Thursday, August 21, 2014

Celebration: The Town that Disney Built

Near the end of his lifetime, after seeing what could be accomplished at Disneyland in California with the knowledge he had acquired about city planning, Walt came up with the idea of a community of the future. He called his idea EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) and wanted the city (which he was planning on building in Florida) to be perpetually showcasing and experimenting with new materials and systems. The idea was that this would be a safe and orderly environment for children to grow up, while encouraging corporations to be innovative so that their new ideas could be tested on site. He wanted to build his own flippin' city. How cool is that?
Here are just some of his ideas:
  • There would still be theme parks similar to Disneyland on site as a part of the city
  • Residents of EPCOT wouldn't own cars, they would use the monorail and "peoplemover", a conveyor-belt-style mode of transportation where the track itself moves instead of the cars

  • Cars and trucks would travel underneath the city core to eliminate risks to pedestrians
  • The entire downtown core would be an enclosed area, unaffected by external elements like weather
  • EPCOT would have 20,000 citizens and no one in EPCOT would have owned their own home, instead paying rental rates competitive with the surrounding market
  • There would be a world market with shops and foods from all over the world
  • All adults living in EPCOT would be employed, meaning no retirees - everyone would help contribute to the city in some way

Walt died in 1966, before Disney World even opened its gates in 1971. By the grand opening, most of his ideas for EPCOT were abandoned and Magic Kingdom was a duplicate of what he had created in California, with only a few minor improvements. Even though the city was never built, many of Walt's ideas were incorporated into what we know as the Walt Disney World today.

Then in the 1990s, the Walt Disney Company built Celebration, a planned community that uses some of Walt's ideas, but on a smaller scale. Celebration is not futuristic with a transportation system the way Walt had envisioned, but rather is based on a typical American town with modern conveniences.

With a population of over 7000, Celebration is the perfect picture of a quaint town. At Christmas, it even snows soap suds nightly just to create the image of a winter wonderland.

Here are some things you might want to check out in Celebration:

  • Each year in April, Celebration hosts the Great American Pie Festival 
  • In March and October, you can check out the semi-annual yard sale 
  • In October, Oktoberfest is on!
  • In December, enjoy carolers, photos with Santa, carriage rides and skating on the faux ice rink
  • On Sundays from 9am to 3pm, check out the Farmers' Market 
  • Rent a surrey bike and ride around town

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