Home » 5 Unusual Aspects of Life in Disney’s Own City That Came From Walt Himself

    5 Unusual Aspects of Life in Disney’s Own City That Came From Walt Himself

    Celebration's Neighborhood Streets

    Walt’s original EPCOT was never constructed, but the Celebration community originally built by Disney bears some resemblance to his idea.

    When Walt Disney first conceived of EPCOT, it was not a second theme park, but rather an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” The Epcot theme park we see today is far from the utopian city Walt envisioned, but his dream didn’t die completely. It was, in fact, carried out on a much smaller scale in the form of a little census designated place known as Celebration.

    Though Celebration isn’t the futuristic birthplace of invention that Walt thought his town might be, it does mimic his vision in several ways.

    1. Picturesque home fronts mask mundane practicalities

    Celebration's Neighborhood StreetsCelebration’s Neighborhood Streets

    Just as the tunnels beneath the Magic Kingdom keep anything untidy out of sight, so too does Celebration put its best face forward. Passing through town, it’s impossible not to notice how perfectly picturesque the neighborhoods seem, yet it may take a moment for you to place what’s missing. The homes in Celebration don’t have the traditional driveway and garage marring the front. Instead, spacious porches beg residents to relax outside after dinner, and the sprawling yards are marred only by simple walkways.

    It’s not that all the residents of Celebration walk. Rather, the driveways and garages are tucked away behind the homes, accessible by a separate alley.

    2. Reality and fantasy meet in the middle

    Celebration Town SquareCelebration Town Square

    Only in a town like Celebration would a Florida Christmas include outdoor ice skating and falling snow. Of course it isn’t really snow, but rather “snoap” (fake snow, made with soap) and it makes a monumental mess when it starts gathering in the streets, but being that it’s Florida, residents are charmed by the magic of it just the same. It’s the perfect example of Walt’s “anything is possible” attitude brought to life in a festive, squeaky clean holiday event.

    Celebration’s much anticipated Christmas festivities also include visits with Santa and Mrs. Clause and rides on a miniature train. Though the streets are less festive during the rest of the year, charming strings of lights over the streets give the town a bit of nighttime twinkle in any season.

    3. Main Street hearkens back to an earlier time

    Celebration Town SquareCelebration Town Square

    Celebration’s town center is perhaps the best example of how the town is designed to mimic a simpler time. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern and Jaqueline Robertson, Celebration is modeled after American towns of the early 1900s. Businesses and living spaces are intermingled in a quaint display. Soothing pastel colors create a façade fit for any postcard.

    4. A not-so-hidden Mickey is present

    Mickey Telephone PoleMickey Telephone Pole

    No Disney construction would be complete without Mickey, so naturally Celebration has its own image of the iconic mouse. A telephone pole with an unmistakable shape is visible from I-4 near 417. You can spot it even if you’re not headed to town, but this feature makes the area of Celebration impossible to miss.

    5. Residents’ needs are within easy reach

    Celebration Movie TheaterThe Celebration Movie Theater (now closed)

    Though Walt envisioned his EPCOT community with skyrail systems, Celebration offers a quainter option. Here, residents find it easy to walk just about anywhere they might need to go. Walt envisioned a centralized community where residents could easily reach everything they needed. Celebration delivers on the vision with ample networks of sidewalks leading to the town center, where residents find everything from healthcare to banking to childcare in one convenient place. Though residents don’t all walk to work, many could. The design offers the opportunity for a greener community with less reliance on vehicles.

    Ultimately, Celebration was little more than a Disney-built community that the company would eventually sell off. Constructed after Walt’s death, it bears little resemblance to what he would have wanted with EPCOT, but some of his ideals linger, nevertheless.