Disney to develop U.S. residential communities

Storyliving by Disney will create master-planned communities in partnership with landowners, developers and home builders.

Photo: Main Street at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Aug. 30, 2021. (John Raoux / AP

16 February 2022 | Dawn Chmielewski | Reuters | Plus additional links and video

Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) will design U.S. residential communities in deals with property developers, capitalizing on fans’ enthusiasm for the brand beyond its theme park and entertainment businesses.

Disney on Wednesday announced its first development — Cotino, a residential community with 1,900 housing units including single-family homes and condominiums in Southern California’s Rancho Mirage. Shops and a beachfront hotel will ring a 24-acre lagooon. Some neighborhoods will be reserved for residents age 55 and older.

Fans of Disney are passionate about the company’s control of detail and elaborate escapist experiences. In the residential communities, the company aims to create similar magic that it says will expand storytelling to “storyliving.”

Disney park designers will develop the creative concepts for the communities, drawing inspiration from each region, and employees will run a community association that offers entertainment, activities, beach access and Disney programming.

Announcing Storyliving By Disney | New Business To Develop Residential Communities

The owner of Disneyland and Disney World formed a new business unit, Storyliving by Disney, to create the master-planned communities in partnership with landowners, developers and home builders. The Cotino project is with DMB Development.

The effort is reminiscent of Celebration, a master-planned community in Florida founded by Disney in the 1990s and turned over to its residents. More recently, Walt Disney World Resort built a luxury residential community called Golden Oak, a sold-out development with a private clubhouse and an array of amenities, including golfing.

Those earlier resort communities are located close to Walt Disney World. The coming residential developments will have no such theme park connection and will be designed to reflect the history and art of the places where they’re located, said a Disney spokesperson.

“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,” Disney parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a statement Wednesday.

A Disney spokesperson declined to say how much capital the entertainment giant plans to invest in the residential initiative.

Developers and home builders will handle construction and set pricing. Disney will handle marketing and also operate the voluntary club.

Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski; additional reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Disney Launches New Business to Develop Residential Communities

As more and more fans look for new ways to make Disney a bigger part of their lives, The Walt Disney Company today announced plans to introduce Storyliving by Disney, vibrant new neighborhoods that are infused with the Company’s special brand of magic.

These master-planned communities are intended to inspire residents to foster new friendships, pursue their interests and write the next exciting chapter in their lives—all while enjoying the attention to detail, unique amenities and special touches that are Disney hallmarks.

The first Storyliving by Disney community will be built in Rancho Mirage, in California’s Coachella Valley—a location where Walt Disney himself owned a home and would spend leisure time with his family. Additional locations in the U.S. are under exploration for future development.

“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, 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.”

At each location, including some neighborhoods for residents ages 55+, Disney cast members trained in the company’s legendary guest service will operate the community association. 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.

Disney Imagineers will play a key role in developing the creative concept for the communities, working in conjunction with respected developers and homebuilders.

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

Where better to plant the first stake in the ground for a Storyliving by Disney community than an area that once felt the footsteps of Walt himself? Cotino, a Storyliving by Disney community, will be built in the heart of the Greater Palm Springs area. The brilliant mountain-ringed valley was once a rejuvenating retreat for Walt and Lillian Disney. Architecture and amenities of this Storyliving by Disney community will reflect the history and present-day inspiration of the rich valley culture.

Cotino is being developed in collaboration with DMB Development, which is highly regarded for its development of large-scale planned communities in the U.S. “Cotino represents the creativity and operational excellence of Disney combined with the extensive community development expertise of DMB Development,” said Brent Herrington, the company’s CEO. “We are delighted to collaborate with Disney in this groundbreaking new concept.”

Cotino will welcome homeowners of all ages and will include at least one section expressly for 55+ residents. Home buyers will have a range of home types to choose from, including estates, single family homes and condominiums.

Per the Specific Plan approval for the development, the community is expected to surround an approximately 24-acre grand oasis featuring clear turquoise waters with Crystal Lagoons® technology, enabling crystalline lagoons of any size to be built sustainably, with low water consumption and using a minimum amount of additives and energy. A voluntary club membership will offer access to a waterfront clubhouse, a club-only beach area and recreational water activities, as well as Disney programming, entertainment and activities throughout the year.

Cotino also has Specific Plan approval for a vibrant mixed-use district featuring a range of shopping, dining and entertainment, a beachfront hotel and a professionally managed beach park with recreational water activities that can be accessed by the public through the purchase of a day pass.

To receive news and updates or to access additional information, visit www.storylivingbydisney.com.


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