Economic Transformation and Historical Identity: A Case Study of Osceola County, Florida

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Fry, Sarah Ann
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Middle Tennessee State University
Over the past five decades Central Florida has experienced dramatic demographic and economic changes. The catalyst for this change began with the opening of the Walt Disney World theme park. Before this, the area consisted of small towns dependent on agriculture. Once Walt Disney World opened however, the character of Central Florida shifted dramatically. Drawing millions of tourists year-round, the pace of life quickened, and the promise of hospitality industry jobs lured new residents into the area at unprecedented rates. In the midst of all this change, long-time residents struggled to reconcile this emerging identity as a major tourist destination with their pioneer heritage. This is especially pronounced in Osceola County, where the county seat of Kissimmee is one of the fastest growing cities in the state. Examining how the population and economy of Osceola County has changed and how these changes have been incorporated into historical interpretation will demonstrate the difficulties of developing a historical identity in the midst of a fast changing tourist economy.
Central Florida, Local History, Osceola County, FL, Tourism Effects