Disney Imagineers are best known for their development of such things as Disney Park ride systems, special effects and interactive technology. But did you know it is believed those same Imagineers are responsible for placing Hidden Mickeys in the theme parks, attractions, resorts, and even animated films?
It is said that in the late 1970s or early 1980s, Disney management wanted to restrict Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie to the Magic Kingdom. Epcot was to be a more adult park with a different emphasis and theme than the Magic Kingdom. However, when designing Epcot, the Imagineering team couldn’t resist slipping Mickeys into the new park in subtle ways, and thus “Hidden Mickeys” were born. Guests and Cast Members started spotting them and the concept took off. Today Hidden Mickeys are expected to show up in any new construction or renovation at Walt Disney World and at the other Disney parks worldwide.
Disney doesn’t provide guests with a list of Hidden Mickeys, so it’s up to us to seek them out on our own. And oh what fun it is to search for them! Over the years our family has spotted many Hidden Mickeys and it’s become quite the adventure to find at least one or two “new” Hidden Mickeys on every trip. Because Disney is constantly expanding and making changes, Hidden Mickeys come and go but we can rest assured that there are Hidden Mickeys to be found.
Because Disney doesn’t provide a list of the known or deliberate Mickeys (or other hidden Disney characters), there’s really no way to confirm or deny what some might say is a Hidden Mickey sighting. I can, however, give you some guidelines to use on your quest to find them.
First, the Hidden Mickey circles should be in proportion. If the ears are tiny and the head huge, those circles are probably not an intentional Hidden Mickey. If three circles are close to the correct proportions and situated just so, then it probably is a true Hidden Mickey. This is especially true if the Mickey is somewhere that you wouldn’t normally find Mickey Mouse, like in this mural in the aviary at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
Second, a true Hidden Mickey should not rely too much on a person’s imagination. Hidden Mickeys are sometimes upside down or sideways but if you have to really use your imagination, cross your eyes and stand on your head to get just the right perspective, there’s a good chance that it is not a Hidden Mickey.
Classic Hidden Mickey
The classic and most common form of a Hidden Mickey is a large circle representing Mickey’s head with two smaller circles at the top which are his ears. These can be found all over Disney, even laid in the stones on a resort floor like the one we found at the Polynesian Village Resort. If you look closely at the stones, you will see that this could be an upside down Mickey or a right side up Mickey depending on your imagination. In my opinion, it’s an upside down Mickey because the stones at the bottom are in better proportion to the head than those at the top.
Another classic Hidden Mickey was made by the Disney Imagineers when they strategically placed three objects on this float in Epcot’s Gran Fiesta Tour!
Images of Mickey Mouse that are too obvious are called decorative Mickeys and aren’t actually hidden at all. For example, when the servers at a restaurant place the plates and bowls just so and they form a Mickey, that’s not a Hidden Mickey. That would be a decorative Mickey.
When searching for Hidden Mickeys, don’t restrict yourself to those common forms of Mickey. Hidden Mickeys aren’t just the three-circle classic Mickeys. Some are Mickey in profile like the Steamboat Mickey that’s carved into a rock near the exit of the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction at the Magic Kingdom. The profile Mickeys can be a bit harder to spot as most guests are looking for the more traditional Mickey form.
Other Hidden Characters
Remember when I mentioned “other hidden Disney characters” above? Not ones to limit themselves, the Imagineers and cast members often place other hidden Disney characters in the parks. One such “hidden” character is this Goofy that we spotted at the bottom of the aquarium in the The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.
Placing the Mickeys in obscure places is what seems to give the Imagineers a really good chuckle. When we first saw the white circles on these posts near the pool bar at the Beach Club Resort, I thought that it was bird poop. Then, I noticed that it wasn’t bird poop at all. It was a small Hidden Mickey!
I’m here to tell you that once you find your first Hidden Mickey, you’re going to be hooked and will want to continue to look for more! Searching for the Mickeys can be a great activity for you and your travel party, and can even become a friendly competition of who can find the most. Keep in mind it can be quite tough to find some of the Mickeys as they are small or not easily recognizable, but that’s what makes the search fun.
Where They Are Found
Now that you know what a Hidden Mickey is and where to find them, you can add “look for Hidden Mickeys” to your list of things to do! Keep an eye out for these unexpected creations of the Disney Imagineers and Cast Members and remember … Hidden Mickeys can be found all over the resort. In murals:
hiding deep within the attractions:
and even on the Disney buses:
Good luck and happy Hidden Mickey hunting!