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All you can do without visiting the theme parks
Celebration Photo Tour Part 1
Friday, November 22, 2002
When Disney created the town of Celebration, in Osceola County near Walt Disney World (WDW) in 1994, it was met with both eager anticipation and a fair share of criticism. Themed as a pre-1940s small southeastern town, Celebration currently is home to just over 6000 residents and will be home to 12,000 residents when complete.
Located just south of Highway 192 from WDW, Celebration is a very pleasant place to spend part of a day if you are willing to take a break from the theme parks. Most of the criticism I read claimed Celebration to have a Stepford Wives-type atmosphere, where everything was perfect and nothing was out of place. Residents have rules that dictate how their homes and yards must look, and to some degree the rules specify what people can and cannot do on their own property.
Celebration is also very expensive - housing is priced higher than similar homes in communities outside Celebration, but that should not be any surprise considering the place is owned by Disney. People moving down from up north will most likely find the prices pretty normal compared to their own community, but may not be aware they are paying a premium by central Florida standards.
The first residents moved in during summer 1996, and the Celebration School opened on August 11, 1997 for its first school year. Right now, it has kindergarten through grade 12, but a new public high school is due to open in 2003. Celebration School is not operated by Disney; it is owned and operated by the Osceola County School District.
The Celebration School campus covers 36 acres and currently serves 1000 students from Osceola County and Celebration. Sports facilities include the gymnasium and fields for sports such as baseball, soccer, and softball.
Celebration is also home to a branch of Stetson University, which provides teaching interns at Celebration School. Other interns come from schools such as Auburn University and University of Central Florida.
The University of Minnesota Center for Cooperative Learning also provides guidance in curriculum at Celebration School.
Throughout Celebration, there are miles of walking paths and several parks, encouraging an atmosphere where residents have the opportunity to meet each other and establish friendships. An 18-hole public golf course is located in the town and has a 16,500 square-foot clubhouse.
No community would be complete without healthcare services, and Celebration is home to its own full-service hospital. Celebration Health was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and is located on a 60-acre site in Celebration Place. In addition to a 60-bed hospital with an emergency room, it also has a 60,000-square-foot wellness/fitness center.
Housing in Celebration runs the gamut from rental apartments to estate homes costing over million dollars. Spending a few hours looking at the model homes can be a great way to spend an afternoon, whether you are just curious, are thinking of moving here, or are just looking for decorating ideas.
Most of the apartments and townhouses are built in and around the Town Center district, which gives more of an urban feel (but without the city crime, noise, and pollution). A typical 2-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse was selling for approximately $250,000. A 3-bedroom unit sells for approximately $315,000 to $325,000. There are Terrace Homes, which appear to be single-story condominiums located in 3-story buildings, which range from $175,000 to $200,000.
Single-family homes in Celebration tend to have large front porches, and the garages are generally hidden from view behind the house. This allows homeowners to have the convenience and amenities of today while retaining the look of the 1940s. The landscaping is generally impeccable - homeowners here seem to take pride in making their yards and homes look beautiful. You won't find abandoned appliances or cars up on concrete blocks in these neighborhoods, as it would be against the rules. Houses start at around $200,000 for a small 2-bedroom model, and are in the $400,000 ballpark for a 4-bedroom home. Prices vary somewhat by location.
The top-of-the-line models are the Estate Homes, which begin at $1.2 million. These homes are large - over 5,000 square feet seems to be the starting point, with 5 or 6 bedrooms. While it's more house than I need or can afford, it's fun to see them.
I came to Celebration as a skeptic, but left pleasantly surprised. I expected everything to be clean and "Disney-like", and the "Stepford Wives" comments were actually a positive thing to me rather than a negative. I live in a community with rules, by choice, because I like rules that ensure I won't have a neighbor who will drive me crazy with his lifestyle. However, I expected Celebration would be an overpriced but ordinary community. After spending parts of a couple of days here, I realized it was exactly the kind of place I would be happy living in, if I wanted to live in central Florida. The entire community is lovely, peaceful, and the people seemed genuinely nice - most likely happy to be here. The Market Street area is a gem, and my next article will cover what is available in this area.
Contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.
You can contact Sue here.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park Update: Walt Disney World.
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