Leota Toombs Thomas, longtime Walter Elias Disney (WED—now Walt Disney Imagineering) employee, model builder, costumer, and Imagineer, is best known as the disembodied spirit of Madame Leota in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction. I spoke with her former sister-in-law, Joann Loughlin, my very dear friend, who graciously shared her memories of this special relative.
[Special thanks to Debra Jane Seltzer of Roadside Architecture for sharing this photo of the carousel. Click here to see more of Ms. Seltzer's images.]
In 2001, Leota Toombs Thomas was memorialized at The Haunted Mansion, the attraction already bearing her image in the seance scene, with an enchanted tombstone in the ride queue. It is inscribed: DEAR SWEET LEOTA/BELOVED BY ALL/IN REGIONS BEYOND NOW/BUT HAVING A BALL. Last fall, she was posthumously named a Disney Legend in a public ceremony on September 10, 2009, the first day of the inaugural D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Her two daughters, one of whom is also an Imagineer, accepted the award in her honor.
A few images of Leota’s non-Disney handiwork:
“Leo” the lion is one of a kind. These
other pieces are samples of molds Leota
designed for Thomas Ceramics.
Make a hologram illusion. Check out this tutorial and follow the simple instructions. It doesn’t have to be a scary scene. You could make one from a video of your recent trip to Walt Disney World!
See video of The Haunted Mansion’s seance scene and learn more about how the Madame Leota illusion is created at this very informative website.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Science
SKILL LEVEL: Middle Grades