When I was 15, my mother and a few friends announced that they would be taking me to Disney World during my winter break. This was super exciting because I had never been and any chance to get away from snow covered New England was a huge deal to me – Not to mention I would be leaving a few days before vacation and would get to skip a bit of school.
So myself, my mother, and her two friends hopped on a plane and headed down to Florida for a week or fun and excitement at the Happiest Place on Earth. Everything was going great. Each day, we would hop on a shuttle and go to one of the Parks for the day and return via shuttle to the Disney Resort we had booked.
For those who don’t know, the resorts are basically little parks themselves where guests at Disney can stay and not have to worry about driving to Parks or finding food or entertainment on their down time. We were staying at a resort themed to be like an Island get away – with big palm trees, giant pools, and very bright and tropical color schemes on everything.
The only downfall was that our room was located in one of the buildings furthest away from the hub of the resort. In order to get breakfast, we would have to walk a good half mile or so from our room to the main building and each time we got off the shuttle, we would have to make the trek back to our room in the dark.
This doesn’t seem like a huge deal given that it was a Disney Resort ad everything was lit by street lamps and such, but one night in the middle of our trip, we found out that not even the park resorts were safe from everything.
We had just returned via shuttle from a day at the Magic Kingdom. It was pretty late – probably about 10pm or so – and we were all ready to shuffle back to our room for some sleep. The four of us seemed to be the only ones left awake (which made sense as it was technically a Wednesday night) and we walked quietly down the little brick path through the other sections of the resort.
I can’t remember why we paused – someone in my group had to stop and check something in their bag or something – but as we stood there, I noticed a man over by one of the hotel blocks. He was dressed in all black, very tall, and just seemed a little out of place for where we were. I told myself he was just a guest who thought wearing a sweater in Florida was the cool thing to do….but the more I watched him, the more suspicious I got.
He had his back to the door of a room, hands behind him and eyes downcast. Every minute or so, he would take a few steps to the next door over on the hotel block and assume the same posture. He did this two or three times before I saw the keycard in his hand. Each room was locked by a pass card you were given upon checkout – printed with your resort name, but not the room number itself – and the only way in or out was with one of those cards.
It was then that it dawned on me. This man had found a keycard somewhere and was now trying to find the room it went to. Now I was pretty confident that we weren’t dealing with a fellow guest.
I wasn’t sure what we were dealing with, but I whispered to my mother what I had seen and within a few moments, she and one of our friends went off to find the nearest security guard or emergency phone. Myself and the other friend in the group stood by, watching as the man tried each and every door on the front end of the hotel block. I was hoping he would give up, but as we watched him, he finally noticed he wasn’t alone.
He turned his head sharply to face us and I remember feeling him stare despite the hood shadowing his eyes. He straightened up, shoved the card into his pocket and started towards us with purpose I his stride. He looked mad and was moving way too fast for someone just looking for a friendly chat. I can’t say for certain what he was reaching for, but as he got closer, one hand moved to his back pocket, and that was when my friend let out the loudest shriek I have ever heard.
The man jumped, I jumped, and a few dozen bunnies that had been sitting I the grass going about their business scattered in every direction. With his cover now blown, the man took off at a sprint into the night and we were left to wait until my mother returned with security. One man stayed to ask questions and another took off in the direction the man had fled.
We never heard if they had caught the man or not. I’m not sure if he was just out to rob some poor guest or if he was out for more sinister errands, but needless to say, we tried our best to get back to our hotel room early after that night…