Cover image for The celebration chronicles : life, liberty and the pursuit of property value in Disney's new town
The celebration chronicles : life, liberty and the pursuit of property value in Disney's new town
Ross, Andrew, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 340 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Corporate Subject:
Geographic Term:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HT169.57.U62 C457 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"Planned with impeccably correct intentions, built with improperly low-wage labor, and sold on the basis of improbably lavish guarantees, Celebration would be put to the test time and time again. . . . True to the ethos of the blockbuster box-office hit, would this town deliver on the promise of its business plan or its community plan? Or would it sidestep all expectations and play by a different script?" Scholar and iconoclast Andrew Ross set out to answer these questions by spending a year living in the much scrutinized, and often demonized, Celebration--the picture-perfect town that Disney is building for 20,000 people in the swamp and scrub of central Florida. Lavishly planned with a downtown center and newly-minted antique homes, and front-loaded with an ultra-progressive school, hospital, and high-tech infrastructure, Celebration would be yet another fresh start in a word gone wrong. Yet behind the picket fences, gleaming facades, and "Kodak moment" streetscapes, Ross discovered genuine, complex, and often surprising truths. In this compelling, eye-opening account, based on his personal encounters and on several hundred hours of interviews with residents, employees, and county locals, Ross records what went right and what went wrong in this latest version of the American Dream. Diverse in background, Celebration's pioneers were united by a desire to escape the cheerless isolation of suburbia and reconnect with the neighbors. They were also dazzled by the Disney brand name and expected much more than they got. The Celebration Chronicles recounts their often unruly struggles to build a community in the face of adversity: shoddy construction, typecasting by the media, Disney's skittishness about negative publicity, and friction with the working-class county of Osceola. An acute observer in the controversial school, Ross takes us to the front lines of a superheated battle of wills between educators and townspeople. What does Celebration reveal about the state of contemporary culture? Is this model town a cause for celebration or alarm? Can we entrust the public interest to giant beneficiaries of the marketplace like Disney? One of our shrewdest social commentators, Ross brilliantly places this planned community within the context of the New Urbanist movement to combat suburban sprawl and restore public life to the nation's increasingly privatized landscape. Powerful, wide-ranging in its analysis, The Celebration Chronicles is a provocative account of the inner life of a new American town.

Author Notes

Patricia F. Vadasy, PhD, is Senior Researcher at the Oregon Research Institute in Seattle, Washington. Her background is in early reading acquisition and instruction, instructional design, and intervention research. Dr. Vadasy oversees a research team investigating effective school-based literacy interventions for at-risk and struggling students. She has published numerous journal articles and instructional materials.   J. Ron Nelson, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research and over 150 publications have focused on serving children at risk of school failure and on research issues, and he has developed a number of behavior and literacy interventions. Dr. Nelson is a recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The object of unrelenting media scrutiny since its inception in 1996, the small, Disney-built town of Celebration, Fla., has, according to Ross, been portrayed as either a real-life embodiment of a Disney fantasy of good, clean American values or as a haven for slavish Disney devotees who fall in line like dutiful Stepford wives. Like Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins, whose Celebration, U.S.A. (Forecasts, July 26) records 12 months in the life of the town, Ross lived there for a year and came away with mixed feelings. The director of the American Studies program at NYU, Ross points out that the one thing most vividly separating Celebration from other communities is the glare of the media: perennially aware that they're under scrutiny, residents are subject to "performance anxiety" and tend to be highly self-conscious about their actions and decisions. While Disney's ideas about desirable urban designÄwhich include such features as Muzak continually piped into the main street from speakers hidden beneath the palm treesÄdo suggest a sugar-coated utopia, most of the residents Ross encountered were seeking an alternative to the isolating design of traditional suburbia. In this respect, Ross believes, Celebration is at least "a step in the right direction." Though Frantz and Collins more vividly describe the community and its residents, Ross's writing is refreshingly unacademic as he adroitly analyzes both the various upheavals plaguing this fledgling town and the day-to-day lives of Celebrationites of all ages, providing an astute look at a notable, if in some respects surreal, experiment in community building. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
1 Homeward Boundp. 1
2 The Price of Traditionp. 21
3 The New Geewhizzeryp. 45
4 Main Street Is Better Than Alrightp. 63
5 Our Much-Rumored Lifep. 94
6 Riders on the Stormp. 119
7 The Siege of the Schoolp. 144
8 Oil and Waterp. 166
9 It Takes a Villagep. 198
10 Kinder, Gentler Government?p. 223
11 God's Houses, a Picture of Health, and the Color of Our Mindsp. 247
12 Not an Islandp. 274
13 Learning from Celebrationp. 299
Notesp. 326