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Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando [Kindle Edition]

Professor Richard E. Foglesong
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Joined together in an 'economic development marriage', Walt Disney World and Orlando, Florida, have become the world's most popular tourist destination. This intriguing book traces the evolution of the relationship between the Disney Co. and the surrounding community since it began in the 1960s. Like most close relationships, the Disney-Orlando union has involved conflict and compromise. Richard Foglesong shows that this evolving relationship validates the adage: whom you marry affects what you may become. Foglesong explains how Orlando leaders seduced the Disney Co. with big road projects, how the Disney Co. shielded its property from government regulation, and how the company has used the governmental powers it acquired. In short, Disney World has become a "Vatican with Mouse ears", the author declares. In a balanced and thorough analysis of the Disney-Orlando story, Foglesong offers a critical account of how Disney has used - and also abused - its governmental immunities from the beginning of Disney World to the present under chairman Michael Eisner. Orlando's experience with its biggest local employer raises broad questions about urban development policy.
Can local leaders resist the demands of global corporations? Do privatisation and deregulation offer a viable strategy for economic development? And is it possible to escape the weight of previous economic development decisions that seem to lock in, for example, more tourism and low wages, while locking out other opportunities?

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Disney World, in its agreement with the city of Orlando and the state of Florida, actually negotiated the right to construct and use a nuclear power plant at the amusement park. True, it has never built one, but according to this well-researched, cogently argued and eye-opening account of the complicated relationship between the Disney Company and the city of Orlando, it's a sign of the high price that Orlando has paid to become the home of "the most popular tourist destination in the world." A privately held corporation, Disney has created what amounts to an independently governed country "a sort of Vatican with mouse ears" within Orlando, says Foglesong, professor of politics at Rollins College. For example, Disney competed for (and won) bond money, which ultimately paid for new sewers to accommodate its own expansion rather than for low-income housing in a county already strapped with the influx of Disney workers. When the Orlando Sentinel ran a series offering "tepid" criticism of Disney's bad-neighbor policy, the paper was banned from the theme park. In his litany of Disney's major and minor infractions, Foglesong never fails to shed light on the nuances of the situation. Even more than a critique of Disney, Foglesong's book takes a fascinating, important and entertaining look at contemporary problems in urbanology, city planning and, certainly, business ethics.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Foglesong, a political science academic, examines the "economic-development marriage" between Orlando, Florida, and Walt Disney World, with the latter functioning as an urban entity with a workforce of 55,000, a hotel occupancy exceeding 100,000, its own "municipal" officials, and a land-use plan. The book addresses issues of city governance and services, centralized land ownership, and private government, which the author contrasts to the status quo of democracy and capitalism. Although the boon to central Florida has been remarkable since the 1960s when Disney first arrived, the author cites low wages and loss of other economic opportunities for the surrounding community as the dark side of Disney's extraordinary growth. Foglesong suggests a sharing with the Orlando area of some of the benefits of Disney's growth, such as adopting a living wage policy and expanding fees for parks, education, day care, and assisted affordable housing. The author represents his intent to be fair to the facts, and his is a tough analysis of the Disney-Orlando "marriage." Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Muckraking journalism... by an academic April 30, 2003
Richard Foglesong is one hell of an investigative reporter. I know, I know - he's not a journalist, he's a college professor. But he writes like a journalist and reports like a journalist, and "Married To The Mouse" is a terrifically entertaining and penetrating look at the relationship between Disney and Orlando.
Unfortunately - and this only a minor point, really - Foglesong is also an academic. I say "unfortunately" because the academic portions of this book are far-and-away the least interesting. They are filled with urban planning buzzwords and jargon. They try to tie together in neat academic theories what were really power struggles between a big business and a comparatively small county government.

Foglesong is at his best when he tells us how things happened. How did Orlando build those roads that lured Disney to town? How did Disney get that crazy charter that makes the company an autonomous government? How did they abuse that charter to get perks that no other private business could dream of? How did Orlando and Orange County and Osceola County shirk their responsibilities to their taxpayers in failing to more forcefully confront Disney's abuses? These stories are told through detailed interviews and narrative-style writing that makes the tales engaging reads. It is in the best tradition of muckraking journalism.
Understand one thing: I like Disney World. I've been there many times. It's a fun place. I like Disney movies. I generally root for the Mouse. But I also despise abuses by large corporations. Disney is guilty of more than its share, and "Married To The Mouse" is the best account I've read of how and why that happened.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mouse Tales August 1, 2001
By A Customer
Married to the mouse reads more like a novel than a critical analysis. This book presents an eye-opening account of the imbalance of power that should evermore taint Disney's percieved image as an All-American icon.
Initially my interest in the book was academic, but the more I read, the more I could see a variety of implications for business, personal, ethical and political issues.
Richard Foglesong has produced an extremely well-crafted work. Be prepared for an unexpected twist to an old story wisely and well told.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not an expose May 15, 2002
By A Customer
I enjoyed this book and all the intricacies it points out about the Disney Conglomerate. Sometimes a little tangled and overdetailed, it examines the business aspects of the Disney Corporation. Not at all an expose of actual park practices, this book deals with the big business of urban planning, politics, and scuffle over Orlando public funding. Well written for a complicated topic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly good read May 14, 2009
Although I am an intense Disney theme park fan, I avoided this book for years because on the surface it sounded like a dry history of Disney's political dealings in Florida. When I received it as a gift this year, I gave it a chance and devoured it in only a few days. Once I got past the first chapter, which was indeed somewhat dry and technical, I could barely put down the book.

The author did a fantastic job of compiling credible source material and weaving an easy-to-follow, strangely exciting narrative about the unbelievable, awkward, and permanent relationship between Disney and Florida, specifically the two counties that border WDW property. I have never been interested in local politics, under the table dealings, population studies, or things of that nature, but they all come together in "Married to the Mouse" to tell a much larger story about a multinational corporation and the many ways that it has openly and subtly abused the state. That said, Disney fans who refuse to read anything that might tarnish the reputation of the all-powerful company may want to avoid this book, which is largely negative in accurately describing Disney's Florida dealings. However, those Disney fans like me who want the whole story, warts and all, will probably love it, just as I did.

One final comment -- while the author goes out of his way to carefully document his sources and appears extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter, when it comes to the actual theme parks, he could use a Disney-saavy assistant to avoid hilariously obvious errors such as "Spacestation Earth," the "web-way peoplemover," and stating that Disneyland opened in 1956 (instead of 1955).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fair and Exposing Look at the Walt Disney World Company November 17, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book a number of months ago and really enjoyed reading it. Although the person who recommended it to me said it was very anti-Disney, I found that Foglesong had a good balance between the views of the different stakeholders. It is certainly an educational book, and would recommend for anyone interested in Walt Disney World history. This is not a book about how wonderful Disney is or how to plan your Walt Disney World be prepared for a bit more than Pixie Dust.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative without an agenda by the author September 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a relatively quick read, but with some good information in it. Recommended for the reader that has interest in "nuts and bolts" Disney, not just the fluff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth is out April 23, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well written and extremely well documented. The book is a must for anyone interested in politics and urban planning. It really opened my eyes!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Needs a current update July 20, 2014
By Beth
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A lot of repetitive details. The early information (1960's, early 70's) was interesting. The book is now about 15 years old, so some of the "current" issues in the book have since been resolved somehow. An update would be a good idea.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this book a lot
I liked this book a lot. It gives the backstory of how WDW started and the Park & Companys relationship with the city of Orlando. I learned a lot that I didn't already know.
Published 2 months ago by Sara Triceratops
3.0 out of 5 stars Well documented but sort of dry for a Disney book
First chapter was best showing the secret buy up of properties that would become WDW. That was interesting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by doc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story of how Disney and Orlando interact with each other.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on the History of Disney
Its hard to find books about the story of the building of Disney World in Florida. This is one of the best I have found.
It is a must read for anyone who loves Disney history.
Published 10 months ago by Seaweed
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly interesting
I read this for a book review for school. It's pretty interesting in some parts, others not so much ( road building). Overall it's a great academic read.
Published 15 months ago by Kaitlyn
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a term paper. Lacks emotion
Reads like a term paper. Lacks emotion. Found myself having to fight through to finish it. Would recommend Project Future in comparison.
Published on March 28, 2013 by David Bergen
3.0 out of 5 stars It's nice, but it's very dense.
I read the whole thing. It took me hours. It was very dense and hard to read. It's like a Bruckner Symphony - it went on forever. There is a cast of a 1,000. Very, very hard read.
Published on May 2, 2011 by F. Thomas Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
What is the politics/relationship between the Disney Co. and the Orlando community?

Find out how community leaders in Orlando persuade the Disney Corp. Read more
Published on October 3, 2008 by Bea Shalla
2.0 out of 5 stars Zzzzzzzzz......
I'll admit, I'm only half way through the book. However, to this point, I barely understood what I've been reading. Read more
Published on August 14, 2008 by D. Baar
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