Friday, October 16, 2015

Celebrating A Dream Come True

By Keith Mahne

Dreams are funny things. They give us an objective in life to strive for, can be life-changing, massive in scope, and can seem so outrageous an unattainable at times. I don't believe there was anyone to walk on this planet that knew more about achieving their dreams than Walt Disney. Like Walt, I've had a few big dreams that, thanks to a little ambition and help from the man upstairs, have come true. Today, I'd like to tell you about a major, life-changing dream that is on the verge of becoming a reality and that will change forever...

Take a good look at the collage at the very top of this article. I put that together a few years back and made it my computer's background image. Every single day I looked at it and pictured myself being there. In case you're wondering, those photos are of Celebration, Florida, better known as the town that Disney built. Before we get into the details of what the future holds for myself and Disney Avenue, let me tell you a little about the history of Celebration...

In the early 1990s, the Disney Development Company (DDC) established the Celebration Company to spearhead its development within approximately 4,900 acres of land in the southern portion of the Walt Disney World Resort property. The land where Celebration now sits was roughly in the same location where Walt Disney had considered building a small airport to make it easier for people to come visit his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (E.P.C.O.T). Over time, as the WDW property expanded, the area remained undeveloped and was often used as a relocation spot for alligators found around Walt Disney World.

The master plan was developed by Cooper, Robertson & Partners and Robert A. M. Stern. Stern stated in 1996 that the idea behind Celebration was, "To recapture the idea of a traditional town, traditional in spirit but modern in terms of what we know about how people live." The extensive landscape, parks, trails and pathways were designed by the San Francisco firm EDAW. Celebration is planned in an early 20th-century architectural style. The Disney company created a idealized, modern version of a small town with homes clustered around a pedestrian-friendly central business area with restaurants, shops, offices, and a movie theater.

Disney CEO Michael Eisner took an especially keen interest in the development of the new town in the early days, encouraging the executives at Disney Development Company to "make history" and develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney's vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). DDC executives collaborated extensively with leaders in education, health and technology in addition to planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for the town. The video below offers more insight into what Michael Eisner, Robert A. M. Stern and the Disney Development Company had in mind...

According to a 1996 guidebook to Celebration, "Celebration is designed to offer a return to a more sociable and civic minded way of life. It is a walking town. The town plan places special emphasis on restoring streets and sidewalks to the public realm on the assumption that streets should belong to people, not cars….All the residential areas in Celebration Village are within reach of one another and of Downtown Celebration, which means that everyone will be able to walk to school or to the movies."

Now that you've learned a bit about the history of Celebration, you can probably guess what that dream of mine I mentioned earlier is. From the moment I first learned of the beautiful town and since the very first time I walked through it, I knew immediately that I wanted to some day call this unique place home. With its family atmosphere and close proximity to Walt Disney World, and not to mention all the other amazing theme parks and attractions in the area, I fell head over heels with Celebration. It's a special place, almost as if you were on a movie set. People outside with their family and pets, neighbors sharing laughs, quaint homes and flower filled landscapes, it is my idea of perfection and as close to it as I've yet to find in a town.

So how will this affect Disney Avenue? Well, I've always had big plans for this site. As I mentioned before, moving from New Orleans to Celebration and literally living on WDW property, I'll now have close access to the Parks and Resorts. I intend on covering events, the holidays, special meet and greets, new attractions and refurbishments, setting up Disney Avenue meet and greets and special events for followers of the site. Anything and everything you could imagine that takes place on Disney property will now be right in my backyard allowing me to bring those sights, sounds and magic to your front door. I'm also looking forward to releasing video articles. These could range from interviews with cast members, Imagineers, or Disney legends. The possibilities are endless.

Over the next couple of weeks, you will notice the articles here on Disney Avenue to be a little sporadic as we make the big move to Celebration. I hope you'll continue to enjoy some of our older articles, podcasts, and the Disney Avenue Music Player. Once we are settled, Disney Avenue will return bigger and better than ever. One of the first things I'd like to do is take you on a video tour of the beautiful town. Please continue to check back here daily as we will still be posting new articles here and there. I can't thank you enough for choosing to spend a little time each day here on the site. I realize how important your time is and I greatly appreciate you choosing to spend a little of it here with us. The future is bright and I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring. I suppose the beginning of this whole journey to Orlando began the day Walt Disney decided to dream big. That dream lead to the vacation kingdom of the world and there's nothing on earth like it. So friends, I guess it's true... there really is a great big beautiful tomorrow that's just a dream away. See ya real soon!

- Keith Mahne


Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.


  1. Welcome to town, it is a great place to live, but you do need to know you are not really living on WDW property, Disney doesn't own our town any more, some outlying property, but not the developed property. I hope you find this to be everything you are imagining. We have been here for 15 years and never been disappointed.

    1. Thank you Chloe. Although Disney doesn't run the town any longer, it is technically still their property. I know Lexon now manages the town but they don't own the ground, right?

    2. I don't think Disney owns anything but the extra land out past the high school that they call Celebration Island (because it will require a bridge to reach it). I think Lexin owns the downtown retail and condos above the retail. Disney doesn't even own the office buildings like in Celebration Place, that is all space leased by Disney for various departments with offices there like Disney Cruise Line. Obviously, individual homeowners and condo associations own the property where their homes are. I think the only place you could live "on Disney property" would be Golden Oak.

    3. Found it!

    4. Thank you Chloe. I knew Disney was no longer involved but was under the impression that they still had some ownership in the land. I appreciate the information.

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