It’s absolutely heartbreaking to leave Disney World after your vacation. That feeling when you exit the park for the last time on that trip and then pack up your suitcase and board the plane home…it’s not fun. So we know we’re not the only ones who dream about living in Disney World all the time!
Although you can’t live in the Cinderella Castle, Disney actually has built a few different communities where people really can live. And they’re working on building even MORE residential communities right now! In fact, they recently broke ground on the NEW Cotino community! But surely living in a Disney-owned neighborhood doesn’t come cheap, right? So exactly how much could it cost to live in Cotino (a Storyliving by Disney community)? We did some research, and we’ve got a pretty good guess.
Disney announced that they are building new master-planned communities in several different places in the country. This project is called Storyliving by Disney. The first of these new communities is called Cotino, and it’s going to be built in Rancho Mirage, California. Disney broke ground on this development on April 26th of this year, although certain aspects of the construction were already underway.
According to Disney’s website, Cotino will have “a range of home types to choose from, including condominiums and single-family homes.” There will be a neighborhood designed specifically for adults ages 55 and up. The concept of this kind of development is to mix up different kinds of housing and commercial locations in order to create a stronger, more connected sense of community.
We’ve seen some concept art for Cotino, and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful place to live. There are all kinds of amenities and special perks promised to those who will call this place home. But Disney hasn’t released many specifics about the COST to live in this community. We’re assuming the price will be high (a Disney-owned master-planned community is bound to be expensive), but exactly how high are we talking?
To get an idea of the potential price, we’re taking a look first at some previous and existing Disney-owned communities. Then, we’ll examine some other master-planned communities in America as well as current home prices in Rancho Mirage specifically. With all of these factors, we should be able to get a good idea of the prices we might see on the upcoming Cotino homes.
A Look at Disney’s Existing Communities
Golden Oak is a neighborhood owned by Disney that is actually located inside Disney World (it’s not far from the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort). It’s a quick 10-minute drive to Magic Kingdom from this community, which was first announced in 2010.
The first homes were sold in 2010 as well, and they did NOT come cheap. Currently, the starting price for homes in Golden Oak is around $2 million, according to Florida Today. And those homes can actually cost up to at least $16 million, according to our research on various real estate sites!
But the home itself isn’t the only cost to live in this community. Brochures from 2021 show that there’s a required annual club membership that costs $19,000 per year. When grouped with HOA fees and maintenance fees, the annual charges can cost between $26,000 and $30,000 total per year, depending on which neighborhood you live in within the community (CNET).
Granted, there are a lot of perks that come with living in Golden Oak. Residents here can reserve tickets for special events in Disney World and schedule private VIP tours in the parks. Cast Members will help them book dining reservations, spa treatments, golf tee times, and more for their visits to the parks and resorts. And Cast Members will also provide services for in-home dinners and parties, even helping out with holiday decorations.
The community provides residents with transportation to the parks; access to DVC lounges; and discounts on shopping, dining, and tickets. There are several pools and fitness centers, a few different restaurants, and other concierge services. Landscaping is taken care of, and internet services are also provided. In short, Golden Oak is a very luxurious place to live.
Is this what we can expect at Cotino? …Not exactly. For one thing, Cotino isn’t located within a Disney World Resort. The closest Disney park is Disneyland, which is a 2-hour drive away. And while Golden Oak is essentially a neighborhood of mansions, Cotino will have a variety of housing styles, including condos.
So while Golden Oak is a good example of a successful Disney community, a closer comparison to the new planned communities might be Disney’s “failed” New Urbanist project, Celebration.
Celebration is a New Urbanist-style community that Disney founded in 1996. The community includes various styles of homes (including single-family homes and condos), several houses of worship, 2 grade schools, a branch of a university, a public library, and all kinds of shops, hotels, and businesses.
These different elements are all linked by miles of walking trails and boardwalks, and there are over 40 public parks in the area as well. In short, this isn’t an exclusive neighborhood of luxurious mansions. It was meant to be more of a community where people lived their normal lives rather than a series of fancy vacation homes.
According to US Census data, about 8,540 residents lived in Celebration in 2017, and they reported a median yearly income of $83,228. The median property value in this neighborhood was $401,600 (ClickOrlando).
Clearly, Celebration is much more affordable than Golden Oak. But this community could also be considered a “failure” by Disney since the company sold Celebration to a private equity firm in 2004. Several issues within the community may have prompted this change, or it’s possible that Disney simply wasn’t making the return on investment that they expected from the project.
Celebration sounds much more like the concept for Cotino, with a variety of residential areas mixed in with businesses, restaurants, and other community essentials. But if Celebration can be considered one of Disney’s “failures,” why are they trying again with Cotino?
How Storyliving by Disney Communities Will Be Different
It seems like Disney is jumping all-in with the New Urbanism trend, despite the issues at Celebration. But the Storyliving by Disney communities could be different from anything we’ve seen from Disney before.
We need to note here that there’s nothing very “new” about New Urbanism, although the concept is fairly trendy among urban planners right now. It focuses on building walkable, pedestrian-friendly communities with a variety of residential and commercial locations mixed together in a neighborhood. Essentially, people want to live in places with lots of amenities and easily accessible community areas without the perceived danger or potential dirtiness of big cities.
Many successful New Urbanist communities exist in the US right now, with some of the earliest prototypes for this model being built in the 1980s, though the phrase “New Urbanism” wasn’t coined until 1991 (according to the Congress for New Urbanism). So Disney isn’t really doing anything groundbreakingly new with Storyliving by Disney neighborhoods. They’re just putting their spin on a normal New Urbanist community.
But that’s what Celebration was meant to do, right? So how will Cotino be different? First of all, Celebration was built towards the beginning of the concept of New Urbanism. In the 1990s (when Celebration was built), the concept was still very new, and not many communities had utilized it yet. Now, Disney has the benefit of a few decades of research on the subject, as well as many more models to examine in their creation of the new community.
The company that will be working with Disney on this project — DMB Development — also has several other successful New Urbanist neighborhoods, which can help guide the developers as they plan for this new project.
In addition, Celebration was actively trying to create a different time period. That can be part of the general New Urbanism philosophy (returning to a time of stronger local communities rather than sprawling suburbs and dense cities), but now we’ve seen from other examples that these neighborhoods can still be distinctly modern. Trying to bring back a sentimental bygone era may have hurt Celebration because the illusion of perfection is bound to be broken at some point.
With the first serious issues within Celebration (such as reported murders in the area), the illusion was broken, which tugged at the foundation of the community. In contrast, Cotino (Disney’s new community) seems to be more straightforward as a normal, liveable neighborhood rather than a recreation of the past or another Disney park.
In short, Cotino is different because there is a lot more research available now about New Urbanism and what it takes to make the concept successful, and this new community isn’t trying to become something unattainable or create an illusion.
Home Prices in Other New Urbanist Communities
We’ve taken a look at communities built by Disney, but another indication of the potential price could be the prices for homes in New Urbanist communities other than those developed by Disney. The prices of course vary depending on location and how new the developments are, but we found some similar areas that could give us a good idea.
DMB Development (the third-party business working with Disney to build and help manage Cotino) has several other communities both in and out of California. One of these is DC Ranch, located in Scottsdale Arizona. This location is not affiliated with Disney at all, but it does have a variety of home styles, similar to what we expect to see in Cotino.
At this location, we found that most houses cost more than $1 million. There were some smaller houses available in the community that started at around $700,000, but we only saw 2 listings for homes that cost under a million dollars. The upper range for home prices was about $5 million.
Another DMB Development community is Silverleaf, also located in Arizona. This one had a higher range, with most homes beginning at $3 million and several estates priced at $12 million and above.
At Laderna Ranch, a DMB Development community has homes beginning at around $700,000, with most falling between that and $2 million. This neighborhood has some condos as well, which were generally just under $700,000.
Looking beyond DMB Development, we found a community in California called Playa Vista, which had apartments to rent for between $3,500 and $5,000 per month. This community generally had lower prices than what we saw for the DMB Development ones, so it may not be quite as good an indication of the potential prices for Cotino. Playa Vista was, however, located fairly close to Rancho Mirage, so it may be a better indicator for real estate prices in the area.
Even in areas that aren’t known for high real estate prices, the cost for most homes in New Urbanist neighborhoods is usually around $800,000 and higher, while townhomes and condos generally start at around $300,000.
We found this to be true in another successful New Urbanist community called Norton Commons, located in Kentucky (Garrets Reality).
In general, prices for New Urbanist neighborhoods are higher than the cost of homes in other areas. Prices in other communities can give us an idea of what homes in Cotino might cost, so let’s combine all of our research and look at the big picture.
So How Much Could It Cost to Live in Cotino?
The $1 million question (if not more) is how much it will really cost to live in Cotino. Based on prices at other New Urbanist communities, we’re estimating that single-family homes could cost between $800,000 and $3 million, depending on size and location within the community. Most homes will probably in the higher range, as we saw in other DMB Developments.
Cotino will include other kinds of homes too, like condos and potentially townhouses as well. These could cost much less than single-family homes, although we did see condos for over $600,000 in some DMB communities. Our estimate for these smaller residences would be between $500,000 and $800,000.
Our estimates also took into account the real estate market in Rancho Mirage. We checked Zillow (an online real estate tool) for houses in the Rancho Mirage area (not in Cotino itself), and most homes cost more than $700,000. Many were at least $1 million. With that in mind, it’s very possible that the homes in Cotino will be even more expensive than our current estimate since New Urbanist communities tend to have significantly higher prices than other neighborhoods.
The cost of a home may not be the only expense for those looking to live in Cotino. Remember that Golden Oak had all kinds of other fees and membership requirements, which amounted to about $26,000 per year. We’re not expecting the same cost at Cotino, since this new community isn’t a neighborhood of vacation mansions located inside Disney World. But we do know that there will be “a voluntary club membership” available at Cotino.
Specifically, Disney said the membership “offers access to a waterfront clubhouse, a club-only beach area and recreational water activities, as well as Disney entertainment and activities throughout the year at an additional fee. Club Membership, programming, and access and use of future proposed amenities and offerings, will require payment of dues and/or fees and be subject to additional terms and conditions, which will be set by the owner of the club.” They did not mention what the fee would be, but it seems like it’ll cost extra if you want to really take advantage of all that Cotino has to offer.
Something Else to Consider
Another important thing to note about the new community Cotino is that Disney is involved in the development, but they’re not going at it alone. On the website, it specifically notes that “Disney is not the developer of Cotino™, a Storyliving by Disney community or the builder or seller of homes within Storyliving by Disney communities; third-parties developing and building are independently owned and operated.”
One of the third-party developers that will be heavily involved in Cotino’s development is DMB Development, which (as we mentioned before) already manages several successful New Urbanist communities.
Cotino will, however, be managed by Disney Cast Members, which is why Disney says that residents can expect a high-end level of service.
In addition, Walt Disney Imagineers are working together with DMB Development to design and plan the community, bringing the same level of detail to this neighborhood that you can find at the Disney parks. It’s meant to be a Disney-quality community rather than a theme park experience.
Overall, we’re standing by our estimate of $800,000 to $3 million for single-family homes and around $500,000 to $800,000 for townhouses or condos. Based on real estate prices in the area and other similar developments, these prices seem about on par with the current trends! And there will likely be other required fees, in addition to the optional club membership already announced. Disney has not yet announced any actual prices for this community, and we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we hear the actual cost. And with the ever changing housing market, we could, of course, see a shift in housing prices as a whole before pricing is finalized. We will continue to monitor this community and pricing and will update you if anything shifts.
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How much do you think it will cost to live in Disney’s Cotino community? Let us know in the comments.