Synopses & Reviews
"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.
About the Author
Andrew Ross is professor and director of the American studies program at New York University. A writer for Artforum, The Nation, The Village Voice, and many other publications, he is the author or editor of ten previous books, including Real Love, The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life, Strange Weather, and No Respect.