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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


« The Hidden Mickey Controversy [Part Two] | Main | I Miss Paul Frees »

The Hidden Mickey Controversy [Part One]

By Lilly.

Ha ha Mitch I got to it first! 

Our Debate
So, Mitch and I have this ongoing debate about Hidden Mickeys. Mitch hates Hidden Mickeys. Is hate too strong of a word Mitch? ;) He feels like Hidden Mickeys are nothing but a commercialized attempt at creativity and they do nothing but distract from the amazing designs and details of each attraction, a view point I’m sure you will be reading in a follow up article very shortly....

Here's how I see it.  I spent a lot of time when I was growing up learning all kinds of useless yet interesting facts about Disney. I spent most my time on Disneyland. I researched articles, timelines and websites–when they were beginning–and learned all about this park I loved so much. I didn’t realize there were people out there that really loved it as much as I did and when I realized there were many other nerds out there, I gleaned everything they knew out of them. I loved to know things. Dates, names of imagineers, what the story is behind everything, what Walt said about things, who died at Disneyland, who was born there, and every secret out there I could find.

Of course, I started with the facts that are now obvious, the apartment above the Firehouse, the basketball court in the Matterhorn, but then it never stopped. Soon I could tell you every name Walt gave to each horse on King Arthur’s Carrousel, the name of the gardener that cut the animals into the bushes at It’s a Small World and how many miles per hour every attraction could go. And I loved that imagineers intentionally put things out there that nerdy people like me could just eat up. Like designing animatronics that look like certain people or having George Lucas duck behind a counter during Star Tours. It’s like when professional basketball players wipe their sweat off in a certain way to let someone out there know they are thinking about them, by planting secrets, it’s like the imagineers’ way of saying, “here’s a little something fun for all our nerdy followers out there.” And that is what Hidden Mickeys were to me, too–well–at least at first.
The Trend
Then, the Hidden Mickey trend started. In my opinion, the real popularity of Hidden Mickey’s came about as a result of the late 1980s Disney Channel ID bits like these:


People started thinking, “yeah, those three circles could show up anywhere” and imagineers started playing into their popularity. Now, it’s not that there weren’t any Hidden Mickey’s before then, but at that point they exploded and people started claiming three rocks in a garden were really Hidden Mickeys. I liked the idea of the Hidden Mickey’s. I thought they were fun, but when people started seeing “Hidden Mickeys” everywhere, it did make me roll my eyes a little bit. But then Imagineers started doing it, too. Real Hidden Mickeys created by imagineers started showing up on every corner to the point that I am pretty confident there is no where on Disney property where you can look and not see a Hidden Mickey, many of which are not hidden at all.

My Opinion
Although I like the idea of Hidden Mickeys, I think they’ve gone a little overboard with the whole thing. There are too many and they are too obvious. The Hidden Mickey in the Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain that is an entire cloud of Mickey laying down? Yeah, that’s too much. But I like the Mickey ears on the skeleton in Disneyland’s the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. That’s a fun little inside joke I think.

My opinion, keep Hidden Mickeys, but make them more subtle and more classy, like you’d probably have to hear it from a cast member or ride the attraction a ton to really see it. Don’t go overboard. Mitch?

[ Part Two ]
 by Mitch now available.


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Reader Comments (14)

Personally I like to find "organic" hidden Mickeys...the kind that weren't necessarily made on purpose.

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris Queen

I have to say, I love finding hidden mickeys - especially when they really are hidden. Some are definately way too obvious and I do agree that they are distracting. But they also show a new element of the imagineer's complete devotion to a project and putting all those little details in just make it more fun! I think it depends on what theyre made from too, 3 rocks is agreeably pretty boring. But when I see the spectacles at the tower of terror, the cords on the floor at rockin roller coaster and a window cleaner spraying 3 circles of cleaner on a window - I can always get excited for being able to pick up those little things.

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate

They are pretty stupid. the REAL finds are the hidden Piggies of Toon Town Fair! There was an artist out there, once upon a time, who hated hidden Mickeys. So he decided to plaster the place with hidden piggies! I know where a few are but there are hundreds to look for.

Hidden piggies are the shit!

May 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHoot Gibson

Those silly artists! There should be a "hidden piggies" book.

Can't say I didn't "hide" a few things in my day. Never a mickey but I couldn't help leave my mark a few times.

May 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterMitch

I agree too many hidden Mickeys everywhere really saps the fun out of originally being super observant of trying to find them. I'm curious to see what this authors reaction was to the Disneyland 50th Celebration- where the replaced iconic pieces from rides (a raven from HM, Mr. Toad's monocle) and shamelessly replaced them with "Hidden" Mickeys. That, I think, is the biggest blaspehmy to the parks, taking something that didn't have a Hidden Mickey and didn't need a Hidden Mickey, and then needlessly throwing one in.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ebisu

No fan of Hidden Mickeys here, $% #ºOº@*! things anyway..

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFiFi Phoggs

From what I recall, Hidden Mickeys were the result of Disney's edict that no Disney characters would be allowed in Epcot, so the Imagineers worked them in subversively. When Disney-MGM Studios was built, there were some sly (not to mention huge) Hidden Mickeys added, which were fun for those of us "in the know".

Now it has become completely commercialized and over-saturated. I remember sitting in a WDI meeting one time to discuss how to do the Hidden Mickey in a new attraction. I remember thinking "This spoils the whole thing for me" as opposed to an Imagineer going "rogue" and putting mouse ears on a Nordic viking.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterXimagineer

Matt Ebisu: Wonder no more! Stuff like that makes my skin crawl. I don't even like it when they add Hidden Mickeys that were never originally there. The plates on the table of the Haunted Mansion? Those were added after the fact and couldn't be more overt. Come on Disney! Quit insulting our intelligence.

Ximagineer: I can totally picture a meeting like that. Sad day. Not only that, but my oh my how they've swung the other way on the idea of keeping characters out of EPOCT! Now you can't avoid them. But that's a post for another day.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

I thought the carrousel at Disneyland is King Arthur's Carrousel, not Sleeping Beauty's.

May 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergregr

gregr: Correct! Thanks, for the catch; I didn't even realize I put that. My mistake, it has been fixed.

May 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterLilly

Sorry to bump this thread again, but thought I'd revisit it since seeing it in the most popular posts of 2010...

Personally, not a big fan of the hidden logos - the whole concept of DIsney is already so huge and overwhelming enough that you don't need to be hit over the head with it...time and time and time again. I'm a fan of the details...just not details that have nothing to do each individual theme. The parks, the lands, the environments are beautiful, and want to get lost in them and their stories...not always be reminded of the mouse.

That being said, my son is now 3, and obsessed with Mickey Mouse - wants to see Mickey, wants to meet Mickey, wants to BE Mickey (by constantly wearing the Mickey costume that my wife made for him last Halloween). We didn't train him to do this, he just picked everything up on his own...or possibly from watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Anyway, he now sees "hidden Mickeys" everywhere - popcorn, bowls, spilled milk, etc. I can't imagine what he'll do when we take him to the parks for the first time.

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMHR

I have always thought the word hidden means what it implies; hidden. I agree with writer. Most hidden mickeys are in plain sight, therefore not hidden at all. Is this so three year olds can see them? Who cares? I've got five kids and I can tell you, the average three year old has ENOUGH to gaze at in wonder at WDW and does not need something else for shrieky moms or blathering dads to point out! :D Hidden Mickeys would be so much more cool if they were something challenging to find. The hidden Mickey pins are silly too as the mickeys aren't the least bit hidden within design on the pin! It took the fun out entirely when they started showing up in every square foot of Disney property.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterL montin

I wrote my above post and then read the one b4 mine. To MHR, so sorry ! I don't mean the three year old thing nearly as snarky as it reads. Not that they can't enjoy them. It simply isn't necessary to have them open and in plain sight everywhere. :)

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterL montin

I can't say that I have ever been interested in hidden Mickeys. There is no depth or secret meaning to them. And when you are riding an incredibly detailed, immersive ride, the hidden mickey reminds you: "Oh yeah, I'm in a theme park that is sucking my wallet dry."

December 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRich

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