Disney Is Opening a Second Private Island — and the Imagineer Behind Animal Kingdom Will Help Design It (Video)

Castaway Cay fans, rejoice: Disney’s creating another Caribbean oasis.

Disney Cruise Line announced at D23 Expo that it will be developing a second private island similar to its fan-favorite getaway Castaway Cay. Lighthouse Point, the new Bahamian port of call for future Disney Cruise Line sailings, will be located on the island of Eleuthera and will pay homage to Caribbean music, art and food while highlighting conservation efforts through the Disney Conservation Fund.

New Disney Island - Lighthouse Point
Courtesy of Disney

It’s big news that Disney Cruise Line is adding a second oasis-like escape on future Disney Cruise Line vacations, but for many Disney fans, the involvement of Imagineer Joe Rohde is even more important. It signals that Disney’s newest island is not just an exceptional port of call — it’s going to be worth booking an entire vacation around.

New Disney Island - Lighthouse Point
Courtesy of Disney

Joe Rohde is known as a bit of an experiential sage among Disney obsessives; like Midas for theme park locales, he seemingly turns each project into gold. Much more than the lead designer behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Rohde has a storied career at Walt Disney Imagineering and a hand in some of its best projects. Aulani — A Disney Resort, located outside of Honolulu, seamlessly melds local culture and historical traditions with Disney-caliber experiences, a specialty of the artist-turned-Imagineer also seen in work including Epcot’s Mexico and Norway pavilions and the fabled Adventurers Club within Florida’s now-shuttered Pleasure Island.

In addition to being the lead designer for Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom park, Rohde’s also collaborated on newer attractions like Expedition Everest — our pick as the very best ride at Walt Disney World — and the naturistic escape of Pandora — The World of Avatar. Even Tiffins, one of Walt Disney World’s best table-service restaurants, plays like an ode to his team’s travels with artifacts and mementos lining lobby display cases; one of Rhode’s sketches is delivered with every check.

With Travel + Leisure readers voting Disney Cruise Line as the World’s Best mega-ship ocean cruise liner earlier this year, Lighthouse Point is certain to go above and beyond Castaway Cay.

Speaking of the new Caribbean outpost at D23 Expo 2019, Rohde assured Lighthouse Point is “not some replica of an old Bahamian town, not a pirate fantasy, but a dream-like landscape of adventure by the sea, where art and nature combine with Disney magic to create a destination that can only exist in one place.”

Considered a “seaside adventure camp,” this new Disney Cruise Line port of call will honor the music, food, culture and storytelling of the island, but above all, its people. Lighthouse Point will be created in collaboration with local artisans and musicians and draw inspiration from local traditions like Junkanoo, a colorful Caribbean celebration with costumes and floats.

Inspired by the flora and fauna of the Bahamian island, the decor and structures will also celebrate Lighthouse Point’s natural beauty with a color palette sourced by its surrounding trees, flowers and fish. From the crystal blue waters and sandy beaches to experiences that promise to celebrate Disney magic and Bahamian culture, Lighthouse Point is shaping up to be a must-visit locale.

Construction on this new Disney Cruise Line port of call could begin as early as next year, but according to Disney Parks Blog, is awaiting environmental assessment plans to be reviewed and finalized. Construction is said to potentially be completed in late 2022 or 2023.

Disney Cruise Line also revealed details about its newest ship, Disney Wish, at D23 Expo over the weekend. The brand new vessel — which is just one of three new ships debuting over the next five years — will expand on The Walt Disney Company’s nearly 40-year history with Make-A-Wish Foundation to have a charitable component as part of the ship’s launch.

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