But the chocolate box scene is not what it seems. The ice is fake, the snow is made of soapy foam, the picket fence is PVC and the carols are piped from speakers hidden under palm trees. Changing: The town of Celebration is no longer the idyll its creator conceived.
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Since then, the once tiny town has sprawled to cover 4, acres, boasting a population of 11, including several hundred British expats. Odd reality: The town has been likened to the film The Stepford Wives, where robotic housewives are all the same. Their home is like a film set, a conscious attempt to recreate a small-town America of a safer, friendlier age. Celebration earned comparisons to the creepy Connecticut idyll in the thriller The Stepford Wives, in which the identically docile wives are robots created by their husbands.
But the locals just smiled at the jibes, a small price to pay, they said, for living in a place where you could leave your front door unlocked, where children could play freely in the streets, and where the most serious crime was a stolen bicycle or two.
Matteo Giovanditto, a year-old former teacher, who lived alone with his Chihuahua, was found bludgeoned to death with an axe in his home, just a block away from the ice rink. David-Israel Murillo, a homeless man who has been charged with the murder, told reporters he lashed out after the victim tried to have sex with him.
After a hour stand-off with police, year-old Craig Foushee, a former airline pilot who was deeply depressed following his divorce, loss of home and the failure of his security business, shot himself. His wife had recently accused him of assault.
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The Christmas red ribbons festooning every other bush in Celebration were ed by yellow police tap. They have to go back towhen a couple were tied up and held at gunpoint in their home, to produce the last serious incident. Echo: The town is reminiscent of the fictitious town in the Jim Carrey film The Truman Show, in which the lead character's entire life was fake. The war memorial may have been vandalised in the summer but the expensive teak rocking chairs are still left out at night around the lake.
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Celebration, one of the most expensive towns in central Florida, has been badly hit by the recession. Property prices have fallen by 60 per cent in four years, and Celebration homes have, reportedly, been repossessed by lenders. A poorer, more transient population has moved in, prompting many to complain they no longer know who is living next door. He goes through some of the Disney edicts.
No two ading houses can look alike builders can choose between a handful of permitted house desno home can have more than two cars on the street, the blinds or curtains have to be white on the outside. He has been a victim of it twice — most recently when he returned home from a trip back to Britain last week to find his second wife, Kate, had left him just before their first wedding anniversary. Mr Longley, 45, admitted that drinking was probably a factor in Celebration Separation, but so was boredom.
We were wrong: 'People thought that, with the Disney name, this town was recession proof,' says one resident. He and his friends — Gavin Todd and John Harris, both divorced expats — paint a mixed picture of Celebration life. Linda Santry, 45, a local restaurant owner moved here with her young son in Like others, she was keen to play down its idyllic pretensions. The Celebration experience has certainly not deterred Disney from trying it again. Whether, this time around, the guards and walls can manage to keep out the often savage social problems of the 21st century is another matter altogether.
The dark heart of Disney's dream town: Celebration has wife-swapping, suicide, vandals The homeless man who has been charged with the murder told reporters he lashed out after the victim - a local teacher - tried to have sex with him. Disney rules say no two ading houses can look alike, no home can have more than two cars on the street, the curtains have to be white on the outside and even the compost for plants is specified.
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