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Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney's Brave New Town Paperback – September 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805055614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805055610
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebration, Fla., is the much-ballyhooed Disney effort to build a walkable hybrid suburb near its Orlando theme park to serve as a showcase for the most cutting-edge ideas about urban planning. In 1997, journalists Frantz and Collins (Teachers: Talking Out of School) moved to Celebration with their two younger children to write an account of one year in the early life of the town. They participated fully in the community and found their neighbors willing to talk, discovering the ups and downs of Disney's well-calibrated logistics, from the pedestrian-friendly town plan to the housing standards and innovative K-12 school. Among the complications were the bewildering array of pedagogical strategies adopted by the school, which drove families away; the homogenous town population, which was almost entirely white and middle class; and the proliferation of rules (residents are forbidden, for example, to park recreational vehicles on the street and to complain about the mosquitoes). But the authors avoid excoriating Disney and its developers, emphasizing that the town still offered a promising model for a "better" kind of American community: they found it "a lovely place physically," whose design did indeed foster a neighborliness lacking in most of suburban America. Readers may wish that the authors had investigated their Disneyphile neighbors more closelyAe.g., only at the book's end is it revealed that almost none of their houses have bookshelves. Nonetheless, this even-handed and thorough account of one family's experience in helping to build a new community from the ground up taps provocatively into a pioneering spirit in American life. (Sept.) FYI: In October, Ballantine will publish The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Property Values by the cultural critic Andrew Ross, who also spent a year living in Celebration.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In 1997, New York Times staffer Frantz and wife Collins did a brave thing: they moved into Celebration, FL, created by Disney to serve as a model town of the future by drawing on the best of the past. Something for both Disney fans and bashers.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By david rudakewich on October 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Earlier this year, i was going to be in Orlando for a conference and wanted to visit Celebration as i have an interest, both personal and professional, in urban design. I read Celebration, U.S.A. before i went. I think that my visit was enriched by having read this book before i went.
I found the book provides an interesting and useful introduction to Celebration and New Urbanism. Frantz and Collins provide an narrative history of the development of Celebration as well as an interesting introduction to New Urbanism, etc. We experience alot from the personal leve. They write very well and the book moves readily along. They describe numerous problems with Celebration as well as how the expectations of many residents shaped their reaction to Celebration. It is a fairly fun book, though a little too upbeat at times.
On the other hand, the depth of analysis isn't there and, given the market that this book is directed at, probably wasn't intended to be there.
As an introduction to Celebration and an alternative approach to urban design, this book is worth it. Just don't expect too much.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Monaghan on October 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Authors Frantz and Collins do an excellent job of treading the delicate line between participant and observer in this in depth, inside, and insightful look at Disney's planned town.
I opened the book expecting a hatchet job (these two are reporters, after all) but discovered a balanced and feeling account of what it's like to take part in a turbulent experiment in creating a "real" EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
Best of all, Frantz and Collins place Celebration in the context of the rich and fascinating history of planned communities in America.
My guess is this book will prove an eye-opener for Disney devotees and detractors alike.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I live in a master-planned community, so I have some experience with many of the seemingly strange rules and regulations described in the book. I'm also fascinated with new urbanism, so I was very excited when I found out about this book. It's higly readable, but there are some awkward places where the authors repeat each other. More troubling, I never got the sense that they went much beyond the perceptions and needs of their immediate family and neighbors. For two supposedly objective journalists, their particular opinions on the Celebration school spoke more of their own biases than anything else. Did anyone else feel like they were more concerned with their own property values than documenting the year or two in Celebration? For a much deeper and thoughtful account, read the "other" Celebration book by Andrew Ross. By the way, he mentions in his book that he tried to contact these authors, but that their editor told them not to talk to him. Interesting. Knowing that the various authors were in Celebration at about the same time, and having them interview many of the same residents was surreal.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dick on February 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Frantz and Collins provide a somewhat interesting but ultimately jumbled appraisal of Disney's planned community just south of the Walt Disney World resort. Part of the problem rests in the dual authorship of the book. Although the narrator constantly writes in the first person, he/she also speaks of him/herself in the third person, often in the same sentence. The result is somewhat alienating.

Another structural problem lies in the chapter organization. There are a number of charming and highly personal anecdotes spread throughout the book which introduce the audience to the unique denizens of Celebration, but there's little attempt to link the characters established in earlier chapters to those who play an active role in the narrative further down the line. As a result, the reader never gains a rounded, in-depth appreciation of any single person or family within the community, which is a real shame because the human component is the most compelling aspect of the book.

Less compelling are the authors' frequently patronizing attitude toward the middle-class inhabitants of Celebration. In a laughably paternalistic chapter addressing racism, the authors bemoan the fact that Celebration is not ethnically diverse and fear that their children are somehow worse off for lack of exposure to black families. In a similar vein, they criticize the Walt Disney Company for refusing to sell houses below market value or institute rent controls in order to artificially introduce a lower income demographic into the community. This last complaint is quite odd considering that the authors often bemoan the "forced" qualities of the community.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A smart idea! Instead of visiting as reporters for a few weeks, the authors moved themselves and their children to Disney's planned community of Celebration, Florida -- then stayed for a year! Here's a real inside viewpoint of Disney's "perfect small town", brought to life by two people who are smart, literate and have a broader view of the meaning, trends and consequences of planned living. As investigative reporters, they cast a wide net -- interviewing executives and residents; getting the back story; examining other planned communities across America (both recent and past). As residents and parents, they also deliver a more realistic, intimate portrait of scraped knees and bruised egos. The lesson is made clear by good, crisp reporting and insider experience: while people can move their families, their possessions and their lives to a new community, ultimately, one thing never changes -- who they are. A delicious read.
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