By Karen Loftus
Disney’s Golden Oak Resort Makes Living with Mickey More Than a Possibility – It’s a Smart Investment.
Many see Disney as a once in lifetime vacation. Others see Mickey as a member of the family and Disney as an extension of their residence.
Disney has long listened to the wants of their customers and continues to cater to their needs. Their more affluent audience has expressed a continued interest in setting up real roots in The Magic Kingdom, by living in Disney. Real Estate is not new to Disney as it has toyed with it in the past. Yet, it just recently made realty, a reality.
In 2013 several residents moved in to The Golden Oak, a Walt Disney World Resort. The difference between this exclusive resort and other Disney properties is that those staying at The Golden Oak, own it.
The Golden Oak is named after Walt’s Studio in California where many classic TV shows were shot, including Mash and The Mickey Mouse Club. The ranch was initially named after an oak tree on property where gold was believed to be found, in the height of California’s gold rush.
Nods to Walt and to all things Disney are ever-present throughout the individual properties and within the gated community. Residents can opt in or out of the “Hidden Disney,” where small Mickeys are subtly placed throughout their property. They can be seen everywhere from the mosaic tiles to light fixtures and within the wallpaper. You would almost miss it, if not looking. When ownership is official, new owners are given a Mickey map of their property so they can find their hidden Mickey’s.
Owners choose one of the seven locally approved Disney builders to design their home. They are done in a number of architectural styles including; Tuscan, Spanish Revival, Venetian, Italianate, Dutch Colonial, Island Colonial and French Country. Irreverent owners need to apply as true to the Disney brand, one can’t venture too far off the grid.
Each owner is given a list of restrictions they must adhere to, so there is consistency in the quality on all from gutters to shutters. On top of aesthetic restrictions, homeowners also have to pay additional fees, including property taxes and annual fees as high as $12,000 to cover benefits.
There are 980 acres and 450 lots slated for Golden Oak. There are 100 homes completed; built and sold. Over 40 + homeowners are already in residence, the only private homes within resort borders.
Some overzealous owners, otherwise known as Disneyphiles have scooped up side by side lots to create family compounds. One resident has a Minnie as in Minnie Mouse designed, Mini Cooper that she uses to tool around the resort.
For Disneyphiles and said investors, this is usually a 3rd, 4th or 5th property. It’s a nostalgic add on to an already robust real estate portfolio. This group typically visits Disney annually, several times a year. It makes personal and professional sense to them to have for colleagues and for generations to gather for several years to come.
The price varies considerably and is based on the size of the lot and the property. Homes start at 1.7 million and have sold for as high as 7 million with lots ranging from a quarter to three quarters of an acre.
The soon to be 450 homes will be spread out amongst four different neighborhoods. European styled homes in Kimball Trace range between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet while Carolwood’s sprawling estates start at 6,500 and can be as large as 12,000 square feet.
Size aside, the luxury is seen in the many amenities. Golden Oak comes with a private club, The Summerhouse. The Tuscan styled farmhouse is effortlessly elegant with a seamless mix of country club cool and contemporary resort. The design showcases the outside as many head to Southern Florida to escape winter weather.
There is a concierge on site to handle special requests. Residents are privy to the heated outdoor pool, the impressive state of the art fitness facility, a private car service in and out of the park, VIP passes and after-hours access in to the park, dining at Summerhouse’s Markham Restaurant and Tyler Lounge and access to the Tom Fazio designed golf course.
The course is a part of the soon to be opened Four Seasons Resort, which is within Golden Oak. The $377 million, 444 room resort is Four Seasons biggest property to date.
Four Seasons aside, a big draw to investors and residents is the hobnobbing amongst neighbors at The Summerhouse Club. Noted chef Christian Rumpler adheres to farm to table, seasonable and local sensibility, sourcing Disney grown herbs and vegetables from Epcot.
Regardless of where they are from or what they do, they are one of the few that can say they live at Disney. To them it’s a small world after all.