After scoring approval to buy 746 acres of land on the island of Eleuthera, known for its pink sand beaches and surf, Disney Cruise Line this week completed the purchase, setting the stage for a second Disney private destination in the Bahamas.
Disney is expected to invest somewhere between $250 million and $400 million to complete the project. The deal stipulates that, along with the land purchase, Disney has to increase its calls at Nassau and Freeport, two other Bahamas cruise ports.
“We are pleased to have finalized an agreement with the government of the Bahamas that will enable us to create new and sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Eleuthera while celebrating the natural beauty and culture of this special place with our guests,” Disney Cruise Line President Jeff Vahle said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The next step calls for Disney, in partnership with the Bahamas government, to complete a full environment impact report. Disney said it expects to finish it within the next few months.
As part of the island’s development, 190 acres of the park will become a Bahamas National Park; and local Bahamians will make up most of the workforce constructing the island, with some permanent jobs guaranteed once it begins welcoming guests. Locals will also be welcomed to compete in the retail space on the island, which is expected to allow “the stories and culture of the Bahamas [to] shine through.”
The island is not expected to be simply for Disney Cruise Line guests — Bahamas residents will be welcomed.
Disney currently has three new ships on order and said, last month, that the plan is to base two of those three ships out of Port Canaveral, an hour east of its theme park home in Orlando. The first of those ships is due in 2021, around the same time the development on Eleuthera is expected to be completed, should all go as planned.
Disney Dream and Disney Magic currently sail year-round from Port Canaveral.