Your Souvenir Guide

Disneyland Ex Machina

All Work and Cosplay

Oh, I just don’t know. I think I understand what Annie Leibovitz and Disney are trying to do with this campaign; it’s a shrewd effort to gain the consumer confidence of the Vanity Fair set, those holdouts who think that Disney entertainment is below them but the cult of celebrity isn’t. Well, if Academy Award-winners Jeff Bridges and Penelope Cruz think this Disney stuff is all right, then I guess I can pop a few antidepressants and take the kids.

Meanwhile, you should know that your children are looking at this stuff and they’re thinking, “Dude, you’re outta your element.”

It’s not that I don’t understand why celebrities would want to play dress-up for Disney and Leibovitz; it’s not like I wouldn’t slap on the phallus and clogs if Disney called and said “We need a Pinocchio for our national print and web campaign … and you’ll be working with the photog that ruined Miley Cyrus for us.” The part that I don’t understand is why Disney is going to this million-dollar effort while their own underpaid staff photographers have captured lots and lots of photos of celebrities goofing off in the Parks for free.

Colbert DCA

Hey there, it’s Stephen Colbert! And he’s in Disney’s California Adventure of his own free will.


Huge Ackman! (The photo is from Just Jared and is used without permission, but I’m pretty sure one of Disney’s press wonks took it.)

Laura Dern

Laura Dern, who continues to make me hotter than Georgia asphalt, at the opening of Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.

Nicolas Cage Disneyland

Aaaand just like that I’ve reunited the cast of “Wild at Heart.” (On an unrelated note: At least Nic wore a nice jacket, right? Who cares if he combed his hair with his thumbs?) I don’t have to look for a photo of Willem Dafoe riding Dumbo to know that it’s out there.

Mariska Hargitay

Look, it’s Maryk … I mean, it’s Marik-er … It’s that pretty lady from “Law & Order SVU!”

Johnny Depp

Look, it’s that pretty lady from “The Astronaut’s Wife!”

Granted, these are off-the-cuff candids and quickly-posed shots, not the elaborate (I’d say too elaborate) productions that Disbovitz seems to think they need. But these candids have something the Disney Dream portraits do not: a pulse. They’re fun, like the kind of fun one might expect to have in a Disney theme park. They don’t just sit there and congratulate themselves for being something that, despite its elaborate making, has almost no life to it. The Leibovitz photos are so thoroughly refined and processed that no one really needs to be there for it — not the celebrities, whose heads appear to be superimposed even though I know otherwise, and not Leibovitz, who could have easily farmed this entire job out to Disney’s art direction staffers.

So, do they work? Do these photographs make people want to visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Do people even realize that they’re supposed to want to do that? Or do they look at these shots and think “Wow, it’s like the orgy scene from ‘Eyes Wide Shut?'” Whatever the case, I’d expect Disney’s marketing army — the people who managed to sell us not one but two god-damned films starring chihuahuas — to come up with something a little less contrived. I don’t have the math on this, but I’d be willing to bet that more people Google the other Disney/Leibovitz collaboration — the one starring Miley Cyrus.

CORRECTIONS SINCE FIRST PUBLICATION: I corrected “Leibowitz” to “Leibovitz” throughout the piece; thanks to constant reader Ginny Morey for the catch. And I accidentally called the photographer “Fran Leibowitz,” which I’ll attribute to “writer’s blockade.”



1 Comment

  1. Ha! I think you must be right, otherwise they wouldn’t have picked any one as, um, *seasoned* as Jeff Bridges and Penelope Cruz to play Belle and the Beast.
    Having said that, it’s nice that they make the effort. In the UK, they have given up trying to target anyone with half a brain… The ads are pretty much “hey, wanna see how loudly reality tv contestants of the future can scream when there’s a free trip in the offering?”. Painful!

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