Off the Beaten Path … Or is it? A Look into Celebration
Guest Author: Stephanie Bellucci
Nineteen minutes from the Magic Kingdom’s gate is the bustling downtown of Celebration, Florida. Celebration, for those of you who do not know, is Disney’s master-planned town that came into being in the mid-1990s. I could write pages and pages about this charming town that is often accused of being “too perfect.” But you will never hear me say that. My family owned in Celebration for a number of years, I was a card carrying member of the West Osceola Friends of the Library, I have stayed in the town’s downtown hotel and I’ve read every book written about “Disney’s town.” But, I am by no means an expert so you can do some research on the Internet – there is lots out there.
I do have expertise in shopping …. and on many occasions I have shopped my heart out in Celebration’s downtown. I am here to convince you to do the same. As soon as you are greeted by the Mickey Mouse shaped power line at the intersection of World Drive and I-4, you will feel like you never left Disney property. Market Street and the surrounding few blocks are full of shops, restaurants, the offices that keep celebration running. There is also a Post Office and bank (both designed by Michael Graves), should you need their services. If you ask me the best day of the week for shopping in Celebration, I would answer: Sunday. And the answer is Sunday since I not only can I shop in Celebration, but I can also soak up some of the local flavor.
Here is how my typical Sunday in Celebration would look… I would attend the 8:30am mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Celebration Avenue. The church is brand new and a destination in its own right. After mass I would head down to the Celebration Café on Market & Front Streets for a lovely outdoor breakfast, overlooking the lake. The Café makes this Jersey girl feel right at home with their typical diner menu! After breakfast I would head in and out of the shops. There are more than a few, but here are some of the ones not to be missed:
Confetti – This shop offers specialty gifts, candy and items which can be custom embroidered.
Downeast – This shop offers ladies, mens and some children’s clothing. You will find name brands like LaCoste, Sperry, Caswell Massey, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and more. It is the perfect shop to grab a breezy Florida dress for an upscale dinner back on property.
Jewel Box – Similar to a jewelry store you would find at home, but gives you an opportunity to buy a charm to add to your Pandora. Think of it as a memento of your trip.
Soft as a Grape – This store smells like grapes!!! Once you stop smiling from realizing that, you can find the perfect “Celebration, FL” merchandise; hats, shirts, mugs, etc. all in true Florian colors and yes … smelling like grapes!
Woof Gang Bakery – Although Disney has attempted to include items for you furry family member at home, in their gift shops, you will not find these gourmet items on property. Stock up and you will be getting loves and licks when you return home.
DayDreams – This is a mother and daughter owned doll shop. Teddy bears and dolls galore and many from the Madame Alexander line.
Sanrio Surprises – This shop carries all things Hello Kitty. If you are a fan of the Kitty and feeling left out at the House of the Mouse, get your fix here!
Market Street Gallery – Imagine the best Hallmark Gold Crown store you have ever been in and now imagine that shop on steroids. That is Market Street Gallery! If you would like to browse each and every unique item in here and their extensive card section; plan on at least an hour to do it! The shop will assist you in shipping purchases home if need be.
Bohemian Hotel – Go on in and check out the lobby. There is a small gallery like area where the items have price tags hanging from them. The vibe of this hotel is South Beach without the beach.
Farmer’s Market – Besides mass, if you are a practicing Catholic, Sundays in Celebration gives shopaholics something to write home about. That is the day the weekly Farmer’s Market sets up on Market Street, turning it into a pedestrian mall from 10am – 3pm. This is especially great if you are staying in a DVC villa. Take the opportunity to stock up on fresh and local fruits or other items to cook a meal in.
If by now you feel like you have been on a shopping marathon and are in need of a pick-me-up … can get one at Starbucks, just like on Main Street USA or Kilwin’s; a fudge and ice cream shop not so different from The Plaza. Or wind down at Imperium; a fantastic wine bar on par with Tutto Gusto. Feel like seeing a movie? Celebration has an AMC, old fashioned styled movie house, running first run films, on Front Street. After the movie grab a bite at any of the full service, gourmet restaurants. Get that World Showcase feel as you make a choice between Cuban, Italian, Irish, Japanese, etc. Just do not forget to toast to your day away … or were you?!?!? If you are not ready to give up an entire day in Celebration, you could easily remove any of the items from my sample itinerary – just do not omit the shopping!