Disney is getting into the real estate business, will develop residential communities

Disney Cotino clubhouse
A rendering of the “member clubhouse” at Disney’s planned Cotino development.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Co.

The Magic Kingdom is building some new hamlets.

Disney has launched a new business that puts the entertainment giant in the thick of the red-hot real estate market, developing residential communities for its most avid fans. Storyliving by Disney will create master-planned neighborhoods designed by the company’s Imagineers.

The first will be built in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where Walt Disney himself once owned a home.

Some of the locations will be targeted toward older fans, focusing on residents age 55 and up, but not all. (Cotino, the name of the first Disney community, will be open to people of all ages but will have at least one section for seniors.) The communities will be designed for residents to make new friends and pursue new interests while being surrounded by Disney-centric amenities, the company says.

“For nearly 100 years, Disney has shared stories that have touched the hearts and minds of people all around the world,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences, and products. “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.”

Disney, which recently dropped the mask mandate in its theme parks, is working with DMB Development, a Scottsdale-based developer, to create the first facility.

The Rancho Mirage neighborhood will cover roughly 24 acres and include lagoons as well as Disney programming, entertainment, and activities throughout the year. The neighborhood will also offer shopping, dining, and a beachfront hotel. The company is already scouting additional locations in the U.S. for future development.

Residents will have the opportunity to join an on-site club, giving them access to perks including a waterfront clubhouse, club-only beach area, and water activities.

Creating a planned community was one of Walt Disney’s dreams. Epcot, in fact, was originally designed to be a utopian city. (The word “Epcot” is short for experimental prototype community of tomorrow.) Conceived as a “living blueprint” of the future, the city he hoped to make would be a “planned environment demonstrating to the world what American communities can accomplish through proper control of planning and design.”

After Disney’s death, the company’s board decided those plans were much too ambitious and eventually opted to build a theme park instead.

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