The Lady of the Grand Floridian

The recent buzz about Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor got me thinking about Disney World’s own happy haunts. The one that struck me the most was not one of the Haunted Mansion’s 999 ghosts, but a very much alive woman who frequents the Grand Floridian.

I recently stayed at the Grand Floridian for the first time. Despite my many trips to Walt Disney World, my family had never stayed at this flagship resort because we felt it seemed a little, well, boring. What’s its theme, expensiveness?

But I have to say when I finally stayed there this year I was really impressed. It’s pretty, well, grand.  Its lobby almost hits you in the face with its elegance and beauty.

http://0.tqn.com/d/goflorida/1/0/p/_/wdw-resort-grandfloridian-lobby.jpg

http://0.tqn.com/d/goflorida/1/0/p/_/wdw-resort-grandfloridian-lobby.jpg

Luxurious chairs scatter the area, white balconies spiral up to a intricately designed domed ceiling. The floors are lovely marble laden with some friendly faces.

Photo by Leah's iPhone

Every afternoon the sound of live lounge music permeates through the acoustically friendly lobby. Sometimes it’s a piano player, other times a vocalist, other times a brass band. It’s not a bad vibe to walk into.

And every day of my trip that I walked to the elevators for my afternoon chill time, I passed this woman sitting in the same chair.

Photo by Leah's iPhone

I never saw her move. Sometimes her head would tilt ever so slightly…just enough to make me think that this might be an audio animatronic. Yes, I’m a more than slightly terrible person. But I was pretty convinced. It’s Disney, they would do something like that!  So on the third day I crept closer to get a better look. Well, the woman, who is very much real, turned to look right back at me.

…Whoops! Smooth, Leah. Very smooth.  I tried to cover it by making some small talk with her. Luckily for me, she turned out to be a very nice lady. I asked her what the suitcase thing was, and she replied that they were “her babies.”  At closer look, I could see they were teddy bears wrapped in pink feather boas. Deciding not to make a further ass out of myself, I thanked her for her time and ran to the elevator.

My mother later asked one of the Grand Floridian cast members who the woman was. It turns out that she used to come here all the time with her husband, and since his passing she has faithfully spent every afternoon in that chair listening to the Grand Floridian’s musical entertainment. She always brings her teddy bears. No one quite knows why.

It’s weird, but kind of sweet, too. I think it adds extra charm to the place. It’s almost like the Grand Floridian has a Norm. I’m sure the musicians like having an attentive audience that’s not a screaming five year old, or someone (like me) who is just passing through on her way to take a nap and then play in the Mad Hatter pool area.

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Because I like to act like a screaming five year old, too.

So if you happen to be at the Grand Floridian for a dinner reservation or an overnight stay, give a friendly smile to the Lady of the Grand Floridian, adding another flavor of charm to this delightful hotel.

But seriously, I would not put it past Disney to put an animatronic in the hotel lobby.

http://www.disneybymark.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/GarnerHolt37.jpg

http://www.disneybymark.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/GarnerHolt37.jpg

  • This story makes me a little sad but warms my heart too. Oh the things that bring us comfort, right?

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  • Steph

    I stayed at the GF in February of 2013 and I too thought she might be an audio animatronic and when I got a closer look I thought maybe she was a character for the tea parties. Now I wish I said hello and found out more.

  • Ann F.

    Every afternoon of our stay, I would see her rooted in the same chair, with a view of her favorite band, her suitcase of pink bears positioned in exactly the same spot; the 4 most important of which, I later learned, packed in the suitcase below. On the 5th day I decided to talk to her. And I found her to be just lovely – smart, funny and yes, a little nuts. She says she knows it and wouldnt have it any other way. I learned a lot about life and love in the hour I spent with Carole Lynn. She is a simple woman, a widow and a mother. Her late husband was a UPS man and she she loved him with all her heart. They shared a love for music and for Disney. Her 4 children, now in their 50s and scattered throughout the country, left her with but “three hairs” in their teenage years. Hence the wig. She knows the wig is more than a little out-of-date so she’s contemplating a new one. She loves the front but is not keen on the back. I told her, for what its worth, that I love it. It really does complete her “look” and add to her mystique. If you’re going to apply a pound of powder, and mascara that rivals Tammy Faye Baker’s, clad in thrift-store wares reminiscent of the antebellum era, well then the wig fits quite perfect actually. I mean no disrespect with the description of her make-up and clothing btw – this all came from her. The truth is, she looks regal and statuesque – I’d never have guessed thrift store. While I sat with her, over 20 people walked by and just gawked awkwardly. And I do understand -with all the get-up, she is certainly a sight to behold. But next time you see Teddy Bear, as she prefers to be called, just take a seat and plan to stay awhile. I guarantee you will walk away just a little bit of a better person.

    • LeahIsMagical

      Ann, thanks for sharing that! Just shows how everyone has a story to tell.

      • Dan

        I just spent a week at the Grand Floridian and had the distinct pleasure of meeting Lynn and her babies. She is a lovely woman – elegant – and must have been a real beauty in her day. I think her story is charming and yes, a little sad. I love Disney all the more for welcoming Lynn, and others, to visit the hotel for their beautiful music. We spent only a few minutes talking with her and discovered that she has a terrific sense of humour. Say hello to her when you’re there – like Leah just said, you’ll be a better person for having met her.

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  • My family and I have returned from a delightful stay at the Grand Floridian and Walt Disney World. In contemplating what I wanted to say about “the lady”, I read the above comments by Leah, and I could not say it better. I watched her and asked questions of hotel staff for one entire day, and then sat down at her side, and our conversation quickly began. Lynn has really tugged at my heartstrings. Yes, I know she is different, but, by the Grace of God go I and a host of others. We had a lovely visit on Saturday afternoon and she told me her story – yes, she and her husband frequented the hotel to listen to the music, so this is why she returns each day. I noticed cast members spoke as they passed her chair, and I believe she is well-respected and considered part of the charm of the grand hotel. On Sunday after we had checked-out and were waiting for our Magical Express to the airport, I looked for Lynn, but she was not in “her” chair. I visited out front with Richard, the hotel’s greeter for the past 22 years. He saw Lynn arrive earlier and knew where she sits each morning. In a very few minutes, Richard exits the hotel followed by Lynn pulling her suitcase with the bears attached. She was all smiles, and we had another good visit. I was careful not to say “goodbye” as she told me early in our conversations that she doesn’t like that word. On our next visit to Disney, we will stay at the Grand Floridian for many reasons – one of those is so I can visit with my new friend!

  • tim b

    thanx for the story and info…….. I always stop by the Grand Floridian when I go to the World…….i’ll make it a point to go in and look for her this time and ill stop and say hello and chat a bit !!!

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  • Katejr04

    We saw her this past weekend!!

  • Amy

    Ms. Lynn brings the bears with her,because her deceased husband use to give her Teddy Bears,all the time. He passed in 2007…she sits there every single day,just to enjoy the music and “be close to her husband” She is a very nice woman,doesn’t speak much if at all and is 73 yrs young. I cant wait to go and set with her in December with my boys.
    Never judge a book by its cover.

  • Scarlett

    You cannot fast pass her or use your magic bands to get in to see Lynn. She needs help. Beyond the wig, drawn on eyebrows, bags of dirty old animals, sitting in the same chair day after day, this woman is crying out for help. The loss of her husband was obviously too traumatic for her, along with other mental health concerns that have consumed her. Please don’t take mental health issues lightly. They are just as important as your friend with cancer, or loved one with diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Nobody wants to address these issues, but someone has to step in when a person is suffering like this. Blessings to Lynn….hope she can find treatment and be happy.

    • Mrs. Incredible

      Why does she have to be mental? If it makes her happy to sit with her teddy bears in the GF, then let her live out the rest of her days being happy. I hope one day I get the honor of meeting her.

    • Sdftg

      Stfu…. Ever think she does this to hold on to her mental health. Thanks for your advice though…

    • Disney Queen

      She is a lovely woman….We had a wonderful conversation with her a few months ago. Don’t judge until you walk in her shoes !!! SMH at you for what you wrote.