Amidst the swamp and scrub of central Florida, the Disney Corporation has built Celebration, an environmentally friendly place where 20,000 inhabitants can enjoy the old-fashioned virtues of small-town America in a totally modern development. With newly minted antique homes, a post office designed by Michael Graves, stringent regulations banning the hanging of washing outside and For Sale signs on lawns, and piped muzak issuing from the palm trees that line its streets, no detail of Celebration has been left unplanned.
And yet, as Andrew Ross discovered in his year-long stay in Celebration, not everything has turned out according to Disney’s master scheme. Construction atrocities, a product of contractors using underpaid labor, have tormented homeowners. Ultra-progressive teaching methods at the town school have divided parents into angry, opposing groups. Youth, aware that the town’s property values depend on their test scores, mooch disconsolately around the pristine shopping center.
Andrew Ross, in The Celebration Chronicles, draws important lessons from a micromanaged urban development and reports, with humor and fascinating detail, on what residents experienced as the best and worst of times.