Madame Leota is the spirit of a psychic medium residing in the Haunted Mansion. Manifesting as a disembodied head inside a misty crystal ball, she is able to send "sympathetic vibrations" to summon ghosts from the spirit world so that the guests may meet them, and join them in their "swinging wake."
Outside of the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans's Square, Madame Leota is shown to have at some point during her mortal life have been in possession of a Vardo (a caravan wagon which is commonly associated with Romani People) that she used to sell her talents as a Medium. The signs on the Cart say that she was a Psychic Medium who performed seances, crystal gazing, performed parlour tricks, brewed potions, sold mysterious tomes and cast magic spells.
In the Liberty Square Mansion's family plot Madame Leota is given a tombstone reading "Dear Sweet Leota, beloved by all in Regions Beyond now, but having a Ball". This tombstone alludes to Madame Leota either having been part of, or close to the family which owned the Haunted Mansion. So much so that she had her own boudoir within the estate and that she was buried in the Manor's Family Plot.
Madame Leota's past is also significantly expanded from outside of the mansion. Outside of the Haunted Mansion's grounds is a shop called Memento Mori which is said to have been Madame Leota's home from back when she was a mortal. She is also said to have been a witch who fled from Salem during the infamous Witch Trials which would mean that Madame Leota would have been alive during the 1690s.
She is also showed to have had been in posession of multiple magical items such as a Daguerreotype Camera capable of Spirit Photography, several potions, a bottled up glowing spirit and a mirror which Madame Leota's ghost uses to watch over her former abode from the Haunted Mansion. In this shop Madame Leota also appears in a portrait which depicts her holding a skull while standing in front of a table with tarot cards, her crystal ball, and her tome alongside a Black Cat and the Raven. The portrait is a changing portrait with more supernatural aspects phasing in and out of the picture, with her crystal ball occasionally displaying her face.
In Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor attraction, Madame Leota is presence but it is unknown if this is the same Leota appearing in the mainstream mansion attractions due to having a different actress and it being unknown whether or not Phantom Manor exists in the same continuity as any of the Haunted Mansion attractions.
From what little is known of Phantom Manor's Madame Leota, in life she was a medium and fortune teller who either lived in, or who travelled to the town of Thunder Mesa. After her death she became a spirit in the infamous Ravenswood Manor where she summons spirits to haunt the undead wedding party of Mélanie Ravenswood. How she came to this however is unknown.
Her services were also advertised in the Thunder Mesa Daily Messenger.
In original concept art by Marc Davis, the character who would become Madame Leota was referred to as "the famous medium Madame Z" and she resembled an elderly cloaked woman. However this version of the character was vaguely referenced in Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain where a letter references a woman named Madame Zarkov who works in the Museum of the Weird as well as the now extinct Adventurer's Club where the same character made appearances.
Madame Leota is named after Imagineer Leota "Toombs" Thomas, who also provided the face for the medium's spirit in the attraction. During development of the Haunted Mansion, she and Harriet Burns were asked by fellow imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey to assist them in developing their projection technology. The two women aided Gracey by allowing him to record their likeness as her head was made stationary so he could experiment with the technology he was planning to use to project the face of Eleanor Audley onto animatronic moulds for ghosts in the attraction. However, while Harriet's facial features were apparently too small to prove effective in these experiments, Gracey and the Imagineering crew came to like Leota's demo-reel so much that (with her permission) they used her face as the model for the ghostly characters which come to be given the names of Madame Leota and Little Leota (the latter of whom Toombs voiced).
She is voiced by Eleanor Audley, the same woman who voiced Disney Villains Maleficent and Lady Tremaine in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella respectively.
In the Haunted Mansion Holiday, however, Leota's face is modeled by her Leota Toombs' daughter, Kim Irvine, while her voice is provided by Susan Blakeslee, who voices Maleficent and Lady Tremaine in modern media along with Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians and the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
In all versions of the Haunted Mansion, as well as Phantom Manor, Madame Leota can be found in the Séance Circle, either floating about the room or resting on a table in the center. She chants a plaintive incantation that conjures the spirits of the Mansion into visual form, so that guests can see the previously-invisible specters and haunts. Musical instruments and other objects levitate in the shadows in response to her supplications.
During the Holiday overlay at Disneyland, Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland's mansions, Madame Leota's crystal ball takes on the appearance of a Christmas ornament as she floats through the air, reciting "The 13 Days of Christmas" while large tarot cards with characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas on them spin overhead.
Walt Disney World
Madame Leota's presence is slightly expanded in the Walt Disney World version of the attraction. In the family plot, guests pass her tombstone just before entering the Mansion. Those who stare long enough may notice the bronze face on the stone flick open very human eyes and stare at them for a moment. If guests pass through the Servant's Quarters they can also see a sign referencing Leota having had her own boudoir in the mansion.
Her presence extends beyond the Mansion to Liberty Square. The Memento Mori shop apparently belonged to Leota prior to her residence within the Haunted Mansion, the Medium having fled Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials to settle in the Hudson River Valley and open the store; the rest of her story remains shrouded in mystery. In this shop Leota can sometimes be seen peering through a mirror hung on the wall, she also has a large portrait.
In Phantom Manor, Madame Leota chants in both English and French to call wayward souls to a ghostly wedding party. Misty shapes materialize around the room as guests pass through.
Her history and connection to Ravenswood Manor is completely unknown however in 2018 during the giant renovations being made to the attraction a poster could be found on the wall surrounding Phantom Manor which references her past in Thunder Mesa as having been a Medium and Fortune Teller.
Leota plays a major role in the Ghost Post story, at first being a force opposed to the Committee of Wandering Ghosts and their plans to recruit mortals to help the Haunted Mansion's residents. She gradually begins sensing the presence of the Phantom Radio app as the player uncovers more clues and listens in to her conversations, and eventually contacts the player through it to berate and challenge their psychic ability. Should the player prove they are attuned to the spirit world, Leota will begrudgingly accept that perhaps they can help after all, and then tasks them with finding some of the ghosts lost in the fog.
Eventually, Leota becomes more of a guide to the player, providing instructions and aid to uncovering the mystery. With the player's help, she is able to pinpoint the location of the Forgotten Room in the Mansion, and helps the player through a spirit board reading to learn an incantation to free the ghosts. By the end of the final challenge Leota has accepted the role these mortals have played, and recognizes them as true and worthy mediums to the spirit world.
Cameos and References
- Leota makes a cameo in the queue area for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, with her crystal ball inside one of the suitcases that passes through the luggage scan. When he sees her suitcase, the droid scanning the luggage makes a reference to the ride.
- In the defunct Superstar Limo ride in Disney's California Adventure, she had a cameo of sorts, summoning agents in a stretch limo.
- At the Town Square Theater in Magic Kingdom's Main Street, U.S.A., in the queue for Mickey's "backstage at a Magic Show" themed meet and greet is a Crystal Ball labelled, ""Leota" Crystals Model 1969" on a shelf with Mickey Mouse's magic equipment.
- Leota appears on the artwork for one of the gondolas in Walt Disney World's Disney Skyliners.
- A poster along the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail advertised, "Mme. Leota's Music Lessons from Regions Beyond" and depicts her candles and crystal-ball. This poster also alludes to Little Leota by asking clients to bring their death certificates.
During the Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary event's opening show at Disneyland, Madame Leota appeared in human form at the Fantasmic stage on Tom Sawyer's Island after her incantation was played. She appeared alongside four undead Cadaver Dans and proceeded to summon the Waltzing Dead who she controlled like marionettes. Leota also did regular live seances from the balcony of the Disneyland Dream Suite, with narration from the Ghost Host describing her skill as a medium was something she possessed even as a child.
In other media
In the film, Madame Leota was played by actress Jennifer Tilly and takes a prominent role in helping the Evers family uncover and break the curse on the Gracey Mansion. She is one of the only Ghosts to not pass on when the curse is lifted. At the end of the film, Leota and the Singing Busts become part of the Evers family and joins them in their vacation.
Once Upon a Time
Madame Leota briefly appeared in the seventh season of the ABC television drama Once Upon a Time alongside her shop Memento Mori where she was a member of a group of sorceresses known as the Coven of Witches. The shop gets tracked down by the combined efforts of Zelena (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Killian Jones (Captain Hook).
Miss Piggy plays the role of Leota as Madame Pigota. The sounds of the music in her seance room are provided by a ghostly version of the Electric Mayhem (serving as a Phantom Five plus one), who interrupt her when Gonzo and Pepe come into the room. When calling a break, Gonzo asks her to call on a specific spirit, presumably MacGuffin, but Pigota declines, claiming reception in the Mansion is lousy while also breaking the fourth wall to complain about her minimal screentime. She sends them to the Ballroom through a door with a glowing "Exat" sign (as its hard to find a rhyme for bat), and asks a Maid (played by Kim Irvine) to clean her crystal ball. She makes a brief appearance later in the climax as Gonzo rushes through the Endless Hallway to find a way to the Attic.
In the video game adaptation, Madame Leota was voiced by Lisa Donahey and serves as the secondary protagonist, guiding the player character, Zeke Holloway, during his quest to restore the mansion while riding around in his satchel.
In this incarnation's backstory, Leota once served the Order of Shadows, the evil organization led by Atticus Thorn. After learning of their true intentions to conquer the afterlife, she was rescued by the last members of the Brotherhood of Souls, whom she joined with the intention of ending the threat of Atticus Thorn and the Order of Shadows. Later on, when Atticus attacked the mansion in search of the Beacon of Souls, the object which he sought to use to carry out his evil plan, he trapped Leota in her crystal ball, which limited her powers significantly. At the game's conclusion, she and the remaining ghosts become Zeke's mentors and guides in his career as an author.
While the video game Leota retains the same gypsy/Romani background and traits evident in the Haunted Mansion franchise, the noticeable difference is her Southern accent, unlike the ride wherein she speaks with a sinister Eleanor Audley tone and accent. This implies that the video game Leota is a Romani who was born and grew up in the Southern United States (commonly called as American South).
Main Article: Madame Leona
In Epic Mickey, a spirit known as Madame Leona who is an unused prototype of Madame Leota appears in the Library of Lonesome Manor, where she tasks Mickey Mouse with restoring the damage done by the spirits and Blotlings.
Madame Leota appears as a main-antagonist in the video-game Kinect Disneyland Adventures where she traps the player inside of the Haunted Mansion after they disturb her during a ritual. She then proceeds to make the Stretching Room start stretching and later on is defeated by the player in her Séance Chamber by flashing a light at her.
The Ghost Gallery
Madame Leota was born in the Louisiana swamps to a kidnapped gypsy and a voodoo priest. Uneducated in everything but the occult, she grew up learning that other people were nothing but cattle and that everyone has weak spots and can be easily influenced. She was a very bitter person and was known to fly into rages at the least provocation. However, even though she had a bad temper, Leota was most dangerous when she was calm and could think things through. She was very sly and the other village people shunned her.
Leota finally moved to New Orleans and began reading palms and holding seances. Although some were exaggerated by special effects, by and large, her powers were genuine. She was bilking many people out of their money, and when she met Master Gracey she saw a real opportunity. She moved into the Mansion and it became easy for her to run the life of Gracey.
His wife Lilian hated Leota. When Lilian tried to get rid of Leota, the Madame hypnotized her into performing her old tightrope act and leaping to her death. Leota then convinced George to marry Emily, for she needed more money, just as he did. But not wanting another woman in his life, Leota locked the trunk that Emily was hiding in.
Leota planned to use the Mansion as a portal to another world, to call in more powerful spirits. George refused to permit her-- in the resulting argument he learned that Leota had killed his wives. George then attempted to flee, but ended up in the attic as his escape routes were cut off since Leota was controlling the servants and spirits. As Leota cast a spell to imprison George in her crystal ball, he hung himself rather than be caught. With his death, the spell went awry and backfired, trapping Leota in her own crystal ball. To this day, Leota still commands some small power, but not as she was before.
In the greater storyline for the comics inspired by the Ghost Gallery, Madame Leota is a wandering Roma who comes to Gracey Manor offering to use her powers to quiet the unruly spirits of the Mansion. She attempts to make amorous advances on William Gracey but is rebuffed, much to her scorn. Eventually her contact with the dead connects her to the vengeful souls of Gracey's former crew and reveals that he was once the pirate Captain Blood. Leota uses this knowledge to fool Gracey into thinking she had cleansed the Mansion, while secretly summoning the ghosts on the day his wedding to Emily de Clare.
The ghosts end up killing Emily, and Gracey strangles Leota to death in an act of revenge, though she died in the midst of a seance that was meant to summon the dead, causing the eventual discovery of the Mansion by wayward souls looking for a home. Leota's soul becomes bound to her crystal ball, and, despite this, does not realize she has died, only thinking she is still in a heavy psychic trance. When the Mansion hits 1000 ghosts, a botched curse she was enacting when she was killed goes into effect and causes the Mansion to disappear into the underworld, which frees her spirit from the crystal ball upon arrival to the other side.
She is said in the illustrated book The Haunted Mansion: Haunted Happenings to be the wife of Mr Gool.
Disney Kingdoms Comics
Madame Leota is one of the benevolent spirits of the Mansion in the Disney Kingdoms story, using her supernatural powers to call Danny to the house. She believes he is the only hope to free the manor's spirits from the clutches of the nefarious Captain, and offers him advice.
Leota is one of the few spirits that actually died on the grounds of the Mansion, making her have some measure of supernatural power within the house. However, these powers are severely weakened thanks to the Captain's curse, proven when she is unable to re-manifest when the Captain smashes her crystal ball. Leota is restored only after Danny lifts the curse keeping the ghosts of the Mansion from haunting.
Leota is a reoccurring character in the Tales from the Haunted Mansion book series. She's first named in the second volume, Midnight at Madame Leota's, where the main character seeks her out to connect with his sister. According to the text, she was power enough to convince skeptics. When he comes to her seance circle, she gives her incantations from the ride and orders two ghosts to escort him to the ballroom, lest he be late.
She later appears in the fourth volume, Memento Mori. Prudence Pock walks past her tombstone, when she arrives at the mansion: she called her the "world's most powerful medium". She appears near the very end of the book, as Amicus Arcane is about to announce his successor. She is able to leave her seance room by lifting her crystal ball and flying it to another room.
In the seventh Kingdom Keepers novel, The Insider, Madame Leota makes an appearance as a villanous Overtaker in the Haunted Mansion's basement in Disneyland. She attempts to scare Maybeck and Charlene to death, but when presented with a mirror she retreats to the shadows, horrified of her own ugly face.
Disneyland/Walt Disney World
"Serpents, and spiders, tail of a rat…
Call in the spirits, wherever they're at!
Rap on a table, it's time to respond…
Send us a message from somewhere beyond!
Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween...
Awaken the spirits with your tambourines!
Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond…
Let there be music from regions beyond!
Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell...
Give us a hint… by ringing a bell!"
"Goblins and Ghoulies, creatures of fright,
We summon you now… to dance through the night!
Esprits et fantômes, sur vos fiers destriers,
Êscortez dans la nuit la belle fiancée!
Warlocks and Witches, answer this call!
Your presence is wanted at this ghostly ball!
Des douze coups de minuit aux mâtines sonnantes,
Nous valserons ensemble, macabre débutante!
Join now the Spirits in Nuptial Doom:
A ravishing Bride… a vanishing Groom."
Haunted Mansion Holiday
"On the Thirteenth day of Christmas, my Ghoul Love gave to me:
Thirteen Rings of Power, embracing strength that never ends,
Twelve signs of the zodiac that rule the future and transcend,
Eleven candles floating, their scent of mystery in the air,
Ten telling tea leaves, that swirl with secrets yet to share.
On the Ninth day of Christmas, my Ghoul Love gave to me:
Nine magic crystals, that sparkle with a force that is pure,
Eight balls of knowledge, that answer with a truth that is sure,
Seven pearls of wisdom, to keep my love bewitched to me,
Six mystic mirrors, reflecting futures yet to be.
On the Fifth day of Christmas, my Ghoul Love gave to me:
Five lucky charms, to understand the right from wrong,
Four wheels of fortune, to spin their rich and golden song,
Three lifelines, extending help to those in need,
Two passion potions, [so] that love and romance may succeed.
On the First day of Christmas, my Ghoul Love gave to me:
A Star! A brilliant star for my fortune card tree!"
The ugly Slobber.
Melt him away,
And away he will stay."
Muppets Haunted Mansion
"Pumpkin spice lattes and a vampire bat,
you must find a door with the glowing "Exat"
"Horntoads and lizards, fiddle and strum,
Please answer the roll by beating the drum.
Harpies and furies, old friends and new,
Blow on a horn, so we'll know that it's you."
- Madame Leota has a spell-book open beside her table which has her incantations written upon it.
- In an 1990s-era script for a Haunted Mansion movie, Madame Leota was a contemporary psychic named Madame Leota Crump that was identified as the owner of the Museum of the Weird by way of her van.
- In Phantom Manor, Leota is both portrayed and voiced by Oona Lind. This is the only version of Leota to be portrayed and voiced by the same actress.
- During the Haunted Mansion Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare overlays, she is played by Kim Irvine, Leota Toombs' daughter, and voiced by Suzane Blakeslee, the current voice of Maleficent and Lady Tremaine.
- She was named in a piece of cut narration from the Ghost Host: "Perhaps Madame Leota can establish contact. She has a remarkable head for materializing... the disembodied..."