Ten Things You May Not Know About Madame Leota
1. The sinister face of Madame Leota is actually that of Disney Legend and Imagineer Leota (Toombs) Thomas. The image of her face reciting the infamous incantation was projected onto a featureless head model. Before Toombs was chosen to be the face of Leota, Imagineer Harriet Burns was considered for the part. (Burns had previously crafted one of the first models for Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.)
2. Leota Toombs also lent her voice to “Little Leota,” the tiny figure seen as you head out from the graveyard. Officially known as the Ghost Hostess, it’s unknown whether or not she and Madame Leota are meant to be the same character, or even related. Small clues have surfaced that they are indeed the same character, such as the combining of the two personas for an event at Disneyland’s 40th anniversary. Blueprints for the attraction label the figure “Little Leota,” but this may be a reference to the fact that the character was played by Leota Toombs (in order to distinguish this character from the one in the séance room).
3. In 2005, Madame Leota’s séance room in Disneyland received some new additions, among them a new spell-book, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead. The book is opened to page 1313, which contains the words to Leota’s incantation. On the opposite page is a picture of the Grim Reaper holding a scythe. (The book has since been added to the Walt Disney World version of the attraction.)
4. That’s not the only sinister thing in the séance room. There is actually a storage area under the room that is used to store props from other attractions. Unbeknownst to most Guests, there is actually a 15-foot drop between your Doom Buggy and Leota’s table, complete with a rope net to protect errant creepy creeps from falling to the floor below!
5. The séance room isn’t the only place you can find Madame Leota. Look for a small hallway that connects the exit corridor to the parlor. The door is labeled “Servant’s Quarters,” and the room features a collection of valet bells, including one for Madame Leota’s Boudoir.
6. 2003 saw the release of the live-action film, The Haunted Mansion, which featured Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota. Tilly should be familiar to Disney fans, as she also provided the voices of Mike Wazowski’s girlfriend Celia Mae in Monsters, Inc., and the happy-go-lucky cow Grace in Home on the Range.
7. Years ago, there used to be a souvenir cart outside the Haunted Mansion emblazoned with the words “Mme Leota, Psychic Medium, Seances, Crystal Gazing: Astrologist, Knows All • Sees All.” The cart has been replaced by a new gift shop called Memento Mori (which roughly translates to “remember that you have to die”), taking up space in the former home of the Yankee Trader Gourmet Shop.
8. During the Haunted Mansion Holiday celebration at Disneyland, Leota was played by Toombs’ daughter Kim Irvine. Irvine looks so much like her mother that, when Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay was under construction, Irvine was asked to record the projection for Leota’s spell. “Funny thing is,” Irvine says, “they discovered that our [faces] are so similar they can just project her face on my head and they match up perfectly!”
9. Looking for more Leota? You can also find her in, believe it or not, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Take a look at G2- 9T’s suitcase scanner as you wait in the queue – if you’re lucky, you may see a bag containing Leota’s crystal ball!
10. In addition, the enchantress has been featured in multiple video games, including Epic Mickey, the Haunted Mansion game for Play- Station 2, and in the Kinect game Disneyland Adventures.