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.