As with most Disney fans, I have a soft spot in my heart for Hidden Mickeys. The concept was created when Imagineers revolted against Disney Management’s decision to keep Disney characters out of the original plans for the EPCOT theme park. To fight back they surreptitiously hid both the three circle Mickey icon and silhouette Mickeys throughout the park and various attractions. Over time the Hidden Mickey tradition has spread to all Disney theme parks. That’s the short history.
There are really five classifications of Hidden Mickeys:
- Intentional: a hidden Mickey Mouse (or other Disney character) shape placed obscurely and deliberately to be spotted by guests. For purists this is the only real Hidden Mickey.
- Design: the use of the Mickey Mouse three circle icon as part of the design element of a piece of furniture, decoration, or other object. These range from the very hidden (in the wallpaper or comforters at the hotels) to the obvious (a pattern of Mickey shapes in a wood carving).
- Cast Member/Temporary: usually a placed object or graffiti added to a scene by a cast member. These tend to go away when ever Imagineering comes in and resets or updates an attraction. Over time some of these may graduate to the Intentional category.
- Accidental/unintentional: formed mostly in the mind’s eye out of shadows and obscure shapes that when looked at just right make a Hidden Mickey. The Mickey shape on the sail of the Wicked Wench at Disneyland’s Pirates Of The Caribbean was an example of this.
- Natural: Hidden Mickey’s that occur in nature.
Two of the most famous are the Chinese Theatre/Disney-MGM studios central plaza which, until they added that big eyesore of a hat in there, was a giant intentional Hidden Mickey when viewed from the air, and the plates in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ballroom scene (which started as a temporary cast member prank and has since become canon).
I’ve been known to see Hidden Mickeys in oil stains, clouds (I have a picture of one somewhere that I took while on our Honeymoon at WDW – I don’t know how Disney does that), and even in fruit. Take this photo of an avocado sent to me by reader Gregory. On the outside it’s just a normal looking avocado, but peel off the skin and voila! Mickey Mouse’s famous three circle icon is revealed. (I’ve highlighted it in one pic below the cut.)
For more great reading on Hidden Mickeys pick up either the great Hidden Mickeys, 2nd Edition : A Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets or Lou’s Walt Disney World Trivia Book, Volume 2: More Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic.