This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Celebration, a master-planned community adjacent to Walt Disney World designed by Disney and intended to be a suburban utopia. I remember reading about Celebration when it was announced and being vaguely creeped out by the idea of a suburb engineered by the Magic Kingdom. Photos of the place didn’t help this perception, given that it looks more like The Truman Show than a real community. However, for the past nineteen or so odd years, I haven’t really given the place a second thought.
Gizmodo recently posted an interesting article about what Celebration has become. In many ways, it is now just another (overwhelmingly white) suburb with the expected crime and foreclosure problems. However, even as a Las Vegan used to seeing shiny new planned communities, photos of the town quite a bit of that too-perfect Disney sheen. Simply, it feels manufactured because it was manufactured.
In many ways, I still find it kind of creepy, and Celebration doesn’t appear to exude the messy charm of a town that has grown organically. Then again, since I’m two decades older than the last time I thought about Celebration, I do find some attraction to a town that was specifically engineered to be walkable and have carefully controlled growth. If only it could look more like a real city and less like a theme park.