No longer content to merely spread its over-saturated vision of Main Street, U.S.A., across the globe, The Walt Disney Company, is trying its four-fingered, white-gloved hand at real estate development. Makes sense, because, as any American child (or childish American) will attest, the only thing better than visiting Disney World would be staying there forever. Built on a huge tract of Lake Buena Vista land adjacent to the park, the gated community of Golden Oak has been open to buyers since 2011, and, as you might expect, the details from the Wall Street Journal's look into what the first wave of Disneyphilic homeowners have done with their places is absolutely nutso. Though most of them use their Disney World houses for vacationing, an elite few have enough devotion to this mind-colonizing megacorporation to live at the park year-round. For your horror and delight, eight fast facts about Golden Oak, as gleaned by the Journal:
8. Up to 450 homes are planned for the 980-acre parcel, but only a select few will afford a view of the famous Cinderella Castle fireworks. Since the community opened two-and-a-half years ago, nearly 100 of the lots have been sold.
7. Owning a Golden Oaks home starts at $1.7M, while a few of the Magic Kingdom–connected McMansions have sold for over $7M.
6. Annual fees of as much as $12K cover park passes, door-to-park transportation, extended visiting hours for attractions, membership at a clubhouse with a restaurant and concierge, and, eventually, entrance to the spa and dining rooms at the Four Seasons resort expected to open in Golden Oak next summer.
5. Golden Oaks homes are especially popular with Brazilians, who can fly direct from São Paulo to Orlando.
4. Disney makes a point of overlooking trademark violations in the dwellings, many of which are decorated with references to licensed characters: Donald Duck door carvings, backlit tray ceilings in the shape of Mickey's head, etc.
3. Devoted Disneyphiles have the option of filling their homes with tiny mouse-eared insignias known as "hidden Mickeys." A showcase home finished earlier this year included an estimated 75.
2. When building in Golden Oak, one is limited to seven handpicked custom builders and constrained by a number of design and landscaping restrictions. Shutters must be functional. Square gutters are banned.
1. Disney has representatives in four of the seven seats on the community board. One agent reports that "when you live in there, you live and die by the rules."
· Is There a Mouse in the House? [WSJ]