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Fridays with Jim Korkis: Golden Oak Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Golden Oak is a 980 acre upscale residential community within the Walt Disney World Resort itself. It was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering and is owned and operated by a newly formed Disney subsidiary, Golden Oak Realty.

The name was inspired by Walt Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch in Newhall, California, where he filmed several movies and television shows. Imagineering states that the name refers to gold nuggets discovered under an oak tree on that ranch property in 1842.

Most homes in Golden Oak are multimillion-dollar properties (starting at two million and going up to ten million or more) aimed at the highly affluent who want to “live in the magic” in luxury and privacy. Nightly fireworks from the Magic Kingdom less than four miles away can be seen, and heard, from all of the homes.

There are multiple lakes throughout the community, as well as a small river, meaning that some of the properties are technically classified as lake-front. The first few homes were available for purchase in late 2010 and completed in late 2011. Disney said the gated community will eventually have over 300 homes. Home sizes range from 3,000 to 12,000 square feet.

(c) Disney

The property is divided into several distinct neighborhoods: The Cottages at Symphony Grove, Kingswell, Carolwood, Kimball Trace, Marceline and Silverbrook. Those names reflect Disney heritage. Walt Disney used to live in Marceline, Missouri and on the streets of Kingswell and Carolwood in California. Kimball refers to Disney animator and Imagineer Ward Kimball and Symphony calls to mind the Silly Symphony cartoon series.

The homes are inspired by Mediterranean, Caribbean, Venetian, Dutch, Island Colonial and Tuscan styles. Imagineering developed the associated architectural style guidelines. Homeowner fees range from $10,000 to $12,000 a year.

Golden Oak blends the residential area with a commercial area that includes the 443-room five-star Four Seasons Resort, restaurants, spa with whirlpool, tennis facility, a pool and the Summerhouse, a 17,000 square foot private recreational clubhouse for residents that is located in the center of the community. In addition, the area includes the eighteen hole Tranquilo championship golf course designed by Tom Fazio.

The two restaurants in Summerhouse are named Markham’s, after the Marty Markham character on Spin and Marty, a Disney series on the original 1950s Mickey Mouse Club television show, and Bolton’s, named for Fred Bolton, the lead character in the 1968 Disney movie The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit.

Residents receive certain benefits from Disney such as merchandise delivery, assistance with dining reservations, and transportation to and from the parks. The chefs at Four Seasons hotel are on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to come and cook at a resident’s home.

The community is full of Disney inspired things like bronze statues of characters including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Thumper and more. Many of the custom mansions bring the Disney decor inside, like a home built to resemble the Haunted Mansion ride at Magic Kingdom, or one in which guests walk through a small door to enter a shrunken room just like in the animated feature Alice in Wonderland.

There are more Disney references at the Golden Oak complex but I have not personally been able to verify some that I heard exist. I am more likely to be found picking up a bargain happy meal than eating at a five star restaurant on that property or longingly looking through the gates.

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Thanks, Jim! and come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt: Volume 10: Final Edition  Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.


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