Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Streets of Celebration

In the town of Celebration, I suppose it should come as no surprise that one of the streets bears the same name as the town itself. But it really is surprising that there are not one…not two…but three separate streets, all with the name of Celebration.

At first I thought that the Imagineers, or whoever else was entrusted with naming the town’s roadways, must have suffered a bout of creative block (perhaps the Muses were off filming “Hercules”). Then I realized that it was actually probably a fiendish and purposeful design, like the naked frame of Jessica Rabbit on the DVD, sex in the dust in “The Lion King” or the overly enthusiastic cleric in “The Little Mermaid.” Celebration was bound to be a tourist attraction. What better way to drive the poor rental-car-driving, map-wielding slobs crazy than to give three streets the same name, with only a differing prefix?

Thus we have ended up with Celebration Place, Celebration Avenue, and Celebration Boulevard. And these various iterations are not far away from each other. They actually intersect at several points.

If you enter town by the Water Tower Place shopping center, you will be on Celebration Avenue. Enter where the office buildings loom and you will be on Celebration Place. Sneak in the back way on World Drive and you’ll find yourself dead-ending on Celebration Boulevard. Sounds simple enough, right?

Okay, let’s sprinkle on a hearty helping of confusion if you’re some poor, lost soul looking for downtown. If you enter by Water Tower and just stay on Celebration Avenue, you’ll be fine. Once you hit the stop signs, look for downtown on your left. But beware of Celebration Boulevard, which intersects the Avenue. It lures many weary tourists to turn left onto its tempting pavement at the stop light, much as the sirens once lured innocent sailors to crash on the rocks. If you stay in the right lane of Celebration Avenue, you’re fine. But the left lane abruptly turns into “Left Turn Only,” and the tourists who aren’t smart enough to swerve and sideswipe the locals will find themselves drawn into North Village.

Some tourists actually think that Celebration Boulevard is where they want to be. They either don’t realize that they are on Celebration Avenue in the first place, or they enter by the office buildings on Celebration Place and make a left onto Celebration Boulevard, which has a confusing branch over there. Then it’s a right turn onto Celebration Avenue at the dead end, and they panic till they see that they can turn back onto Celebration Boulevard at the light. They’ve been following the white picket fence, and they trust that it won’t lead them astray. Little do they know that they should abandon it and head over the bridge.

Turn right off Celebration Place or enter town from World Drive and you’ll be on the other branch of Celebration Boulevard. If you go one way, it will dead end at the high school. Go the other and you’ll encounter the Celebration Place/Celebration Avenue trap that I just described. Of course, there are a couple of ways you can slip into town via the backdoor (my usual path is Waterside, which I take to Celebration Avenue), but by this time the typical tourists’ brains are leaking out of their ears and they wish they were safely back at their hotel and sorry they ever decided to try to find “Disney’s Town.”

At present, Celebration Avenue dead ends in Artisan Park, but once the neighborhood is built out, there will be all sorts of new tourist wanderings. The streets in Artisan are all named after crafts, but if they have a sense of humor, I think they should toss in a Celebration Street, Celebration Court, and Celebration Circle just for yucks.

Of course, the “regular” streets can be just as confusing. No matter what the New Urbanists and some of the writings about Celebration will claim, our streets are NOT designed on a grid. Yes, there is a grid pattern in some areas, but others circle so much that they’ll make you as dizzy as a Tilt-A-Whirl.

Most streets are named after flowers, although some are descriptive. For example, Market Street is the main street lined with stores downtown, while Front Street sort of “fronts” the area. Waterside is self-explanatory, as are streets like Spring Park Loop which (surprise, surprise) loops around Spring Park.

East Village, my home area, is a veritable maze of confusion. The quickest way to get to our house is also the most confusing for the uninitiated. Instead, we send them a longer but much more straightforward way. Actually, in all our visits to the construction site, we never knew about the shortcut until the day of our final walk-through, when our real estate agent showed it to us.

Even the “easy” way can be confusing, as the street where I instruct people to turn abruptly changes its name halfway to our house. I used to tell deliverymen to look for the lone triplex, but the typical Celebration house is so large that they don’t realize our building is actually three separate units. Now, I just want until they call from their cell phone, dazed and confused, and have them describe their surroundings. Usually they’re somewhere around the pool, and my husband or I go out to lead them in like an air traffic controller guiding an off course plane.

I am very good at navigating through town due to frequent walks and bike rides, but I don’t know the names of the streets. I can tell you what all the houses look like and the various landmarks I pass, but I never pause to look at the street signs. That makes me rather useless when people ask for directions, since they’re looking for, “Go to three blocks to Neat Street and make a left, then turn right when you come to Beat Street and go five more blocks, where you’ll stop at Fleet Street.” For me, it’s, “Go down this street till you come to the house with the cool fountain on the porch. Make a left at the corner, and go two blocks past the house with the Screaming Yellow Zonkers siding, then turn left and go a couple houses past the place with the gorgeous purple flowers in the yard.”

So if you ever want to visit me, take Celebration Place to Celebration Boulevard to Celebration Avenue and make a left on the street three blocks past my favorite house with the cool wrap around porch and lanai. Then just keep going till you see the lone triplex (or call when you hit the pool).

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

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