There’s a new frontier for Disney Adults and it’s set to be built in the Coachella Valley in Rancho Mirage, California where Walt Disney himself once lived. According to a chirpy press release, Disney will soon roll out “vibrant new neighborhoods that are infused with our special brand of magic.”
Disney Desert— The venture, called “Storyliving,” will start with a residential community in the heart of the Coachella Valley. It’s not particularly close to Disneyland — about a two-hour drive — but it’ll have shops, a lobby, a lagoon, a cast of Disney characters, and a 24-acre "grand oasis" at the center of the neighborhood. Called “Cotino,” it’ll have 1,900 housing units, “a range of home types” including estates and condos, and a section for residents 55 and over.
“Through a club membership, Disney will also provide access to curated experiences, such as wellness programming; entertainment ranging from live performances to cooking classes; philanthropic endeavors; seminars and much more,” says the release, before concluding with the kind of iconic line: “Like any good story, this is just the beginning!”
Though Disney is branding and marketing the communities, third-party companies will build and sell the homes. According to USA Today, one such company will be DMB Development, which has constructed luxury communities in the U.S. and abroad.
Disney Adults — For Disney enthusiasts, living around a cross-section of people who all enjoyed the same children’s movies may sound like a dream. They cling to a multi-billion dollar corporation with an evangelical zeal. While fandoms exist for all sorts of things, the passion for the media conglomerate is rather unique: There aren’t communities of “Warner Bros adults” or “Columbia Pictures people” or diehard Paramount fans.
This new immersive Disney residential experience, which has a bit of a dystopian, Black Mirror-type vibe, doesn’t do anything to make Disney seem like it’s not a cult. But even if it seems like a sanitized artificial world à la The Truman Show, we can understand why people may want to escape to a fantasy world (even if it’s an insular community where someone sweating under a Mickey Mouse costume makes a measly hourly wage to serve your breakfast).
I’m getting déjà vu — Disney-themed communities are not new. Walt Disney, who died in 1966, had grand visions of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or “EPCOT” — a city of the future complete with an urban city center, schools, neighborhoods, industrial areas, and public transportation. Previously, Disney’s closest attempt at creating EPCOT was Celebration Florida, a master-planned community near Walt Disney World that opened in 1996.