Disney has released more information about its brand-new College Program-exclusive housing, Flamingo Crossings Village. Most notably, the fact that the rentable units are no longer exclusively available to College Program cast members. Because of the pandemic, the College Program has been suspended, so they are now open and available to all Disney and third-party employees.
While Orlando is known for its world-class attractions, it’s also known for expensive housing. Units at Flamingo Crossings Village start at $559 for a shared bedroom and bathroom and $649 for a private bedroom and bathroom. All rates include utilities, except electricity and cable. Apartments can come furnished or unfurnished. Leases are available in six-month, nine-month and 12-month options and families are welcome.
Leases are per individual resident in each bed space, meaning that if only one bedroom is occupied in a two-bedroom private apartment, the resident would not need to pick up the missing rent. Similarly, in a shared bedroom, two bedroom unit, if there are only three residents instead of four, the residents would not be responsible for paying for the remaining bed space.
While there are no single-bedroom units in the complex, a family could rent and occupy all rooms in one unit, availability permitting. To do this, they would pay rent per bed space, per room for the whole unit.
Something to note when choosing a floor plan is that the rents around the $500 mark are shared bedrooms, rents marked between $600 and $700 are private bedrooms with shared bathrooms, while rents marked around $999 are for private bedroom and private bathroom floor plans. There are also ‘flex’ floor plans available, which consist of one shared bedroom and one private bedroom.
The current starting pay for an hourly Walt Disney World cast member is $13 for part-time employees and $14 for full-time employees. Those participating in the College Program earn $11 an hour.
A common housing option for cast members is renting, either apartments or rooms in houses, due to housing prices being so high in Orange County, where the majority of Central Florida’s attractions are located. Cast members usually find affordable housing in the area through mediums such as Zillow, 407 Apartments or by word-of-mouth and house-sharing with fellow cast members.
The new cast member-exclusive apartments at Flamingo Crossings Village are developed, owned and managed by American Campus Communities, a company that manages many college student apartment complexes across the country. American Campus Communities have an agreement with Walt Disney World to offer the apartments to cast members only.
In comparison to other Disney College Program housing, Flamingo Crossings Village is on the higher end of the rent spectrum, due to the new amenities, furnishings, privacy and single-bedroom options. Many former College Program cast members have noted the differences and upgrades available at the new complex that align with the price increase.
Randy Shirey, a Realtor for Charles Rutenberg Realty, noted the new apartments “are more like a furnished vacation rental. I think they are high for what they are and where they are.”
The complex is located just west of Walt Disney World, along SR-429, approximately 13 minutes away from Magic Kingdom.
“Some of the private two-bedrooms are $999 per month per person, so really it’s $1,998 per month, which is high. Bottom line: it may work for some, but if you want your privacy and not have to share everything, it might be better off to look around,” Shirey added.
When compared to other new furnished apartment complexes nearby, Sentosa Reunion apartments, just south of Walt Disney World, start at $1,275 a month. Just east of Magic Kingdom, Zen Apartments start at $1,303 a month.
At Patterson Court, Chatham Square, Vista Way, and The Commons—the other College Program-exclusive housing complexes managed by Disney—the prices are considerably lower due to the fact that the bedrooms house at least two people.
It has been rumored that each of these complexes will close permanently, one at a time, starting with Vista Way – which was scheduled to house its last residents during the summer 2020 programs. Those programs did not take place due to the suspension of the college program.
It appears as though the sharp increase in monthly rent for College Program housing is due to the new construction, increase in amenities and more privacy, which the current complexes do not have.
Attractions Magazine reached out to Disney for comment, but was referred to American Campus Communities, the management company.
Featured in Flamingo Crossings Village are over 40 various dining and retail experiences. There will also be seven hotels, two of which are currently open for guests.
Up the road, Universal Orlando is developing an affordable 1,000 unit apartment community to open in 2022 that will be a part of Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force.