She began her career at the Walt Disney Studios in 1940, when she was hired into the Ink and Paint department. She then transferred to the Animation Department, where she met animator Harvey Toombs, whom she married in 1947. She left the Company to raise their two children: Launie and Kim, but returned to Disney in 1962. Joining WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering, she created and developed designs for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, playing pivotal roles in the creation of It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and the Ford Magic Skyway. After the World’s Fair ended, Leota transferred her talents to some of the most beloved attractions at Disneyland, including Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.
When the idea of a disembodied head that speaks from inside a crystal ball came along during The Haunted Mansion's development, Yale Gracey asked Leota to pose for the head, just so they could test it out. However, it was decided that actress Eleanor Audley should provide Leota's voice, due to the menacing quality of her voice. But the ’Little Leota’ bride at the end of the ride does have Leota Toombs’ small high-pitched voice. Leota relocated to Walt Disney World in 1971 to start up the on-site team that would maintain the shows and attractions in the Magic Kingdom park. After returning to California in 1979, she worked in several different capacities, including at Walt Disney Imagineering, where she trained many Disneyland figure-finishers and artisans.
Her daughter, Kim Irvine is also an Imagineer, having started with the company in 1970.