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In Celebration, 13-year-old Megan Mumey and her friends know the merchants at the corner store, and the merchants know Megan and her friends. Neighbors stop to chat with 75-year-old Robert Worth as he makes the rounds from the lake to the post office to the bank in his three-wheeler. Folks around town are beginning to notice the handiwork of 48-year-old Peg Owens and her commu-nity garden club. From its Kentucky horse-farm entrance to its Savannah-inspired downtown, this community, now rising on 4,900 acres of swampland south of Orlando, Florida, is the picture of small-town living. But the picture is more image than reality, and it may stay t hat way.

For Celebration is a creation of the Disney Corpora-tion, master of idealized ephemera and landlord of the Magic Kingdom located just across the street. Celebra-tion's neat, orderly world, just outside the company's Florida theme park, is a classic Disney confection: a community established by fiat, architecture lifted from early 20th-century pattern books, and the messy rancor of politics and social conflict banished. It is the Neotradi-tional stepchild of Walt Disney's earlier, fu t urist-inspired vision for an Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. But in Celebration's post-Walt world, the sober town hall has no mayor or city council, and the nostalgic town seal is emblazoned with a corporate copyright. Celebration labors under the burdens of its own conceits and the inherent contradictions that spring from them.