The Walt Disney Company, which has developed a Land in Anaheim and a World elsewhere in Orlando, Fla., announced today that it is working on another type of built environment: master-planned communities for residential living. “Storyliving by Disney” are neighborhoods designed to offers superfans the opportunity to live amongst each other and incorporate the 99-year-old brand into their lives even more consistently.
The first community of 1,900 housing units, dubbed Cotino, is slated to open in the Coachella Valley — more specifically Rancho Mirage, where Walt Disney himself owned a family vacation home. Residents will be invited to sign up for a club membership, which will offer access to amenities like a waterfront clubhouse, club-only beach area and Disney entertainment and wellness programming (for an additional fee). Home and membership prices, along with a date on when construction will begin, have yet to be announced.
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In 1996, Disney debuted a similar theme town in Celebration, Fla.; the 11-square-mile New Urbanist enclave near Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park was intended to be a suburban utopia, with homes designed by several prominent architects at the time. As recently as 2019, reports of the town’s 105 condos and 4,000 single-family homes suffering from inferior construction and material choices illustrate Celebration as less than idyllic; leaks, mold and lawsuits abound. Maybe Cotino is Disney’s attempt at getting some version of EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) right.
Early renderings of the new community show villa estates, single-family homes and condominiums in the classically Palm Springs, mid-century modern architectural design style. Cotino is also zoned for a potential hotel and various retail and restaurant storefronts; the crown jewel will be a sustainable, 24-acre water oasis using Crystal Lagoons technology featured at Disney resorts, surrounded by a promenade set against the Santa Ana mountains as a backdrop. Naturally, Disney has plans to monetize this oasis by developing part of the acreage into a recreational beach park, which will require visiting members of the public to purchase a day pass to access.
Current Disney Imagineers are in charge of the concepts behind the Storyliving communities (which will expand across several U.S. cities going forward), but the company will not be developing or constructing the communities, nor will it own or sell the homes. For this, Disney will turn to third-party company DMB Development, a Scottsdale-based developer specializing in unique, large-scale communities in the Western U.S., to create Cotino.
In a press release, Michael Hundgen, executive producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, said: “Disney Imagineers are exploring the richness of each local region to inspire the theme of Storyliving by Disney communities.” The developments will draw inspiration from the culture and heritage of each location, with an emphasis on comfort and effective design, much like the brand’s park developments. Additionally, Disney cast members will work amongst residents offering a range of guest services, making these planned home communities sound more and more like staying overnight at one of the theme parks — forever.
Cotino will be open to homeowners of all ages, and also have a section marked exclusively for senior living. “For nearly 100 years, Disney has shared stories that have touched the hearts and minds of people all around the world,” Josh D’Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said in a statement. “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.”