Everything You Need to Know About Golden Oak
Today, let’s close our eyes and dream a little bit. Sure, I’m the one that is always encouraging you to fantasize about your next Disney vacation. This time, I need you to up your game a bit. I want you to imagine how it would feel to live at Walt Disney World. Specifically, where would you live if money weren’t an issue? And the answer to this question simple. Here’s everything you need to know about the ultimate Disney neighborhood, Golden Oak!
What’s Golden Oak?
Every town has a neighborhood that’s nicer than the rest. It’s the place where the richest people in the city live. A few years ago, The Walt Disney Company had a similar idea. They wanted to construct a new community comprised of Disney fanatics. If things went perfectly, the richest people in the world would live there. Okay, that’s an exaggeration…but only slightly.
The place where Disney chose to build is called Golden Oak, located in the Bay Lake area southeast of Magic Kingdom. Guests who have driven/ridden from Disney resorts to the theme park have probably seen signs for the exclusive private property on their way into or out of Magic Kingdom. Once you know what it is, you’ll hunger for it.
This development is the ultimate in Disney fantasy. It’s a place where you’re one of Disney’s elite customers. To wit, Disney Imagineers designed the residential community! Did you ever even dream that actual Imagineers would have a hand in constructing your neighborhood? Some fortunate one-percenters can claim exactly this. The rest of us can only hope that our finances one day allow us to buy in Golden Oak.
You’re almost certainly wondering about said finances. Well, you’ll definitely feel a pinch when you see the prices here. Originally, housing at Golden Oak started at $1.6 million. Disney initially intended to construct 450 homes in the new community. Despite rampant demand, the company gradually reduced their plans.
The current stated limit at Golden Oak is 300 homes. Disney has also raised the starting point on pricing to $2 million…and some homes go as high as $10 million. Let’s be clear about the fact that Golden Oak is a lottery fantasy, unless you’re an entrepreneur, a soon-to-be successful artist, or someone who has mastered the art of cryptocurrency trading. But if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big, right?
What’s at Golden Oak?
First, let’s discuss the massive size of Golden Oak. This development spans 980 acres. To put that number in perspective, you must understand that Magic Kingdom is 107 acres, Hollywood Studios is 135 acres, and Epcot is 300 acres. Yes, the neighborhood is almost twice the size of those three parks combined!
With so much space, designers could plan the ultimate dream community, a sort of variation of Walt Disney’s dream for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. No, you won’t find PeopleMovers or monorails here, but it is very much a collective of Disney fans. These people have the financial wherewithal to live anywhere on the planet. They’ve willingly chosen the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Disney planners want to reward this devout demonstration of loyalty. They’ve built countless inimitable features into the community. Bronze statues adorn public areas, and they all feature Disney characters, of course! Now, purchasing at Golden Oak does come with some Homeowner’s Association (HOA) rules that prevent private Disney edifications in individual yards, but the rules are fairly lenient. Disney’s not in a hurry to alienate its best customers.
To the contrary, Golden Oak is a celebration of the symbiotic relationship between The Walt Disney Company and its richest fans. Disney even adds some Hidden Mickeys into the construction of each home. Plus, it’s a gated community with a controlled flow of traffic. Disney also offers special transportation options to the parks, something I’ll discuss in detail in a moment.
Disney-owned and operated facilities include an onsite gym, a special clubhouse, a restaurant and bar, and an exquisite pool area complete with adjoining arcade. Simply put, Golden Oak is like visiting any Deluxe Disney resort, only you LIVE there!
The private clubhouse at Golden Oak is a gorgeous, spacious facility. Click this link and treat yourself to a gallery of images that reveal the breathtaking nature of this building. After only a few moments, you’ll appreciate that the onsite amenities in this neighborhood are truly elite. The Signature Dining eatery is Markham’s Restaurant, and I say this merely to point out that it’s so exclusive that you won’t even find it listed on Trip Advisor!
Golden Oak has also recently added an amenity that would warm Uncle Walt’s heart. He famously loved taking his daughter to parks and other play areas, some of which became the inspiration for Disneyland. As of last summer, Golden Oak now hosts its own communal gathering place, Ferndell Park!
What Are the Benefits at Golden Oak?
Oh, baby. You’re about to drool at the advantages that come from being a Golden Oak resident. I want to add one caveat upfront, though. The cost isn’t cheap. In addition to the lofty home purchase fee, which I’ll discuss in the next section, you must pay annual HOA fees. And I’m not talking about the $200 a quarter stuff you pay in your neighborhood. Golden Oak charges $25,000 annually for members.
What do you get for that money, which is roughly the same as a new car? You’re permanently entitled to Extra Magic Hour benefits at all four theme parks at Walt Disney World. It’s fair to say that this benefit is even better for permanent residents than resort guests.
After all, people like us who stay in hotels have to leave Orlando once the vacation is over. Golden Oak residents can pick and choose when they want to visit the various theme parks. They can utilize Extra Magic Hour privileges to have the run of the parks one or two hours each day. If I lived there, this might be the main way I visited Walt Disney World. The lines are soooo short during Extra Magic Hours.
You also receive the earliest possible FastPass+ booking window. The brochures still list this as 60 days; however, Disney recently gave a larger 90-day window to people staying on the concierge floor of Deluxe resorts. My suspicion/expectation is that they’ll similarly increase the window for Golden Oak members if they haven’t done so already. To a larger point, living here is the same as having a permanent activated Magic Band at Walt Disney World. You’re like a regular Disney guest, only better since you eat Grey Poupon and have a snooty butler named Jeeves.
Are Those the Only Benefits?
Another benefit is concierge service…in your own neighborhood! Yes, Disney culled a list of the best cast members into a select few employees. These workers are permanently located at Golden Oak, and their goal is to satisfy the needs of the upper crest residents of the community. When you live here, you have THE finest cast members catering to your every need!
Members of the Golden Oak community also enjoy special booking windows. They get to buy tickets to ESPN Wide World of Sports, special Walt Disney World engagements, and other limited time events before other guests. They also receive merchandise delivery just like resort guests, meaning that they never have to carry their bags anywhere!
Residents also receive discounts akin to and in most instances better than Annual Passholders, although these savings should come with an asterisk. You do have to pay millions of dollars for the home first.
With regards to transportation, it’s never a problem for Golden Oak residents. They have their own special transportation available! Disney offers their residents mini-shuttles and vans for drop-offs at the front gate of all four theme parks, both water parks, and Disney Springs.
Finally and most importantly, residents can get the Golden Oak Membership Pass, arguably the most powerful pass at Walt Disney World. With this item, you’ll have the equivalent of a Platinum Plus Pass at Walt Disney World. The fun doesn’t stop there, though.
You’ll also receive several individual one-day admission tickets to Walt Disney World. Since each household resident in good standing receives a Membership Pass, you could have 15 or more single-day admissions to hand out to visiting friends and family members. In other words, you’re the source of happiness for someone else on vacation. You save them admission fees! Then again, residents of Golden Oak assuredly have friends and family members who won’t sweat over the cost of a day at Walt Disney World.
About Those Unwanted Houseguests…
Another unique befit for guests involves a non-Disney corporation. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World is located right smack dab in the middle of the Golden Oak community. That’s by design. Disney wanted the wealthy residents of this neighborhood to avoid one glaring problem with living here: potential house guests.
When you live in Walt Disney World’s most luxurious community, your friends WILL want to sleep on your couch. Or one of your many extra bedrooms. With a luxury resort in walking or, at least, a short driving distance, residents can push their friends to get a room there.
Interestingly, Golden Oak residents DO have the ability to throw parties and host events at the hotel, and Disney has even allowed Four Seasons to begin construction on their own deluxe neighborhood at Walt Disney World. It costs more, though. The Four Seasons homes start at $5 million.
In a future article, I’ll discuss some of the housing options and styles at Golden Oak. In the interim, you can do what my wife always does. You can wistfully gaze through the listings on the official Golden Oak site. Suffice to say that if she ever writes the next Hunger Games-esque franchise, she’s already picked out the home that she wants in Golden Oak. Feel free to spend a few minutes wistfully selecting your dream home, too!
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