Disney Announces New Residential Real Estate Business

February 16, 2022, 12:41 PM · The Walt Disney Company today announced its next step in the residential real estate business. "Storyliving by Disney" will be the company's brand for master-planned communities that Disney will develop in locations across the United States.

The first Storyliving by Disney community will be Cotino, in Rancho Mirage in Southern California's Coachella Valley. Created in collaboration with DMB Development, Cotino will include a range of home types - including estates, single family homes, and condominiums - as well as a hotel, shopping, dining, and entertainment, including a lakefront park that the public can access by buying a day pass.

Cotino
Aerial concept view of Cotino. Image courtesy Disney

Disney cast members will operate a community association for Cotino, and a voluntary club membership for residents will offer access to a waterfront clubhouse, club-only beach area, as well as Disney programming, entertainment, classes, seminars, and other activities throughout the year.

Cotino Beach
Concept view of Cotino's lakefront beach club. Image courtesy Disney

"Disney Imagineers are exploring the richness of each local region to inspire the theme of Storyliving by Disney communities," Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Producer Michael Hundgen said. "Distinctively designed indoor and outdoor spaces will offer residents new opportunities to explore, engage and create the next incredible chapter of their story."

At least one section of Cotino will be designated as a retirement community for ages 55 and older, but homes elsewhere in the development will be available for residents of all ages.

Disney's first attempt at getting into residential real estate business was the original Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow that Walt Disney proposed for what becomes the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Although Disney abandoned the proposal after Walt's death, recycling the "Epcot" acronym for the resort's second theme park, the company eventually entered the residential real estate business with Celebration in the 1990s. After Disney sold Celebration, Disney created the more upscale Golden Oak community at the Walt Disney World Resort. [Full disclosure: One of my immediate family members was a sales agent for both Celebration and Golden Oak.] Storyliving by Disney will extend Disney's residential real estate business across the country, as Disney said that it is exploring additional locations around the United States for future developments.

"For nearly 100 years, Disney has shared stories that have touched the hearts and minds of people all around the world," Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro said. "As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of Disney to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to Storyliving. We can’t wait to welcome residents to these beautiful and unique Disney communities where they can live their lives to the fullest."

Update: I offer some first thoughts on Storyliving by Disney in my YouTube post today. Yes, America needs a lot of new housing developments, and maybe the Disney name can help make that happen. But a community of investor-owned vacation homes ain't it.

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Replies (16)

February 16, 2022 at 12:47 PM

this is so grim

February 16, 2022 at 1:33 PM

Wait until Disney starts buying up people's mortgages.

February 16, 2022 at 2:17 PM

I'm thinking Disney needs to stay in their lane.

February 16, 2022 at 2:30 PM

WHOA. For people who wanted to avoid Disney, it'll be coming to a town near you.

Wonder how much of 'Disney' will be splattered over the locations until local residents are fed up?

Time will tell!!

February 16, 2022 at 2:37 PM

Sounds sort of like hell... I hope they build the homes better than the Disney-backed Arvida homes that blew apart in Hurricane Andrew...

February 16, 2022 at 4:45 PM

They are already active on a very large 55+ development in Lake Nona (east Orlando)

February 16, 2022 at 8:16 PM

Now who do I want to see more with egg on their face? Zuckerberg with the Metaverse or Chapek with this?!?, Most definitely a tough call indeed!

February 16, 2022 at 9:03 PM

it’s still the billionaire space cowboys for me, but we’re getting a nice list going

February 16, 2022 at 9:13 PM

My guess? Disney is getting a licensing fee up front from the development partner, a cut of each unit sold, then a maintenance contract once buyers take occupancy. But Disney spends nothing up front beyond labor costs for design, so its risk is basically nil.

February 17, 2022 at 8:21 AM

I really don't understand the point of this. Disney excels at creating environments and attractions to allow people to escape the monotony of regular life. By extending their storytelling and thematic promise to people's homes, doesn't that undermine the purpose of their theme parks, cruise ships, and resorts? If people are surrounded by Disney's fantastical theming in their everyday lives, why would they pay thousands of dollars to go on a similarly themed Disney vacation?

Robert makes a good point in that this venture offers very little direct financial risk for a pretty decent return to license their IP and to give projects/tasks for creative staff to work on, but I just don't see how this benefits the Walt Disney Company in the long term.

February 17, 2022 at 10:48 AM

It's another opportunity for Disney to take people's money on a more day-to-day basis so of course they are going to jump on this. Now, Disney doesn't take nobody's money, people choose to spend their money on Disney. I'm a huge Disney theme park fan as are a lot of folks here but this doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. We'll see how the market is for this and if people decide to spend 850,000 dollars for a Disney "themed" community house when that same house would be 600K in a similar, yet non-Disney community.

I just hope this doesn't negatively affect the theme parks by taking away creative minds from working on their parks in order for these residential things.

February 17, 2022 at 12:11 PM

The meme of Don Draper in a conference room pitching "Disney Prisons" is just hysterically funny.

February 17, 2022 at 12:21 PM

Manny, WDI's HQ move to Florida is taking far more Imagineers from the company than this project will divert from theme park projects. If anything, Storyliving is providing extra work to keep some remaining Imagineers on payroll for a while longer.

February 17, 2022 at 3:04 PM

I’m still holding out hope for Disney: The Flamethrower ©

February 19, 2022 at 5:09 PM

I seriously doubt D would waste their time with just licensing when tons more is to be made selling cheaply built homes at a premium and then financing the mortgage ??

February 20, 2022 at 6:20 PM

I seriously doubt D would waste their time with just licensing when tons more is to be made selling well built homes in well designed neighborhoods at a time when real estate markets are booming.

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