By Mike Miller Updated February 17, 2023
The Town of Celebration, Florida is a community founded by the Walt Disney Company in 1996. Today, however, all properties in the community are privately owned.
It is in Osceola County west of the City of Kissimmee and about 20 miles southwest of downtown Orlando.
Celebration is considered an example of "New Urbanism", a concept based on how towns looked in earlier times.
It focuses on walkability, neighborhood parks, convenient shopping, and traditional home designs.
Although not located on the Disney resort properties, it is close but is not part of the resort.
The original main entrance - Celebration Avenue - is on US-192 slightly more than one mile east of the I-4 interchange.
A landmark near the US-192 entrance on Celebration Avenue is the water tower at Water Tower Shoppes.
Celebration can also be reached by World Drive which starts in the Magic Kingdom about 8 miles north of Celebration and meanders south through the resort.
Celebration, Florida has a population of about 10,000 residents living in an assortment of 4,300 homes and condominiums.
Walt Disney World Resort opened in October 1971 and quickly became a resounding success.
The company began a large expansion in the late 1980s with the building of MGM-Disney Studios, an entertainment district named Pleasure Island, Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, and several resort hotels.
During that period Disney also began developing concepts for a new community to be created on some of their acreage on the east side of I-4 south of US-192.
Some people speculated that Disney's town would be something like Walt Disney's dream of an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow."
The perfect place that Walt envisioned would prove not to be practical at the time, but Celebration's master plan would attempt to achieve some of his goals.
Several famous architectural, planning, and engineering firms began work on the design with input and guidance from Disney's creative staff.
Some well known architects who participated in the community planning and design of civic buildings were Robert A.M. Stern, Philip Johnson, and Michael Graves.
The resulting design included architectural guidelines to ensure that all homes built in the future would encompass the New Urbanism concept.
These standards included homes with front porches and garages in the back of the house.
In 1991 the designs were well enough developed that Walt Disney Company announced its plan to build a new community named Celebration, Florida.
Construction began in 1994 and most of the downtown area was completed in 1996.
The Celebration community has designated the exact date - November 12, 1996 - as "Founders Day."
Celebration shows its heritage as an extremely well planned and designed community.
It is a place for families even though its town center gets a good share of tourists and empty nester condo dwellers.
Celebration is not a gated community. There are no gates or guard houses to go through.
I usually enter the community by driving down Celebration Avenue from US-192.
Additional interchanges have been added over the years at two points on Florida State Road 417, also known as the Central Florida Greeneway.
One of the new interchanges is at Celebration Avenue and the other south of town at World Drive.
A large golf course that wraps around the north and west sides of Celebration provides an effective sound buffer from busy adjacent highways.
In addition to a neighborhood town center, it has a large hospital complex involving a health care concept that was included in the original Celebration master plan.
Advent Health Celebration is located on the north side of the community. It was originally known as Florida Hospital Celebration.
There are two K-8 public grade schools as well as Celebration High School, and a private Celebration Kinder Care for preschool kids.
The Celebration community is served by a public library, the modern West Osceola Branch Library.
Water Tower Shoppes is located at the US-192 entrance to Celebration.
It is a modern shopping center with restaurants, banks, gas station, beauty shops, physicians, other businesses, and a very large Publix Supermarket.
It even has a large Pep Boy's auto repair and tire center as well as a veterinary hospital.
Celebration has several distinct neighborhoods, each a little different from the others.
The original one is called Celebration Village. It includes the downtown area and 351 homes. Some of the homes in this neighborhood are condominiums located above the Town Center buildings.
There are also several more recent neighborhoods, including at least 11 condominium complexes as well as single family homes.
Navigation to these neighborhoods is easy with the help of GPS.
The neighborhoods are well planned and are in keeping with the New Urbanism concept and style of the community.
Public parks are located all over the community so no matter where you live, a park is a short walk away.
There also many miles of sidewalks, walking trails, and nature boardwalks that tie the separate neighborhoods together.
The single family homes have front porches and their garages are located on alleys that run between the rows of houses.
The homes all have traditional designs reminiscent of the early 1920s that will never look dated because they hark back to an earlier time in our history.
This design uniformity caused early detractors of Celebration to call the place artificial and compared it to the town in the book and movie "The Stepford Wives."
Over the years that derogatory comparison has paled and Celebration is considered by most people to be a very desirable place to live.
Drive through some weekday afternoon when schools are getting out. Be prepared to stop when the crossing guards wave their stop signs at you.
You will see hundreds of kids streaming out and walking home through safe neighborhoods on clean tree shaded sidewalks.
The compact Main Street downtown area has developed into a tourist magnet as much as actual community center.
It has the appearance of a small town.
It is on the north shore of Lake Rienhard and includes office space, a post office, several shops, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, walkways, and the Bohemian Celebration Hotel.
The famous Columbia Restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City also has an operation here in Celebration.
There also more than 100 residential condominiums included in the Town Center. Some of them are located above the shops and restaurants.
On street parking is supplemented by parking lots located around the perimeter of the area.
Even though Celebration has a town hall, it is not incorporated. It is largely governed through a group of organizations that are the equivalent of a homeowners association.
The principal ones are:
Celebration Residential Owners Association (CROA)
Celebration Nonresidental Owners Association (CNOA).
There are also several other committees, community development districts, leadership groups and other entities that have a say in what goes on in Celebration.
Among these are:
Celebration Joint Committee, Inc. (CJC)
Celebration Community Services (CCS)
Celebration Community Development District (CCDD)
Enterprise Community Development District (ECDD)
The Celebration Company (TCC)
More information can be found at the website link below that takes you to Celebration Community Governance.
On the negative side, some condominium and store owners in the Town Center have complained about leaking roofs and other structural problems.
These were some of the earliest structures to be built before Disney sold Town Center to a private firm in 2004.
The homes I walked by and photographed on a recent visit looked to be well built. I assume that most homes do not have problems similar to those in Town Center. However, ......
What is true in Celebration is true anywhere:
hire a very good inspector before buying a home.
Celebration, Florida is not only a beautiful town, it is an affluent town.
Realtor.com reports the median listing price of homes in February 2021 was $385,000 based on current real estate listings.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
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