We’d had a perfectly wonderful dinner sitting at the bar at The Wave, where Sam the bartender, kept us entertained with stories of Disney magic while a spry grandmother to Amy’s left was treating herself to an Irish Coffee and a trio of desserts in honor of taking a much needed break from the grandkids.
We thought we’d just hop on the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge, but our timing couldn’t have been luckier: the fireworks show was just starting at the Magic Kingdom and we had what felt like a front-row view from where we were standing at the dock.
We stood transfixed, our arms around each other as our eyes welled with childlike glee and adult euphoria. We couldn’t believe how perfect a time we were having—and we hadn’t even planned it that way!
As the sky cleared of pyrotechnic smoke, we were mentally moving on, back to our room for a late-night cocktail and Mickey nonpareils out on our balcony. Hopefully, the boat would be arriving soon. That’s when we noticed two things: 1) There were no boats visible on the horizon, and 2) there were a whole lot of mosquito-like insects everywhere. They covered the posts, the lights, and even the wooden slats beneath our feet! We quickly made our way to the end of the dock where two people, whose faces were covered by handkerchiefs, said in muffled voices, “It’s worse down here.” That’s when we had the terrifying realization that our perfect time had a dark side, and we raced back to the patio area, frantically wondering why no boat was coming.
As several other couples arrived to wait for the boat, word of the dock infestation traveled quickly. Amy looked around, wanting to be sure the Contemporary hadn’t been encased in blood-sucking insects, and that’s when she noticed the boat captain standing on the steps, a few feet farther back than everyone else. She immediately took Mark’s hand and led him to where the captain was standing, seemingly in safety. The captain looked over at her and smiled, and Amy wasted no time acknowledging his position: “I’m thinking you know what you’re doing standing way over here,” she smiled slyly, and that’s all it took. The captain let us in on three valuable facts:
- The insects are a bitch, particularly if you open your mouth.
- They’re a cousin to the mosquito and don’t actually bite (we took the captain’s word, but preferred not to find out).
- They’re particularly attracted to the color white, which was the color of all the wood on the wooden dock, and what Amy happened to be draped in from head to toe.
The captain then went on to explain why he was on a break: Peter Pan and the pirate ships would be arriving for the meet and greet and we’d have to wait for 120 people to disembark two boats before being granted passage back to our hotel.
Then the Smees showed up…
One was older and corpulent, the other a young Indian lad whom older Smee laughed at for being an insectiphobe, adding: “He used to own a white car.” Mini-Smee, overhearing the gibe, looked at us with fearful eyes and nodded sadly. Amy empathized, motioning at her choice of attire.
Then Peter Pan showed up asking about pirate ships.
Amy suggested he use his pirate sonar app to locate them. “So-nar—?” Peter was confused. What didn’t he get? Now Amy was confused, and the captain had to step in to interpret:
“Peter Pan does not know of such things,” he smiled kindly. “To him you’re speaking a foreign language.”
Working out the bugs
As the Smees tried to instruct the direction-impaired Peter Pan newbie where to position himself for the meet and greet, the subject changed to the weather and all the rain the week before.
Amy proudly recited the fact she’d learned from the Wilderness Lodge bellboy: “It rained for 40 days!” she expounded.
“No, that’s the Old Testament,” the captain chuckled. “More like hours,” he corrected.
Embarrassed, Amy tried to get out of it: “Oh, I thought that was the testament of our bellboy,” which luckily the captain didn’t hear, because just then he noticed a potentially disastrous glitch in the timing of events: A non-pirate boat was coming in to dock, potentially throwing off the timing of the two pirate boats. He had to leap into action to save the day, charging to the end of the dock to wave the boat away with nautical hand signals that made him look like a third-base coach with bases loaded.
With disaster averted, the Smees went about coordinating their positions for the arrival: Mini-Smee would take the rear while Old Smee would be first to greet.
Apparently, though, and judging from Mini-Smee’s reaction, the insects were worse back where he was standing: “Let’s trade!” he yelled from afar, waving his arms frantically. The agreeable older Smee accommodated, and Mini-Smee ran a little too eagerly to the front position.
And the show was a hit
The captain was right: 120 people peeled past us before the captain announced the boarding of the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge, stopping mid-sentence to spit out a mouthful of bugs.
At last, we boarded the boat, trying to stay as covered as possible, while tipsy hotel guests serenaded us home.
Back on our balcony, with a nice bottle of scotch and our Mickey chocolates, we toasted the adventure we felt fortunate to have experienced, and made an anemic attempt to believe those mosquito cousins are really vegetarian.