How Walt Disney Invented America

There’s an excellent piece in the March National Geographic that explores how Walt Disney’s vision of Orlando set the mold for the exurbs (“A region lying beyond the suburbs of a city, especially one inhabited principally by wealthy people”) proliferating across America.

A dream that now seems deferred, if not derailed:

Today Orlando is a cauldron of all the communal characteristics Disney sought to control. In its Parramore district, you can stock up on crack, meth, and angel dust. According to the Morgan Quinto research firm, in 2006 it joined such cities as Detroit and St. Louis to become one of the 25 most dangerous cities in America. The result is armed guards at the gates of “communities” where entry is solely by invitation. The Orlando area has one of the highest Pedestrian death rates among the largest metro regions in the country. Four decades after Disney’s fateful flyover, Orlando is a place of enormous vitality, diversity, and disappointed hopes, where no clown in a character costume can tell people how to live, let alone where to park.


The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America: How Walt Disney Changed Everything [National Geographic]