A Hidden Mickey is an image of Mickey Mouse worked into the design of a Disney attraction or some other Disney structure. Originally, a Hidden Mickey was the familiar shape of Mickey’s head and ears made from one large circle with two smaller circles on top. (See the Maharajah’s earring in the photo of the mural on the Animal Kingdom’s Maharajah Jungle Trek at left.) These days, however, Hidden Mickeys can take many forms.
Steve Barrett, author of Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best-Kept Secrets, provides this explanation of these interesting little sidelights:
Writer Jim Hill believes that Hidden Mickeys originated in the late 1970s or early 1980s when Disney management wanted to restrict Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie to the Magic Kingdom. Epcot was to be a more adult park with a different emphasis and theme than the Magic Kingdom. The Imagineers designing Epcot couldn’t resist slipping Mickeys into the new park in subtle ways, and thus “Hidden Mickeys” were born. Guests and Cast Members started spotting them and the concept took on a life of its own. Today, Hidden Mickeys are anticipated in any new construction or renovation at Walt Disney World and at the other Disney parks worldwide.
Other characters are hidden as well. You’ll find Hidden Minnies, Donald Ducks, Goofys, Plutos, Baloos, Winnie the Poohs, and others. The Imagineers and Cast Members have loads of fun placing Hidden Mickeys and other characters for us to find. Disney doesn’t keep an updated list of Hidden Mickeys, so it’s up to us to find and describe them.
Some images of Mickey and his friends (like side profiles such as the one of Mickey found in the eye of the frog in the Conservation Station mural shown at right) are obviously hidden. Circular forms are a different story. Groups of circles exist throughout the parks and resorts (grapes, tomatoes, pumpkins, bubbles, oranges, cannonballs, and the like). Not all three-circle groupings are Hidden Mickeys. We must ask the pivotal question: Was the image of Mickey (or another character) placed there on purpose (a true Hidden Mickey), or is it just an accidental image? Often, we can’t know for certain, so we use our best judgment. I believe if an Imagineer or Cast Member goes to the trouble to place a three-circle Hidden Mickey (purposeful), then the circles will likely simulate Mickey’s real head and ears. Therefore, I have trouble accepting three circles of the same size as a purposeful Hidden Mickey, even if they’re positioned properly. I suppose we’ll be debating the three small tile circles (all the same size) along the floor of the entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a long time, since the Polynesian Village Resort has an awesome small three-tile Hidden Mickey (well-proportioned) on a counter at the Kona Island Coffee Bar.
Sometimes, the head and ears are different sizes, but the proportions are wrong. If the ears are tiny and the head huge, that collection of circles is probably not a purposeful Hidden Mickey. We do accept some distorted classic (three-circle) configurations as Hidden Mickeys, such as the jail cell lock at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the three-gear classic Mickey on the ground at the end of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom. These two distorted Hidden Mickeys are sentimental favorites, as Cast Members have talked about them for many years. If three circles approximate the correct proportions and alignment, especially if they stand out (that hard to define “Eureka!” quality) or if they’re supported by a groundswell of positive opinion, then I accept the sighting as a Hidden Mickey.
Images of Mickey Mouse and other characters that are too obvious are called decorative (decor) Mickeys; they’re not hidden. For example, in a restaurant, a pat of butter shaped like Mickey Mouse is a decor Mickey. Hidden Mickeys can also be lost during renovations, or Imagineers and Cast Members can simply remove them or change their locations. Therefore, the magnificent world of Hidden Mickeys is constantly changing and growing. This state of flux guarantees us Hidden Mickey hunters an ever-challenging and rewarding sport, whenever we’re lucky enough to be on Disney property!
To read more about Hidden Mickeys, visit Steve’s website HERE.
Be sure to check out Steve’s Hidden Mickey Blog, too!
Purchase Steve’s book in the AllEars.Net bookstore HERE.
HIDDEN MICKEY ALERTS! From time to time, Hidden Mickeys author Steve Barrett discovers new Hidden Mickeys around Walt Disney World and passes them along to AllEars.Net’s newsletter, ALL EARS®. Here are a few past “Hidden Mickey Alerts” that Steve has shared with us. Find an assortment of previous HM Alerts HERE.
1. Inside the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant, on the left side of the “When You Wish Upon a Star” wall mural (near the exit to the restrooms), a tiny white classic Mickey is near a sparkling star. It’s to the left of the Fairy, at the level of her mid right thigh, and her right thumb points to it. (Thanks to Scott Mueller.)
2. Inside Sanaa restaurant, classic Mickeys are in the woodwork in the middle of many of the dining tables. (Thanks to Sondra Dewey and Jay Stonefield.)
3. Inside the Breezeway of the Beach Club Villas, a tiny full-body silhouette of Mickey Mouse is in the middle of a large painting, which is on the left wall as you enter from the front doors of the Villas lobby. Mickey is standing at a first-floor central window. (Thanks to Jay Stonefield and Christine Murphy.)