Is Walt Disney's Perfectly Planned Community, Celebration, Florida, Creepy or Inspiring?

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Is Walt Disney's Perfectly Planned Community, Celebration, Florida, Creepy or Inspiring? Is Walt Disney's Perfectly Planned Community, Celebration, Florida, Creepy or Inspiring?
Cities

Is Walt Disney's Perfectly Planned Community, Celebration, Florida, Creepy or Inspiring?

by Maxwell Williams

April 14, 2013

Celebration, an unincorporated, master-planned community to the Northwest of the small Central Florida city of Kissimmee, was established in 1994 as a prototypical example of New Urbanism. While not entirely different from other master-planned communities like Seaside, Florida (near Panama City Beach and the principle location for The Truman Show), Celebration is uniquely known as being built and conceived by the Walt Disney Company, in honor of Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). Despite the stigma, both good and bad, of an association with the Disney Company—not to mention rumors of a Draconian set of rules regarding garbage disposal and ornamentation (mostly just rumors, though they do provide a handbook to all residents and bored cops have been known to harass kids on slow nights)—the community has attracted over seven thousand residents.

Perhaps they’re looking for a carless existence (one of the central reasons behind Celebration’s establishment), the promise of a small-town experience where neighbor relations are high, or simply the soft-focus nostalgia that Disney, the brand, invokes.

“A lot of [Walt] Disney's ideals about the type of neighborhood that he grew up in are translated into Celebration,” says Laura Poe, the Communications Manager of Celebration Town Hall in a phone interview.

But what is the plan, and why does it benefit neighbor relations? Katie Potochney, a former resident who spent her teen years in Celebration, says, “They brought in a lot of different architects, and they designed it with Walt Disney’s original spoked layout [streets coming off a town center like the spokes of a bicycle]. There’s a center of town. They designed the town to lubricate neighbor interactions. The garages are in the back of the homes, and that means the front of your house is closer to the sidewalk. You’re a lot more apt to talk to people who are walking by you on the sidewalk instead of being distanced like suburban homes are with the 80-foot long driveway.”

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