Walt Disney's vision

Walt Disney built an empire. His theme parks are the most popular attractions in the world. His corporation is the largest private construction company in the world. If we want to take a look at people who at the cutting edge of building a utopia we have to look at Disney. Like all things, people have different views. Many love what Disney does and some see it as empty. I think it is inspiring. It is clean, good family fun. It is imaginative. Here are some pictures of his magical world.


Celebration -- Disney's Ideal Town

Walt Disney said, "I don't believe there's a challenge anywhere in the world that's more important to people everywhere than finding solutions to the problems of our communities." He is right. Below are some quotes I got from several sites on the web by people who have been to a planned community the Disney people are building. They are too individualistic to be called a utopian communal community, but there are some interesting things to study here.

"Conceived in 1984 as the ideal of small-town living, Celebration has been a curiosity among Disney fans since it was first announced. Though it didn't open to residents until 1996 the town has been a dream destination for some and a symbol of corporate power gone mad to others. Many point to the cleanliness of the streets -- despite heavy construction that will continue for quite a while -- and the near-perfect architecture as "eerie" and "Stepford-like" but others say these are precisely the reasons to live there."

"The Florida town is located on 4,900 acres in northwest Osceola County, five minutes south of Walt Disney World" ... "When completely built, the town will include approximately 8,000 homes and apartments and a small commercial district of more than two dozen businesses."

"Ultimately, Celebration seems like a very nice place to live and play. Everything built so far is within walking distance to business and recreational facilities. Yes, everything seems to be run within very strict parameters but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Sure, homeowners can't paint their homes any color they want and are likely required to maintain their property for appearances. The trade-off is living in an orderly, safe environment with almost every need already anticipated and met."

"We wanted to find out for ourselves what this supposed utopia is really like.... The town of Celebration, Florida, along with the town of Seaside, Florida, are the focal points for a new style of urban living known as "new urbanism". New urbanism is a catch phrase referring to the retooling of American cities into small, close-knit communities where all the neighbors can be friends and everyone keeps their lawn mowed. In practice, this general involves turn-of-the-centry looking houses build closer together, garages behind the house, and alleyways to access them."

"Celebration is the Walt Disney Company's attempt at new urbanism. It is a planned community, a village built from the ground up to Disney's standards. The project was given birth in 1994 in Central Florida, on the border of Disney's Walt Disney World property."

"Anyone who has ever heard of Celebration will have strong opinions regarding this planned community. They'll either love it (for the ideal it represents) or hate it (for the oppressive environment some perceive). The problem is, not many people have actually heard of Celebration, Florida. There's been no big media push. No television commercials inviting people to come live in Celebration. In this new modern age of information, the town of Celebration does not even have an official web page."

"Tourists crowd the town's core throughout the day and come back with tales of a beautiful little town where everything is clean and proper. Celebration is perfect. And that's the way Disney wants to keep it."

"Officially, there are no "rules" for living in Celebration. But if there are no rules, then there are certainly strong suggestions or recommendations. Understandably, these guidelines have reportedly been put in place to maintain property values. Call them what you will (rules, regulations, guidelines), every town has them. They're called by-laws. It's a fact of life. Only, to make a better town, you must have tougher rules. You can't blame them. And residents of Celebration understand this. If they're paying a premium for their home, they're paying it for a reason. They're paying it so they can live in this ideal community, and they understand that certain rules are necessary in order to keep this community just the way it is."

"Simply, ask yourself this: Would you be willing to pay extra if you could be assured your neighbor always had his lawn mowed, that his house paint never chipped, that he never had a car up on cement blocks in his drive way? Now ask yourself this: Would you be willing to pay extra if you were constantly told what was wrong with your house and what you had to do to fix it, that you have to mow your lawn and remove your broken down car from the front driveway? It is a paradox that residents of Celebration must live in. Live by the rules, and you are living in paradise. Break the rules, and you are living in a totalitarian state."

"... this community is not a utopia. People live and work in this very real space in central Florida. In my opinion, Celebration represents the cutting edge of 'new urbanism...'"

"Disney's Celebration is a bold and controversial experiment in community planning. Essentially, it is a small town covering 4,900 acres located about five miles south of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Yet, it is more than a town. Celebration represents an unfulfilled dream of Walt Disney who sought to harness the power of his 'imagineers' to fashion a futuristic city in which crime, pollution, and deviance would be replaced by community, cleanliness, and uniformity. Thirty years after his death, architects, planners, and real estate agents are poised to institute aspects of Disney's vision with several key differences. Instead of a bubble-enclosed 'futuropolis' with gleaming monorails and towering structures, Celebration is a contemporary example of commodified nostalgia -- "billed as a 19th-century town for the late 20th century, harking back to a time when lemonade stands, not crime, were on every corner" (Wilson, 1995, p. A1). The project has earned its share of critics; some suggesting that beneath the small-town facade lies a hidden mechanism of social control. However, press reports about the emergence of Celebration from the marshes and fields of Central Florida reveals unanimity on one point: if this Celebration succeeds, it will inaugurate an explosion of enthusiasm for so-called "new urban" planning (Blundo, 1996; Stark, 1995) and challenge contemporary assumptions about the value of suburban living."

"This $350 million community demands scholarly attention because of its uniquely postmodern response to modern crises. In an era of corporate downsizing, economic uncertainty and threatening violence, millions of Americans find themselves caught along the intersections of several social divides -- searching for a simpler time and place. For those who can afford it, Celebration promises to enact memories that most Americans have never experienced, but desperately desire."

Walt Disney had a dream of an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow" that is shortened to Epcot.

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