House Styles in the Town of Celebration

Welcome to Celebration, Established 1994

Looking like a quiet suburb, Celebration, Florida is mixed use, walk-friendly new urbanism
Created by the Walt Disney Company, Celebration, Florida is a New Urbanist community. Photo by Preston C. Mack/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

The Walt Disney Company has turned central Florida into a real gold mine. Beginning with the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, the Orlando area has become Disney's playground for magic, nostalgia, and designed experiences. Since the mid-1990s, Disney has been experimenting with creating a self-contained neighborhood, a planned community called Celebration.

Near the famous theme park, Celebration was built on Disney land with a Disney-like plan. Designed around the principles of new urbanism, Disney's ideal town is intended to look and feel like middle America between the Wars. It is the Disney version of Our Town. The entertainment company hired many of the world's most famous architects to design the Town of Celebration—Philip Johnson whimsically overdid the columns for the Town Hall; Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown made a postmodern bank building that looks a lot like a Disney version of Wall Street's House of Morgan. Although Celebration is a real town, it has become a tourist attraction for its Disney-esque architecture.

Real people bought properties and live in Celebration. The neighborhoods were planned areas, radiating like spokes from the famous town hub. As a "planned" community, only pre-approved house styles, materials, exterior colors, and landscaping were used. When you buy into the community, you also agree to the rules and regulations that keep Celebration orderly, although some would call it "sanitized" or "sterile." What follows are some of the home styles I found on a quick stroll through Celebration, Florida built circa 1995 to 2000. The Disney Company has since sold the downtown project to Lexin Capital (2004) and property management companies and the Celebration Residential Owners Association, Inc. administer the Community Charter for residential owners.

Neo-Victorian home in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Neo-Victorian home in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

A genuine Queen Anne style house from the early 20th century is filled with architectural detail and vibrant colors. Not so in Celebration. Note that this Neo-Victorian "Devonshire" plan at 414 Sycamore Street has more detailing thanthe corner Victorian nearby, yet its porch roof of red is the only real color.  Many of the homes in Celebration, including this one, were constructed by Houston-based builder David Weekley. "The folks at Disney had spent two years searching America for builders who shared their passion for excellence," claims the David Weekley Homes Website. "In the end, David Weekley Homes was the only builder with the creativity and Customer-driven focus to remain involved with Celebration from start to finish."

Set on a Village lot size, this home is simply classed as Victorian architecture.

Source: Builder's Story, David Weekely Homes [accessed April 23, 2016]

Neo-folk Victorian house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Neo-folk Victorian house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

All Victorian house styles are not the same in Celebration. At 624 Teal Avenue, builder David Weekley constructed what is called the Danbury plan on a Village lot. The architectural style, like the home at nearby 414 Sycamore, is simply called Victorian. The style is more like a Folk Victorian.

Neo-folk Victorian house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Neo-Folk Victorian house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

On a more visible Showcase lot at 504 Celebration Avenue, this yellow home is also considered Victorian architecture. Built by Town & Country Builders, the board and batten siding is painted one of the many shades of yellow acceptable to the Celebration rules. The color limitations have brought a sameness to the community, as explained in the book Celebration, U.S.A.:

" We had chosen a soft yellow for the exterior of our house, and we were surprised to discover that the houses two doors away and three doors away were about the same shade of yellow. In fact, when we moved in there was a total of four houses in a row in the yellow family....It was a small matter, but after a while the sameness of Celebration got on our nerves. Having so many houses—a total of six—the same basic yellow became an irritant to us."

When these owners questioned the management about all of the yellow houses, they were told that the exterior siding colors were all different: "Antler, Sunny White, Egg Nog, and Ricetone."

But they were all yellow.

Source: Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney's Brave New Town by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, Holt Paperbacks, 2000, pp. 158-159

A Neo Revival on Golfpark Drive

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Neo-Colonial Revival house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Overlooking the golf course, 508 Golfpark Drive is considered Classical architecture by the Celebration style guide. Built on the largest lot type, "Estate" size,  by Orlando-based Jones-Clayton Construction, the house plan name is Magnolia Breeze.

No doubt the segmental pediment is what identifies this house style as Classical, and the "magnolia breeze" is coming from the many other yellow-sided homes in Celebration.

 

Classical Cottage in Celebration

Small brick cottage with a narrow pediment front porch
Small brick cottage with a narrow pediment front porch. Photo © Jackie Craven

Compared with the Classical architecture on an Estate building lot, this Classical design at 609 Teal Avenue is on a much smaller Cottage lot. Again, the pediment and columned entryway seem to determine the architectural style at Celebration. David Weekley was the builder of this Fairmont plan.

 

Mediterranean-inspired house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Mediterranean-inspired house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

As a "planned community," Celebration has defined a "look" to its residential villages by limiting house designs. Multi-family townhomes and garden bungalow units are often described as Craftsman architecture, but these six architectural styles are offered as single-family homes:

  • Victorian
  • French
  • Coastal
  • Mediterranean
  • Classical
  • Colonial Revival

Variations of these styles are found in the size of the lot and the type of "plan" associated with the style. The house shown here on a Village lot at 411 Sycamore Street is considered French architecture of the Bristol plan. Town & Country Builders executed the construction.

More Inspiration from the Mediterranean in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Mediterranean-inspired house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

On a Village lot at 501 Celebration Avenue is another Town & Country house of French architecture. Note that although it's similar to the home found on 411 Sycamore Street, this house is of the Williamsburg plan, and so has some different features.

One similarity, however, between this house and the one on Sycamore Street is the balcony area above the entryway. Whether set off by an iron rail or masonry balusters, both designs seem to limit balcony access by crawling out the second floor window. Where are the second-story French doors that lead to the balcony? The "look" is more important than the function.

French-inspired house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
French-inspired house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Some of the homes in Celebration are custom designs for home businesses. This one at 602 Front Street was built by Issa Homes, a Florida builder of luxury homes. The architectural style, however, is one of the six Celebration-approved designs—French.

Issa Homes has relocated to Celebration to continue its relationship with the Disney Company. They are one of the builders chosen for the upscale, million-dollar homes of Disney's Golden Oak community.

Three Views - Looking More Closely at Celebration's Homes

Three photos of house details in Celebration, Florida
(1) Ghost-like dormer, (2) large panel siding, (3) plastic-like ornamentation. Photo montage © Jackie Craven

"At times there seemed to be a make-believe quality, an artificiality to the whole enterprise," wrote authors and Celebration homeowners Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins. "Some houses that appeared to have second-floor dormers were actually only single-story buildings; the dormers, complete with windowpanes painted black to simulate a darkened space, were fake, assembled on the ground and hoisted into place by cranes."

In addition to the ghost-like dormers, I found the stucco siding to be large panels beginning to peel away from outer walls. Victorian ornamentation could have been wooden, except for the more obvious plastic-like pieces that matched fencing.

Walking through Celebration, Florida is not like walking down the street of a typical town. It's more like an eery historic district that has become plasticized, after the local historic commission has approved too many polymer columns, PVC exterior windows, and resin porch rails.

Source: Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney's Brave New Town by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, Holt Paperbacks, 2000, p. 20

Hidden Cars and Hidden Cans

Access alleyway in Celebration, Florida contains garages and garbage cans.
Access alleyway in Celebration, Florida. Photo by Preston C. Mack/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

The size of individual lots in Celebration may vary significantly. The planned community has an abundance of condominiums and townhomes, which occupy the smallest of lots. What they call "bungalow" and "garden" lots can include single family, duplex, and triplex homes. Larger lots are called:

  • Cottage
  • Village
  • Manor and Estate (largest)

You'll quickly realize, however, that these lots are generally long and narrow, without the typical garage doors that defined many mid-century American neighborhoods. In Celebration, alleys isolate the more mundane aspects of suburban life—garbage cans and automobiles—allowing the home's facade curb-side to be controlled by the neighborhood association.

Bungalow with two front doors in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Bungalow with two front doors in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

What is Coastal style of architecture? Only Disney knows for certain. On a mid-sized Village lot at 621 Teal Avenue, David Weekley built what is called a Coastal house in the Augusta Plan. Perhaps its "coastal" features are the double front doors and roof sweeping over the front porch, reminiscent of Creole cottages along America's Gulf Coast.

Same Coastal, Different Front Doors

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Bungalow with two front doors in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Like 621 Teal Avenue, another house of "Coastal" architecture was built on a similar-sized Village lot at 410 Sycamore Street. This David Weekley built home, too, is an Augusta plan, yet subtle details differentiate it from its Teal Avenue neighbor.

 

 

Coastal Architecture with Dormers in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Three front dormers over front porch on house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

A Coastal Cottage at 611 Teal Avenue shows variations on a theme offered by the theme park giant. Other Coastal designs are found at 621 Teal and 410 Sycamore. Disney builder David Weekley also constructed this Biltmore plan, where noticeably fake dormers atop a porch break the line of the roof—not quite like the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

Greek-revival inspired cottage in Celebration, Florida

Neigborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Greek-revival inspired cottage in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

This Classical Cottage at 613 Teal Avenue, with its pronounced pediment above a columned front porch, is described as the Fairmont plan of Celebration's Classical collection.

This, too, was constructed by David Weekley, one of the first builders at Celebration. It's been widely reported that many of the homes constructed by this Houston construction company were sub-par. The biggest complaint seems to have been related to moisture—deficient installation of roofing along with mold and rot within the framed walls. Although Weekley claims to have remediated the wrongs, trust issues remained between owners and the Disney Company for many years.

Source: Disney as Master Builder by Katherine Salant, The Los Angeles Times, September 12, 1999 [accessed April 23, 2016]

Neo-Victorian Cottage in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Neo-eclectic bungalow in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Like its Classical neighbor at 613 Teal Avenue, this Victorian Cottage at 619 Teal Avenue is the Fairmont plan—same plan for the Teal Ave. residences, but different architectural styles. Like many of the cottages along this street in Celebration, David Weekley was the builder.

Blue-sided bungalow in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Blue-sided bungalow in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

On a Cottage lot at 610 Teal Avenue is yet another Fairmont plan home, this time of the very popular Victorian variety. Compare this house with the one at 619 Teal, and you soon realize why some people object to the sameness of the neighborhood.

Yet in past eras, developers and builders just like David Weekley have constructed the same house design in lot after lot. It's easy to find a suburb of ranch houses and cape cod style homes near your own hometown. Likewise, drive down any city street of a working class neighborhood to find a row of two-family homes, looking the same one after another. Expediency in similarity has been the developer's plan all along.

Blue-sided farmhouse in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Blue-sided farmhouse with shutters and full-sized porch along the front, in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Yellow is not the only favored hue in Celebration. The blue-sided Colonial Revival home on a Village-sized lot at 503 Celebration Avenue is a Town & Country built home.  Celebration calls this a Williamsburg plan, whether or not it bears a resemblance to architecture within that colonial community of Virginia.

This Disney town is a stark reminder that architectural style is not written in stone. These days, style attribution is too often written by realtors and developers for marketing purposes. Even the use of Colonial Revival, a well-known style, ceases to be a "revival" at some point. Or does it?

Neo-Eclectic Blue in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Greek-revival porch on a blue-sided house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

A Greek-Revival porch, without a pediment, on this blue-sided Celebration home at 607 Teal Avenue points to the difficulty of "architectural style." The house has the appearance of an old home, yet the windows have no depth and the construction materials seem plasticized. Builder David Weekley filled this smallish Cottage-sized lot with a Colonial Revival house style of the Savannah plan—the pyramid hipped roof and Greek entryway seem to make it Savannah-like instead of Williamsburg-like (see the house at 503 Celebration Avenue).

Celebration's Victorian Nod to Kentlands

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Blue-sided folk Victorian house with two dormers in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

One of the most popular house styles in Celebration is the Victorian, seen here at 409 Sycamore Street. Built on a Village lot by Town & Country, one of the first builders at Celebration, the plan is called Kentlands, an homage to new urbanism.

Kentlands is the name of one of the first planned communities in the US, a "new-old" neighborhood in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The "neotraditional" town was planned by urbanists Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and developing simultaneously with yet unrelated to the growth of Celebration.

Learn More:

  • The emergence of modern Kentlands by Richard L.Arkin

Three dormers and front porch on neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Three dormers and front porch on neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

This Coastal Cottage at 620 Teal Avenue is strikingly similar to 611 Teal Avenue. The facade of this Ashland plan—the front door and front porch windows in particular—is slightly different in the other David Weekley built home down the street.

Two-story neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Two-story neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Celebration homes have curb appeal. Looking at each from the street, the symmetry is appealing. When you walk a few steps more, however, you see the lack of side windows necessary for cross-ventilation in tropical Florida (view image).

This David Weekley-built Cottage lot home at 617 Teal Avenue is classed as Classical architecture of the Savannah plan.

Two-story corner home with three dormers in Celebration, Florida

Neighborhood house in Celebration, Florida
Two-story corner home with three dormers in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

This Town & Country-built Village lot home at 415 Sycamore Street is classed as Classical architecture of the Sturbridge plan.

 

Neo-Classical Greek Revival in Celebration

Greek Revival Neo-Home in Celebration, Florida
Greek Revival Neo-Home in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

This Town & Country-built home on a Showcase Lot at 506 Celebration Avenue is truly a revival of Classical architecture, especially when compared with the homes at 415 Sycamore Street and 617 Teal Avenue. The mighty columns beneath the high pediment make this showcase home look like a Greek temple.

A Classical Estate in Celebration

Two-story classical estate in Celebration, Florida
Two-story classical estate in Celebration, Florida. Photo © Jackie Craven

Overlooking the Celebration golf course, this Classical Estate at 602 Golfpark Drive is one of the upscale, custom-made Celebration homes built by Akers Custom Homes.

Buying into a planned community like Celebration is similar to accepting the terms of a city historic or garden district, abiding by the rules of a condominium association, or even the "individual freedoms" you give up in a retirement or continuing care campus—or, for that matter, a college campus.

As you look through this small selection of homes, ask yourself this—what more would you ask for and how would it change the community?

Note: House addresses were verified on Google Maps. Details for each house is taken from Design Guidelines: Lot, Builder, Home Plan & Architecture Reference, as of 12/23/2009, Approved by the CROA Board of Directors on 08/25/2009 by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC), Revised January 21, 2010 [PDF accessed April 22, 2016]

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Craven, Jackie. "House Styles in the Town of Celebration." ThoughtCo, Nov. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/house-styles-town-of-celebration-4035885. Craven, Jackie. (2017, November 9). House Styles in the Town of Celebration. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/house-styles-town-of-celebration-4035885 Craven, Jackie. "House Styles in the Town of Celebration." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/house-styles-town-of-celebration-4035885 (accessed November 18, 2017).