"There's been an interesting growth in that market of single-family vacation homes, homes that are rented either as timeshares or by families for vacation purposes," Iger said in discussing the company's recent land development deal with Four Seasons
It's an interesting notion, and it wouldn't be the first time Disney's built residential districts. Celebration and Little Lake Bryan are planned communities near Walt Disney World that Disney helped get off the ground, before letting real estate developers like St. Joe
The Four Seasons announcement indicated that a pair of golf courses on Disney's massive Florida resort would be converted into a Four Seasons luxury hotel, vacation homes, and a single championship golf course. Disney didn't indicate that it would build those single-family homes, and Disney's history of residential hand-offs made it seem as though a third party developer would be brought in. Iger's point about using "other people's capital" to construct the residences pretty much iced that.
So why is Disney opening the door to a potential open house? In recent years, it's had more success building timeshare resorts instead of actual vacation homes. Offering prepaid stays while giving consumers greater flexibility is an excellent complement to Disney's lodging stronghold in traditional hotel properties. Disney Vacation Club kiosks located all over the company's property indicate that it remains a high priority.
There are several rival timeshare operators in the area, but most of the development taking place in the outskirts of Disney's turf is for local residential property and vacation homes. Stubborn mortgage rates, high construction costs, and a glut of available homes have hurt the local real estate market. However, the industry has adapted to consumers balking at high prices for second homes by offering fractional ownership deals, where guests can secure a set number of weeks over the course of the year.
If Disney does decide to begin building homes again -- and Iger imagines that the company will -- it could be a lucrative move. The family-entertainment giant just needs to make sure that such efforts don't disrupt its thriving vacation club business. That mailing list would be an ideal audience to upsell to the vacation homes, but it also doesn't want to devalue the timeshares.
Other resort giants like Hilton
That may change in the future. Watch Disney on this. In tearing up a pair of golf courses, it's giving up a lot of greenery. But if Disney's aim is true, it'll get even more green back.
More on Disney's real estate moves in Florida:
Disney is an active recommendation for Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers. Take the newsletter for a free 30-day spin today to see what other great stocks have been recommended.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys taking his family to amusement parks of all sizes, all over the country -- including Disney World several times a year. He owns shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy might be a good beach read.