Disney Is Making a New Foray Into Planned Communities

This isn't Disney's first time working on municipal planning

Rendering of Disney's Cotino residential project.
Rendering of Disney's Cotino residential project.

The layout and design of Disney’s theme parks have made for a useful case study for people engaged in a host of professions, from architecture to UX design. And it’s not shocking to see why — Disney’s parks are designed to appeal to a wide swath of people, with an emphasis on subtle design choices that yield significant results.

What happens, then, if those same principles are applied in a very different setting — a town or neighborhood, for instance? The answer to that question is about to be answered in a very big way. As Bloomberg reported, Disney is expanding its purview to include real estate ventures, under the auspices of Storyliving by Disney. The first community to emerge from this initiative will be located in Rancho Mirage, California. The project has been dubbed “Cotino,” and it’s situated not far from where Walt Disney once lived.

Disney is working with developers DMB Development, who have a history of working on planned communities, on the Rancho Mirage project. According to the announcement, home buyers will have the option to choose among estates, condominiums and single family homes. Part of the project will be set aside for residents over the age of 55, and a mixed-use district is also planned.

The Bloomberg article also notes that Disney Imagineers will be involved in the project.

It’s worth mentioning that this is not Disney’s first attempt at creating a residential community. There’s also the history of Celebration, Florida — a place that was intended to be, as an article at The Guardian described it, “[a] small-town idyll built to the Disney corporation’s lauded high standards.” Disney began selling homes there in 1996, but eventually sold off the town center in 2004.

It’ll be interesting to see to what extent Cotino will resemble Celebration — and to what extent it will take a different approach to residential living.

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