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Disney to develop branded “storyliving” communities with shopping, dining

Storyliving by Disney
The first Storyliving by Disney development will be located in Rancho Mirago, Calif.

The Walt Disney Co. is extending its brand into real estate for fans who want to make Disney a bigger part of their lives.

The entertainment giant is launching a new business to develop master-planned residential communities around the country that will tap into Disney’s legendary expertise in storytelling and customer service. The new communities, called Storyliving by Disney, will operate as part of the company’s theme parks division. The developments, which will be open to people of all ages, will be designed to reflect the history and art of their specific locales. 

“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,” stated Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks division.

Trained Disney cast members will operate the community associations. Through a club membership, Disney will provide access to “curated experiences” such as wellness programming, seminars, cooking classes, entertainment and other activities.

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

“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.”

The first Storyliving development, called Cotino, will be located in Rancho Mirago, Calif., not far from Palm Springs. It will feature 1,900 housing units, with single-family homes, “estates” and condominiums, with at least one section dedicated to 55+ residents. The community will surround an approximately 24-acre lagoon, or “grand oasis,” which Disney said will offer “clear turquoise waters” powered by the Crystal Lagoons technology deployed at its resorts.

The development will include a mixed-use district featuring 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.

Disney will create the master-planned communities in partnership with landowners, developers and home builders. (The Cotino project is being developed in collaboration with DMB Development.) Developers and home builders will handle construction and set pricing. Disney will handle marketing and also operate the voluntary club, reported Reuters.

Disney’s previous entries into residential developments include the master-planned town of Celebration, Fla., which opened in 1996. Disney eventually sold most of its ownership in the town, which is located close to Disney World in Orlando.

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