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Disney officially retires the Lights of Winter holiday archway at Epcot

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Lights of Winter at Epcot

With Christmas decorations beginning to show up all over Walt Disney World, fans have wondered when the popular Lights of Winter archways linking Epcot’s Future World and the World Showcase would be installed. The answer: they won’t.

Today Disney announced that the Lights of Winter have officially been retired:

From the official Disney Parks Twitter account:

Note:The Lights of Winter at Epcot has been enjoyed for years. But tech to operate the lights is obsolete, prompting us to retire the lights

Many Disney fans who are displeased with the removal of this holiday staple. The Lights of Winter have flickered on and off, synchronized to holiday music for many years. Their retirement now leaves the nightly Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park as the primary spot to watch dancing lights for Disney park goers.

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38 comments

colaboy29 November 11, 2009 - 7:41 pm

This just stinks. I loved the “Lights”. 🙁

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micsaund November 11, 2009 - 7:55 pm

Claiming that the tech is obsolete is kinda lame. You obviously do not need to have cutting-edge light control to make a show that people really enjoy. Never once did I see this lighting show and think “man, they need faster/better technology running those lights – they look awful right now!” Having a good show is more than just the tech — it’s the implementation, the setting/environment, the music, etc.

If they mean “obsolete” as in “broken” that’s a cop-out also IMO as they have plenty of engineers there who could simply repair or rebuild the light controllers.

I think what they really mean is “we’re being cheap and don’t want to pay the maintenance guys to install it or the electricity bill”. Sadly, the “cheap” option appears to be the most common choice for many decisions at WDW lately…

Mike

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Denise November 11, 2009 - 8:03 pm

It seems Disney wasn’t even wanting to say anything unless forced to. I’ve been looking forward to it all year, and I can’t see how they could have just swept this under the rug. I love the Lights of Winter.

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Rick November 11, 2009 - 8:14 pm

What a dissapointment! This was the best welcoming touch to Holidays Around The World!

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Jack November 11, 2009 - 9:00 pm

Disappointing: removal/”retirement” of the lights.
Annoying: the excuse of “outdated” technology
Insulting: the official announcement came on Twitter.

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GrumpyFan November 11, 2009 - 9:58 pm

In Disney’s defense, “obsolete” could mean that the technology to operate these lights is no longer available, and/or not easily replaceable without changing everything.

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dr neall November 11, 2009 - 10:00 pm

Disney has gone far enough. COUNT ME AND MY FAMILY OUT THIS YEAR, and INDEFINATELY. They have gotten sooooooooo disgustingly greedy. All about saving and making a buck. Never plan to return. Good times in past. The magic is dead. It’s not just about the lights…the place has gone down hill faster than Baghdad.

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castmember19 November 11, 2009 - 10:11 pm

Hmmm…hello?

Sorry folks, I work for Disney, and can assure you that NO MONEY is made off of the lights, so they’re gone! ALL entities, rides, etc must pay for themselves in 10’s or 100s of PERCENT to last. In other words, if Candlight Processional didn’t net over $3000000/month, it’d be gone, with the sappy little singers with it! Disney is about money. Shareholders. It is not about pleasing guests and the ‘experience’ anymore. Sorry to burst bubbles. Look for many more shops, and many less ‘frills’ in the coming years. In fact, expect at least half of the rides to be ‘outdated’ that don’t support at least 1000 times their operating costs in merchandise. Grim reality. Don’t be so naive. If you don’t like it, there’s plenty of sheep standing in line to buy $20 t-shirts provided FREE to Disney 🙂

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Sharon November 11, 2009 - 11:29 pm

I am so glad I got a chance to see them last year, and am sad to see them go.

I see “outdated” as a commentary on the cost of running it vs. how many guests it pulls in (to offset the outgoing costs vs. income). And I would also think from an environmental/energy efficiency standpoint, which Disney is getting really fantastic about in all facets of their business, this is an incredible resource hog of a display. Perhaps they may bring it back in some future year as an LED display. But that is obviously not something they could budget for in these trying economic times, so the result is taking them away.

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Kathie November 12, 2009 - 1:13 am

Cannot even begin to say how dissapointed this is. As long time passholders, DVC members, stockholders, and loyal Disney guests, I am really starting to become disenchanted by all things Disney.

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Bob November 12, 2009 - 3:28 am

How is the “tech” for the LOW any more “obsolete” than the “tech” to run the Osborne Lights? Yet they continue to plus them every year.

I *was* looking forward to seeing them on our first holiday trip in two weeks. 🙁

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WDWLocal November 12, 2009 - 7:44 am

I agree that with the losses of the Country Bear Xmas Special, Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Treat, Lights of Winter, etc., the holiday season has become a lot less jolly at WDW.

And the fact that WDW has yet to offer Haunted Mansion Holiday and It’s a Small World Holiday (both of which they should at least try at WDW to see how the guests react, IMO) does add some further salt to that wound.

I sure hope that the afforementioned Xmas offering cutbacks are only temporary as results of our sagging economy and that they’ll all eventually return in the coming years.

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chris November 12, 2009 - 11:15 am

So Osbourn Lights @ Hollywood Studios sponsored, and goes on. These, not, and cancelled. Country Bear not, and cancelled. And have you seen the new permanent outdoor gift shops at the Castle in MK?! Anyone who says this is not 100% because Disney is CHEAP and cutting corners at EVERY angle is in DENIAL!

Off topic, but in same light, find it disgusting they put together the 2 monorails that the guy died in to make a recycled one (the new Teal one). The guy would have been alive if disney wasn’t so cheap as to cut corners on safety on monorail either. Very sick. I as well as my kids somewhat enjoy the movies and such, but won’t return to the parks until their CHEAPO, GREEDY montra changes.

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realcastmember November 12, 2009 - 8:29 pm

I find it pathetic that all you people have time to do is get on this website and COMPLAIN about Disney. You don’t like it, fine. Leave us alone. No one wants your negative attitude in our parks anyway. I am a castmember who actually knows things…not someone who claims to be one and spouts gibberish about facets of our company that they know nothing about. And as a matter of a fact, I’m a facility engineer at Disney. Yes, technology does become obsolete. It’s a truth we have to face everyday, trying to maintain 40 year old attractions so guests can enjoy them day in and day out. Especially when we know we’re never given a break by the types of people on this post, who inevitably, will complain about anything they can. Guess what, when things break and we need replacement parts that we can’t ‘just make,’ attractions get to the point of being obsolete.

What about the holiday lights on Cinderella Castle? I don’t hear any feedback by anyone on here about how wonderful they are, and LEDs on top of that! No. All you care about is being negative and ranting about things of which you have NO IDEA the effort that goes into creating or maintaining.

How about the concept of us ‘keeping up with the times’ and maybe just coming up with new attractions. That’s why attractions are closed, retired or updated. There’s a whole new generation of children growing up knowing computer animated films, etc. If we didn’t retire things and update, you’d all be on here complaining about the lack of technology.

So you know what? Go ahead and cry about how all we care about is money. If you feel better thinking that, go right on ahead…and stay away from our parks. We don’t need your money.

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castmember19 November 12, 2009 - 8:56 pm

realcastmember…. I’m one of the guys in suits who supervises your supervisors if you are an tech. At your level, no making money isn’t an issue and no doubt you work very hard, long, and for little pay and recognition. Here’s a tissue.

At our level, I’m afraid also being with Disney since the ABC Cap Cities merger(you know, where our CEO came from), it’s ALL about profit my friend. Shareholders have taken over. And nothing wrong with that as long as the product remains. If you’ve been working with us long, you realize that’s not the case. It’s not very transparent to our guests anymore, and it shouldn’t be so.

My negativity isn’t about the dream-wishers and other CMs on the front line. It’s my uppers leaning on us daily to cut. And cut. And prove profits to justify keeping guys like you around. Look at our 3rd quarter though, out today, up 18%. Now that’s worth REALLY celebrating today (unless, of course, you realize its from all CUTTING, and not growing). And sorry also my fellow CM, head back to Traditions class as a new hire. We need EVERYONE’s money!!

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Susan November 13, 2009 - 11:40 pm

HOW DISAPPOINTING! My family has been loyal Disney guests ever since 1980, spending MANY thousands of dollars visiting Disney World the past 29 years, especially over the Christmas holidays. Having witnessed some negative changes in several recent visits, my concern is that the current philosophy and subsequent decisions by Disney management will destroy the magic that once was. How sad. We always looked forward to seeing the Lights of Winter … for our family it was one of the highlights of the EPCOT Christmas decorations and it will be very much missed.

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Stoich91 November 14, 2009 - 12:29 pm

I honestly find this absolutely hilarious. Not the getting rid of the lights (*sniff*), but the comments. I think, “realcastmember”, that you shouldn’t even waste your time with stuff like this. Want to know why? Theme park companies have STRICT rules regarding employees (or, in WDW’s case “Castmembers”) blogging about the park while they are employed. Actually, the sign a disclosure when they are hired. So castmember19, you are either a very cheeky and misinformed liar, a deranged comment poster, or (no matter what your “high status” before) on legal grounds for being fired from your company. I hope Disney does not find your posts, if you are a real employee. Or wait. I do. 🙂

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james martin November 14, 2009 - 3:23 pm

there was a time when wearing anything that said disney on it was considered expensive and cool, Disney was considered the in thing to do and was for the elite. Now its just a bunch of junk in one big area in orlando. it’s like 4 or 5 gigantic walmarts right next to each other. now its just full of tourist junk. They lost that Magic they once had and now the elite society is choosing not to spend thier money at disney because its outdated and its fool of a lower class of tourist now, its just no fun any more.

You know your in trouble when your in line at a ride and everyone in the line smells like that havent had a bath in a week. Its like the whole park needs to give away deoderant with every ticket. Man I miss the old times when the elite went to disney and we got the Royal treatment. Now its all junk and they even got a mcdonalds at disneyworld now!!! YUCK!!!!

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Connie L November 14, 2009 - 4:25 pm

It is a shame. It was beautiful. I hope they can create something soon for this area. I also feel that since Iger came into Disney, he has changed things & not for the better. Disney was amazing under Michael Eisner. Bring him back! But that is another story.

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castmember19 November 15, 2009 - 8:35 pm

Stoich91, you’re clearly one of the dimmest bulbs of the “retired epcot Lights of Winter”. Theres a lot of castmembers who post on here, but hence, no names. 🙂

Worth pointing out again, I WANT good for Disney. They’re on a rapid downward spiral. If you told me the parks won’t be around in 10 years, I’d believe it. 4th Q looked great for Disney, poor for WDW. And no money is getting pumped into it from CA. Quite opposite. But…buy some of those t-shirts, and get ready for the expanded MK Fantasyland meet and great areas with Mickey (which when opens in MK will be for a FEE!). So much potential. So different than 1, 2 years ago, much less 9.

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WDWLocal November 16, 2009 - 8:43 am

I agree with Stoich91 that Castmember19 needs to button his lip and stop being so overly-nihilistic.

While it is depressing when things get cut, the company is not as greedy as some like to believe and should be glad that at least we have a far better CEO than Eisner right now.

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WDWLocal November 16, 2009 - 8:45 am

And anyone who thinks that Eisner should be brought back is clearly not thinking and is forgetting that he nearly RUINED the company during the second half of his tenure (killing 2D animated features, anyone?).

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Connie L November 16, 2009 - 5:51 pm

Responding to WDWLocal, I only can recall the good Eisner did in the 1990’s & did not recall about the 2D animated. I was recently enlightened by someone who advised me of the downfall of Mr. Eisner (very sad). Anyway, I guess I just miss the WDW of the 1990’s. I still love it & hope any changes are good. Yes the company & parks MUST be profitable, or there will be no Disney World which we all seem to love. As Disney fans all we can do is continue to visit as much as we can to support it & it will go on. I for 1, plan many more trips in my future to my 2nd home. How many of you on this site get a wonderul peaceful feeling when you step on Main Street & see the castle & hear all the wonderful sights, sounds & smells of the Magic Kingdom. Respond if you do. Love the place!

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DVC.Owner November 16, 2009 - 10:55 pm

I for one think as nice as WDW is, castmember19 has great points. Not easy to hear. I was one of the first owners in DVC. I would NOT, NOT, NOT buy, nor return to parks if had it to do over, with last few years of significant decline (prior to blaming economy, Hurricane Katrina, or whatever). Disney has lost its magic. It reminds me of a bank. The branches aren’t there to ‘serve’ you, but to ‘sell you on more services’. Ditto Disney. May it go down gracefully as Connie would have it, just go more (paying more for seeing less), or wake up and improve, NOT go until the product improves as others would. And no WDWLocal, Eisner wasn’t reponsible for killing 2d features, and was moved out by Roy Disney and other shareholders. 2D features and studio changes were also hit from union battle versus cost. Same reason lights down. And from what I hear, many more cuts are coming. But…..more stores planned!!

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Haley November 18, 2009 - 12:19 am

Get a grip people! Its lights!There are lots more lights to see.
The Castle is beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!

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Doug November 18, 2009 - 9:32 am

So the lights were meant to draw in the people which they figured wasn’t working and not worth the up keep? So they take them away? So what’s to draw the people in now? There’s no real logic in taking away the lights. The Lights of Winter was one of those added touches that Disney put in Epcot to make visiting that park a little more “special” at Christmas time. I remember just sitting on a bench with my wife and son listening to the music and watching the lights thinking now this is what Disney is all about but now it’s gone. At least they could have thought of replacing it with something else instead of nothing. How sad. 🙁

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WDWLocal November 20, 2009 - 5:55 pm

DVC.Owner, you are wrong, wrong, WRONG and way too overly-negative!

End of story.

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tinkintx November 25, 2009 - 2:06 pm

I think it is a shame that the Lights of Winter are being pulled. It is very difficult to decorate EPCOT for the holidays. When you look out over World Showcase – it is very difficult to tell the park is decorated – it is so huge that the park just swallows the decorations. The Lights of Winter (along with the tree) were the only two visual elements that actually let you know from a distance that it was holiday time at EPCOT, especially at night. Now there will just be the tree which will look lost.

I can understand wanting to do something different and I can understand wanting a “waiting period” before introducing a new show or attraction, to reduce the comparison factor, BUT, I do think that a new temporary holiday show/attraction could have been introduced somewhere else in the park to bridge the gap.

While I know that the “account-tineers” have taken over Disney as a rule, they need to realize that if it is so transparent to the public that eventually this will hurt the bottom line – oh wait – Disney bean counters are only interested in the here and now not the long term – WHAT WAS I THINKING??

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Connie November 25, 2009 - 10:57 pm

I am heading to WDW shortly. I will let you know what I think when I return. Happy Thanksgiving all.

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Lee October 10, 2010 - 7:37 pm

That’s a cop out. Someone at Disney took it out of the budget. I was just at Lowes and now you can buy a musical light display for your yard for $50. Lights of Winter is one of the best things to see.

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Andrea January 29, 2011 - 5:51 pm

My husband has been waiting for YEARS for us to be able to afford to go to Disney at Christmas to see these lights specifically. Now he’ll never get to. This sucks.

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Doug January 30, 2011 - 7:13 am

@Andrea

Just make sure to go see the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios. You and your husband WILL NOT be dissapointed.

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souvenir pernikahan November 10, 2011 - 8:52 pm

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sg November 27, 2011 - 11:25 am

Geez people. Lighten up! You are all taking this too seriously. It’s a bunch of flashing lights, nothing earth-shattering.

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Doug November 27, 2011 - 2:06 pm

@sg. You are apparently another in a long line of Disney newbs. Disney continues to take away from the guest experience while still continuing to jack their prices. While I still believe Disney is a “magical” place it is certainly not what it used to be.

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Connie November 28, 2011 - 5:31 pm

I just thought of another possible reason to do away with Lights of Winter. Mind you, just a thought.
Perhaps, since Osborne Lights in Hollywood Studios has expanded and very popular, Disney may be putting its energy and electricity budget into that as opposed to Lights of Winter in EPCOT.
Think of it, EPCOT is very popular and the Studios not as popular so the Osborne Lights are bringing the crowds there now. Does this make sense to anyone?
Then there is the idea that Disney likes to change things up a bit. Always something new.
What I think needs a change is a revised parade at Mickey’s Christmas Party and bring back the show Twas the Night Before Christmas.

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