Here, in shortened from, is everything you want to know on the subject of Hidden Mickeys. A bold claim, perhaps, but why not? This is everything we can think of that you might be curious about. Before we start, you (in common with most of us) already think you know a lot about Disney. And Mickey Mouse. Sure, he is the central mascot of the company, and he’s been around a while. Since 1928, in fact. A staple for the company. Highly recognizable. But while you may know something about him, taking another look at the concept of the Hidden Mickeys might make you better enjoy your search for them. Or it might convince you it is now time to start looking.
Do you see the Hidden Mickey in this picture? This one is located in The Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom:
Question: Just what are hidden Mickeys?
Answer: A “Hidden Mickey” is a Mickey Mouse shape that Walt Disney “Imagineers” have strategically placed throughout the Disneyland Resort. (They’re actually in all the resorts.) It comes in many forms, from a complete Mickey Mouse profile to the outline of his head and ears. They come in all sizes and shapes, however.
Q: Who started this anyway?
A: Imagineers subtly hid Mickey Mouse silhouettes in plain sight. Soon, it became a tradition. Word spread. Disney fans began searching for them.
Q: When did this start?
A: The first published sighting was believed to have been made by Arlen Miller. He wrote an article in 1989 on Hidden Mickeys for WDW’s cast member publication, called “Eyes and Ears.” Disney picked up the story and spread the news.
Q: What’s a classic Mickey?
A: Just three circles, one for his face and two smaller ones for the ears. Disney artists and others call them. Here’s what one looks like:
Q: What forms do these Hidden Mickeys take?
A: Everything from alien symbols on the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in the Magic Kingdom to a Mickey mural in Disneyland’s Frontierland. A popular one in the past has been found at the lake inside of the Richard Petty Experience.In other words, many shapes in many different and diverse places. Not all of them totally planned, either.
Q: How many are there?
A: Many, many. Some estimates are 600. Or 1,000. Or even many more. No one really knows the exact number but who cares?
How to Define a Hidden Mickey
Q: How do you define one?
A: Standards of hidden-seekers are high. They demand the image be proportioned correctly, for example. There is no set size but beware of the most common misperception of a Hidden Mickey: a couple of circles without ears. Or a simple balloon. Sorry, not always a real Mickey.
Q: Why are they called Hidden Mickeys?
A: Because they are not obvious. They are hidden or not meant to be easily seen. That spoils the fun.
Q: What are the challenges for finding them?
A: A Mickey also may be harder to find than you think because it might be sideways or upside down.
An Easier Way to Find Them
Q: Is there any kind of list for Hidden Mickeys?
A: At Walt Disney World, Disney has an unofficial "official" list. It has changed numerous times over the years. Some of the Hidden Mickeys on this list suddenly appeared upon an update of "their" list.
Q: What if I don’t want to find Mickeys? How about other characters?
A: Imagineers have placed other familiar characters in the design of the parks. You might find Donald and Goofy or Minnie or Pluto. A hint to finding them: they may be on tombstones and equipment baskets.
More than Mice
Q: Can you find Hidden Mickeys outside the parks?
A: One estimate is that there are 39 hidden Mickeys in Disney animated movies including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and many others.
Q: What’s the best known Mickey?
A: The largest has been the one known as “Mickey’s Forest.” More than two decades ago, the cast member newspaper asked for volunteers to plant a forest in the shape of the mouse. It was part of a water reclamation area for a former citrus grove. Hundreds of cast members planned pine seedlings. The result was an enormous Mickey seen by passengers on flights coming into Orlando.
Q: What if we don’t want to bother looking for all these Mickeys? Any easy way to find them?
A: One way is to ask for a list at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. There are also apps that show you where to look. Lists are not particularly hard to find. Author Steven M. Barrett’s book, “Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets” is full of them.
Q: Any tips on finding them?
Tips for Finding them
A: Sure. Two ways. Read about them before going. But better yet: challenge yourself to use your observational skills to find your own and compile a list.
Q: So any final words on the subject?
A: Happy hunting. ###
Here are a few favorites of ours.
Hidden Mickey in Test Track waiting line:
Hidden Mickey in Mission Space gift shop / exit: