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Disney to Sell Multi-Million Dollar Vacation Homes

Walt Disney Co. is going to build a golf-course based development of luxury houses in Orlando, Florida, its first venture into housing in several years. The timing makes sense to a bullish observer -- U.S. housing sales are up 19 percent from a year ago -- and if you believe a man's home is his Cinderella castle, it stands to reason that Disney could imagine them better than anyone else.

The Wall Street Journal's Juliet Chung reports that the venture, known as Golden Oak, will be announced Wednesday and might eventually include 450 homes priced between $1.5 million and $8 million. The offerings will start as parcels, though, of up to three-quarters of an acre, with buyers then picking a builder from a list of Disney-approved firms willing to adhere to Disney-approved architectural styles.

Golden Oak is meant as a vacation home development, in contrast with nearby Celebration, Florida, a 1990s "new urbanism" development of several thousand primary residences. New urbanism (another example: Battery Park City in Manhattan) is generally considered to be a style of planned community attempting to offer suburb-style green space in a pedestrian-friendly environment.

New Urbanism developments also tend to include a broad range of real estate price points. Single-family homes in Celebration are on the market at just of north of $500,000, but the development also contains seven-figure homes with triple garages on large lots.

New home sales have been slumping in the U.S. recently, with May numbers down 18.3 percent from a year earlier. However, with the oldest baby boomers set to retire next next year, it's possible that a niche vacation play such as this one might well find its market.