Monday, August 18, 2014

Dreaming of Disney Past

By Beth Skarp

On my recent trip to the World, I had a day where I didn't venture into the Parks. Sometimes it is nice to just sit and take in your surroundings, to visit or see things you might otherwise walk right past or ignore. 

Such was the case on my most recent trip. I was in the Grand Floridian. I met up with a wonderful family I met online through a Disney site, spending many minutes laughing, chatting and just catching up. I had a wonderful breakfast of lobster eggs benedict at the Grand Floridian Cafe, with this same family seated right behind me –unbeknownst to both of us. I watched photographers taking pictures of a bride and her entourage as they prepared for a wedding. I observed small princesses getting ready for their Disney Girls Perfectly Princess Tea Party. I heard small pirates squeal with glee as they anticipated their Disney Pirate Adventure. I watched as the various janitors or maids worked diligently to keep the lobby area looking well, grand as ever.

The people who were working at Grand Floridian would stop every now and again and speak with someone seated near the elevators, often times leaning over the partition as they walked the lobby or performed their various tasks. This person was not seated near the glass elevators that lead to the majestic grand staircase, but the elevators that are located near the Cafe and 1900 Park Fare. 

I remained standing by the piano in the main lobby area, taking in how various guests would respond to this person. Guests would quickly skirt by this person, almost always turning away to have a whispered conversation amongst themselves. Children were quickly pushed past this individual and told not to stare or ask questions. Yet, the janitors and maids along with a few of the other Cast members would take the time to spend a few moments with this individual, addressing her by name and asking how she was doing. Hmmm, this bears further investigation on my part.

Having special needs girls, I am always mindful of how I approach someone who may be “different” than others. I like to discreetly observe and determine not only if I should approach them, but how. No one likes surprises.

I came around the corner and stayed in the shadows some, again observing this woman and how others responded to her. She didn't seem to be a threat at all, just an older looking woman who was seated in a chair. She had an older style suitcase near her, and perched atop the suitcase were some nice teddy bears of various sizes that were artfully displayed.

OK, my curiosity got the better of me. Since the Cast Members seemed to think she was harmless and spent a few moments talking to her, why couldn't I. So, I ventured forth.

I am truly glad that I did. The woman was named Lynn, and is affectionately known in some circles as “The Bear Lady of the Grand Floridian”. 

I spent a good hour or more chatting with Lynn. She is very articulate and has a broad knowledge of not only the Grand Floridian, but of Disney World as well.

As Lynn explained to me, she and her husband Bruce loved Grand Floridian and came often to visit and stay. While Lynn loved listening to the piano players or other musicians that played in the lobby, her husband Bruce loved to people watch and explore the surrounding areas. Lynn was a wealth of information regarding the various musicians—their techniques and styles of music, who was worth listening to and who could be left to act as mere background noise. It was as if various musicians could transport Lynn back to bygone eras, to simpler times or times that held special meaning for Lynn. It was evident as Lynn spoke about the musicians and the music she loved to hear them play.

I asked about the various teddy bears displayed on her suitcase. The teddy bears were her “babies”, gifts from her late husband, Bruce. Bruce found it challenging to find just the right bear to make Lynn smile. The bears needed a special face or expression, not something you could pick up just anywhere. 

These are not just any bears mind you, but high end bears from such companies as Gund, Herrington, Steiff, Kosen and Bornich. Many of the bears are older, but still of excellent quality.

Lynn along with Bruce loved to sit and observe the children as they passed through the lobby. Occasionally, Bruce would find a child that would catch his fancy and ask Lynn to “choose a bear to give away”. Lynn would look at the child, look at her babies, and choose one to give to the child. Bruce was so good about replacing the bears that were given away.

Through Lynn, I learned that her beloved Bruce passed away “a few years back”. Doing a Google search, I found a wonderful article from her sister Tracy Joan that told me not only when Bruce passed, but a little bit more information about Lynn. You can find out more information here : Please note that I am not a huge fan of this particular site, but found the information to be knowledgeable. 
Lynn is a wonderful person to speak with. She is intelligent, insightful, humorous, and has a bit of spunk one doesn't see often these days. It truly was an honor to speak with her. Yes, Lynn is dressed differently than most of us and her lemon verbena perfume takes me back to days of sitting with my Grandmother in her parlor many years ago. 

Her wig was fashioned into a hair style that Bruce loved to see on her, and is much easier to manage than tending to her own locks, or so she says. You know, I think I tend to agree with Lynn. I hide my own hair under a hat or allow it to “go wild” due to the Florida humidity. Lynn just uses a wig that accomplishes the same results and allows her to hold on to her memories of Bruce.

Before I left, Lynn told me that Bruce would have wanted me to have one of her bears. I was touched and started to tear up. As Lynn looked at her babies and attempted to make a decision, I knew I couldn't take her baby away from her. Giving Lynn a heartfelt hug, I gently explained that I was honored that she wanted to give me a baby, but that I wanted her to keep them. They were gifts from Bruce and meant so much to her. You could see the relief on her face.

Just before I took my leave, I did take a picture of Lynn with her treasured babies perched atop her suitcase. I was going to include it with this article. Instead, I will keep the picture. Too much negativity surrounds this poor lady, and I don't feel the need to feed into that negativity. This is a picture I will treasure in my heart.

I am so glad that I took the time to stop and speak with this unknown gem. Lynn is a wonderful lady, not some oddity that needs to be removed from the Grand Floridian. The next time you find yourself at the Grand Floridian, see if you can find The Bear Lady. Spend a few moments talking with her or just say “Hello”. You will be amazed at what you might learn.               


  1. thank you for sharing this wonderful story...i have always wondered about her..I will say hello to her next time (october 1)

  2. I worked at Walt Disney World for a year as part of their Disney International College Program. Six of those months were at the Grand Floridian, as a Merchandiser. I saw Lynn many times, and spoke to her once. It was just a quick hello, and a comment about "how her bears were" that day. She was and still is lovely

  3. Met her today. Looked for her because of your post. She is a lovely lady! Thank you for sharing!


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