. Please refurbish the lights to bring them up to your technology standards — or at the very least, give us one more holiday season with our Lights before they’re gone forever.

  • I wanted to let you know just unhappy I am that the Lights of Winter are not being put up this year. I can understand the need to replace old technology, but there is new technology that would allow this wonderful tradition to continue. Please reconsider this decision. Even though Christmas is one of the most expensive times to stay at Disney World, I do it because of the wonderful holiday decorations. A lack of these lights is one more reason to not schedule a vacation to Disney during Christmas.

  • This is a sad development, those lights were beautiful.

    What I am interested is a better explanation. Better communication would go a long way. The explanation thus far given seems far less than should be offered, given Disney’s focus on guest satisfaction.

    Please, address this development in more detail. If you are truly
    serious about “social networking”, then you have to take the good (announcements of new attractions, etc.) with the bad (having to explain a budget cut).

    I just read Lee Cockerell’s book, and he emphasized that a big part of being a successful leader is how you handle the tough news. Please respect those who have planned their vacations with LOW in mind, and those who have returned year after year to see them, with an honest and detailed answer.

    It’s all about guest satisfaction, right?

  • Soo sooo very sad that there will be no Lights of Winter. We were at MK yesterday & took monorail over to Epcot at night. The tree is beautiful, but looks so lost without the Lights of Winter.

    Last yr was our 1st yr @ Epcot for xmas. We saw LoW & were totally amazed! Our 1 yr old was in love. We were so excited about this upcoming year & seeing the lights & our now 2 yo’s reaction to them. Please, please bring them back!!

  • What’s obsolete about it? Lights? Electricity? Switches? Or did someone break the framing??? Argggg! I am disapPOINTED!!! 🙂

  • Disney, I certainly hope you take your social media platform approach seriously. I thank you for having such things as a blog and twitter account because it gives us, your fans and guests, an opportunity to provide you quick feedback. There is a serious out-cry over the LOW. Here is your chance to score a home run with your guests. Read the guest complaints and do the right thing, bring back the LOW for this year and spend the next year developing a replacement.

    You’re battling issues such as higher ticket prices, increased parking fees, no more free valet parking for DVC members, increased prices in the dining plan, increased prices to hard ticket events…and now less holiday decorations. Your guest satisfaction equity is running thin! Imagine the positive guest satisfaction equity you will gain by making the decision to satisfy your guests and mitigate the risk of losing out on guests that return every year for the holidays. Your shareholders would not be happy if the holiday season was not bringing in much revenue due to poor decisions in holiday displays!

  • I’m with everyone else in feeling SO VERY SAD that the Lights of Winter will no longer shine! 🙁
    For years we desperately wanted to go to WDW during the holiday season. And 2 years ago my DD and I got the chance.
    The LOW was one of the hightlights of our visit! we spent 2 hours in the freezing cold (remember how cold Jan. 2008 was! brrr!) just listening to the music, watching the lights and taking pictures.
    I understand that things become out-dated and need refurbishing.
    What I don’t understand is….. if WDW feels this display was out-dated why didn’t it forsee this and have something already planned in it’s place??? They’ve had 11 months to either refurbish the display or replace it!!!
    I knew when I took down my lights last year that I’d be replacing them this year! I was able to plan for it… so I’m sure WDW knew. Come on…. what’s up??
    Such a huge disappointment!! 🙁

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