What’s a Hidden Mickey?
A Hidden Mickey is a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been subtly inserted into a Disney attraction, property, or other Disney product. Hidden Mickeys are typically found at the various Disney theme parks, resorts, and even within Disney films. The first published sighting of a Hidden Mickey was made by Arlen Miller, who wrote an article about the phenomenon for Walt Disney World’s “Eyes and Ears” publication in 1989. Throughout the years, Hidden Mickeys have spread in popularity as an underground movement.
It took some time for Disney to acknowledge their existence. They have created a line of Hidden Mickey pins for trading at the parks, and as part of the Happiest Homecoming on Earth celebration at Disneyland the park was decorated with fifty “Hidden Mickey 50 Ears,” the official symbol of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. Thousands of Hidden Mickeys have been recorded but The Walt Disney Company has never compiled a complete list of all the “known” or “deliberate” Mickeys ~ whether created by an Imagineer or a Disney Cast Member ~ so there is no way to confirm or disprove every single Mickey sighting. This is what makes finding Hidden Mickeys so much fun!
Now that you know what a Hidden Mickey is, let’s take a closer look at the various categories of Hidden Mickeys you might come across.
Classic Hidden Mickeys
These are widely considered the real Hidden Mickeys ~ and the main focus of the Hidden Mickey Society. These Mickeys are not meant to be seen immediately, and are usually placed purposefully by a Disney Imagineer or artist in a context that would not normally contain Mickey Mouse. It is generally accepted amongst Hidden Mickey purists that the original Hidden Mickeys were created in a rogue manner by Imagineers who, when given the opportunity, would hide Mickey’s likeness in the setting before them even though the project didn’t specifically call for it. Classic Hidden Mickey’s are hard to spot, and sometimes require a bit of imagination.
Designed Hidden Mickeys
These are Hidden Mickey’s that are planned by Imagineers in many of today’s new and refurbished rides and attractions. Yes they are Mickey, yes they are hidden ~ and some quite well, so they do count. But because they are planned and executed by The Disney Company on purpose, they are more akin to Decorative Mickeys and have a very different spirit than the Classic Hidden Mickeys that were not planned and documented ~ until people started finding them.
Also known as “Decor Mickey,” these Mickeys are not meant to be hidden and are usually found in the architectural details of Disney properties or within the design of graphical elements online and in printed materials. While at a theme park, one might find a cast iron fence or some trim on a building with Mickey’s likeness woven throughout. Or perhaps a poster on Main Street is outlined with Mickey’s distinctive three circles repeated over and over. Decorative Mickeys are no less fun to find, and many times their artistry makes up for the fact that they are hidden in plain sight.
These Mickeys are not planned by anyone, nature is solely responsible for their creation. They occur when the forces that shape the planet conspire to create the likeness of Mickey Mouse using natural elements. Examples might include shadows that resemble Mickey, spots on an animal, or vines that curl into just the right configuration. Be sure to have your camera at the ready, because these Hidden Mickeys are often momentary acts of magic.
These Mickeys result from just the right mix of elements coming together to form a Mickey shape that was not planned or intended to be a Hidden Mickey, however, when viewed at just the right angle reveals itself to be so. They are different from Natural Mickeys because they involve man-made objects that are placed in just such a manner that they inadvertently create the distinctive Mickey Mouse shape despite their unplanned origin. It should be noted that since these are coincidental in nature, they too have a tendency to disappear with time.
Other Hidden Characters
Mickey isn’t the only character that has been hidden within Disney architecture, rides, and other products. The likenesses of Goofy, Donald Duck and many other Disney characters can be found in the theme parks and films. Most, if not all of these are planned by Disney Imagineers and artists, so keep an eye out!
An Easter Egg ~ so named after the traditional hunt ~ is an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in a work such as a computer program, video game, movie, or book. So it goes without saying that Easter Eggs are not limited to the Disney brand, however Disney theme parks and films are full of hidden references. These Easter Eggs include character cameos in un-related films, special reoccurring numbers and objects, and even the display of names of influential Imagineers from days- gone-by in the windows of theme park buildings. An example would be the cowgirl character of Jessie from Toy Story 2 who can be seen in the film Monsters Inc. within Boo’s room. Incidentally, that same Easter Egg scene includes a Hidden Mickey too ~ a scribbled Mickey Mouse on a toy chalk board.
What are you waiting for?
Now that you have been properly educated in the search for Hidden Mickeys, head over to our Library to get started with your very own hunt, and let us know what you discover!