Celebration: 10 Great Places to Live in Orlando in 2023

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Homes have porches, sidewalks are wide, and streets are narrow to encourage a sense of community.

Photos by Roberto Gonzalez

In 1966, the year of his demise, Walt Disney had concentrated on his upcoming grand project: an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. The establishment of an EPCOT was amongst the final ambitions of the greatest dreamer in America.

The Walt Disney Company devoted years to actualize his concept. In 1982, they inaugurated EPCOT theme park, which embodied many of Walt’s futuristic elements, but it wasn’t a community where people could reside and work. Therefore, in 1987, Disney declared their intentions to construct the town of Celebration. They scouted locations across the nation, and by 1991, they had chosen a spot just south of the Magic Kingdom. One of the Imagineers assigned to design Celebration was Tim Johnson.

Johnson’s team had the privilege of flying in Walt’s plane all around the Southeast to not just focus on design, but to also determine the essence of a community. Johnson reminisces about how they took notes on what they liked and disliked. They admired the squares of Savannah, the open views of the golf course in Coral Gables, the porches in Charleston, and the narrow streets and wide sidewalks in Seaside. Moreover, they were certain they didn’t want a gated community.


Golf is a favorite past-time of many in Celebration, as is shopping in the downtown area.

After dedicating five years to the project, Johnson and his spouse Pam became the 30th family to reside in Celebration when it was inaugurated in 1996—and they continue to live in their original house to this day. Johnson admits that his initial motivation was to shorten his commute, but Celebration has since evolved into his home and the town has become his family.

Celebration boasts a plethora of pocket parks, neighborhood playgrounds, extensive green spaces, and miles of picturesque boardwalks and bike trails. While the swimming pools and a few playgrounds are exclusive for residents, the public is generally invited to enjoy the town’s amenities.

After engaging in some physical activity, visitors can dine at one of Celebration’s restaurants or sidewalk cafes, then browse through some of the Market Street shops. The downtown area is also the hub for many of the town’s activities, including the Sunday farmers market.


During the holidays, Celebration pulls out all the stops with nightly snowfalls downtown and elaborate light displays. The neighbors of Jeater Bend Drive even made it to ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2015. Johnson shares an interesting fact: when Celebration initially opened, the foundation gave out strings of lights to all new residents, with no limits on quantity.

The town’s spirit has significantly contributed to the community’s prosperity, Celebrations’ strength comes from the diversity of its residents, who come from various religious backgrounds, upbringings, and continents. Despite their differences, they are all united in this community. In his words, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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