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New Urbanism tasted in Disney town "Celebration"

03-23-2012 15:45 BJT

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It’s the town that Disney built, and for its hugely enthusiastic residents, it has all the feel of a Magic Kingdom. With its perfectly groomed lawns, curving residential streets and old-fashioned downtown, celebration was championed as a model of New Urbanism -- but picture-perfect living comes at a price.

Gail loves fairy tales -- Disney ones, of course, but also classics like "The Wizard of Oz". Gail Golden, Celebration resident & former Disney employee, said, "I am pretty good at that in the movie, so I will do Glinda. Are you a good witch, or a bad witch? Ahhh, you have no power here. Be gone, before someone drops a house on you, too!"

It’s the town that Disney built, and for its hugely enthusiastic residents, it has all the
feel of a Magic Kingdom.

Gail’s fulfilled a lifetime dream working at Disneyworld -- and living in nearby Celebration, the town Disney built. Here you don’t have to hide your love of the Magic Kingdom up to a point.

Gail Golden said, "Happy Birthday from your pal Mickey. Ha ha! This is not an official policy or anything. But it’s my impression that it’s considered gauche to have too much Disney stuff up in your house if you live in Celebration. It makes you seem like you’re, you know, some kind of a freak."

Celebration was Disney’s first foray into urban planning. It gave the downtown and its 4,000 homes a neo-traditional feel -- with folksy architecture, and a family focus. It sold its interests in 2004 to an investment firm, but there’s still year-round organized fun here, like at Christmas when -- despite the Florida heat -- it snows.

It’s the town that Disney built, and for its hugely enthusiastic residents, it has all the
feel of a Magic Kingdom.

Robert & Maxine Pauley, residents of Celebration, said, "They shut this street down. This is all snowing. They have a train that goes around the town. James just loves it. It’s five bucks a ride. They have the horses, the carriage rides. Yeah we’ve been on the horses and the train. But every hour they have the fake snow, and the Disney music."

But picture-perfect order takes work to maintain. Celebration’s resident-owners’ association -- the closest thing it has to a governing body -- patrols properties monthly, making sure regulations are upheld -- and fining those who don’t comply.

Joel Albert, real estate agent, said, "If there are weeds growing up through the bushes, it’s a no-no. If there’s dirt on the walls of the house, it must be power-washed. If it gets worn away, then it’s time to paint. They’re very strict. They want the community to look good at all times."

And for all the trappings of a town, Celebration is actually not a "town". It is a housing development, with a downtown in corporate hands. Residents vote in a neighboring town, since Celebration doesn’t have its own political body. But that doesn’t trouble people here. It’s community, safety and cleanliness -- not democracy -- that’s kept order in Celebration for 15 years.

Paul Rashkind, weekend/holiday resident of Celebration, said, "The difference here is it’s pretty responsive to the people that live here, as opposed to most communities where you have a government that really doesn’t hear you anyway."

Robin Rashkind, weekend/holiday resident of Celebration, said, "It’s like a bubble. It’s just amazing. Everyone should have a chance to live in Celebration."

Celebration works because its residents want it to. When they move in, they don’t just buy a house, they buy a lifestyle.

 

Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: CNTV.CN

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