Disney’s magical experiential stunt surprises park guests


The happiest place on earth has just got even happier.

To promote the release of new movie Alice Through The Looking Glass, Disney brought Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter character to life in a truly magical way this month.  

Using live streaming technology, Johnny Depp dressed up in his iconic Mad Hatter costume once more for the stunt which connected him from a soundstage to guests at Disneyland’s California Resort.


Visitors to the park were greeted by what originally seemed to be an ordinary static billboard of the Mad Hatter. But as they stopped to look, the Mad Hatter blinked and smiled.

Delighted, the poster drew a crowd of onlookers waiting to see what would happen next. Gradually the Mad Hatter’s movements increased, causing the crowd to question whether it could really be Johnny Depp looking out at them from the other side of the billboard.

One brave person decided to put it to the test and waved at the poster, only to be surprised by a wave back from the Oscar-nominated actor.

As the crowd started to catch on, Johnny Depp interacted with them more and more, asking one woman’s name and then repeating it back to her to her utter shock; crying out in pain as a woman bumped into the poster; and even directly addressing one very surprised little girl.


The realisation that they were talking to Johnny Depp in real-time caused shrieks of excitement and laughter from adults and kids alike, and unsurprisingly attracted a very big crowd.

Watch the amazed reactions in this video:

Much like Disney’s side shadow campaign, this stunt perfectly combined surprise, intrigue and interactive technology for a memorable brand experience.

This magical activation also shows the huge power that a well-executed experiential marketing campaign can have to boost product awareness. The Mad Hatter Surprise video, in just one week, has garnered almost 2 million views on YouTube – dwarfing the reach of the movie’s official trailer.

It’s yet another example of how a well-integrated experiential stunt can open the doors to even greater brand love.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.