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Entries in Hidden Mickeys (2)


The Hidden Mickey Controversy [Part Two]

By Mitch.

Lilly and I started this debate years ago.  She likes hidden Mickeys but feels they need not be overdone.  I do not like them at all.  This tradition of hiding these shapes started out innocently and fun.  Hidden details can be fun and I myself have inserted a number of things into the parks in years past.  But for me the controversy is a little more than just thinking hidden Mickeys are stupid and excessive, which they are.  I’ll explain my simple reasoning but first there’s an issue of fanhood.   Allow me to put on my mr. grumpy pants for this one.

Our appreciations for and criticisms of Disney evolve with time and as we gain knowledge and experience.  I find that my views get much more mature as I acquire knowledge.  My critics accuse me of not having an unconditional love for whatever Disney-related thing is placed before me, regardless of what it is.  This sort of mindless  desire to follow anything and everything the company produces is nonsensical.  I suppose the average park-goer does not have this sort of absentminded need to follow.  I imagine they do not feel the need to criticize everything they see either.  And honestly, existing somewhere in this middle-ground is probably the healthier place to be.

Where am I?
It’s pretty simple.  I love so many of the incredible accomplishments of Walt Disney and his creative teams of old and many of the accomplishments of the creative teams who have followed.  I love what Disneyland was in say 1967.  Was it not perfect?  I don’t have a Disney-themed house or car or anything else.  I have a small amount of tasteful keepsakes- mostly books, a few props, maps, film footage, etc.  I happen to dislike  an awful lot of things being created these days: Sub-par attractions that fail to lend to the philosophies of the parks and lands in which they reside (Test Track, Tiki Room UNM, etc.).  Or ephemeral family entertainment that seems to please even the most dim viewers for only  a short season, to name a couple.  Pooh’s little Magic Kingdom playground may look cute to passersby.  But if you remember the joy you felt aboard a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea submarines that came before it, the little tree with Piglet on top may no longer feel so cute.  Is this even the same article I started out writing?  Really, it is…

First visits to the parks may provide such an abundance of visual goodness that less-seasoned guests need not want for more.  As we experience the parks more and more we desire to know more about the details.  While in this early stage, and upon learning about hidden Mickeys, we hope that any little nuggets of knowledge will bring us to the next level of expertise.  Knowing things that others know not gives us some sort of satisfaction.  “Did you know _______?” is a common phrase among fellow fans.  The more tidbits of information you can insert into that statement, the more of a fan you might feel you are.

Getting to the Point
My point is this…  The desire to find these hidden shapes is really a desire to see something you have never seen before and then share it with others.  The far more satisfying way of accomplishing this is the following.  Look for and find objects throughout the parks that are intended to be a part of the themes encircling them.  Don’t waste your time looking for the same three circles over and over. Get past this early stage of attempting to learn the details through hidden Mickeys and advance to the more gratifying stages of enjoying the true works of art around every corner. 

Ever notice the goat chewing on the dynamite at Big Thunder?  Or Mary Blair’s five legged goat in her Contemporary Hotel mural?  Ever focused on the depth of the set work in Pirates?  Ever just looked for something you’ve never noticed before?  Look at the Haunted Mansion ghosts in the upper portion of the ballroom instead of focusing on the three plates every time.  (I always loved moving those plates back to their original setting during early morning Mansion walk-throughs.  I’m sure it disappointed some, but by golly it was the right thing to do.)

The Real Details
As an artist, it baffles me that so much work and creative genius can go into creating something the world has never seen, only to have so many people ignore the work to look for a little nothing thrown in as an unrelated afterthought.  And that’s exactly what they are.  Original thought and care does not go into creating these things.  We should not give too much credit to that.  I cannot think of a single Hidden Mickey that lends to the story of the attraction in which it has been placed. 

The parks have so much to offer by way of wonderful details.  Here’s to the details!  The real details.


[ Part One ] by Lilly.



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.