Monday, June 22, 2020

What Will Disney's New Island Be Like?

Disney's second Bahamian destination, Lighthouse Point, is currently scheduled to open in 2022 or 2023.  Disney hasn't told us a lot about Lighthouse Point, but its website reveals many interesting facts about it.  I'm really excited about this island, but 2022 or 2023 is still a while from now.  At least Disney made the website to hold us over until then.

The site's homepage shows an aerial video of what Lighthouse Point presently looks like.  It's beautiful, and Disney knows that too.  Lower in the page, it says that their development on the island will preserve its natural beauty.  Also, Lighthouse Point will compliment Castaway Cay, not replace it.  However, unlike Castaway Cay, the island isn't entirely owned by Disney.  Lighthouse Point is at the southern end of Eleuthera, a huge island in the Bahamas.  It has houses, towns, and roads.  Coincidentally, right near Lighthouse Point is Princess Cays, a cruise destination owned by Carnival.  So, yeah, Lighthouse Point is not a private island.  Disney ships will be the only cruise ships to stop at Lighthouse Point, so it is a private port.  An advantage of it not being a private island is that guests will be able to book excursions to other locations on Eleuthera, not just Disney's area.

At the bottom of the home page, there's an artist's rendering of what Lighthouse Point is planned to look like:
This definitely isn't Castaway Cay.  The buildings are unlike anything I've ever seen before.  Their curved rooves look modern and their natural colors look nice with the tropical greenery.  The buildings look to be open-air, like many of the buildings on Castaway Cay.  This way, they don't need air conditioning!  Some of the buildings will likely be cabanas, available to rent for an extra fee.  Some of these buildings will be restaurants, like Cookie's and Cookie's Too on Castaway Cay.  According to this image, Lighthouse Point will have a water fountain play area, similar to Spring-A-Leak on Castaway Cay.  This rendering doesn't show a water slide in the ocean like Castaway Cay's Pelican's Plunge, but one may be added to the real thing.  In the background, there is a DCL ship, but I can't tell if it's docked at a pier or not.  Disney only tenders when it's absolutely necessary, so a pier will probably be built.  Also, I don't see roads, will there be a tram running around the property?  Also, what's that cable on the top right side of the picture?  Is it a power line or a zipline?  I hope it's the latter.  Will there be a designated area for Edge kids (the one age group that doesn't have their own location on Castaway Cay)?   Will Lighthouse Point have a 5K race?  Will there be a snorkeling section like on Castaway Cay?  What about bike trails?  I have so many questions!

Something that stuck out to me while viewing this image was the large amount of beach umbrellas, chairs, and space.  When the Dream or Fantasy is docked at Castaway Cay, it's often difficult to find open chairs on the beach, since it was designed with the smaller Magic and Wonder in mind.  From this image, Lighthouse Point appears to have a larger amount of beach space with more chairs and umbrellas.  It's being designed to suit the needs of the Wish, which will mean it'll have more than enough beach chairs.  

Besides the home page, Lighthouse Point's website has a frequently asked questions section.  An FAQ section is a good place to get some information, as long as that information is an answer to a question people ask frequently.  The first question is "What is Disney creating at Lighthouse Point?"  Disney is creating a destination where their guests can enjoy the island's beaches and nature.  Its design will be inspired by the site's natural appearance and the culture of the Bahamas.  In addition to DCL guests, Lighthouse Point will be open to Bahamian residents and citizens.  Bahamian residents and citizens!  Wow!  This is totally different than Castaway Cay, and it raises some important questions.  Will they have complete access to the property?  Or will there be sections of the property reserved for DCL guests?  Will Bahamian residents have to pay an admission fee?  This would solve the problem of restricting parts of the property to DCL guests.  If there is a fee, how much will it be?  Alternatively, will Lighthouse Point be completely closed to Bahamian residents when a ship is there?  Will having people besides DCL guests at Lighthouse Point take away from the "it's just like you're on the ship but you're on an island" feeling that Castaway Cay has?  Now I'm wishing this website had an infrequently asked questions section.  

On to the next noteworthy frequently asked question.  "How will Disney Cruise Line protect the natural environment of Eleuthera?"  Just like Castaway Cay, Disney is going to leave most of the site undeveloped.  They're planning to only develop around 20% of the property.  Disney is also going to donate parts of the site to the Bahamian government and people.  Disney is going to build a (probably really long) pier for ships to dock at, to avoid the need to dredge a canal.  If it's long, a tram will likely run.  At Castaway Cay, a canal was dredged, but they're taking a different, more environmentally-friendly approach here.  Any corals that may be affected by the pier will be relocated to help struggling coral reefs in the area.  Also, many structures and walkways will be elevated to reduce the environmental impact.  Hang on, looking back at the image, the walkways look elevated!  Good planning, DCL.

They're elevated!

Next up is "How will the development in Eleuthera be different from Disney Castaway Cay?"  Lighthouse Point's design will be influenced by its natural features and Bahamian culture.  Like we saw in the picture from the home page, it's not going to have the shipwreck theme of Castaway Cay, as seen in this picture:
Rather, it'll look like the artist's rendering we examined earlier.  It'll definitely have a Wish-sized shipload of Disney touches and a few (hundred) Hidden Mickeys.  I love Castaway Cay's design, but if Lighthouse Point were to just copy its style, it wouldn't be nearly as memorable as it would if it had its own design.

Following that question is "How will Disney Cruise Line's investment in Eleuthera benefit the people of the Bahamas?"  Lighthouse Point will create hundreds of jobs and allow Bahamian vendors to sell their goods in the property.  As a result of this, not all of the items sold at Lighthouse Point will be Disney themed, which will add some variety to what's available.  Bahamian tour operators will also be able to provide Port Adventures and other excursions for DCL guests.  Also, Bahamian residents and citizens will have complete access to Disney's Lighthouse Point property.  Okay, they confirmed it, Bahamians will be able to access the entire property!  There won't be any exclusive DCL guest areas, which will make life easier for both Disney guests and Bahamians.  This answer doesn't say anything about an entrance fee, but since Disney is giving citizens and residents full access, there will likely be one.

That's it for the frequently asked questions that are relevant to how the destination will look and function.  In addition to the questions I covered, there are some about employment and vendors.  If you're interested, be sure to check them out here.

Hopefully my analysis of the Lighthouse Point website gave you a better understanding of what to expect from Disney's new island.  I learned a lot, but I still have a few questions, like, will non-Disney guests have to pay an entrance fee?  The website has an email listed for people with questions, so maybe I'll send them an email and get some answers.  If I do, I'll share what I learn here on my blog.

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