The Walt Disney Company has recently ventured beyond its traditional entertainment avenues, extending its magic into real estate by creating exclusive residential communities under the Storyliving by Disney brand.
The move has sparked debates on platforms like Reddit, where some users question whether Disney “is wasting money” on these ventures. However, a closer look reveals a strategic approach that parallels Disney’s successful ventures, such as Tokyo Disney Resort.
Storyliving by Disney
The Storyliving communities, starting with Cotino in Rancho Mirage, California, and the recently announced Asteria in Pittsboro, North Carolina, represent Disney’s foray into the world of master-planned living.
The key distinction lies in Disney’s role. It’s not the developer, builder, or seller of the homes. Instead, it operates under the Disney Living Development, Inc. subsidiary, collaborating with third-party developers and builders.
This licensing agreement model mirrors Disney’s approach in Tokyo Disney Resort, where it licenses its brand to Oriental Land Company, and the park is constructed, owned, and operated by the latter. Like in Tokyo, Disney’s Storyliving communities allow the company to extend its brand reach without bearing the full financial burden of construction or property sales.
Cotino, for instance, is a collaboration with DMB Development LLC, and Asteria’s development is likely to follow a similar pattern. The communities feature Disney Imagineering, ensuring a touch of magic in the planning and design, and are staffed by Disney cast members, adding a unique Disney flair to the resident experience.
The choice of locations for these communities, from sunny Southern California to the vibrant Carolinas, reflects Disney’s understanding of diverse markets. The names, like Cotino, derived from the Smoketree and Asteria in North Carolina, reveal a thoughtful nod to local elements and Disney history.
Waste of Money?
A Reddit thread on the r/disneyparks subreddit recently debated if these exclusive communities may be a misallocation of resources. However, like Tokyo Disney Resort’s success, Disney’s strategy seems to leverage its brand power and expertise in creating immersive experiences.
Disney minimizes financial risk by licensing its brand and collaborating with experienced developers while expanding its influence in the real estate market.
Sales for homes in Cotino are already underway, with the first homes completed in 2024. For Asteria, sales are expected to commence by 2027. Disney adults have taken a keen interest in the properties. While the homes are labeled “affordable,” they are exceedingly expensive.
Some skeptics may view Disney’s entry into exclusive residential communities as a financial gamble. However, the company’s strategic licensing model and partnership with established developers present a more nuanced picture.
Nevertheless, only time will tell if these Storyliving communities stand among Disney’s successful ventures.