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Celebration, USA: Living in Disney's Brave New Town (Marian Wood Book) [Hardcover]

Douglas Frantz , Catherine Collins
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc; First Edition edition (31 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805055606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805055603
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,445,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A chronicle of the town that Disney built by a former New York Times reporter offers surprising insights into Disney's attempt to create an ideal, and decidedly retro, vision of living in America. 30,000 first printing.

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First Sentence
Our big yellow Ryder truck rumbled and squeaked down the ramp off Interstate 4 twenty miles southwest of Orlando and onto U.S. Highway 192, perhaps the ugliest and most garish stretch of blacktop in America. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Celebration USA is a frank and detailed account of one family's experience of living in Disney's utopian town 'Celebration' located a few miles from Walt Disney World in Flordia. Like early American pioneers Frantz and Collins soon learn that Celebration is not all that Disney promised it would be. Their tale explores all aspects of this 'brave new town' from problems with the quant yet unfinished houses to the controversial teaching methods at the new school. This is a humourous, touching and uplifting story that would be a must-read for anyone contemplating moving to Celebration. Filled with deatiled interviews of the town's new residents it proved delightful reading and insightful detail.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Though full of interesting facts, a bit flat. 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins did their homework. They moved to Celebration, joined the organizations, interviewed the principals, sent their kids to school, hung out with the locals.
However, their quest for objectivity strips the book of any life it could have had. I know these smart and well-travelled reporters had opinions about the neighbors, the lack of intellectual discussions, the maddening pastels, but there is only the barest hint of this. They try so hard to like Celebration you can see their jaws clenched through the smile. I wished I could shake them have them really confide in me.
Although they joined every organization and supposedly made many friends, it was a difficult decision for them to choose to stay more than a year. In carefully worded phrases, they admit it is not for them.
On a technical note, since the two of them wrote the book together, they would say "we did this" and then refer to "Doug and Cathy" in the same paragraph. It was disconcerting and confusing.
Read it if you want to know about Celebration.
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By A Customer
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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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A collection of value contradictions. 15 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Written by left leaning, sniveling reporters. They are critical of Disney's handling of the wetlands, yet the authors bought a house in middle of the wetlands. They snipe about Disney not giving away part of their profit margin to accommodate low income people, yet didn't rent out their "granny flat" to an under privileged person.
As true liberals, the authors see corporations as responsible for everyone's welfare. Most of the actions of the authors in Celebration were to try to force Disney to do something. Their position seems to be that Disney should be more regulated and contribute more. It would be nice at least once to hear them thank Disney. Thank you Disney for your vision. Thank you Disney for risking your capital. Thank you for fighting the political battles to make Celebration possible.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well written, but not too deep 18 Oct 2000
By david rudakewich - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy contribution to the literature of urban planning 10 Oct 1999
By Kelly Monaghan - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only a Mild Celebration 18 Dec 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Connecticut Yankees in Disney's New Town 23 Feb 2005
By Dick - Published on Amazon.com
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.

Ultimately, the book is not as critical of Disney as some might imagine (or hope), but some of the criticisms leveled at the company are simply too programmed to take at face value. Readers looking for interesting anecdotes about life in a planned community will find some morsels of intrigue here, but readers looking for a comprehensive book detailing the development, politics and future of Celebration, Florida are advised to look elsewhere.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An inadequate book on a fascinating topic 19 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins had all the opportunities when they researched Celebration, U.S.A. They bought a house in the town, sent their kids to school, made friends, joined the social circle, even interviewed a few people here and there. You'd think this would make an exceptional book - well researched, deeply felt, rigorously documented. It doesn't. Instead, their book is disjointed, incomplete, and on every page gives the sensation of writers trying to cover for scanty research.
Several of the town's most important early struggles, like the school and its curriculum, or the poor home construction, are discussed in depth. However, the authors fail to provide context and completion for each issue. They never, for example, note the outcome of the battle that could be described as parents v. school, although the outcome certainly occured while they were residents in town. Nor do they discuss in any real detail the local and regional political climate that had such an effect on the school. This sort of thing turns their book into a series of stories with no beginnings and no endings.
They also completely missed many quieter, but just as crucial, events and movements in the town. They failed, for example, to document the Montessori School at all - not its beginnings, which were precedent-setting in Celebration, not its future, nothing. Frantz and Collins failed, too, to reach citizens of Celebration who *weren't* like themselves. There is little dicussion of the single parents, the renters, the gays, the elderly, or the (admittedly limited) ethnic minorities. These omissions create an incredible bias in their book.
Add to this the poor quality of the writing with its distracting conventions, and you have a worthless, random discourse on a truly gripping, relevant topic - the building of a new town by a corporate giant. Despite the fascinating subject, the book cannot hold the attention of the reader for any length of time. If you want to read a decent and interesting book about Celebration, read Andrew Ross's The Celebration Chronicles instead.
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