Features
Celebration

by Richard Kadrey

Like the holographic ghosts in his original park's Haunted Mansion ride or the Goofy substitute for Jacob Marley in his tepid, rodent-heavy retelling of "A Christmas Carol," Walt Disney is able to reach from beyond the grave and alter the face of this world. Around 30 years ago, he had a dream of an experimental community—half-Huck Finn, and half-Tom Swift. A community that would combine his obsession with theme parks and his notions of shaping an American capitalist utopia with his boyhood dreams of the perfect storybook life. Too expensive and technically daunting at the time, the idea was downscaled into the EPCOT Center park in Florida. Now, another variant of Disney's original idea is open for business: Celebration. Near Orlando, the pre-fab, $2.5 billion Disney Company-constructed town will start housing its first full-time residents this July. Like Disney's original idea, Celebration looks to the future by going back to the past.
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"Life as comfortable as a pair of worn-out jeans... Celebration—a place to take you back to a time of innocence," goes a line in the introductory video at Celebration's visitor/sales center.
Located on 4,900 acres of Disney property 30 minutes from downtown Orlando (and five miles south of Disney World), the town will have its own post office, city hall, hospital, school, downtown area, golf course, business park, as well as 4700 acres of greenbelt. It will house up to 20,000 people. Designed like the, well, Disney version of a nineteenth-century American town, Celebration will be a sea of green lawns and front porches. That's the whole ethos of the place. Any idiot with money can build a housing development. Disney aims to build "a community."
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The emphasis in all the sales literature—the videos, pamphlets, mailings, and even the Celebration Chronicle, the town's already-in-business newspaper—is togetherness. Not just with your own family, but with your neighbors. Images of happy children, frolicking at multi-ethnic barbecues, playing baseball, and going to school together, leave no doubt that happiness and a kind of "Andy Hardy" giddiness is what's really for sale at Celebration, starting at $127,000 and going up to $750,000.
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