Disney Cruise Line to expand fleet, Castaway Cay island features

Disney Cruise Line is preparing for a population surge on its private island, thanks to a larger fleet that will transport more passengers to its 1,000-acre resort.

The expansion plan goes well beyond additional lounge chairs and extending the dock.

“We’re out here undertaking the improvements for the new ships,” says Mark Cole of Walt Disney Imagineering. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t step back and say, ‘What opportunity do we have to make this one of the most magical experiences at sea?’ ”

Among the amenities on tap for Castaway Cay: an expanded family beach, more water-based recreation, more convenient eating options and 20 private cabanas.

Guests here already can snorkel, bike, hike, join a stingray-interaction experience, get a massage or simply flop into a chair under an umbrella.

The construction, scheduled to be completed by next summer, aims to spread out the guests, who usually hit the first patch of sand they see. “It’s just human nature when you go to the beach,” Cole says. “They want to claim their place so the kids know where they’re coming back to.”

Disney is adding a tram stop down the coastline from its current hub to encourage folks to settle there. “If I’m going to go from 2,700 guests to 4,000 guests, transportation is a critical piece,” says Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz.

A new eatery, bar, bathrooms and merchandise outlets, similar to ones already in place, are being built nearby. To complement the current food outlet named Cookies, another restaurant with the same menu is planned. Its name will be Cookies Too.

To make room for the new 700 feet of beach, the stingray experience and the teen getaway area will be relocated. Most of the private cabanas, which will hold six, will face the family beach, with a handful at Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. Rental rates have not been set, Disney officials say.

Several new island elements have water features: Pelican Plunge will be two corkscrew slides floating on a deck in the lagoon. Disney storytelling will be evident at the Spring-a-Leak area, an all-ages play area designed to look like an island structure blown away by a “strong island breeze.” Scuttle’s Cove, the area for children’s activities, will get a 200-square-foot wet deck with geysers.