Disney's Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera officially opens June 10

Disney Cruise Line is the first to technically dock on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera — other ships ferry passengers over — but the experience they’ve created there is what really sets their latest destination apart.

During a media preview of Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, Disney’s second island destination in the region, it was obvious that the creation of this place started and ended with the abundant richness of Bahamian culture. 

Yes, Mickey and the gang can be found on its sandy shores starting June 10, but unlike so many other Disney creations, there’s almost nothing imaginary or magical (in the Tinker Bell sense) about Lookout Cay.

And there doesn’t need to be. The island’s natural beauty provides the awe, and the layers of local influence — from the architecture, to the art, to the daily street festival celebrations — tell a story all their own.

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“We’re not sending you to a fictional place or another time, it’s here and now,” Disney Regional PR Director and Bahamas native Joey Gaskins said during a panel aboard the Disney Magic ship on Saturday, June 8. 

It’s a departure from Castaway Cay’s elaborate fictitious backstory involving a trio of shipwrecked explorers. Visitors looking to compare the two, should note Castaway currently feels like there are more activity options, but Lookout has the more beautiful beach. And while Castaway is a private island owned by Disney, Lookout is located at the southern tip of Eleuthera, a much larger island with its own permanent residents and communities.

If cruisers take one thing home with them from a visit, it will be a love of and appreciation for the spectacle and spirit of Junkanoo.

It’s “a celebration of our tradition, our culture….vibrancy led by the beat,” explains Warren Andrew Pinder of the National Junkanoo Committee. With some similarities to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Brazil’s Carnival, the traditional Bahamian celebration sees dancers and musicians in stunning, elaborate hand-made costumes parade through the streets, collecting revelers in their wake. 

On Lookout Cay, that means several times a day they draw all eyes — and anyone within earshot — to a beachfront stage where visitors can’t help but dance in the sand. 

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To get everything just right, Disney Imagineers were invited to real celebrations on Bay Street in Nassau and commissioned local musicians, producers, designers and more to help create their original performance. “They got it right," promises Pinder.

But Junkanoo is far from the only piece of Bahamian life that informed the design of Lookout Cay.

The peaked roofs of its open-air buildings are decorated with motifs pulled from seashells found on its beaches. The murals decorating the shops and restaurants were commissioned from some of the island nation’s prolific artists — and were inspired by the glimmering schools of angel fish found in the sea just a few steps away.

Bahamian designer Theo Elyett created the outfits for Mickey and the gang to wear on the island and the characters' meet-and-greet backdrops turn their iconic outfits into artful decorations that also adorn the merchandise visitors can buy on the island.

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Everywhere you go in Lookout Cay, you’ll hear music that sounds familiar yet new. Like the addictive original song “Everything Cool,” written and performed by Bahamian musicians and recorded on Eleuthera, as well as Disney classics reworked by local producer Victor Johnson in styles ubiquitous in the region, like calypso and rake-and-scrape. “When you hear it you feel our heart,” Johnson says.

During a preview day Friday, there were still a few kinks to work out, like the 15-minute, completely shade-free walk down the pier from the ship to land. Visitors should also note (and expect) that it is extremely hot there in the summer and everything on the island is outdoors — from the various bars and BBQ restaurants to the show stages and kids’ play areas.

Shade on the island is, thankfully, plentiful, but in the warmer months, guests will want to prioritize a swim or snorkeling excursion in the turquoise sea. Exploring the nature trails and biking should be saved for cooler days.

Disney's Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Points opens June 10 and will welcome passengers aboard select Disney Cruise Line voyages.

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