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A popular activity for repeat visitors to Disney World is to hunt for Hidden Mickeys. Yet, most first-time visitors know nothing about them. What are they? How did they get there? Why do people hunt them? Where can you find them? This article is designed for beginners. It explains Hidden Mickeys so you, too, can join the fun and hunt for Hidden Mickeys at the Disney parks.
What are Hidden Mickeys?
A Hidden Mickey is an image, either complete or partial, of Mickey Mouse that has been worked into the design of a ride, restaurant, hotel, or any other area within Walt Disney World by the artists, designers and imagineers. Hidden Mickeys, by definition, are intended to blend into the design and are not typically noticed at first glance. Do not confuse Hidden Mickeys with decorative Mickeys, which are obvious and easily seen. For example, a chair in a restaurant with a Mickey head cut out of the back is a decorative Mickey not a Hidden Mickey.
The most common Hidden Mickey is of Mickey’s head made up of one large circle and two smaller circles sitting on top of the large circle to represent his ears. However, some Hidden Mickeys are a side profile of his head or entire body, a front silhouette of his entire body, or even a three-dimensional Mickey. Occasionally, you will see a Hidden Mickey in the form of Mickey’s gloves, shoes, ears, name or initials. You can also find other characters in hidden form around Disney World. Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Tinkerbell can all be found in hidden form. You will also see Hidden Mickeys in Disneyland and other Disney parks as well.
Why Were Hidden Mickeys Invented?
According to Disney lore, Hidden Mickeys were invented by the imagineers (the artists, engineers, and designers of all things Disney). The story goes that when they were designing and building Epcot, Disney management did not want any of the Disney characters to appear in the park. The powers that be wanted all of the characters to remain exclusively in the Magic Kingdom. The imagineers disagreed with this way of thinking and began hiding images of Mickey in the various aspects of Epcot. After Epcot opened, cast members and park guests began noticing these hidden nods to the head mouse. After that, Hidden Mickeys gained in popularity and eventually took on a life of their own.
Now, imagineers place them everywhere. Sometimes, they take out Hidden Mickeys during refurbishments of rides and restaurants. Sometimes, they use these rehabs to add them in. Some Hidden Mickeys come and go because they are created out of props that can be moved around by cast members.
Where Can You Find Hidden Mickeys?
You can find Hidden Mickeys everywhere at Disney World and Disneyland. They are in all four parks and many of the hotels and restaurants. You can spot them in rides, sidewalks, signs, murals, and hundreds of other places. Some are easier to spot than others. But, wherever you go while at Disney World, you just need to keep your eyes open and be on the lookout for them. Check out Steven M. Barrett’s A Field Guide to Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets to help you get started with your hunt. Steven is the guru on Hidden Mickeys. He also has books on the Hidden Mickeys of Disneyland and Disney Cruise Lines. He has an extensive catalog of these disguised treasures on his website.
Examples of Hidden Mickeys
At the Magic Kingdom, while riding the Haunted Mansion, look at the dining room table. Sometimes the dinner plate, bread plate, and bowl will form a three-circle Mickey head silhouette at one of the place settings. The place setting sometimes changes location, and sometimes, it is not there at all. However, if it is present, you can easily spot it if you are looking for it.
In Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, when you go through the mine, look to your left. You will see one of the dwarfs (Sneezy, I think) with a skunk on a scale. Behind him, you will see three gems buried in the wall that form a three-circle Mickey head.
In Animal Kingdom, at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, near an old gas pump, there are some cracks in the asphalt. Some of these cracks form a three-circle Mickey head.
In Epcot, you can see several Hidden Mickeys in the Living with the Land ride. In one of the shrimp tanks, there is a trap in the shape of the three-circle Mickey head. Towards the end of the greenhouse area, you will see a window into the lab. Inside the lab, there are test tubes that form a Hidden Mickey. Sometimes, you will find a rolled up garden hose in the shape of a Hidden Mickey somewhere in the greenhouse area.
In Test Track, look to your left on the floor as you are leaving the loading area and before you get to the seat belt check. Sometimes, you will see a rolled up hose in the shape of a three-circle Mickey head.
Grand Floridian Resort
In the lobby of the Grand Floridian, you can find several characters inlaid into the marble floor along the edges of the room.
Hunting for Hidden Mickeys is fun for kids and adults alike. It is a great way to keep kids entertained while they are waiting in line. I recommend picking up a copy of Steven’s book and taking it with you when you go to the parks to use as a reference. Hidden Mickeys are one of the many reasons why I love Disney World so much. This is just another way that Disney adds so much magic and fun into their parks. Even if you have visited the parks a thousand times, there are still new things to see and experience each time you go. Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts on hunting for Hidden Mickeys. For more ideas of fun things to do in the parks, see my magical must-do’s for kids and hidden gems. Happy travels!