Disney Cruise Line gets to the Point
Details on new Bahamian port of call. Plus: Iger on Disneyland’s Avatar experience and park prices
With the introduction of the Disney Wish last year, the Disney Treasure on deck for 2024, and the fleet’s seventh ship due in 2025, the expanding Disney Cruise Line is adding a second private destination in The Bahamas. The company recently released new details about Lighthouse Point, located on the island of Eleuthera, including its scheduled opening date of summer 2024.
Like Castaway Cay, DCL’s other Bahamian port of call, the new destination will include a family beach, a quieter, adults-only beach, recreational activities such as a volleyball court and a gaming pavilion, and nature trails. There will also be add-ons available to rent such as private cabanas, a variety of boats, snorkeling gear, and bicycles.
Whereas the buildings at Castaway Cay go for a faux primitive look with corrugated metal roofs and the like, the architecture at Lighthouse Point will feature a distinctive, colorful style that Disney says is being designed with the input of local artists. It is part of what the company characterizes as an embrace and celebration of the islands’ culture. For example, Bahamian artists will be on hand to share their work and lead special programs in a dedicated art and culture pavilion.
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“At Disney Cruise Line, we have a deep appreciation for the Bahamian community,” said Sharon Siskie, the division’s senior vice president and general manager. “With the opening of Lighthouse Point, visitors from around the world will experience the magic of The Bahamas in a new way, one that truly celebrates its natural and cultural beauty.”
The retreat will also include a water play area with a couple of slides, sprayers, and other interactive elements as well as pint-sized slides for the littlest guests. It won’t be nearly as big as the full-featured water park at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in The Bahamas. But it will be more integrated with the destination than the water slides at Castaway Cay, which are perched offshore on a floating platform, and seem like an afterthought. The new destination will also include a kids’ club themed to (the original) The Little Mermaid. Among its highlights will be a splash pad.
Unlike tiny Castaway Cay, which is a private island that is used exclusively by Disney Cruise Lines (and reportedly was once an infamous hideaway for bootleggers and later, drug smugglers), Eleuthera is a decidedly non-private, 100-mile-long island with a number of settlements and a population of about 11,000. In fact, Carnival operates its own port-of-call destination, Princess Cays, on Eleuthera. Lighthouse Point will be located on the southern tip of the island.
In other Disney news, new-old CEO Bob Iger has had some interesting things to share lately. About a month ago, he said that the company is planning to add an Avatar “experience” at Disneyland. Given the success of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water sequel (generating a cool $2.3 billion at the box office thus far) and the fact that the movie franchise now falls under the Disney umbrella, it’s no surprise the company would want to capitalize on its mojo. But what form might the new park experience take?
Could it be a one-off, modest attraction at the space-challenged California resort? Or might it be a full-formed land like Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida’s Walt Disney World? It certainly seems as if it just might be the latter.
Referring to Pandora, Iger said, “You have a pretty good idea of what Imagineers are capable of,” when he first made the announcement. That strongly implies an Animal Kingdom-level land with multiple E-ticket rides along the lines of the incredible Avatar Flight of Passage.
A week ago, D23, the company-sanctioned-and-operated fan club, made this pronouncement on its site: “While details on the coming Avatar experience remain under wraps, it promises to be as amazing as those found at Walt Disney World Resort.” It followed up by teasing, “Stay tuned for updates!” Assuming it’s a done deal, where might Disney shoehorn the new land? I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.
In a candid acknowledgment of fans’ pent-up frustration, Iger acknowledged a few days ago that prices are getting out of hand at the parks.
“I always believed that Disney was a brand that needs to be accessible,” he said at a conference. “And I think that in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing. And I think there is a way to continue to grow our business but be smarter about how we price so that we maintain that brand value of accessibility.”
Some of Disney’s price hikes and added fees were introduced under former CEO, Bob Chapek, and some date back to Iger’s previous reign. In the short time that he has been back in the saddle, Iger has overseen the elimination of charges for overnight self-parking at Disney World hotels and the addition of days that Disneyland offers its lowest price tickets, among other guest-friendly changes. Here’s hoping that he and Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro will continue to act on excessive pricing practices and policies such as park reservations that have made going to the parks needlessly challenging.
What are your thought about Disney Cruise Line’s new destination, Lighthouse Point? What do you think/hope the new Avatar-themed experience at Disneyland might be? And what do you make of Iger’s acknowledgment of the parks’ overly aggressive pricing? What else do you think Disney should do to make the parks more accessible and easier to experience?