When news breaks about Disney building something, it’s generally safe to assume it’s a theme park attraction, hotel, or even a cruise ship. However, it looks like Disney is branching out its business model in a big way, and is investing in real estate in strategic locations around the country.
The first project as part of Disney’s new “Storyliving” project, Cotino, was announced in 2022 and will bring Disney-branded multi-million dollar homes to Palm Springs, California beginning in 2024. Though this project is ambitious, Disney is only building on just over 600 acres, and inventory will be extremely limited. However, now Disney has announced another real estate project, this time in North Carolina, and it is going to be a LOT bigger…
Introducing Asteria, the next Storyliving by Disney community

Image: DisneyConstruction is set to begin soon on the second Storyliving by Disney community, Asteria, which will be built across 1,500 acres near the Raleigh Durham area in North Carolina. This massive new project will feature over 4,000 units that will include both single and multi-family homes as well as a 55+ community. Future residents of this billion-dollar project will get to experience “the spirit of discovery” in this area as it’s “designed to encourage exploration of the region’s natural beauty and spark life-long learning.” In addition, residents will have access to luxury amenities like a wellness and recreation center, restaurant, sporting areas, and swimming pools.
In addition, there will be a community center that will feature Disney-centric programming for residents, which may include dinners inspired by Disney films, Disney art lessons and other Disney-themed enrichment activities.
Why is Disney trying again with real estate?

Image: DisneyLongtime Disney fans may remember that this isn’t the company’s first foray into the world of real estate, as the company founded the town of Celebration in the mid-1990s. This master-planned community just outside Walt Disney World officially opened in 1996, and was designed and operated by Disney. However, in 2004 the town was sold to a private investment firm, with Disney walking away from the project after only 8 years. 
Disney tried again in 2010 with Golden Oak, a residential community that was actually built within the Walt Disney World Resort. Golden Oak was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Disney Signature Experiences, which is under the theme park division of the company.
Residents of this ultra-luxury neighborhood enjoy incredible amenities, including free theme park tickets, private shuttles to and from the parks, and access to three on-property restaurants that are reserved only for Golden Oak residents. Of course, all this comes with a hefty price tag, with homes in this location costing between $4 -16 million dollars, and that’s before the annual $30,000 maintenance dues.
But despite the astronomical price tag, Golden Oak has been a smashing success, with homes in this ultra-exclusive enclave being snapped up as soon as they hit the market. 
With overall home values in the US remaining very high, Disney is likely thinking that now is the right time to continue to grow their footprint in the luxury home market, taking with them the lessons they’ve learned from the failure of Celebration, as well as the success of Golden Oak, and expanding as far into this industry as they can with their new Storyliving communities across the country. 
A piece of a $60 billion pie

Image: DisneyEarlier this year Disney announced ambitious plans to massively increase its expenditures in its theme park division to the tune of $60 billion. Many thought this massive number would be going towards new cruise ships and attractions, but is looks like a good chunk of this will go towards the development of the Storyliving communities, which fall under the theme park division, despite not actually being parks.

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