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.
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.
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.
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.
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.