Haunted Mansion: Madame Leota
Madame Leota may be the most popular Haunted Mansion character (next to the beloved Hitchhiking Ghosts). In fact, the crystal ball/projection effect is one of the most imitated props recreated by home haunters.
When the ride brought me into the dark space with the floating crystal ball, and Madame Leota's booming voice inviting the spirits to come forth, I instantly understood what all the fuss was about.
I was able to snap this quick photo with my iPad, believe it or not (photography is allowed, but no flash as it ruins the ambience). I didn't think anything was going to turn out, since I was a) moving in b) a pitch black room and c) not actually looking at what was on screen because I didn't want to miss a moment.
The cool thing (one of many) about visiting the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween is that Madame Leota herself is sitting out in front of the mansion in the evening, greeting guests and interacting with them as they wait in line (see the various pictures below).
I was lucky enough to attend two party nights, and the ladies portraying Madame Leota were hilarious. Quick witted improvisers who never broke character, they constantly engaged the crowd and playfully jested with those in line. Hands down, it's the best character interaction in the park, and she never loses steam.
I hate to post a picture using flash, but I was unable to get a clear shot of her with the eerie glow of the spotlights (definitely a tripod moment).
I forgive myself this one shot, robbing her of her luminescence, because I was fortunate enough to see her walking through the park on her way to the mansion before the sun had fully set. I feel as if I'm not breaking any suspension-of-disbelief/embrace-the-magic rules.
You can stand out front near the exit of the mansion to spend more time listening to her interact with folk. I went on the ride 4 times, usually with FastPasses or when the lines were low, so I didn't have too much time to linger. In fact, I was the only Halloweenaholic who was stopping to photograph anything.
But...I mean...isn't Haunted Mansion the equivalent of Halloween Holy Land?
I know you all understand. It was a bit like a spiritual pilgrimage for me.
And I know I'm not going back to Walt Disney World anytime soon, so I soaked up as many details as I could, and took pictures at moments where I wasn't too busy bursting with excitement or childlike awe.
I snapped a couple of shots of her without flash, and also a picture of her tombstone.
No, I don't have a picture of the tombstone with the eyes open. I was too busy enjoying the moment (even though the Cast Member was bellowing for everyone to get inside).
I have more pictures to come: some really nice photos of the outside monuments and cemeteries, and some ridiculously blurry shots inside the ride that I'm still going to show you despite the poor quality.
I'll also be posting some Haunted Mansion goodies I purchased. Sadly, I didn't have the budget to get everything I wanted (do we ever?) but I think you'll agree I made a good choice.
Happy October, everyone!