If you are like me, when you rode the Haunted Mansion ride, you were amazed by the Séance room effect known as "Madame Leota" a very simple yet effective prop used by the Disney company and originally performed by the face of Leota Toombs, (Whom they named the Madame after) and voiced by Eleanor Audley. A description of the scene borrowed from the non-updated grimghosts.com
" The black raven from the conservatory perches atop the high-backed chair, flapping its wings and cawing menacingly. From behind the chair, atop the table and surrounded by flickering candles, a glass orb comes into view, a swirling, amorphous mass resting inside. From the crystal ball, a malevolent voice echoes.
Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat. Call in the spirits, wherever they’re at!
(A low moaning fills the room.)
Rap on a table, it’s time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond!
There are three, piercing strikes on a solid surface from the darkness. As the carriages slide around the table, the swirling mass gives way to the profile of a face. Inside the crystal ball rests the head of a woman. She glances around the room, letting incantations escape her lips.."
"Resting inside the crystal ball is the ghoulish disembodied head of Madame Leota, the house's resident medium. Her hair is long and white, uncombed, her face a ghoulish yellow-green, and she looks around the room and moves her entire face in a rather animated way (for a ghost at least!) "
Sounds amazing ,doesn’t it? For those of you who have never been on the ride, I cannot stress how cool this effect is. Upon seeing the effect, I knew I had to recreate it somehow, It took several years and a few re-vampings, but I am satisfied with what I have created. I will show you two ways to make your own personal Madame Leota, to have for your home or Haunt.
First , let us look at some pictures of the Madame, then we will begin the project for making the cheap inexpensive version, after which I will explain the more technical version, the more technical is by far the most realistic, but also the more frustrating to build, all of which work amazingly and you will stun your audience as Disney did in 1969 and still do to this day.
Let's get started,
Looking at pictures of her will formulate in your mind how you wish for her to look.
Items needed for inexpensive version
01. Big Scream TV Poltergeist Plexiglass.
02. Small Spirit Ball
03. Video Of M. Leota (available at bottom of page)
04. Phillips Screwdriver.
01. First take the screwdriver, locate the screws at the bottom of the spirit ball and unscrew them, then slowly rotate the ball and remove it from the bottom. Carefully take the ball and with the clawed foot base, put them together, the ball should sit comfortably on it,
02. Take image source, (Computer, TV, Portable DVD etc.) play video on a loop and then bring down brightness and bring contrast up. The background should be black while the head is bright, Take the plexiglass and place it at a diagonal from the image source, once you see Leota in the glass, move the glass back, then place the ball BEHIND the glass, and then you will see the image in the ball, You may have to work with this a few times., It is wise that Leota be seen from straight on, a window works the best, play the video and align it to the ball, Once you have it where you would like it, Be sure to hide image source. We used draperies and fabric to add ambiance and to hide it.
03. Place external speakers behind Madame Leota to give a more binaural effect.
04. Add décor such as candles (floating ones work awesome... use your imagination) tarot cards.
05. Email pictures and videos to me; Scroll down for more advanced version.
Pictures of Final Inexpensive Version.
(NOTE: I moved the curtain aside to show you where the DVD player was, in actuality, no one saw it.)
This is a little more extensive, but by far the most worth it, after completing the first version above, I decided to revamp it, with a little work and imagination. What you see above, became this.
01. Bigscream TV Poltergeist Plexiglass.
Small AND Large Spirit Ball
Video Of M. Leota (available at bottom of page)
Lights from a fiber optic decoration
01. You will need both a small and a large Spirit Ball for this. First thing is unscrew both of them and remove the ball, from both.
2. Take the skull and wrap the black fabric around it tightly, the entire skull should be tightly covered.
3. Take the base of the small spirit ball, and remove the head, you can do so by cutting off the wires leading into the skull and the one on the speaker and with the help of another person, breaking it off. You can use the head for another project if you wish (singing busts from the Haunted Mansion for me...)
4. Just leave the two L.E.D lights within, and slowly sit the head inside, this may take some practice, and time. I myself used the clear plastic part and sat the jaw above it, so it would sit comfortably, and holding onto it, slowly place that in the base of the small crystal ball, then place the wig upon the black head,
5. After this, you should take the fiber optic light and stick it in the back of the head, facing backwards so that when you look at the back of the head, the lights are facing you.
6. Place the large ball on top and you are done with that, Play the DVD and align it properly, turn on the lights, and since the lights on the base and on a sensor, stick external speakers playing the audio behind the ball, and after aligning it with the Plexiglass, make sure Leota is on a loop and stand back and enjoy. Be sure no one can see the image source.
7. Décor as needed.
8. Email video and pictures!
MADAME LEOTA Videos.