In December (2016) we paid a visit to the town of Celebration, which is just off of the I-4, south east of Walt Disney World (very near ESPN, if that helps). Celebration was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company, and while Disney continues to be its largest landowner, it apparently doesn't have as much control any more as it once did (I don't understand the legalities, and that isn't the point here anyway).
I had been curious for some years about this town, and while we usually have our car when visiting Walt Disney World, we just never seem to find the time to do much else outside the resort (besides dining outside and visiting a friend's house - but those are all nearly always within minutes of the parks). Finally, though, in December, we found the opportunity to visit.
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. I knew that it had been designed by people who had worked very closely with Disney over the years, including Michael Graves, who has designed many Disney buildings, including the Swan and Dolphin hotels at Walt Disney World, the Hotel New York at Disneyland Paris, and the Michael D. Eisner Building at The Walt Disney Studios, in Burbank, CA. We arrived early one morning and parked on a street Immediately we noticed how many parking restrictions and bylaws were posted along the street. We walked into the main "downtown" area, and while it was fairly early and not much had opened up yet, we were very much able to get a grasp on this unusual place.
While I obviously won't criticise anyone for living or working here, and I won't criticise Disney for what they were trying to achieve in building the place, I will say that I didn't really like it very much. That is of course just my own personal opinion, and people are free to disagree, but there was just something about it that bothered me. I don't tend to be so open about these sorts of opinions on the blog, but I can't very well make a claim and not back it up, so please take the following for what it is - my opinion, and no reflection on anything the town does or stands for. For me, Celebration was almost too
Disney, which is weird given how much I devote my life to the company. The point being, though, that this is supposed to be a real working town, and I got the impression that everything here is strictly controlled with rules and regulations that, honestly, would drive me nuts. It also felt too much like a Disney resort hotel. It was uncanny how much it had the look and feel of a combination of places, such as Old Key West, the Boardwalk and Saratoga Springs - and even to some degree Hollywood Studios. Needless to say, coming from a place where everything is much, much older, growing up surrounded by a lot of history, Celebration just felt too much like a Disney resort hotel. For some, I am sure that is what they want and what they live for, but for me, when I am home, I want to feel at home, and not quite so "regulated".
We decided to get breakfast at a place called Market Street Cafe, and while the service was friendly and efficient, their French toast wasn't the best I had ever had. Not bad, but not the best.
Despite my opinion, if you ever get the chance to visit Celebration, you really should. If nothing else, it is very interesting to see what happened when Disney decided to build a town.
Have a great day everyone,