A Hidden Mickey
is a representation of Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...
that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney theme park or elsewhere on Disney properties. The most common Hidden Mickey is a formation of three circles that may be perceived as the silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse, often referred to by Disney aficionados as a "classic Mickey." Over time, the term Hidden Mickey has come to refer to a range of possibilities from a more complete representation of Mickey Mouse (such as Mickey mixed in with a crowd or in the background), or a representation of another character (such as the huge hidden Jafar at the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a walkway next to Kilimanjaro Safaris in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, from which you can see African animals. It is about three-eighths of a mile in length...
in Africa in the Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom is an animal theme park located at the Walt Disney World Resort. The fourth park built at the resort, it opened on April 22, 1998, and it is the largest single Disney theme park in the world, covering more than . It is also the first Disney theme park to be themed entirely...
). Hidden Mickeys are found in various Disney media, such as animated films, feature length movies, TV series, or the Disney theme parks. Mickeys may be painted, made up of objects (such as rocks, or three plates on a table), or be references such as someone wearing Mickey Mouse Club ears in a painting. Hidden Mickeys can take on many sizes and forms.
Hidden Mickeys are slipped into animation cel
A cel, short for celluloid, is a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation. Actual celluloid was used during the first half of the 20th century, but since it was flammable and dimensionally unstable it was largely replaced by cellulose acetate...
s in many Disney
Walt Disney Pictures is an American film studio owned by The Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney Pictures and Television, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Studios and the main production company for live-action feature films within the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, based at the Walt Disney...
animated classics, hidden in architecture and attractions in Disney parks and resorts
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is the segment of The Walt Disney Company that conceives, builds, and manages the company's theme parks and holiday resorts, as well as a variety of additional family-oriented leisure enterprises...
, and studio buildings
The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, United States, serve as the international headquarters for media conglomerate The Walt Disney Company. The Walt Disney Studio's house offices for each of the company's divisions along with creative spaces designed for movie production. The Walt Disney...
and many other Disney-related features.
The first published sighting of a Hidden Mickey was made by Arlen Miller, who wrote an article on Hidden Mickeys for WDW's Eyes and Ears (a Cast Member weekly publication) in 1989. The article listed Hidden Mickeys found in the Disney theme parks. Months later the author was contacted by Disney News for more information, and the resulting article made the news of Hidden Mickeys spread worldwide.
A "real" Hidden Mickey
A true Hidden Mickey is one that is not meant to be seen immediately, and is usually placed purposefully by a Disney Imagineer or artist in a context that would not normally contain Mickey Mouse. When the shape of Mickey Mouse is used as an obvious part of the design, such as Mickey ears on the top of lampposts, it is considered decorative and sometimes referred to as a "decor Mickey." Additionally, formations of the iconic head and ears have been spotted in nature or even on animals, but they are also not Hidden Mickeys. The general rule is: "Not associated with Disney, not a Hidden Mickey."
Although approximately 1000 Hidden Mickeys have been recorded, The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...
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. However, various websites and books list locations of Hidden Mickeys, and usually allow Disney fans to add, dispute, and/or prove the existence of such sightings.
The Plaza at the end of Hollywood Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios is a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. Spanning 135 acres in size, its theme is show business, drawing inspiration from the heyday of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s...
features a large Hidden Mickey, which was visible in aerial photographs of the park and on the park's early guide maps. However, construction and other changes to the park have eliminated much of this image.
The Hidden Mickey phenomenon has been documented in a series of guidebooks by Steven M. Barrett. Each book is arranged as a scavenger hunt, providing clues and hints to the locations of Hidden Mickeys in the various Disney parks and cruise ships; a scoring system allows groups of people to compete in the hunt. The first book, covering the Hidden Mickeys in Walt Disney World in Florida, was published in 2003. There are currently three books in the series:
- Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide To Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets (ISBN 978-1887140843)
- Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide To Disneyland Resort’s Best Kept Secrets (ISBN 978-1887140850)
- Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea: A Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line’s Best Kept Secrets (ISBN 978-1887140898)
The Hidden Mickey phenomenon is also featured in an adult-level mystery novel series by Nancy Temple Rodrigue and David W. Smith. The focus of these historical fiction novels are on Walt Disney's life, his accomplishments, and his legacy.
There are currently two books published; the third in the series is scheduled for release June 2011, the fourth late 2011 or early 2012.
- Hidden Mickey: Sometimes Dead Men DO Tell Tales!, 2009, volume 1 (ISBN 978-0974902623)
- Hidden Mickey 2: It All Started..., 2010, volume 2 (ISBN 978-0974902630)
- Hidden Mickey 3: Wolf! The Legend of Tom Sawyer's Island' ', 2011, volume 3 (ISBN 978-0974902647)
- Hidden Mickey 4: Wolf! Happily Ever After?, 2011–2012, volume 4 (ISBN 978-0974902685)
The Hidden Mickey phenomenon is documented in this reference for Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys by Alan Joyce. Organized for quick and easy reference at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim:
- The Hidden Mouse: A Comprehensive Guide to the Hidden Mickeys of the Disneyland Resort (ISBN 978-1449527174)