"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 tambourine.
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!"
- Madame Leota's incantation
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.