About This Episode
The Celebration Hotel is now known as the Celebration Bohemian Hotel. It’s still a property that is part of the Kessler Collection of hotels now managed by Marriott. The hotel was once the heart of the town of Celebration. As the town has grown in population, many of the local restaurants and bars have replaced it as the local’s hangout.
This episode details one fateful week when I was moving to Celebration Florida, and the unforgettable event that transpired while I was staying at the Celebration Hotel. By the way, as a former resident of Celebration, we love poking fun at the stereotypes of ourselves – as I am a fan of Disney as well!
Location: 700 Bloom Street, Celebration, FL 34747
Reservations: (407) 566-6000
Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning. The people who live in Celebration are not Disney fanatics, wearing mouse ears, quoting Disney films, flying the Disney Flag… Okay maybe some of them are fanatics.
I lived in Celebration back in the early 2000s. My apartment was right on Market street in a corner right above a Christmas shop. My office was literally right across the street in the Preview Center.
I’ll never forget, it was during the Holidays and Celebration had adopted the Disney practice of shooting out fake snow. “Now Snowing Nightly” is what they called it. And they meant it. Nightly – as in every night, every hour on the hour from 6 to 10pm.
The one thing that tied our community together back then, was the Celebration Hotel. Everyone was there. It was the community front room. My friends and I would congregate in the evenings in the lobby like we were the cast of Friends hanging out at Central Perk. We would listen to local musician Jeff Nuese play the piano, order drinks from Pierre the bartender and indulge in Chef Jean-Louis’ world-famous Banana’s foster. No, I mean it. Here’s a link to a program so you can watch the man himself make it. It’s that good.
I doubt Richard Kessler had any idea that when he built the Celebration Hotel, he had built the heart of the town. For me, and the story I’m going to share with you, it will always hold a special place.
The phone in my Celebration Hotel suite rang at around 10 am waking me up. My flight out of Orlando wasn’t until later that afternoon.
I picked up.
Sonny Bouncervello, who was giving me a ride to the airport, was on the other end.
“Richard, are you still planning on leaving this afternoon?”
I said, “Yeah Sonny, what’s up?”
“Have you turned on the television?”
I turned it on just in time to see the 2nd tower fall.
I sat on the edge of the bed. Like so many others, I watched the horrific drama unfold before me.
Later, I realized I had to check out of the hotel, but by then, there were no rental cars, no bus or train tickets to be found.
I went down to the front desk to extend my stay. It was then that I found out. While I was up in my room those hours watching the news, all the other hotel guests had checked out – and all guests that were due to arrive had cancelled.
I was the only one left.
For those four days, until the planes flew again on Saturday, I was the only guest at the Celebration Hotel.
During that uncertain and scary time in our Nation’s history, the Celebration Hotel was my home.