Haunted Crystal Ball (Madame Leota)




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Haunted Crystal Ball(Madame Leota or your own video)

Ever wonder what happened to the heads of all those headless ghouls? Well they’re wandering the world looking for places to take up residence. It just so happens that one apparition’s head has appropriated your crystal ball as its place to haunt…

This prop was inspired by the crystal ball containing the disembodied head of the medium Madame Leota from Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction.

This prop can be made over a weekend for very little money, particularly if you already have a display device, aka ipad/tablet, etc. The premise is simple; take a acrylic globe intended for a light fixture add a video display under it and then place a sheet of clear plastic in the globe at a 45 degree angle to reflect the image forward. That’s it!

Madame Leota is the medium in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction that appears in the séance room’s crystal ball casting spells. I used video of her face for the image in the crystal ball. Many versions of Madame Leota can be found on YouTube. However the one I am using, and like the best, is found on our own Instructable’s website from a previous Instructable: https://www.instructables.com/file/FPIQ07SFN82O50H...

You can also record your own video and personalize the content. The video is run in a looping program so that it continuously repeats so there is no need to access the video device to start or stop the content. I used ‘Vloop’ App, but there are several out there. If you want pauses in the loop, you can use video editing software to freeze a frame, duplicating or stretching it out in time to create a pause.

I used an iPad2 as my video device, but any video display that fills the opening in the bottom of the globe will do. The iPad is thin so it is easy to conceal and can make the prop truly portable. Other video display sources can be used, it’s just that they get thick and require greater creativity to hide.

The display does have its limitations. Because the image is being reflected from below it is best viewed directly from the front, as deviation from head-on will tend to cut off the image. Keeping the image intact can be accomplished by locating the crystal ball in such a way that your guests are most likely to stay directly in front of the globe.


Acrylic Globe for Light Fixture (10” diameter with 5-1/4 opening), Amazon $25

Rigid yet flexible clear plastic sheet; iPad Screen Protector (see text)-Dollar Store

Black Construction Paper

Adhesive Tape

iPad or other Display Device and Video Looping App

Zots medium adhesive dots, Amazon $4

Charger (large plate)- Dollar Store

Black Spray Paint



Computer (optional, if needed to download and prepare video)

Bowl or Compass to trace circles

Felt Marking Pen

Two Straight Edges (steel rulers)

Step 1: Install Your Video on Your IPad (or Other Device)

Install the looping App on your video device. I used Vloop. My version was not the latest, which is shown on the App Store.

Download Madame Leota or record the video content you want to appear on the crystal ball. I liked the version found on the Instructable's website: https://www.instructables.com/file/FPIQ07SFN82O50H...

Install the video in the looping App and make sure it functions properly.

You want the head to appear as large as possible on the screen but not larger than the opening in the bottom of the globe, otherwise you will see a line on the image.

Another option for content is that since I'm using an iPad I can 'face time' and video chat in real time. My haunted crystal ball can interact with guests/trick-or-treaters on the fly.

Step 2: Cover Your IPad With Black Construction Paper

Take a pen and trace the opening of the globe onto the black construction paper. Because of the curve of the globe the circle you trace will be about ¼ inch larger than the opening in the globe. This is what you want.

Cut an opening in the black construction paper following the traced circle. You may have to adjust the size of the hole in the construction paper to just allow the image of the head to be visible on your iPad or other device.

Align the opening over your display so just the head appears. Fold the black construction paper around the sides of the iPad and tape it in place to the back. Cut away the paper in front of the speaker holes so you don’t muffle the sound.

Step 3: Insert Clear Plastic Sheet Into Globe

Remove the Screen Protector from its packaging but do not remove any of the protective films on the protector; these will remain in place. The films must be clear, or you will have to remove them. Leaving them in place helps to increase the rigidity of the screen protector. Other plastic sheets can be used, they just must be smooth enough to reflect the image clearly and also rigid enough to not sag and distort the image. The screen protector is rectangular, but ideally the plastic sheet should be a circle and fill the entire globe.

Take a bowl that is the same diameter as the interior of the globe and trace a circle centered over the Screen Protector. Most likely only the corners will be marked.

Cut the corners off following the curve you traced to make the Screen Protector fit inside the globe. It should just fit across the internal diameter of the globe. You may have to make some adjusting trims to get it to just fit. A correct fit has the Page Protector not bowed or ‘scrunched’ but flat with the four corners touching the inside surface of the globe. The screen protector should be located at a 45 degree angle to the opening in the bottom of the globe.

To add stiffness we are going to turn up an 1/8-inch lip on the edge of the screen protector to help give it rigidity. After trimming the corners take two straight edges (rulers), place one on top of the protector and the other just under the edge of it about 1/8 inch in from the side. Fold the straight edge located under the protector up to crease the edge.

Depending on how prone your screen protector is to moving around in the globe, you may want to place small pieces of transparent tape at the bottom corners of the screen protector to tape it to the interior of the globe so it is unlikely to move.

Step 4: Paint Charger and Mount IPad

Spray paint the Charger Black if you can't find a black one.

Stick Zots to the back corners of the construction paper covered iPad. The Zots are to mount the iPad to the charger. Center the iPad over the charger and press it down onto the charger to mount it.

This gives some sense of firm attachment. If this is not secure enough for you (to keep your iPad safe from plummeting to the ground) you’ll have to investigate another mounting method.

Cut two long 1-inch wide strips of black construction paper and tape them together. Place them around the base of the globe and tape the free ends together lapping the paper to make a ring of paper as small as possible around the bottom of the globe. This gives the globe a kind of base and serves to obscure the image on the iPad to allow a greater viewing angle above the horizontal.

Step 5: Mount the Globe and Go a Haunting!

Test fit the alignment by placing the globe over the iPad with Madame Leota facing away from you. The opening in the globe should match up with the opening in the black construction paper. If it aligns well and Madame Leota looks great place Zots on the edge of the globe opening and secure the globe to the construction paper and/or iPad face.

Obviously you have to press 'play' and get the video loop going. This may require that you pull the globe off and replace it. On my prop the run button for the looping app was in the corner of the screen accessible through the construction paper away from the globe.

There you have it, your own haunted crystal ball. Enjoy!

Have a Happy Halloween!

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    17 Discussions


    Reply 1 year ago

    Glad you liked this Instructable. I found it provides a really neat effect and isn't that hard to pull off.

    Thank you for the material suggestion. The lexan looks like it would work great!


    1 year ago

    Really cool effect! Any suggestions for making the face appear larger like in the video?

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    The size of the face is relative to the size of the image on the device you are using to show the Madame Leota video. The screen protector acts as a mirror to bounce the image that is sitting under the crystal ball on the device to send it forward to the viewing individual. If you use a tablet (iPad) the face will be the size of the image on the tablet (big). If you use a computer monitor the face would be bigger; assuming your plastic 'mirror' (screen protector) and globe were bigger. If you used a cell phone then the face will be the size of the cell phone screen (small). I hope that answers the question. Unfortunately there is not an easy or good way to take a small image and make it look bigger.

    Thanks for asking!


    Reply 1 year ago

    I should note that the curve of the screen protector side to side (horizontal bow) does affect the image size. That is what caused the difference in image sizes in the last two photos in this instructable. The screen protector stays straight and at a 45 degree angel top to bottom, but if the sides are a bit farther back than the middle the image will be stretched a bit. If the sides are in front of the middle the image will shrink a bit. Hope that helps.


    Question 1 year ago

    Any suggestions on how to make the face appear larger like in the video?


    1 year ago

    I keep having issues with this. I have tried the screen protector but I'm not getting a reflection. Any idea on what I am doing wrong?

    1 reply

    I am so sorry I did not see your question before Halloween. The screen protector must be glossy - smooth, no texture or frost to it. The protector must be tilted at a 45 degree angle to the video screen so that it bounces the image toward the viewer. Again, sorry I did not see this earlier :-(.

    Hope you still had a great Halloween.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very good explanation and great prop concept! I may make one for my porch decorations next year.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome ! is the word. Simple design but executed very smartly with finesse.


    4 years ago

    Great idea and execution. well done.
    very spooky!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I forgot about that effect, reminds me of the magic school bus :D I'll have to make something like that soon Good job !


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really cool! I want to try it out, I'm thinking something Christmas-y like a snow globe! Thanks for the great instructable!