It was designed as the diehard Disney fans’ ultimate dream town.
Celebration was built on the outskirts of Disney World in central Florida — a spectacular array of picture-perfect homes with white picket fences and gleaming facades, immaculate streetscapes and a community that embraced the fantasy and wholesomeness of Disney.
The 10,000-person town was filled with newly minted antique-style homes, and equipped with a progressive school, hospital, and high-tech infrastructure.
The idea behind Celebration was a Disney fantasy: an alternative life in a world that was struggling to maintain family values. If you wanted to embrace a fantasy world, you wanted to live in Celebration.
It was the town Walt Disney would have created if only he’d lived long enough.
Disney invested $4 billion, engaged leading architects and set strict standards of décor. When the first residents moved in, in 1996, anyone would be forgiven for thinking they’d stepped onto the set of the original Stepford Wives movie or The Truman Show.
Residents of Celebration referred to their town as “The Bubble” because it was like living in a separate universe.
But, like many fantasies, there was a dark undercurrent simmering beneath the Disney dream.
Celebration wasn’t quite so Disney after all.