Many cruise lines have their own “private island” in the Caribbean where they stop for their guests to enjoy a day of peaceful relaxation but just like with everything, Disney takes it up a notch.
Gorda Cay, the former name of Castaway Cay, was the setting for the scene in 1984 Tom Hank’s hit “Splash” with Daryl Hannah. Not long after, Disney took possession of the 1,000 acres of land. Over 18 months, 50,000 truck loads of sand from the ocean so that the mighty Disney cruise liner could dock at a port right at the island. Some of the other cruise lines require tendering. Tendering occurs when the ship can not dock, or park” at a dock at the port and must anchor at sea. A smaller boat is used to transport guests between the massive cruise ship and the island. Because of the dredging, Disney’s ships are allowed to dock directly at the island’s port.
Great care was taken in giving the island an authentic Caribbean feeling while mixing the Disney magic to create a cruisers paradise. Buildings were constructed to look as if they has been built using the remains of a shipwrecked boat. At one time the Flying Dutchman (the actual prop) from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise rested in the waters near the family beach but the famous movie prop has since been removed and dismantled due to deterioration from the weather and sea. Two of the submarines from Disney World’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction have been sunk off of Castaway Cay for those exploring the water. A bar designed to look like a air hangar in Serenity Bay adds to the look of the abandoned airstrip. It is reported that Disney spent $25 million designing this ideal deserted island.
It takes a lot to keep paradise in it’s magically perfect state. Approximately 100 cast members live on the island to make sure guests have their ideal Caribbean getaway. To care for these cast members as well as the guests that visit for just a few hours, the island has a sewage treatment plant and 2 facilities that turn salt water into fresh water. There is an HR coordinate to assist the employees and a cook that prepares meals for the cast members living in the paradise. Cast members living on the island are divided into 6 areas… recreation, landscaping, maintenance, animal programs, custodial, and island leadership. While they live in a tropical paradise, their work is never ending. Not only do they have to provide for the arrival of 2700 to 4000 guests on days the ships dock, they have to handle on going maintenance and prepare for all mother nature has in store.
Castaway Cay even has its own post office operated by the Bahamian authorities with its own post mark. So make sure you send yourself a post card so you can remember your day in Disney’s paradise.