Disney's Utopian Community
The concept of utopian communities is a hot new commodity among major enterprises. The Walt Disney Corporation is currently marketing its own community called Celebration. Disney, known for creating worlds of fantasy through theme parks and movies tackles reality. According to architect Robert A.M. Stern, the idea behind Celebration is to "recapture the idea of a traditional American town, traditional in spirit, but modern in terms of what we know about how people live"(Oilande 1). Also, the town is "structured around the five cornerstones of life in Celebration: community, education, health, technology, and place"(Oilande 2). Celebration uses this concept to create a special utopian vision. Despite contradictions of artificiality, regulation, and price, Celebration is a good utopian vision because it has a sense of community, an outstanding educational system, and a credible health care system.
The notion of a artificial or theme park feel has come up as a possible concern. "The town resembles a movie set with the neat-and-pretty homes like facades"(Oilande 5). Disney is taking a community and making it a fantasy of the lost traditional suburb one would see on "Leave it to Beaver" or "Pleasantville". As one visitor of the new community stated, "the minute you drive into Celebration's property, Disney's visual magic takes hold. White fences reminiscent of Kentucky's Bluegrass Country, surround the property. Upon a closer inspection they prove to be plastic. And from a distance, the preview center looks like a classical mansion. It's not. It's a façade. Behind the mansion door is a pre-fab"(Wilson3). This ideal is created in a conference room at a corporate office somewhere and it is going to have artificial characteristics. Disney is trying to create a community that would normally take years to develop naturally. The community is of a dreamlike place, embodying visions of the American flag, bake sales, and neighborhood gatherings. People will expect to experience a transition as if they were "going to be leaving America and going into this fantasy kingdom, where there is no crime, with only people like me. Celebrations premise is that residents will stroll treelined streets to afternoon matinees, waving to their neighbors on the front porches along the way"(Wilson 2). Despite the beauty of Celebration, this artificial front gives people reservations about living in such a community.
Another disturbing problem found in the construction of Disney's utopian community is that "The Celebration Company will subject each home and lot to a Declaration of Perpetual Covenants, Conditions and Obligations which will reserve to The Celebration Company the right to approve the architectural designs and esthetics of all improvements in Celebration, as well as the uses that can be made of all property within Celebration"(Cottrell 5). Such restrictions like house color and lawn appearance may initially...