I was at Epcot in Walt Disney World last week, and I learned the sad news that Jutta Levasseur has passed away. The German-born Levasseur had hand-painted egg ornaments in the Germany pavilion since the park’s opening day in 1982.
She was such a fixture that the park gave her the great honor of setting aside a studio nook overlooking the World Showcase Lagoon. Her eggs, which were Disney riffs on an old Germany Christmas tradition, were meticulous work, many taking up to three weeks to complete, and were prized by Disney collectors. Most of her eggs are now gone except for a few large ones costing well over $1,000, but her name plate remains on a shelf above her desk in tribute.
I have not been able to find an obituary for her, but I have reached out to Walt Disney World to see if it can confirm this sad news. (Update: It confirmed the news but had no other details.) A few years ago, other cast members told me that she was battling cancer, and it’s true that Jutta was not in her usual station very often for the past few years. Five years ago, she was only working Fridays and Saturdays, but her handiwork was considered by many to be a symbol of Epcot.
I first met Jutta when I was writing my first guidebook to the park for Pauline Frommer’s series (I teasingly called her little oblong canvasses “chicken roe”) and I made a decision to spotlight some of the cast members who have been part of Epcot since the very beginning. There are a few cast members at Epcot who are true fixtures, including Miyuki the candy sculptor in Japan, the Hat Lady (now Hat Ladies) of the United Kingdom, and the brothers in the mariachi band in Mexico (I shot a video feature on them a few years ago). I am sorry to see her depart, and at a relatively young age.