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  • Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

    Story at http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/n...re4/index.html

    Walt Disney's utopian dream forever changed Orlando, Florida, and laid the blueprint for the new American metropolis.
    Everything happening to America today is happening here, and it's far removed from the cookie-cutter suburbanization of life a generation ago. The Orlando region has become Exhibit A for the ascendant power of our cities' exurbs: blobby coalescences of look-alike, overnight, amoeba-like concentrations of population far from city centers. These huge, sprawling communities are where more and more Americans choose to be, the place where job growth is fastest, home building is briskest, and malls and megachurches are multiplying as newcomers keep on coming. Who are all these people? They're you, they're me, and increasingly, they are nothing like the blue-eyed "Dick and Jane" of mythical suburban America.

    Orlando's explosion is visible in every shopping mall and traffic jam. You can also see it from outer space. When Earth satellites were first launched, Florida photographed at night looked like two l's standing side by side: One long string of lights ran down the Atlantic side of the peninsula; another ran along the Gulf of Mexico side. In between was darkness. Today the two parallel l's have become a lopsided H. Central Florida glows as though a phosphorescent creature from outer space has landed there and started reproducing. It gobbles up existing communities even as it transforms scrub and swamp into a characterless conurbation of congested freeways and parking lots. All of this is "Orlando," the brand name for this region of two million residents.

    When people tell the story of Orlando's stunning transformation from swamp and sinkhole to 21st-century metropolis, they begin, inevitably, with the man and the mouse. The mouse is Mickey, the man Walt Disney. If it weren't for Disney, the local saying goes, the Orlando region would be called Ocala, a rival town up the road. Disney first flew over central Florida in an airplane chartered under an alias to keep his mission secret. It was the fateful day of November 22, 1963. The Kennedy assassination would mark America forever. So would the decision Walt Disney made that day to turn an inland Florida agricultural center into an epicenter of world tourism.

    Orlando was the county seat of Orange County, but it wasn't citrus groves that prompted Disney's secret aerial reconnaissance. During his flyover, he focused on a wasteland southwest of Orlando where alligators outnumbered people. Porous limestone underlay the vegetal muck. What passed for dry land was speckled with shallow, brown-watered catchments, some the size of station wagons, others the size of suburbs. "That's it," Disney proclaimed, pointing down to the future site of what he dreamed of creating in this Florida wilderness: Epcot, America's Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

    Over the next two years, with the collusion of Orlando's top leaders, Disney secretly acquired more than 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares). People were glad to sell dirt cheap. This sludgy terrain was useless for agriculture. It was far from Florida's beaches. It was hot and muggy most of the year, yet it got so cold during central Florida's brief winters that deep freezes periodically killed the citrus crop.

    Who would want to vacation in such a place? Disney was certain most Americans would, once he worked his marketing magic on them. By the 1960s, all over America, suburbs were replacing old neighborhoods. Malls were driving Main Street out of business. There was hardly a new ranch home or split-level that didn't have a TV antenna on the roof. Disney realized that in the coming decades shows like The Mickey Mouse ClubFortune 500 company, mass-markets theme foods. It standardizes the output of Red Lobsters and Olive Gardens everywhere.

    All over Orlando you see forces at work that are changing America from Fairbanks to Little Rock. This, truly, is a 21st-century paradigm: It is growth built on consumption, not production; a society founded not on natural resources, but upon the dissipation of capital accumulated elsewhere; a place of infinite possibilities, somehow held together, to the extent it is held together at all, by a shared recognition of highway signs, brand names, TV shows, and personalities, rather than any shared history. Nowhere else is the juxtaposition of what America actually is and the conventional idea of what America should be more vivid and revealing.

    Welcome to the theme-park nation.

    "I fell in love with the sense of potential," says Rick Tesch, one of modern Orlando's boosters. "I saw Orlando as a great place to be, globally." Tesch could be talking about franchising car rental agencies. Instead, he is talking about religion. In the 1980s, Orlando's civic elite had decided it could be a leader in faith as well as theme parks. For Tesch, a devout man working for the Orlando Economic Development Commission at the time, the opportunity to lure religious organizations to the Orlando area was a privilege as well as a challenge.

    One prime target was Bill Bright, the late founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ. Like Disney, Bright had started out in southern California; his spiritual enterprise, like Disney's entertainment enterprise, soon needed more growing space. Tesch set out to prove that Orlando was just the place for the Campus Crusade to put down roots. Orlando's Hometown U.S.A. persona was a draw. So was the fact that, in religion as in other fields, Orlando was on the cusp of mighty changes in America. Originally a southern prong of the Bible Belt, Orlando was morphing into a stronghold of Middle American spiritual as well as cultural values, a result of massive migration out of the central United States into central Florida.

    God wants me to come here, Bright is reported to have said after an exploratory visit. So did the Orlando Economic Development Commission. Working with civic leaders and private donors, it helped broker a deal in which the Campus Crusade for Christ, in exchange for establishing its new World Center for Discipleship and Evangelism in Orlando, was given 165 acres (67 hectares) of land, for free. The equivalent of Disney's Reedy Creek deal, it hastened Orlando's transformation into an important nexus of religious enterprise. Today dozens of megachurches and religious organizations, many with multimillion-dollar budgets, are located in the area.

    The megachurch is the culmination, at least so far, of the integration of religious practice into the freeway-driven, market-savvy, franchise form of American life. The emergence of Orlando's largest megachurch, the First Baptist Church, from a small congregation into a powerful, wealthy organization, parallels Orlando's own transformation. The turning point came, as in many Orlando stories, when a sense of mission intersected with a real estate opportunity.

    In the early 1980s, First Baptist's pastor, Jim Henry, believed the church should get out of Orlando's downtown. He had arrived in 1977 from rural Mississippi. "I felt this town was going to take off. It had good connectedness: spiritual, business, political connectedness," he says. He foresaw that the old downtown would no longer be the epicenter of Orlando. At his instigation, the church formed a search committee. "I told the people looking for land, 'Look 150 years ahead.' I wanted us to move to where the new center of Orlando was going to be," he says.

    When the group found a parcel of 160 acres (65 hectares) located near the intersection of two freeways, offering access to both Disney World and the airport, Henry knew First Baptist had found its promised land. Today the church offers the same assemblage of green space, ample parking, and low-slung buildings you find in Orlando's better commercial parks and residential developments. Its growth has come from customizing its services to the needs of a community that craves a sense of connectedness. It offers parenting workshops, game rooms for teenagers, and support groups for divorced people. "We've done what Wal-Mart and football have," Henry says. "We've broken down the idea that 'big is bad.' "

    His church's physical transformation has been accompanied by a philosophical change. "We are not here to dictate our faith," says Henry, a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was one of the movers behind the Southern Baptist decision to issue a formal apology to African Americans for the convention's past support of slavery and segregation. Henry also opposed the Southern Baptist boycott, now lifted, of Disney World because of its toleration of openly homosexual visitors.

    It's been a revealing journey, from a small Mississippi congregation to an Orlando megachurch that is not only bigger, but more diverse than seemed imaginable. In the process, Henry, who's now retired as pastor, has become an authority on megachurch growth management. His book Dangerous IntersectionsOn The RoadThe Dharma Bums When you wish upon a star
    Makes no difference who you are
    Anything your heart desires
    Will come to you
    Growing older is manditory
    Growing up is however, optional

  • #2
    Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

    Thanks for the article!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

      holy cow it's long.

      i need to get a coffee to read it.
      šoš Sometimes Patrick, sometimes Karen.
      We'll let you decided who types what šoš

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

        What is quoted is not even the entire article. You must click on the line to get the entire article from the beginning.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

          Is this in a recent issue? Or can it only be found on the web?
          With great pride: Disney Store Cast Member August 2011-Present

          D23 Charter Member - 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

          WDW Trips: June 2012, 2010, 2008, 2007, 1997, 1996, 1994

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          • #6
            Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

            Originally posted by FantasticDuck View Post
            Is this in a recent issue? Or can it only be found on the web?
            I'm guessing it's in their March 2007 issue:

            Orlando Beyond Disney
            MARCH 2007
            BTW...there are associated links on the left of the page to pictures and some other stuff.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

              Originally posted by NickCharles View Post
              What is quoted is not even the entire article. You must click on the line to get the entire article from the beginning.
              Yes, that's usually how news is posted.

              That is a nice article. Thanks for sharing it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

                Awesome article. Thanks for sharing!
                "First of all I would like to make one thing perfectly clear.
                I never explain anything." Mary Poppins
                http://www.flickr.com/photos/26132873@N00/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

                  Great article.
                  Summarization: The state of Florida and the city of Orlando either dislike or are thankful of Walt's vision of the future.
                  sigpic


                  Originally posted by Phonedave
                  Well, if your parents can't teach you, maybe you can learn from a taser.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Article about Disney and DisneyWorld in National Geographic

                    Originally posted by OogieBoogie View Post
                    ok.. so how would u sum up this article?
                    EDIT: nvm
                    ADD ME.[:


                    WHAT I'VE LEARNED FROM MICECHAT...
                    1. IF YOU APPRECIATE SOMETHING THAT ISN'T THE MAJORITY OPINION, YOU'RE NOT WANTED HERE.
                    2. IF THERE'S CHIPPED PAINT IN THE QUEUE FOR A LINE, EXPECT SOMEONE TO WRITE OUT A BIG STORY BASHING IT. WOOHOO.
                    3. IF YOU'RE UNDER THE AGE OF 24, YOU'RE AN 'EISNER BRAT.'
                    4. PEOPLE WHO ARE DEEMED AS 'MODERATORS' AND OTHER ADMINISTRATION ARE MORE IMPORTANT DIETIES THAN JESUS CHRIST.
                    5. YOU CAN EXCPECT TO BE BADLY REPPED IF YOU TRY AND MAKE A SERIOUS POINT.
                    6. YOU ARENT TAKEN SERIOUS IF YOU'RE UNDER THE AGE OF 16.
                    7. AS AN ADD-ON TO #6, YOU SHOULD BE TREATED AS A SUBORDINATEIF YOU ARE IN A THEME PARK WAITING 30 MINUTES IN LINE FOR A DRINK WHILE SOMEONE HAS TO RECOUNT PIZZAS.
                    8. "Disney may not care to hear your comments, but we do." WTFFF??? THIS ISN'T A DISNEY FAN FORUM, IT'S A DISNETY BASHING SITE.
                    9. CERTAIN PEOPLE OVER ANALYZE A SIMPLE THREAD AND CONSIDER IT TO BE A CONTRACT FULL OF LOOPHOLES THAT HE/SHE CAN GET AROUND.
                    AND FINALLY...
                    10. PROLONGED USE OF THIS SITE CAN CAUSE AN EXTREME HATE OF DISNEY AND ALL DISNEY RELATED THINGS.

                    M-U-H Muhfukka.
                    [:

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