If you’re visiting Kissimmee and Orlando, you must at least visit Celebration! I’d even recommend basing yourself here.
Celebration is an idyllic town down with Disney roots and down the road from Magic Kingdom. It’s only a little over two decades old and is meant to look like any small town in the US.
I stayed here for three nights while visiting Florida, and it was such a different and lovely atmosphere compared to the theme parks. I thought I’d write a little guide to the area, so you know more of what to expect!
Central Florida Travel Guide
What is Celebration?
So do people really live here?
Yes! People really do live here, and call it home. Over 7,400 according to the 2010 census.
Does Disney really own the town?
Kind of, not really. I think a better term is “Disney-affiliated.” Back in the day, Walt Disney bought over 27,000 acres of land in Florida, much of which would become Disney World. He eventually wanted to build the perfect residential town that would lead the way in innovation. This is actually where the name “EPCOT” comes from — the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, and you can read more about his plans for it here.
Walt Disney himself passed away shortly after revealing these plans, and the idea of creating an EPCOT faded away until the 1990s. They had about 5,000 acres of land and needed to do something with it that wouldn’t compete with their current parks. That’s when they revisited the idea of creating a residential town, with CEO Michael Eisner (the real driving force behind Disney’s current global success) becoming an advocate.
Disney originally had a much heavier hand in the design of the community. However, today they’ve taken a backseat and allow the town and townspeople themselves to manage day-to-day affairs. An example of this is their school curriculum. While the schools were initially quite experimental in the beginning, they’ve become more traditional as more parents preferred the latter.
You can still see plenty of Disney-influence in the town, of course. The Town Center has a quirky, idyllic vibe that feels quite reminiscent of a Disney creation. And the homes all around the town must abide by strict architectural guidelines Disney developed during the early stages of community planning.
Get to Know Celebration
Start your visit to Celebration with a bike tour! Look up Celebration Bike Rentals, and book one of their tours. Your guide, Scott, will take you through the different neighborhoods and nature paths while giving you a full history of the town. And he would know — he’s been here for almost all of Celebration’s existence!
While you’re staying I’d also take the time to walk around on your own, especially in the quieter mornings, or rent one of their bikes and roam.
Where to Stay in Celebration
I was a guest at the Bohemian Hotel Celebration, and it could not have been a lovelier experience. My full review is here, but just know you’re on the lake with beautiful views and within a super short walking distance to the Town Center and various restaurants.
Where to Eat in Celebration
Since I was staying in Celebration, I had a chance to eat at their many different restaurants! All were in 5 or fewer minutes from the Bohemian, so it was easy to walk around.
Imperium Food & Wines
Went here on my first night. It’s probably more exciting for people who like wine, but I liked their food selection too!
Address: 606 Market St #140, Celebration, FL
Sooo yummy! Get the Cuban sandwich and the salad. Also, don’t miss the flan or the key lime pie for dessert. The interior decor is so pretty too!
Address: 649 Front St, Celebration, FL
For when you want a sushi fix! I’m so boring with my sushi decisions; I always get some variation on a salmon or tuna roll (usually the spicy kind) and edamame.
Address: 671 Front St #100, Celebration, FL
Avocado Mexican Grill
A nice little place for Mexican food! Apparently, they have newer owners who totally improved the menu. I got a quesadilla and a virgin daiquiri.
Address: 715 Bloom St, Celebration, FL
Market Street Diner
I went here for breakfast mostly to see the inside and got a pancake with a side of scrambled eggs and a vanilla coffee. The food is okay — nothing to salivate over but decent enough to eat most of it and feel satisfied.
Address: 701 Front St, Celebration, FL
Had to stop here! I went to the one in Wilmington, NC a while back, and their stuff is just so good. I think I got two scoops — sea salt caramel and turtle cheesecake.
Address: 671 Front St, Celebration, FL
Did you know about Disney’s real-life town of Celebration?