Celebration, Florida

From Academic Kids

Celebration, Florida is a census-designated place and an unincorporated master-planned community near Walt Disney World which was developed by The Walt Disney Company. Celebration is located in Osceola County, Florida.



Celebration was founded in 1994 on Disney-owned land that had previously been undeveloped (and used for relocating alligators which had been caught near Disney guest areas). One story for the reason behind Disney's idea to build a community there was that Osceola County was considering taxing the land at a higher rate to recognize its potential, and so Disney chose to make money from it. Celebration was de-annexed from the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Another version is that Celebration was intended to fulfill Walt Disney's original vision for EPCOT as an experimental location where people could live. Interestingly, the original 1967 borders of the City of Reedy Creek covered much of the land that is now Celebration, before being moved northeast in 1969 and soon being renamed to the City of Lake Buena Vista. At that time, this city (along with the City of Bay Lake) covered only portions of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, presumably the portions that were being considered for communities.

The philosophy behind the town is that it is to be a friendly, neighborly place, drawing its design and its sensibility from such places as Savannah, Georgia; Nantucket, Massachusetts; and Charleston, South Carolina. The master plan was developed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects and Cooper Robertson & Partners, both of New York City. Instead of using Disney's vision for EPCOT which was based on modernism and futurism, the town uses the concept of "New Urbanism" to emphasize parks, sidewalks, and a mix of residential and commercial space. The bank, the post office, the town hall, the movie theater, and other downtown buildings were designed by renowned architects. The majority of homes are within one mile of the downtown area. Segway scooters and small electric cars called "NEVs" ("Neighborhood Electric Vehicle") are common. Community events are held downtown throughout the year; for example, during the Christmas season it "snows" on Market Street (bubbly foam blown from machines on the lampposts). The First church to inhabit Celebration was a Presbyterian Christian church. There are currently 7 different denominations including a Jewish congregation. There is also a hospital (Celebration Health) and a fire station in Celebration. An eighteen-hole golf course winds through the town. Celebration is not a gated community; the downtown area depends on revenue from tourists.

There are eight developments in Celebration: North Village, South Village, East Village, West Village, Celebration Village, Lake Evalyn, Roseville Corner, and Artisan Park. Homes are built in various pre-approved styles including Victorian, Mediterranean, French, Coastal, and Colonial Revival, and there are seven general 'sizes' of homes ranging from cozy Bungalows to huge Estates. The styles and sizes of homes are mixed through the town; there are streets of large homes right next to streets of small homes. Most homes have alleys behind them to hide driveways and trashcans. As with many subdivisions, a person who buys a home in Celebration must sign a thick binder of "covenants" which protect the 'feel' of the community: for example, you must keep your lawn mowed; you aren't allowed to park a boat or an RV in front of your house for more than a few hours; there are rules on what kinds of 'for sale' or political signs you're allowed to display; there are restrictions on putting birdbaths, lawn gnomes, or pink flamingoes in your front yard. One unusual aspect of Celebration's rules, however, is that you must have approval from the town's architectural board before you paint your house a different color or put up a fence. Most homes have a front porch, and all homes are fairly close to the street and to their neighbors to encourage a closer sense of community. Celebration homes do not have large yards. Pricing for homes begins around $150,000 for condominiums up to $300,000-$500,000 for houses and up to $800,000 and higher for estates. Apartments typically rent for $800/month and up, and several apartments are available above the downtown businesses.

As a result of its neotraditional design and its rules, Celebration tends to evoke strong reactions in people: some fall in love with the architecture, saying they prefer its neotraditional looks to standard, modern "cookie cutter" style subdivisions; others cynically compare it to an artificial movie set with oppressive rules. Some compare Celebration's appearance to that of the town of Seaside, Florida (which was used in the filming of the movie The Truman Show). Other visitors find such comparisons to be blown out of proportion, viewing its appearance and homeowners association rules as typical of those of numerous neotraditional subdivisions in other parts of the United States that have generated much less negative attention, including several similar New Urban communities such as Harbor Town.

In 1995, all that existed of the town were a few roads under construction and one trailer with the facade of a stately home to advertise future plans. A lottery was held for the opportunity to buy a home in this new "Disney town," and all 351 home lots in the town's first development were quickly sold through the lottery, leaving a six-month waiting list. But the builders were unprepared for the demand and therefore the quality of the initial construction was sometimes sub-par, helping to earn Celebration ridicule in the press. Another point of contention was the Celebration School (K-12), which attempted to incorporate many progressive ideas in ways that turned out to be more confusing than successful. People purchasing homes there early on had the general impression that Disney's connection to the project meant that nothing could go wrong, but that misconception was short-lived.

Residents first moved into homes in Celebration in 1996. Through the first years of the town, many townspeople persevered and banded together even more tightly as a community to make sure that the town lived up to its commitments and its promise. As a result the town of Celebration, Florida, can be said to have fulfilled most of its original intentions.

One peculiarity of the town early on was that it was run by The Celebration Company, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Disney Company, rather than by elected officials. The result of this has been that some decisions made on behalf of the residents of the community were made with Disney's profits in mind rather than the townspeople’s desires -- for example, the downtown area contains several shops selling collectibles, but no gas station or video rental store. This problem is going away as residents have gained elected positions on the board of the Celebration Residential Owners' Association, and as Disney diminishes its role in the town. Disney recently sold the downtown area to Lexin Capital, a private real estate investment firm, and Water Tower Place is being built with Chick-fil-A, Mobil, dry cleaners, and a video rental store among its tenants.

Surprisingly, Celebration does not have any roads named Main Street, because that name is already used elsewhere in Osceola County. The two main roads going through the center of the downtown area, not counting Celebration Avenue, are named Market Street and Front Street.

Celebration is connected directly to the Walt Disney World parks and resorts by World Drive; the north end of World Drive begins near the Magic Kingdom and its south end connects to Celebration Boulevard, allowing Celebration residents and guests access to any place on Disney property without having to pass through land not controlled by the Walt Disney Company, notably the U.S. Highway 192 tourist strip. However, Celebration residents are not 'special' in Disney's eyes and do not receive free park passes, discounts, or any sort of preferential treatment. (In fact, Disney employees can receive Cast Member discounts at some of the restaurants in downtown Celebration, while residents cannot. Some Celebration critics have pointed to this as an example of how Disney uses the town to fill its own pockets at the residents' expense.)

The band Chumbawamba wrote the song "Celebration, Florida" (on their album WYSIWYG) as an example of excesses of American consumerism the group perceived the community embodied, judging it from exaggerated media attention the town drew from being both a Disney-related project and an early New Urbanist prototype community.


Location of Celebration, Florida

Celebration is located at 28°19'12" North, 81°32'25" West (28.320059, -81.540149)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the community has a total area of 27.7 km² (10.7 mi²). 27.6 km² (10.7 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.28% water.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 2,736 people, 952 households, and 716 families residing in the community. The population density is 99.0/km² (256.4/mi²). There are 1,093 housing units at an average density of 39.6/km² (102.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP is 93.57% White, 1.72% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 2.41% Asian, 1.02% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. 7.60% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 952 households out of which 45.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.5% are married couples living together, 6.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 24.7% are non-families. 20.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 3.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.82 and the average family size is 3.30.

In the community the population is spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.5 males.

The median income for a household in the community is $74,231, and the median income for a family is $92,334. Males have a median income of $51,250 versus $46,650 for females. The per capita income for the CDP is $39,521. 6.2% of the population and 4.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.5% are under the age of 18.

As of 2004, there are 9,500 residents in 3,745 households (including apartments).


There are three books that tell some of the history of Celebration. The first two were written by residents who did their research in 1997; they focus on the early problems with construction and the misconceptions involving the town. Both books were published in 2000.

  • Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney's Brave New Town by Douglas Franz and Catherine Collins (ISBN 0805055614)
  • The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney's New Town by Andrew Ross (ISBN 0345417526)

The third book was published in 2004.

  • ‘‘Celebration: The Story of a Town by Michael Lassell (ISBN 0786854057)

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