Who hasn’t left a Walt Disney World vacation and wished they could live in the Most Magical Place on Earth? Obviously, moving in at the Magic Kingdom is not an option. But what if you could choose a place with all the charm of the Disney Property within a short drive of the magic? Good news, it is possible in Celebration, Florida. Located just 10 minutes from the nearest Disney Park, you’ll find this charming town that seems oddly Walt Disney World reminiscent but in the “real world.”
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and you are not at a Walt Disney World Resort. Your celebration home might be waiting for you in sunny central Florida. If you are ready for a move, or just dreaming about retirement, come home to the magic in Celebration, Florida.
Technically, this town has a Kissimmee, Florida zip code, but the town feel of Celebration could not feel more authentic. Designed by Disney Imagineers, pulling inspiration from Walt Disney’s plans for EPCOT, this charming town was created in the 90s, with its first resident moving in, in 1996.
Disney history nerds know that Walt’s original plan for EPCOT involved a working city where residents lived, worked, played, and learned together. You may have even seen the model for Walt’s Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow during your ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
As you know, the EPCOT we ended up with was very different than the original one Walt Disney envisioned. But in 1991, Disney Imagineers sought to branch off a new idea from this original concept, and the “census-designated place” of Celebration was born!
In the early 90s, when the Disney movie renaissance was alive and well and the Parks were booming with business Disney Imagineers saw an opportunity to expand. Hollywood Studios was the newest Disney Park, Typhoon Lagoon was a new Guest favorite, and Pleasure Island grew with more nightclubs. So instead of developing the Disney World Property, The Walt Disney Company focused on unused Disney-owned land east of Interstate 4 in Osceola County.
Disney CEO Michael Eisner brought in celebrity architects to construct this dream town. A lottery was even held to select the families that would have a chance to live in Celebration. It’s no surprise that families were clamoring to move into a community built with the “Disney difference” in mind. After all, planning for convenience, community and quality were in all the details from day one.
Celebration Health, the local hospital, was designed with a holistic health experience in mind, with plans inspired by some of the finest medical spas in the world. You might now know Celebration Health as AdventHealth Celebration. Linking the community to a digital system was another community goal, as were innovative schools and beautiful cityscapes. Yep, it’s safe to say that, as usual- Disney was way ahead of the times.
If the town center of Celebration reminds you of Main Street, U.S.A., there is a reason for that. Celebration was designed with Walt’s hometown in mind. But this innovative community has all the convenience and new technology of the community of tomorrow. You technically won’t find a Main Street in Celebration. Guests driving in will turn off Celebration Avenue onto a central street known as Market Street. This hub is full of shops, restaurants, and outdoor seating. Stop in for a meal at a restaurant with outdoor dining, browse the shops or purchase an ice cream cone from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor to enjoy as you stroll the streets.
In true Disney fashion, around half of the roughly 4,900 acres that compose Celebration is part of green space for a nature preserve. So, as you might guess, beautiful trails, walking paths, and biking trails abound in this dreamy community. The houses in this Central Florida community are designed with the community in mind. Front porches with beautiful street views and garages tucked away behind each property give the city a more walkable feel and add to the “yesteryear” vibe.
The architectural style of the community is reminiscent of styles at the Disney BoardWalk, Saratoga Springs Resort, and Main Street, U.S.A., wrapped into one. In strolling the streets of the south village, you’ll get vintage Americana charm that certainly feels utopian but without feeling overly themed.
This wave of new urbanism may have its own Publix Supermarket. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped through the looking glass when you pass the interactive fountain with kids playing, stunning west village, Lakeside Park, and Celebration Golf Club. Celebration Florida has schools (Celebration High School), sushi spots, bridal shops, and a beautiful promenade on the stunning Lake Rianhard.
Celebration residents go all in on holidays and community events, organizing fun farmer’s markets in the summer, Little League sports teams, and holiday markets to celebrate Christmas each year. The 4th of July brings everyone into town for a stunning fireworks display, and they bring in the New Year in style.
Celebration, Florida, is so close to the Walt Disney World Property that Guests looking for a change of scenery could drive over for a new experience during an Orlando vacation. Getting a glimpse at downtown Celebration and enjoying ice cream away from the bustle of Animal Kingdom or Universal Studios could make for a fun afternoon. Who knows? You may leave this Disney-inspired community ready to come home to the magic in Celebration Florida.