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Disney presents authenticity for new cruise destination Lookout Cay in the Bahamas – Orlando Sentinel

As Disney Cruise Line approaches the opening of its new Lookout Cay destination in the Bahamas at Lighthouse Point this summer, the people behind the design want people to know not only what it is, but also what it isn’t.

It’s not a clone of Castaway Cay, the popular private island in the Bahamas that DCL has been visiting for more than two decades.

During a panel discussion Thursday at Walt Disney World, Denise Case, director of entertainment at Disney, said that when Imagineers built that first destination, the theme was, “Everyone’s just thrown away on a deserted island in the middle of the Bahamas.”

“It’s a very fictional place,” she said, adding that Lookout Cay is “a real place with real people and a real culture. It’s really about the Bahamas. There’s actually nothing fictional about it.”

Just as Disney pursued an authentic Hawaiian experience at its Aulani resort, Imagineers have taken that approach for the new port of call on the southern tip of Eleuthera Island. It will welcome the first visitors in June.

The map of Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, which opens in summer 2024 on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas.  (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)
The map of Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, opening in summer 2024 on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)

Among the new details released Thursday, the cruise line unveiled the first full site plan, showing a huge swath of greenery for the 900-acre development.

“One of the things I like about this map is how untouched the site is,” said Joey Gaskins, DCL’s regional public affairs director and a native of the Bahamas.

To date, only 16% has been developed and 152 hectares have been returned to the government of the Bahamas “because the location is so meaningful, and so I think looking at that very small footprint on a significant piece of land is really also important in the environmental story ” said Gaskins.

He also shared the history behind the name Lighthouse Point, when asked if there was a real lighthouse on the site. The answer is: sort of.

“The technical name for the building on the site is actually a light station, so it is not a lighthouse in the traditional sense of a tower with the light on top,” he said. “But there is a structure there with an outdoor kitchen and a living facility, and that was used to guide ships in from the water.”

The area is actually known for shipwrecks, he said. A settlement on the island now called Rock Sound was formerly called Wreck Sound, and the island has a history of people making a living from goods from the wrecks.

“In other words, ships would be wrecked against the reefs, and they would go there and gather wherever they could, and sell the goods for later,” he said,

It’s one of the interesting stories visitors hope to discover when they venture out on excursions outside the destination, including a visit to the Light Station, which is not part of Disney’s property.

“We’re committed to creating safe access to that so people can look at it and see it, and again, keep it protected,” he said.

Other excursions seek to take advantage of Eleuthera’s natural beauty.

“It has many natural wonders: the Glass Window Bridge that separates Exuma Sound from the Atlantic Ocean; you have pink sand beaches that stretch for miles; blue holes with mermaid stories attached to them; cathedral caves that reach into the heavens,” Gaskins said.

Guests will have plenty to enjoy within the property boundaries, with offerings that draw heavily on Bahamian culture, especially the carnivalesque parade called Junkanoo, which is traditionally celebrated throughout the country on Boxing Day on December 26 and New Year’s Day on January 1. .

One of the main entertainment options at Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is the Junkanoo Rush Out, run by a local Bahamian Junkanoo Group, which introduces guests to the Bahamas' signature festival with a colorful parade full of music and dancing.  (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)
One of the main entertainment options at Disney Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point is the Junkanoo Rush Out, run by a local Bahamian Junkanoo Group, which introduces guests to the Bahamas’ signature festival with a colorful parade full of music and dancing. (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)

“Junkanoo is the Bahamas’ premier cultural celebration,” he said. “It includes goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles, brassware and these amazing costumes made from chalk paper and cardboard. … It really is a celebration of freedom.”

Its origins are debated, he said, with some saying it came from Africa and others saying it emerged from colonial settlements, “but what it has become for us in the Bahamas is symbolic of who we are as a people.” It is our creativity, our energy, all summed up in these two parades during the holidays.”

Visitors to Lookout Cay get a daily dose of the parade and participate in the event that Disney has organized with the help of the Bahamas National Junkanoo Committee.

“You can join in the music, you can make a Bahamian craft,” Case said. ‘You learn about the cardboard, the sticking and the chalk paper. I can tell you it’s harder than you think.’

Bahamian fashion designer Theodore Elyett came up with unique designs for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Chip and Dale.  (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)
Bahamian fashion designer Theodore Elyett came up with unique designs for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Chip and Dale. (Courtesy/Disney Cruise Line)

The color and vibrancy of this is reflected in the character designs for Mickey and the gang found throughout the resort, but also in the buildings, especially in the heart of the resort, called the Goombay Cultural Center, says Kassandra Rose, a creative. director at Walt Disney Imagineering.

“You will also see the Junkanoo influence in the architecture and artwork of local Bahamian artists,” she said. “The Junkanoo feel gives the sense that all aspects of culture come together to form a true community, so guests can come and learn from local artists and learn about tradition and be completely inspired by that environment, from the artwork on the walls to the patterns on the walls. ceiling.”

Another note on Bahamian authenticity: When asked how to pronounce “Cay,” the overwhelming opinion is to say it as “key.”

“If you’re Bahamian, it’s always ‘key,’” Gaskins said. “So we adopted that statement, I think, for Lookout Cay.”