What if I told you about an activity that could add fun and excitement to your Walt Disney World vacation? An activity which many visitors know absolutely nothing about, yet one that is performed by those “in the know”, right out in the open, in front of everyone? Something that once you know about it, you can fit right in to your vacation schedule, as you can do it as you go along? And best of all, what if I told you that this activity would cost you absolutely no extra money?
All right, you have me curious now. What is this extra-special, super-secret activity?
The activity to which I am referring is the search for Hidden Mickeys.
Okay Lisa, I think you’ve been spending too much time at your computer. What, exactly, is a Hidden Mickey?
So glad you asked. Hidden Mickeys are representations of Mickey Mouse (or in some cases, other Disney characters) that have been placed into Disney décor by Imagineers. They are “hidden” in the sense that you would never notice them unless you look for them. But once you find your first one, they suddenly become much easier to notice.
Hold on a second, what’s an Imagineer?
“Imagineer” is a blend of the words “Imagination” and “Engineer.” They are the people who design all of the rides, shows, attractions, restaurants, gift shops, hotels, and other public spaces throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Okay, so what’s the deal with these Hidden Mickeys? Why would they want to hide Mickeys in the décor anyway?
No one but the Imagineers really knows how the Hidden Mickey tradition started. More than likely, it simply began as an in-joke, just as builders often hide their initials somewhere in the construction. The Imagineers have been known to do that as well, but since it is Disney, Mickey was a natural outgrowth of that tradition.
Disney fans soon began to spot these images, and hunting for them became a popular activity. Now Hidden Mickeys are built into every new design, as the public expects them, and eagerly awaits their opportunity to find them.
So how many of these Hidden Mickeys are there anyway?
Nobody really knows for sure. There is no official master list. You can find fan-created lists online, but they are not necessarily accurate. Also, there is a lot of debate in the Disney fan community regarding some of the more obscure Hidden Mickeys. My general rule of thumb is, if it looks like a Hidden Mickey to me, then it is one. Lively debates can be had regarding their validity though, and are often quite amusing to participate in.
What does a Hidden Mickey look like?
Well, traditionally, they have been the three circle Mickey head design. Purists insist that the head be the largest circle, and both ears be proportionally smaller than the head and equal in size to each other. As Hidden Mickeys have become more popular, though, other designs have appeared, including Mickey in profile and even Mickey’s original name, Mortimer, stamped into concrete on a sidewalk. Other characters have also joined in the fun, and it is possible, though rare, to find Minnie, Donald, and others. There’s even a Hidden Walt, if you know where to look.
Where do I start looking?
Everywhere! That’s the fun of it. Take a closer look at patterns. If you see something with a lot of detail, odds are good that somewhere in there is at least one Hidden Mickey.
Come on, throw me a bone. I’ve never done this before. Tell me where, specifically, I can find a couple, just to get me started in the right direction.
Okay, okay. I’m not going to get TOO specific and ruin your fun, but I will say this. A relatively easy-to-spot Hidden Mickey resides in the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom. In the ballroom, take a good look at the way the table is set. You just might find the familiar three circles. A word of warning on this one though. It is “unofficial,” meaning that it was actually created by the cast who works in the Haunted Mansion, and not by the Imagineers. Every once in awhile, it is re-set by the Disney powers that be, and a bit of time elapses before the Haunted Mansion cast re-creates the Hidden Mickey. Should it not exist when you go through, be sure to take another ride later in the day. It will be back. However, two other Hidden Mickeys also exist in this attraction.
Can’t you give me one more? Just in case that Haunted Mansion one isn’t there when I go through?
Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you a location. At Animal Kingdom, take the train to Rafiki’s Conservation Station. Inside the building is a gigantic animal mural. Nobody has an exact count, but dozens of Hidden Mickeys are placed throughout the mural. Take your time and study it closely, and I guarantee that you will find at least one, probably several.
I should say this now. Hidden Mickey hunting is addictive. Prepare to spend the rest of your vacation looking up, down, and around. Gazing intently at walls that you never even noticed before, and scrutinizing your menu for more than just the prices, you will then give out the inevitable shout to your family “Hey, I found one!!” You might even get some strange looks from those who are out of the loop. Feel free to invite them to join the hunt, or simply smile knowingly in their direction, feeling proud that you are now a member of the club. But be careful. Remember that true Hidden Mickeys are only to be found at Disney. I know many dedicated Hidden Mickey hunters who have started to see them everywhere they go, exclaiming over raindrops and gum stuck to the ground. You have been warned.
Call 1-800-641-4008 to book
Orlando Hotels near Disney!