A Review of October 2015 Trip
Please note that as of 2016, this dessert party is no longer available.
When I first found out that it was the farewell year for the mesmerizing Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios, I knew I had to extend my trip by four days. I wanted to be there for the grand opening on Friday, November 6th. To make the most of this special night and avoid the expected large crowd, I decided to reserve a spot at the Merry & Bright Dessert Party. The price was $69, including tax and gratuity. According to the official Disney World website, this event promised an unforgettable experience:
“‘Tis the season for the ever-popular Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. And to add even more magic to your holidays, treat yourself and your family to a decadently delicious dessert party in a special reserved viewing location set apart from the crowds. Guests also receive a heart-warming keepsake—a custom roll-up stadium blanket!”
Imagine my excitement for this exclusive dessert date with the enchanting lights. I was feeling quite smug about my Disney savvy. However, my bubble burst on Monday, November 2nd, when I happened to sit at a picnic table in the American pavilion area at Epcot. I was joined by a lovely couple whose daughter worked as a cast member at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). They informed me that the Osborne Lights were already in a soft opening phase for the entire week. They had even attended the lights the night before. How could I have forgotten about the Disney “soft openings”? Regrettably, my oversight cost me four extra days at Disney World. Ugh!
Nonetheless, undeterred, I made my way to DHS the following Tuesday to catch the “sneak preview” of the lights. It wasn’t very crowded, which allowed me to fully enjoy the experience. Although, I got so caught up in the moment that I nearly missed my dinner reservation.
When the day of the dessert party finally arrived, the excitement was palpable. Little did I know that the magic I had previously experienced would be slightly dampened by the overwhelming number of people attending. Even before the party began at 7:00, the Streets of America area had reached capacity. The adjacent “on deck” area was packed with impatiently waiting individuals. Worried that I might not make it in before the party started, I anxiously stood amidst the crowd. Thankfully, after the stunning “lighting ceremony,” the crowd began to move slowly, allowing me to finally enter the gated area under the big blue globe. This location was positioned at the end of the street, right in front of the entrance to the Lights, Motor, Action! show.
I joined the short line for the dessert party and waited for a few minutes before two cast members approached me, each holding a list of participants. They checked my name off the list and handed me a sticker to wear. This sticker granted me re-entry to the special reserved area should I venture out into the bustling crowd—a situation I had no intention of being in. Along with the sticker, I received a sheet containing a coupon to redeem for the souvenir stadium blanket and a pair of 3D glasses to enhance my view of the lights. Later on, I would find out that bringing that blanket with me on my flight would have been a smart move as I endured hours of freezing temperatures.
The party was scheduled to start at 7:00, but based on the timestamps of my first party photos, we were allowed in much earlier, around 6:35. This made me quite happy. Tables were unassigned, so it was a first-come, first-serve situation. I quickly chose an empty table with a good view of the street, placing my bag on one of the chairs to claim my spot. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea.
Since the reserved area was behind the “Merry Christmas” lights, we had a unique backward view of them. The tables were all about the same size, accommodating four or five chairs. Therefore, I expected to share my table with others. However, it took about an hour before anyone joined me, as it seemed to take some time for people to arrive.
Believing that the Alcoholic Beverage station would be the most popular, I made it my first stop of the evening. They had three bartending stations with three bartenders, so my intuition was spot-on. Here was their drink menu:
- Jolly Java – Coffee with Baileys Irish Cream topped with Whipped Cream
- Merry Berry – Skyy Berry Vodka and Cranberry Juice garnished with Fresh Berries
- Festive Fizz – Domaine Chandon Brut and Pomegranate Juice garnished with a Blood Orange Wedge
Despite the warm Florida night, I couldn’t resist indulging in a steaming cup of hot chocolate with a splash of Bailey’s. Next, I moved on to a nearby station that had two large bowls filled with what appeared to be cobbler. However, they were labeled as pies:
- Peach Pie topped with Old Fashioned Pecan Sugar Crumbs
- Caramel Apple Pie
Both pies were served warm, and there was even a cast member ready to scoop vanilla ice cream onto our plates for those of us who preferred our pie “a la mode.” It was a tough decision since both pies looked scrumptious, but I ultimately chose the Caramel Apple Pie with a scoop of ice cream. And it did not disappoint.
To quench my thirst, I tried a beverage from the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Station but, unfortunately, it didn’t pair well with the desserts. So, I switched to an icy cold bottle of water. As for the desserts, I filled a plate at the Holiday Themed Dessert Station. There were quite a few delectable options, including:
- Stuffed Wreaths – Chocolate Cake Wreaths stuffed with Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
- Cup of Christmas – White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse with Green and Red Sugar (Gluten-free)
- A Present – Coconut Cake with Bow
- Red Shiny Things – Lemon Curd with Raspberry Glitter Glaze
- Light Bulb Eclairs – Light Bulb Color Dipped Eclairs
- Crispy Gifts – Colorful Rice Crispy Bon Bons
I decided to skip the coconut cake and lemon curd desserts but made sure to indulge in a bite of each of the remaining four treats. Among them, the chocolate wreath dessert stood out. The chocolate hazelnut center tasted just like Nutella, making it a real delight for Nutella fans. The other three desserts were decent but nothing extraordinary. Interestingly, I soon found myself sharing my table with a woman and her three girlfriends. We got along famously and spent the evening discussing our favorite food and beverages. They tried the lemon curd dessert that I skipped and found it to be a bit odd.
One of my tablemates, Faith D. from South Carolina, happened to be one of the official Disney Parks Moms Panelists. It felt like dining with a Disney celebrity! Faith and her friends were incredible company, and I was thrilled to share a table with them.
Now, was the Merry & Bright Dessert Party worth the $69 price tag? On the official opening night, surrounded by a sea of lights and music, I wholeheartedly say yes. Having a designated spot to sit and enjoy the magical ambiance, away from the chaos of the crowded street, was a priceless experience. As the party came to an end at the park’s closing time of 8:30, the crowd had finally thinned, allowing me to stroll down the street without being jostled by a thousand other people. If it had been a less busy night, would the party have been worth $69 for me? Probably not. However, considering that this was supposedly the last year for the lights, it’s hard to say if there will ever be a night when it’s not busy. That remains the $69 question.
To find out what happened next on this trip or to leave a comment on this review, click here.