Culture, technology and constructed memory in Disney’s New Town: Techno-nostalgia in historical perspective

Robert H. Kargon, Arthur P. Molella

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 1996, the Walt Disney World Company opened for settlement a new town in Florida and bestowed upon it the up-beat name of ‘Celebration.' The origins and character of this new place are especially interesting because they shed considerable light on ideas of progress, of urban design and of technology’s role in society that are held by important elements of American culture. Celebration began as Walt Disney’s utopian dream, born of the technological optimism of the 1920s and 1930s, the optimism culminating in the representations of the future city at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. This potent vision took concrete form in Disney’s theme parks and, especially, in his plan for a real urban development that was to be EPCOT. This vision drew broadly upon American technical enthusiasms in urban design exemplified in Disney’s older contemporaries such as Henry Ford’s seventy-five mile city, Le Corbusier’s Radial City and City of Towers, or even in Hugo Gernsbach’s Amazing Stories. It is a tradition that persists to this very day in the “futuropolis�? ideas of Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti.1 These exemplars of rational planning married to technical progress were intended, through architecture, spatial configurations, transportation systems and other infrastructures, to shape the behaviors of the inhabitants for the better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCultures of Control
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)0203986369, 9781135287931
ISBN (Print)9058230139, 9789058230133
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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