The Story Behind Hidden Mickeys (and Where to Find Them)
One of the things that I love most about Walt Disney World (and all Disney Parks and hotels) is the incredible attention to detail that goes into the creation of every square inch of each destination.
Disney Imagineers go to great lengths to ensure that their creations are as authentic as possible. This covers everything from the use of “forced perspective” (to make average-size buildings look taller), to the texture and impressions on the pavement and ground just about everywhere you go on property. Everything works together to help anchor the overall theme. Nothing is left to chance in Disney creations and that is why we love Disney Parks and Resorts so much–because that level of detail really is the Disney difference.
Enter the Hidden Mickey.
Hidden Mickey started as an inside joke among Disney Imagineers
The story behind how Hidden Mickeys actually began is pretty interesting.
Given the creativity of Disney Imagineers, it should come as no surprise that one of these same playful Imagineers at some point back in the day decided to incorporate a “Hidden Mickey” silhouette into the work being done at a Disney Park. Word of this sneaky idea spread quickly among Imagineers and it wasn’t long before hidden Mickeys became an inside joke throughout the Disney Imagineer community.
Hidden Mickey silhouettes began popping up more and more frequently as new areas of Disney Resorts and Parks were created. The story goes that in 1989 a Disney Cast Member wrote a story about these “Hidden Mickeys” in a Cast Member newsletter and from there things really began to take off with Hidden Mickeys.
Disney fans (myself included) are pretty easy pickings for adventures like this and as word got out, we began to spend time searching the details of abstract pieces of Disney Parks and Resorts to see if we could spot Mickey Mouse’s telltale outline in the Imagineers’ creations. If you ever see someone staring intently at an otherwise ordinary wall or something similar in a Disney Park, there’s a good chance they’re looking for Hidden Mickeys.
These days, Hidden Mickeys have gone more mainstream and there are books and websites dedicated to these creations. Sometimes eager fans go a bit too far, spotting “Hidden Mickeys” just about any time they see three circles in close proximity. But there are a ton of great Hidden Mickeys out there and when you find one, you’ll know it. If you have to ask yourself “is that a Hidden Mickey?” then it’s probably not a Hidden Mickey at all.
How Disney Explains Hidden Mickeys
An official Disney release once described Hidden Mickeys this way:
“Like Easter eggs, Hidden Mickeys have been placed secretly (and not so secretly) by Imagineers at locations across Walt Disney World Resort. Imagineers include Hidden Mickeys when designing, building or putting the finishing touches on a new attraction or hotel, hiding silhouettes, profiles and other images of Mickey Mouse in murals, queue areas and even golf course sand traps.”
The story went on to say that no one knows how many Hidden Mickeys exist throughout Walt Disney World and other Disney destinations, since Imagineers have never kept an official list of their existence. In fact, no one knows when the first Hidden Mickey even appeared. With all of the updates and renovations that happen over the years, some Hidden Mickeys have been lost forever (although it’s probable that they have been captured in a photograph somewhere).
So if you haven’t been a Hidden Mickey hunter before, why not have some fun on your next visit to Walt Disney World (or any other Disney destination) to see if you can spot a few Hidden Mickeys for yourself. It’s a lot of fun and kids really love it as well.
To get you started, here are a few of my favourite popular Hidden Mickeys that you can seek out at Walt Disney World Resort:
- In the Haunted Mansion, watch for the plates arranged in a Mickey configuration on the table when you pass by the banquet/birthday and dancing scene. You’ll be moving pretty quickly and looking down, so keep a keen eye to find it towards the far left.
- Inside Splash Mountain there’s a Hidden Mickey in the final scene. Watch for a pink cloud floating above the Zip-A-Dee Lady paddlewheeler and you may just spot Mickey lying on his back.
- There’s a great Hidden Mickey hidden on one of the totems in the Canada Pavilion–one of my favorites! It’s up high and you’ll have to be sharp to spot it, but you’ll know it when you see it.
- Inside Spaceship Earth you may just find Mickey hidden in his own constellation just after the loading area.
- Soarin’ Around the World also has a couple of great Hidden Mickeys. Watch for the hot air balloons as soon as they come on screen.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- A more subtle Hidden Mickey is waiting for you inside the Tower of Terror. Pay close attention to what the little girl is holding in the pre-show…before she vanishes!
- The Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has not one, but two Hidden Mickeys located in the tile floor of the attraction’s rotunda.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Inside Pizzafari, study the wall mural–paying close attention to what you may find in the leopard spots.
- To make it a bit easier on yourself, hop on the train ride to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where there are reportedly over 25 Hidden Mickeys in murals, tree trunks and animal paintings. How many can you find?
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
- One of my all-time favorites is found in the stone floor of the lobby of Disney’s Polynesian Resort (pictured at the top of this blog post). While most guests walk right over this one as they enter the lobby, you won’t miss it if you remember to look down as soon as you step into the Great Ceremonial House from the front doors.
- There are several Hidden Mickeys at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and one of the easier ones to spot is on the weather vane atop the convention center. In the photo above, you can see a Hidden Mickey that you’ll find in the wallpaper of the main lobby of the Grand Floridian.
What are you favourite Hidden Mickeys in Disney Parks and Resorts?
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As a Luxury Travel Blogger and author of The Very Best of Walt Disney World Resort, I blog regularly about Walt Disney World vacations and other Disney vacations of all shapes and sizes.
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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
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