Storyliving by Disney - Your future retirement dystopia

Each community will feature distinctively designed spaces, unique amenities and Disney’s brand of world-renowned service.

At each location, including some neighborhoods for residents ages 55+, Disney cast members trained in the company’s legendary guest service will operate the community association. 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.

Cotino , a Storyliving by Disney community, will be built in the heart of the Coachella Valley in Rancho Mirage, California.

If I was to picture waking up in my worst imagined version of hell it would be Storyliving or their previous failed attempt at Utopia: Celebration, Florida.

On the one hand, you’ve got the promise of Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a little town populated by like-minded Disney super-fans. On the other hand, you’ve got a potential HOA from hell overseeing a corporate Parable of the Sower-style super-gated community built in the desert in a time of global warming surrounding a man-made lagoon you could access by buying day passes.

Even Celebration, Disney’s first attempt at building a town, got to tangle with murder and segregation and other drawbacks of human nature.

There will be a fascinating documentary about this community. It will originally be made for Disney+, then, as events progress, it will be disavowed. An unauthorized version will be released on Netflix and nominated for an Oscar, despite its gruesome and unsettling content.

I have to assume they expect to be able to leverage the WFH phenomenon, as otherwise only really wealthy people could live there.

I honestly find this a bit frightening.

I think the big differentiator here is that unlike Celebration, this proposal has Disney going hands-off with the construction and sales of the units, and instead focusing on the overall design of the community and then managing the curated experiences and club membership for activities. If you look through the marketing material, it really is focused on that 55+ demographic.

Imagine your elder care supplied by Disney castmembers.

Speaking of which, is there one about Celebration? I remember reading a great article about it in something like the NYRB or the New Yorker a long time ago, but it seems like it would be great fodder for a documentary.

Honestly, given the state of elder care at some facilities, this may be a net improvement. At least they would have to try and pretend they care while neglecting grandma.

I would retire there just so I can say “What kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this?”

So Disney saw how much money the founders of the Villages have become and want to create the same thing…


So, in a desert, in a region that is experiencing a historic and possible permanent drought, they are building a giant man-made lake and a community full of plants that will need regular watering, along with all the other water uses. What could possibly go wrong?


It’s Disney, so of course Youtube has you covered:

This new development will probably follow the typical Disney arc: fans will hail it as the next epochal step of human evolution, critics will decry it as a hellish dystopia, and the truth likely be that it ends up pleasant, deeply bland, and wildly over-hyped and over-priced.

That’s really the main reason Celebration didn’t get some cool documentary. Despite the cool-sounding elevator pitch of a doc based on the town Disney created, the whole thing ended up being the blandest and least interesting thing possible - another white suburb. If it had failed spectacularly or imploded in a scandal there would be some meat for a movie, but there’s nothing there.

This episode of Defunctland isn’t at all about Celebration but covers an earlier draft. Imagine a gargantuan community of tomorrow governed by technofascism. It’s Disney playing SimCity, and as company towns go, it could have been really neat.