RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Disney is launching a new division to develop entire residential communities, starting with one in the Southern California desert.
The new project, termed Storyliving by Disney, aims to create master-planned neighborhoods “infused with the Company’s special brand of magic.”
The first one will be built in Rancho Mirage, a city near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley. The company says that location is inspired, at least in part, by the fact that Walt Disney once owned a home in the area to spend time with family. Other locations will be announced in the future.
Another advantage of Rancho Mirage: Room to build. Disney’s plans are expansive, at least as they currently stand, with renderings showing tree-lined streets, pools with backyards and ample community recreation areas. The company’s famed “Imagineers” will have a direct role in crafting the amenities and neighborhood characteristics, according to Disney.
Renderings of the first community in Southern California, currently dubbed “Cotino,” show a modern-looking members clubhouse with an art studio-look. Large glass doors and an airy patio open up to a 24-acre artificial lake, where residents are depicted paddle boarding or lounging on the beach. A nearby downtown center would feature open markets, restaurants and small businesses.
Home buyers will have a range of options, from estates to single-family homes and condos. Some communities will be designated for residents 55 and older. The company didn’t release initial price ranges for housing.
Many of the community amenities will be offered via some kind of club membership, as currently proposed.
“Disney cast members trained in the company’s legendary guest service will operate the community association,” the company said in a news release outlining its plans. “Through a club membership, Disney will also provide access to curated experiences, such as wellness programming, entertainment ranging from live performances to cooking classes, philanthropic endeavors, seminars and much more.”
It’s all in the conceptual stages, a fact that’s emphasized by disclaimers on each rendering provided by Disney. Plans on this scale often change significantly over time. But the company says it has already received Specific Plan approval from the local government on major aspects of the development. There is no provided ETA for groundbreaking or opening up to buyers.
Disney says the new development business comes as “more and more fans look for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives.” Considering the already omnipresent theme parks, streaming service, media brands and merchandise that dominate American culture, an all-out Disney neighborhood might just be the logical next frontier.
Though many aspects of the project are new, Storyliving isn’t Disney’s first foray in real estate. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company has sold luxury vacation homes in the large gated community of Golden Oak, Florida for years. In the 1990s, Disney developed another community near Walt Disney World in Florida, though it later largely divested.
You can learn more about the project on Disney’s blog.