Celebration, Florida: 20 years later

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.

One Response to Celebration, Florida: 20 years later

  1. andrews says:

    Sure, it sounded like a bad idea 20 years ago. But it did not yet have the really creepy feeling back then. Now, with the perpetually disney-controlled HOA, and the identical houses in place, with the identical-looking residents, is the time to say it is really creepy.

    In fairness, however, the mistake dates long before the town was made up. Blame much of the trouble on making disney its own government, at least in effect. The Greedy Creek Improvement District controls it, and the commissioners are elected on a one-acre, one-vote basis. Disney owns essentially all the land.

    It is fascinating to see that the law enforcement is about the only thing that the district does not provide directly: they contract with Disney. And Disney’s records are not public, so do not hope to go nosing in there.

    I think they had a couple of cities legislatively created in there, but their only purpose was to provide services to Disney.

    They have effectively created a 68th county, immune from much of the law of Florida. They have tax-free financing for the benefit of Disney, see State v. Reedy Creek Improvement Dist, 216 So.2d 202 (1968). They get to eject people of the wrong color, see your link, Is Disney Bringing Back Jim Crow.

    With such a background, a creepy uniformity in Celebration is less of a surprise than a planned result.

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