In all the years that I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World, there’s been one iconic Disney place that I’ve never managed to visit: Celebration, Florida: the prettiest little community, and Walt Disney World’s home town. With wide streets and colourful shops and houses, it’s a really lovely place to spend a day, wandering the lovely, tree-lined residential areas (there’s actually a Wisteria Lane there that looks like it’s straight out of Desperate Housewives), and popping in to all the lovely shops (there’s a fabulous dog shop there selling everything you could possibly need for your pampered pooch!). Here’s my photo diary of our day: a little taster of what to expect when you visit Celebration.
It’s difficult to find out why exactly Celebration was built. Some people say that the little community came about after the Walt Disney Company became worried that the land, originally purchased by Walt Disney during the planning of Walt Disney World back in the 60s, was in danger of being reclaimed by the state. Others say that the Walt Disney Company planned the community as an affordable place for Disney employees to live, others that it was an investment. I guess in some ways it’s the embodiment of Walt’s plan for EPCOT. Walt Disney had always been interested in building communities, and before he died in 1966 had published plans for the ‘experimental prototype community of tomorrow’. Maybe Celebration was just the natural progression of Walt’s dream, a ‘showcase’ community based around mixing commercial and residential areas (more usual here, but usually in America, shops and commerce are placed well away from housing areas). It certainly has its detractors, with people calling it too perfect, and ‘Stepford’, but it’s a pretty town and house prices are high, so they must be doing something right.
Celebration centres around a pretty lake area, with residential roads fanning out from the lakeside, where the single hotel, The Bohemian sits right on the water’s edge. The Walt Disney Company commissioned several famous architects to create some of the public buildings, and if you get time, it’s worth joining a walking tour so you can see some of the fabulous buildings. Sadly the AMC Celebration 2 cinema designed by architect Cesar Pelli (who also designed the iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur) and with architecture straight out of the Jetsons, is now closed, but the almost Caribbean-like brightly coloured shops, cafés and restaurants, with their verandas and shutters are definitely worth visiting.
The Bohemian Hotel, Celebration
We stopped for breakfast at the gorgeous Bohemian Hotel (definitely on my bucket list for a stay at a later date). The exterior reminds me a little bit of the New England-style Yacht and Beach Club resorts and the interior is really quirky and unusual (the clue’s in the title, I guess!). We sat under a huge chandelier and ordered delicious breakfasts before exploring the pretty poolside area overlooking the lake.
Columbia Restaurant, Celebration
No visit to Celebration is complete without a visit to the famous Columbia Restaurant for delicious Cuban and Spanish cuisine: fabulous tapas, incredible Cuban sandwiches (order to share!), mojitos made at the table and a huge plateful of the delicious and rightly famous original 1905 salad.
Oh and don’t leave without wandering Wisteria Lane. I got chatting to a lovely man walking his little dog who was called – obviously – Minnie Mouse!
We were lucky enough to visit Celebration with Experience Kissimmee. Learn more about fab family holidays in Kissimmee, visiting Clearwater, and flying to Orlando with Norwegian by clicking on my links. Still to come: a guide to fantastic, foodie St Pete.