Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014; 2nd ed. 2016).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.


Monday, June 29, 2015

"Little Leota"

pic by Matthew Hansen at Tours Departing Daily

Whoa, what have we here? A new Long-Forgotten post? Already?

What happened, you see, is that as soon as I announced the blog's imminent hibernation, mainly due to a shrinking pool of suitable new topics, readers began throwing ideas out there. To be candid, many did not seem to me to rise much above the level of trivia for trivia's sake, but this one from reader Harry Peach was certainly worthy of consideration:

 I'd be interested in an article on little Leota i.e. why is she small? has she been shrunk? is she the ghost of a little person or a fairy? it could be an interesting article as I've come across ghost/myth lore of ghosts being 'trapped' or conjured in small vessels, such as bottles. also in the case of fairies - in European folklore fairy hauntings preceded 'ghost' hauntings i.e. people blamed faires and little folk for what would later be attributed to ghosts, i.e. poltergeist activity. Or indeed it could just be the notion that 'out-of-scale' humanoids whether large of small, naturally unnerve us! Anyway - just food for thought there

Not long after Mr. Peach posted this, long-time LF reader Craig Conley happened to send me an illustration from an 1894 edition of George MacDonald's fantasy classic, Phantastes (which illustration will appear below). It was increasingly obvious that a lot more could be said about Little Leota. Then, when I started looking into it, I discovered some fascinating, long-forgotten history. And so it happens that the blogosphere expands this day by one new LF post.

By Way of Review

We did discuss the Little Leota tableau at Disneyland once before, but only briefly. For convenience, here is what we said in that earlier post:

The actual tableau follows the scale model almost exactly. It's one of the most perfect things in the Disneyland Mansion. If you manage to be the last in your group, and the Mansion is not too busy that day, you can walk slowly backwards on the escalator and enjoy the little ghost as long as you want, all alone. Also, those of you who have never been to Anaheim may not know this, but if you lean over and look down in there, the walls descend a long way and disappear beautifully into the darkness. There is a convincing feeling of a bottomless pit to the scene, which somehow adds a great deal. The little ghost beckons to you and taunts you at the same time. In one way, she seems so close you could almost reach over and touch her, but in another way, she's separated from you by a "great gulf fixed" (cf. Luke 16:26). It's a memorable and deeply satisfying way to end your experience. This is one place where the Anaheim original is unquestionably superior to the other Mansions.

There are also some nice "magic eye" 3D pictures here. To date, that's all we've done with her.
So . . . who's up for not one, not two, but three more little essays on Little Leota?

Firstly, What's in a Name?

Little Leota is officially known as the "Ghost Hostess." That's what it says on the lead for the film loop they used for her projection until they went digital in the 90s:

Nobody calls her that. She's actually got two nicknames. The Ghost Host himself refers to her as "a charming ghost-ess" in the WDW spiel, round about the music room tableau, conflating "Ghost Hostess" into one word. Nobody calls her that either.  She is universally known as "Little Leota," not only because she has the same face as Madame Leota, but also because she has both the face and the voice of Imagineer Leota Toombs. Okay, most of you knew that already. What you may not know is that the Imagineers themselves were already referring to her as "Little Leota" by 1970. On the original 1969 blueprints for the DL Mansion she's "talking girl," "small female figure with blowing clothes," or simply "figure."

1969 Maintenance Checklists refer to her as "Small Girl" and "Ghostess":

Hat tip to reader Huck

But by the time they were drawing up plans for the Orlando Mansion in 1970 she was "Little Leota."
Notice the quotation marks. It's a nickname, but an official nickname, not a fan-generated nickname.
(It's also found on a 1971 WDW Intrusion Alert control board.)

The nickname even survived translation into French. At Phantom Manor, the Ghost Hostess tableau is labeled "Scene Petite Leota."

Secondly, Why is Little Leota Little?

Some people ask why Little Leota is little, as if it were a problem to be solved. Backstories have been devised and theories put forth endeavoring to explain it. I've never been terribly interested, because I think it's a pseudo-problem. Little ghosts are not unknown to spirit lore. Harry Peach mentions fairies in his Comment, and that may well be the right tree up which to bark. No one seems to be puzzled by the fact that fairies are typically represented as diminutive humanoids, and as a matter of fact, one of the many theories as to what fairies are is that they are spirits of the dead. Or consider the Banshee, who "appears as a young girl" and is "not quite a ghost, but a spirit of the fairy folk." That sort of middling category falls well within the generous bounds of the Haunted Mansion.

Fairies aren't always depicted as having wings, either. Some old artistic depictions of fairies, in fact, bear a striking resemblance to our little Ghost Hostess. Here's the 1894 illustration to Phantastes: A Faerie Romance that I spoke of earlier. In the story, a fairy appears to the narrator as "a tiny woman-form, as perfect in shape as if she had been a small Greek statuette roused to life and motion." If this doesn't remind you of the Little Leota tableau, then . . . you're lying, because oh yes it does too.

And check out this 1907 John Bauer illustration for Alfred Svedberg's The Seven Wishes. The look of Little Leota's hair has varied down
through the years, but most of the time it has been long and wavy, like this fairy's. In the 1990s in particular, LL looked a lot like this.

Here's yet another old sketch (hat tip, again, to Craig Conley). This time it's from 1895, an illustration by Laurence Housman for his novel, The House of Joy. In a chapter called "The Luck of the Roses," a gardener and his wife come upon a "beautiful small figure" under a rose bush who is about three feet tall. The "little lady" is obviously a fairy of some sort but is described and sketched as merely a small female.

So for all we know, fairies are ghosts, or at least sometimes ghosts, and Little Leota may simply
be a ghost of that sort. That's all the "explanation" we probably need for her miniature appearance.

Thirdly, Little Leota's Long-Forgotten History

Little Leota looks like a bride. She's holding a bouquet of flowers and wears a veil and a long white gown. It would take a lot to convince me that she isn't deliberately presented as a bride. In addition, the way she looks today is the way she's looked since at least the early 1970's. These shots are from 2008, but they could have been taken almost any time in the last 45 years.

But when the ride opened in August of 1969, she did not look like this. She had no long, flowing tresses, wore no veil, and her dress was the same translucent "shower curtain" material that most of the other ghosts wear (although Little Leota's was obviously thinner and finer, as befitted her smaller size). She did carry a bouquet, but that would hardly be enough in itself to identify her as a bride, and as we will see, there are reasons to think she was not supposed to be taken for one.

What would we do without Dave? This is a rare photo from October of 1969:

Her body appears to be made of the same material as the larger, audio-animatronic figures (i.e. butyrate plastic). In the photo there are shiny white spots on her, especially around her thighs and below her left knee. One immediately supposes that these are merely reflections of the camera flash. Some of them may be, but I think that some of them are in fact reflections of the projector off to the left, down and out of our sight, because there is other evidence that points in that direction. As it happens, this snapshot isn't the only or even the oldest photographic record of Little Leota in situ. That award goes to the same historic home movie reel that proved to the world that the Hatbox Ghost was indeed installed in the Mansion and was seen by guests. What you see here lurking in the purple haze is awfully blurry, but trust me, that's Little Leota in August 1969, the very month that the ride opened.

little leota in 69
                                                  Todd Pierce unearthed this amazing footage in 2011

Despite the poor quality, that clip really is a lot of fun. Blow it up and look closely at it, and I swear, in some frames you can recognize and almost read her talking face. The billowing gown is quite noticeable, and you can't miss the lights, which are in approximately the same places as in the October photo. Judging from the rest of the reel, the filmmaker did not use any artificial lighting, so those lights are not reflections of anything the cameraman is holding. They're remarkably clear and steady. I think the most plausible explanation of them is that they are reflections of the projector. That's one of the hazards of the "Leota effect" whenever there is anything shiny out there. That's why, incidentally, there has always been a candle on the table next to Madame Leota. It gives you a way to (mis)identify the pesky reflection of the projector beam on Madame Leota's globe! (Or gave you a chance, I should say; this whole thing is no longer a problem, now that she's inner-projected.)

Here's a gif alternating between a 2003 photo of Mdm L and yet another frame from that same 1969 film we've been gawping at, in which Leota's face is barely detectible. Notice that the flame of the candle and the spot of projector-reflection on the globe are both clear even on the old film. You're supposed to unconsciously assume that the light on the left is only a chance reflection of the one on the right. These guys were good.

This solution obviously would not have worked with Little Leota. The reflections appeared in several places on her shiny body, to say nothing of possible issues with her reflective vinyl clothing fluttering like a flag. In her case, they fixed the problem by transforming her into a bride, wearing opaque clothing that eliminated all reflections at a single stroke.

By the way, we may be able to add one more photo to this tiny stash of '69 Little Leota photography. This snap is dated "1970s," but its resemblance to the other photo is so close that I suspect it may go back to 1969.* Be that as it may, the most useful bit of info this photo adds to the conversation is that Little Leota was definitely not wearing a veil back then but a sort of hooded cloak. That is even clearer in this photo than in the other, because in this one it's not even up on her head. (With regard to the matter under discussion, it appears that at the precise moment this photo was snapped, the cloak was hanging straight down enough to obscure the projector reflections.)

We don't know exactly when they redid Little Leota. The absolute parameters are October 1969
at the earliest and 1972 at the latest. I would guess earlier rather than later within that spread.

Whenever it happened, a gallery of images down to the present shows how little she has changed since that transformation.

Early 70s:





Aug 28, 1996:



May, 2015:

All they have done is mess around with her hair, making it sometimes more and sometimes less conspicuous.

Someone could argue that Little Leota was always intended to be a bride character, and the fact that she didn't very much look that way when the Mansion opened only reflects the mad dash to get the ride up and operating. According to this argument, her full and final costuming was slightly delayed, that's all. Telling against this is the fact that she is not labeled a bride on the blueprints. One supposes that "little bride" or the like would have been a lot simpler than "small female figure with blowing clothes" and a lot more specific than "figure" or "talking girl." I would also point out that her role as a bride fits her job description awkwardly: "Well, if you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour. A charming 'ghost-ess' will be on hand to take your application." Who would expect an application-taking hostess to be a bride? By the same token, if she was always going to be a bride, couldn't the Ghost Host's comments have been worded in a way that would have harmonized better with her nuptial character? I think it's safer to say she was neither conceived nor born as a bride but was changed into one sometime after the ride opened.

Curiously enough, this tardy role assignment reminds us of "Beating Heart," the attic bride, who didn't actually become a bride until very late in the game. In fact, the earliest irrefutable evidence that the spooky gal in the attic was going to be a bride doesn't appear until well into 1969 (i.e. the recording sessions for the souvenir records), unless this Marc Davis concept art can be dated earlier.

Even here, however, note that she's not in the attic. This sketch could just as easily be inspiration for Little Leota as for the attic
bride. Come to think of it, other than the size, it actually looks more like our little Ghostess than Beating Heart, doesn't it?

I find myself wondering if Little Leota became a bride when the Hatbox Ghost was removed and Beating Heart was put in his place and became the climax of the attic scene. It's sheer conjecture, but one can easily imagine imagineering along these lines:

"Hey, if the attic is now going to climax with a mysterious, isolated bride ghost, why not have the graveyard scene climax the same way? You know, just to stir the pot and get people asking questions and wondering what the heck's going on?"

Of course, the immediate and practical reason for revamping Little Leota—assuming our analysis is correct—was to eliminate the unwanted reflections of the projector, but all that was necessary to fix that problem was clothing her in an opaque material. It needn't have been a wedding gown. That was a creative choice, inspired perhaps by the Marc Davis sketch above. At any rate, the result is intriguing. On the one hand, Little Leota's identical face and method of presentation invite comparison with Madame Leota; on the other hand, her costume (and role?) invites comparison with the attic bride. I don't think there is any way to "resolve" this; it's probably nothing more than mystification for its own sake, suggesting that more is going on than meets the eye. That in itself, I submit, is justification enough.


*Misdating is easy to do. Sometimes film stays in cameras for months or even years before the roll is finally used up, and when it is eventually developed, it can be an easy thing in such cases to date with the latest shots on the roll photos that were actually taken much earlier. (You know, I almost put that entire last sentence in the past tense, but some people still use old-fashioned film cameras, kids.) 


  1. We really enjoy your well researched posts....
    though I have never been to Disney ( and will never get to go )
    so your great posts on the "Haunted Mansion" are very enjoyable to me ... and "Doom Buggy" is a great site as well...
    an great evening to you...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanks! I'll add that info to the post.

  3. Years ago Marc Davis had said that the Little Leota figure was inspired by the hostess at the Whispering Glade Cemetery in the Dark Comedy film THE LOVED ONE (1965) -- the hostesses while dress a tad more 1960's than Leota in the attraction, they do speak with a similar inflection and tone......

    -Mike Cozart

  4. Great blog! Discovered it sometime in the last few months. I was in Disneyland last month and got to see the new Hatbox Ghost on the Monday after he was installed. It was quite exciting.
    Just an aside to this current post: I'm reminded of William Blake's painting "The Ghost of a Flea" when I think of Little Leota. Just an idle connection, nothing more. But I think it's interesting.

    1. Are you sure you mean "The Ghost of a Flea," as that one depicts a beast-man:

  5. Hello, I discover right now reading the first paragraph that you're running out of subjects. So here's one.

    In the Donald Duck comic "Aventures à Eurodisney", drawn by Italian artist Romano Scarpa as a publicity for Disneyland Paris (still named Eurodisney at the time), include a visit of the characters in (supposedly) Phantom Manor. The point is, it doesn't look like Phantom Manor. If it resembles something, it's the Californian original, but it's obvious Scarpa never went there and is using old, low quality merchandise-shots. Good evidence of that: there's the Dark-face-glowing-eyes Beating Heart Bride in it. Or maybe. Because she looks more like a shaman than a bride. On the bad, dark shots, Scarpa took the gown and veils as… I don't know, some kind of rags or fur, and he didn't see that the character was female, nor than the fact that the red thing is HER HEART. So the character we get is a shaman holding a red heartlike talisman at the face of the characters. Other examples include a skeleton appearing in the doombuggie (explanable by a bad-seen Hitchhiking Ezra), and multiple ghosts coming out of coffins, apparently misinterpretation of the Conservatory Coffin Occupant.

    If you're interested in making a post on that, I'll give you links to the sequence.

    Signed: User-Achille-Talon-who-doesn't-manage-to-post-under-his-user-name-but-never-mind.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. That's interesting, but it doesn't strike me as something that merits a full discussion hereabouts.

    2. In that case, if it's not enough for a full post but interesting, you may use it as a part of a new "Stroll Around the Grounds Until You Feel at Home" along with other mini-subjects that other readers may have been giving to you these days.

  6. As a kid I always assumed it was supposed to be tiny statuary... sort of like a variation on the busts in the graveyard. But I guess the real hair and cloth dress cancel that out....

    1. Tiny statuary that's supernaturally animated could have moving clothing and hair. :-D

  7. I've only ever seen her from a distance at WDW, but I always got the "Ghost Host-ess" concept from Little Leota. I always thought she was supposed to be a woman holding flowers in mourning, because she's talking about "death certificates" and what not, and the idea being "if you should decide to join us" the flowers would be for "you", or your grave, like a creepy version of a Hawaiian lei, or spooky 60's Flower Child, or the way the Salvation Army used to hand out Poppies for donations, a kind of "welcome aboard and rest in peace" type of gesture.

    I just noticed in the '69 Dave Land photos the flowers she's holding look like some kind of Calla Lilies, which I guess could go either way though... wedding or funeral. They have changed her up over the years, and I can't tell from the newer photos if she's still holding lilies, it looks like the bouquet and the positionof her hands has been changed over time as well, she certainly looks more like a bride these days

    1. Actually, her hands and arms have never changed position. (I've got some extreme close-up photos of the figure with the bouquet missing (not installed in the ride), so I've got a pretty solid idea of how her hands and arms are positioned; I've never seen a photo of her where they were repositioned.) As for whether or not Little Leota is a bride, I think that if you're an Imagineer and you outfit a female figure with a long white gown, a veil, and have her holding a bouquet, and do NOT intend her to be seen as a bride, then you are an idiot. Interpreting her as something other than a bride comes with a price I am not willing to pay: thinking any of those guys were complete idiots.

    2. I agree, she probably is a hooded/veiled woman bringing flowers to a grave, maybe our grave. Despite she's wearing white doesn't means she's a bride, just was a easy but bad solution for the reflections, and it had to be seen in the dark, but ghosts are also white don't they!...

    3. I never saw her as a bride, even as a child. I always saw her and still see her, as a mourning woman by a gravesite. The only reason she's wearing white is to reflect the blacklight. Any other color, especially black, would've made her hard to distinguish, In the catholic religion, female mourners often wore long veils like that at burials, so in my mind, that's exactly what she is: a mourning ghost-widow beckoning us to join her.

    4. I must admit I never saw her as a bride, either, but as a mourner or as a hostess of the Mansion. And I agree that the white clothing makes sense for helping her to show up in the dark and to appear ghostly. :-)

    5. If it came to that, they could have made her pink or green. White is not the only choice for black light. Anyway, these practical considerations miss the point. Guests don't know what is or isn't possible with black lighting. Most of them probably don't even know what black light is. The point is rather audience perception. It appears from the Comments here that some people never saw her as a bride. That's fine. All I'm saying is that if you deck out a young woman with a long white gown, a long veil, and a bouquet, you'd better reconcile yourself to the fact that many, perhaps most, are going to think she's a bride, and the WDI guys know that as well as anyone. That being so, I just assume they were okay with that. They did nothing to counter that perception. If they entertained the idea of making her a mourner, they probably dumped the idea as soon as they thought of it, because mourners would wear dark, somber clothes. A widow would be in black. Can't do that. So forget making her recognizably a mourner character. Hey, bride works, so okay, make her look like a bride. If some people don't read her that way, the Imagineers don't care. Nothing rides on it.

    6. Oh yes, I totally get your point, HBG2, and of course agree that most people would interpret the figure as a bride. (Apparently I have trouble taking things literally; I once got lost while seeking someone's house because when the directions said "turn left," I took it figuratively. [True story]). Come to think of it, I was always too focused on watching her animated face and listening to what she was saying to spare any thought to the rest of her.

    7. Truth be told, I never gave any real thought as to "what she was" either. That's one of the delightful things about LL. When you first see her, your mind is immediately taken up with wondering about her diminutive size. That's still left unexplained as your attention is then turned to her macabre little speech and puzzlement as to how the effect is done. Those are more than enough to keep you occupied. I'm not surprised to learn that for a great many people, they've never really gotten around to wondering who or what she's supposed to be. Low priority.

    8. Yes, and you read my mind: I had meant to mention that wonderment over her diminutive size sort of eclipses other wonderments. Yet the background on what she is and why she's presented that way are fascinating, and that's the beauty of Long Forgotten. I've had a blast thinking about Little Leota ever since your post went up.

    9. It's so much later, so I may never find out... but Eccentric Scholar... I really really want to know how one takes a GPS direction to "turn left" figuratively. I feel like there's a great story there. :)

  8. Ok, I'm talking about the one in Florida though. The original "Clear Gown" version of the figure that you say was only briefly in Anaheim, was in Orlando... I assume from opening day, but throughout the 1980's which is when I started going to the parks there. Sometime in the 1990's they switched to a kind of "Intermediate Gown" let's say, which was one long piece but wasn't particularly good, your pal Foxy as a video posted on Youtube that shows that version of it here's the link

    This "Intermediate Gown" lasted a few years until they started switching the Orlando Mansion over to be more like the Anaheim one, and they now both have that same "Multi-layered Gown" which you have posted several photos of

    But back in the 80's in Orlando the original "Clear Gown" was the one you'd see, and it was exactly like what's in these Daveland pictures, where "the bouquet" is positioned differently in her hands. The flowers drape down off from left elbow, and since in Orlando you ride underneath her, it gives the effect that's she offering a flower to you as you go by... I think I maybe should of specified that first time around

  9. I grew up with the FL version as well and never thought she was supposed to be a bride

  10. Someone commented on another of your posts that the Ghost Hostess was inspired by the Whispering Glades Hostesses from the movie "The Loved One." A clip:

    1. That's very interesting, and you can see a certain resemblance, but I'm going to put it down to an influence only, one influence among others. The reason for thinking so is that she's holding (and always has) a bouquet and not a registration book. The latter would have been an obvious and unambiguous choice if that were ALL she was supposed to be.

      I suppose that someone will point out that the hostess in "The Loved One" is wearing a veil and try to use this to argue that LL is not necessarily a bride. Actually, the veil is part of the hostess's hat and nothing like a bridal veil. It's a church-going hat, which quite typically included a small veil. If any of you readers have or had a Roman Catholic grand (or great-grand) mother, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Still in the 1950s every woman without exception would wear such a hat to church. In 1969 it was still very common, and a funeral parlor has always been treated as a church atmosphere, with attire appropriate to such. Nobody would confuse such a veil with a bridal veil.

  11. I have always loved "Little Leota"; the glowing face, the veil and dress blowing in the wind, and... she was tiny! Why?? Thank you for addressing this mystery.

  12. Very interesting stuff, as always. I think it's a stretch to consider Little Leota's outfit to be a bridal gown. I've always thought that she looked more like she was attending a funeral and the flowers were part of that.

    1. Who wears a white gown and veil to a funeral?

    2. Speaking for myself, it was obvious from my first visit to the Mansion during a soft opening back in August of 1969 that the tiny ghost imploring visitors to “hurry back” was supposed to be a bride. What else would she be?

  13. One thing that could be worth discussing is the presence of the Claude Coats-inspired ghosts, i.e., why they are in the attraction despite their very indistinct and more frightening appearances. The ones in the Grand Ballroom windows especially stick out among the various human ghosts.
    I never knew that Little Leota had so much going on in her history. And her bridal appearance is indeed strange, but I never really saw her that way. It's interesting to know where her diminutive size comes from.

  14. I read recently on some other website (possibly a theory that when our doombuggy exits the attic window and travels backward to ground level, we are supposedly falling to our death and becoming ghosts ourselves. The caretaker is wide-eyed in horror at seeing US as ghosts, the party in the graveyard is our fellow spooks welcoming us to the afterlife, and Little Leota is inviting us to return or stay at the mansion now that we have passed on. Have you heard this before, and any thoughts?

  15. That theory has been around a long time and is still favored by some, but I don't think it holds water. Most glaringly, it should be obvious to any careful observer that the Caretaker is not looking at us but at the ghosts. According the official ride summary (summer of 1969), we "suddenly 'fall' backwards off the roof" and "descend past grasping, demon trees, then find a terrified night watchman and his dog, standing, frozen with fright." Evidently we survive the fall, and the Caretaker is already terrified when we encounter him. If we're dead, how is it that ghosts will follow us home? Home where? According to the well-known trope, hitchhiking ghosts always hitch a ride with the living, not the dead. And if we want to join the HM ghosts, we need to bring back a death certificate (i.e. we don't have one yet). It's an interesting theory, but wrong.

  16. Lovely article. I had a discussion with my mother about the Haunted Mansion when she was a child. She was apparently so terrified by the pop up ghosts in the early 70's, that she rode the ride over and over and memorized where and when they popped up so she wouldn't scream anymore!

    I'm personally wondering if you know anything about the back of the house. My past two trips to the mansion, have included relatively long lines, and so a trip around the queue to the queue side of the house. BOTH times, the door on the side (this door: ) Were opened. Inside, are a few calendars and such, and stairs downwards. I, being a big fan of the mansion, freaked out and got incredibly excited (much to the confusion of my family). I spent much of that trip spewing information about the mansion to my family, which I learned from this website! I'm also curious about the balcony. On multiple occasions, said upstairs balcony has been used. Where's the staircase? How do the cast members who are up there for events get there? I get awfully curious about that balcony, as well as the inner workings of how the mansion works. Where things are run. I doubt it's enough for a whole post, but if you have any information that would be welcome! I love this site, it's my go-to when I have a question I can't answer about the mansion. Thank you for your work.

    1. Hi Mimi,
      The door and lean-to you're looking at have always been there and are on the blueprints. What that is, as you may have guessed, is an employee entrance. It pretty much goes straight down to the HM command and control area, sometimes called the "Tower." After you leave your doombuggy, it swings around the wall in a sharp hairpin turn to the right and goes past the Tower (on the left side of the track) before turning left and descending the steps into the limbo load area. That outside door leads to a staircase descending to a landing where you make a sharp left and descend another short staircase, putting you right at the entrance to the Tower.

      There is also a metal spiral staircase inside the facade building (physically not far from that outside stairwell we've been talking about) which enables employees to reach a doorway to the balcony.

  17. I always assumed she was the model of the attic bride that they used when presenting the Haunted Mansion to sponsors, and then recycled the model ghost into the ride as a homage to the gifted model maker(I forgot her name but Disney LOVED her models of his rides, especially the one she made of Carousel of Progress)

  18. Is there enough material to possibly have a post comparing the Mansion with the more modern Tower of Terror, especially in terms of thematic story telling and how they possibly influenced one another?

    Also, maybe a series of articles focusing on the details unique to each non-Anaheim mansion? I'd certainly love to hear your thoughts on Phantom Manor especially and whether it is just dedicated hosting to that asterisk on Marc Davis' "joke".

    1. I don't see any influence from the HM on ToT other than vague generalities (i.e. ghosts in both).

      Since I have no first-hand experience of WDW HM, Tokyo, and Phantom Manor, I would rather direct attention to people who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to details of their history and artistry. Foxxy over at Passports to Dreams blog is the go-to for anything WDW. There are a couple of good PM sites out there, and feedback I sometimes get from Europeans only confirms to me that you have to see PM to appreciate it (or depreciate it). For Tokyo, I have no good source to recommend, for myself or anyone else.

  19. I cannot remember when, but I have a clear recollection of Little Leota wearing a dark cloak for a while. I never saw her as a bride, but a "guide" – and the flowers as a mourning bouquet. I grew up in Fullerton and Disneyland was my backyard - even went to HM on opening day (I still have a little skeleton that they handed out), so I have been to The Haunted Mansion probably hundreds of times.

  20. Hello,

    It looks like there is more to the relationship between Little Leota and her psychic counterpart in the Séance Room: has a recording of Eleanor Audley saying the "Hurry back" lines. Why was it changed ? Why did they decide to use Leota Toombs's recording instead ? Are they, or are they not supposed to be the same character, at the end of the day ?

  21. Replies
    1. They recorded both Eleanor and Leota for both voices, so it is difficult to know what combination they had in mind and when. You could have El and El, El and Leo, Leo and Leo, or Leo and El, which makes it hard to divine what relationship the two characters were thought to have.

  22. Hello HBG2! I have just recently stumbled across your blog and have been loving it! I know I am coming to this Little Leota post years later, but I thought I would ask: have you ever come across any evidence that Little Leota was planned to be in a location outside of the exit ramp area? I ask because I've often thought of the small space available to Little Leota as a contributing factor to her diminutive size, making it the perfect spot to include a fairy-like spirit, but perhaps the idea for a little ghost predates any particular decision on her location. Thanks again for all of your fantastic insight and HM research!

    1. Interesting question. All I can say is that I have seen no evidence that the size of the tableau dictated the size of the ghost in any way.

  23. As far as "colors of mourning" go, wearing black to a funeral is a surprisingly resent thing that started with Queen Victoria after Albert's death, traditionally the color for death/mourning was white (blue in ancient Egypt). Wedding dresses were usually just whatever your 'sunday best' was and the whole 'white wedding' thing is also MUCH newer then one would think. Just thought I'd put my two cents in on that topic.

  24. Although my experience of the mansions is all too infrequent, I can say that with LL coming after the singing busts I myself have always seen her as a white marble statue haunted/possessed veiled in mourning much like this bust. But differing interpretations are what makes the Haunted Mansion such a great ride.

  25. Am I the only one who remembers her wearing a red dress at the haunted mansion in wdw? Before the 2007 update? Or is it one of those "misremembered" things?