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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Hidden Mickeys

This side-profile hidden Mickey is located in the Swiss Family Treehouse (look on the big limb to the left of the door)

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday... well, alright it's more like tip Wednesday. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway -- on to this week's tip.

Throughout Walt Disney World (and the other Disney parks and even Disney films) are thousands of "hidden Mickeys." These usually take the form of a classic three-circle Mickey head (the classic Disney icon) or a side profile of Mickey's head (see above photo). What makes hidden Mickey's so much fun is the fact that they are, well, hidden. Think of these as "Where's Waldo?" - Disney style.

The search for hidden Mickeys is one of the great things that big Disney fans can always do while at Walt Disney World. That's because hidden Mickeys come and go as many hidden Mickeys (or HM's) are created by cast members.

Now for the tip: get your kids into finding HM's. Why? Because it's a great way to help make those huge summer lines appear to go a little faster. It will also help kids explore and take in more of those little details the Imagineers work so hard to add.

Speaking of Imagineers, I learned something very interesting last December when I had lunch with Magic Kingdom Art Director Alex Caruthers. Caruthers has worked on several refurbs of major Magic Kingdom attractions including the Haunted Mansion and, I believe, is working on the current refurb of Space Mountain. I'll have to do another post sometime on my lunch with Mr. Caruthers - it was a wonderful experience.

This hidden Mickey is located on the ground near the entrance to the Haunted Mansion

Anyway, I asked him if hidden Mickey's were intentionally planned during the design of an attraction. Surprisingly, the answer was no. When Imagineers get together to Blue Sky a particular attraction, they don't consciously say, "OK, where will the hidden Mickey(s) go?" HM's, rather, just start popping up here and there. They're created in a very spontaneous manner. As an artist is working on a particular piece they may just decide to slip in a hidden Mickey. Obviously they are planned in some form as the artist makes a conscious decision to include an HM and the art directors and other folks approve them.
Just like pressed pennies, the hunt for HM's can make the parks a lot more fun, especially on days when the major attractions are packed. Best of all, you just might find an HM no one has ever seen before. As I said earlier, new HM's pop up all the time. If you do find a new HM, you can even sent it to the accepted master archivist of Hidden Mickeys, Dr. Steven Barrett.

Dr. Barrett's Web site,, is generally accepted as the repository for all HM's at the parks, in the movies, in the resorts, pretty much everywhere. Best of all, he accepts sumbissions for new hidden Mickeys. He usually tries to verify them so don't think your new HM will show up on his site quickly. He also has a book that is easy to carry in the parks listing the location of verified hidden Mickeys.
The next time you're at Walt Disney World -- look around, look up, look down, you never know when you might see Mickey -- he's all over the place!

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