If you see a bunch of people staring into a rich oil painting inside a Disney restaurant or you bump into a group in the street as they bend their necks to star up into the beautiful architecture around the parks, there’s a certainty that they are after on thing!
Subtly applied during construction or painting, Mickey Ears are all around you, in every single corner of Walt Disney’s Parks and Cruise Ships. All are intended to be there, some are bold, some barely noticeable, others are so huge you’d never normally notice them.
To Qualify as being a Hidden Mickey, there are a few simple criteria:
- A full Mickey body including head, ears, body, tails, shoes
- The ‘Classic Mickey’ is the familiar three circles to form the head and ears.
- A ‘Profile Mickey’ showing a side on image of his head
- The Hidden Mickey’s must be created deliberately by a Disney Imagineer
- They are not part of a regular display or scene that you would expect to see Mickey
The guide above seems simple enough doesn’t it?
In reality, arguments have broken out as interpretations of concrete splats, paint marks and other serendipitous or lucky coincidences are claimed as Hidden Mickeys!
We’ve heard fathers frustratingly lecturing their kids with remarks like “it’s a store window, selling Disney merchandise, of course there’s going to be a Mickey in the window!” While none of his family were now having fun as he lost his cool, he was of course right! That scenario, broke rule number 3.
Rule number 2 however is the toughest. If you look at any patch of concrete long enough and close enough, you will see 3 stones merge to form a Mickey head. Hmmm. If those stones are just in those positions as a result of the overall pouring of the concrete, that is not a Hidden Mickey, but who can tell?
When did the first Hidden Mickey appear?
The answer to that question is really unknown!
The first mention of Hidden Mickeys occurred in 1989 in a weekly news letter for Cast Members.
An ‘eagle eyed’ Arlen Miller had noticed the shapes and news quickly spread in the general media.
Presumably many of the Hidden Mickeys had been in existence some time before Miller had written about them.
Some fans claim to see some in ‘bubbles’ in classic animations such as Sleeping Beauty, but that might be stretching the imagination a little!
Is there an official list of Hidden Mickeys?
Disney do not officially acknowledge Hidden Mickeys, so no official record exists.
Several unofficial Hidden Mickey sites do exist and lists can be found of the discoveries so far.
How many genuine Hidden Mickeys have been recorded?
The figure is always changing as new or refurbished attractions are opened to the public.
Equally, with the possibility that projected disco lights for example count as Hidden Mickeys, the figure could change each day by a matter of hundreds, depending what events or shows are running!
Typically though, around all of the resorts theme parks and movies there are believed to be over 1000!
Settling debates about Hidden Mickeys!
Remember that Walt wanted families to have fun at his Parks, so make sure you all do!
We suggest that you make up your own rules and stick to them, but always make the rules clear to everyone.
Remember however that kids are highly imaginative and notoriously better at separating shapes from backgrounds than adults are, so patience is invaluable in this most magical of treasure hunts!
To set you on your way why not try and work to a simple game where you try and spot one Hidden Mickey per attraction/shop/restaurant?
We bet you that there’s one there somewhere! Happy hunting!
A Great Example of a Hidden Mickey
Steve Barrett, the Hidden Mickey Guy
kindly allowed us to use his great example in this frog image which forms part of the mural near Rafiki’s theater over near the Conservation Station.
Can you spot the Profile Mickey in its eye?
Have lots of fun with this great Disney past time!