Steve Barrett’s day job as an Orlando-area emergency room physician is deadly serious. But on his days off, he heads to Walt Disney World Resort on a merry mission: to track down, authenticate, and document those elusive creatures known as “Hidden Mickeys.” He’s even written a book on the topic.
In the latest (4th) edition of his Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide To Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets (Intrepid Traveler, $12.95), he has added some 100 previously unknown Mickeys for a grand total of nearly 900.
Barrett’s interest in writing a Hidden Mickeys guide was piqued when he noticed groups of Mickey hunters carrying loose sheaves of printed lists, passed from fan to fan, arguing over whether a particular Hidden Mickey was actually there or not, and wishing aloud that they had a book to make the whole task easier.
Hidden Mickeys filled the void. Based on his own obsessive searching and tips supplied by a growing number of fans, each Mickey is personally verified by Barrett, who then tests his observations against those of friends and family members. To add to the fun, Barrett has arranged the book as a series of six scavenger hunts, complete with clues, hints, and points to be scored.
In the Walt Disney World theme parks, it’s not unusual these days to see families and groups of friends, Barrett’s book in hand, fanning out to compete in spotting the most Hidden Mickeys. Many of them spot new Hidden Mickeys, which they report to Barrett, who meticulously records and verifies their sightings, separating the merely “wishful thinking” from the genuine article. The new edition of his book, in true scholarly fashion, acknowledges more than 900 fellow hunters for their contributions to the effort.
“Hidden Mickey mania is contagious,” says Barrett. “Searching for them has escalated into a bona fide vacation mission for many Walt Disney World fans, and even beginners have happened upon a new, unreported Mickey or two.”
Hidden Mickeys is available in the Walt Disney World theme parks and at bookstores everywhere. Barrett maintains a site where visitors can report sightings of new or suspected Hidden Mickeys. The address is http://www.hiddenmickeysguide.com/.