In the latest edition of his Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide To Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets (Intrepid Traveler, $12.95), He has added some 100 previously unknown Mickeys for a grand total of nearly 900.
Just what is a “Hidden Mickey”?
According to Barrett, a Hidden Mickey is “a partial or complete image of Mickey Mouse that has been designed to blend into the surroundings in such a way that its presence is not immediately obvious.” For instance, Mickey hidden in a mural; an outline of his head on a shop fixture; his side profile on a weather vane.
No one knows exactly how Hidden Mickeys started. The most widely accepted theory is that they began as private in-jokes by Disney’s designers and artists — “Imagineers,” to use the Disney term — when Disney was building Epcot and decided that the new “adult” park should be free of cartoon characters. A few Imagineers couldn’t resist slipping Mickey in. As word got around, more Imagineers were tempted to incorporate their own cleverly camouflaged images of Mickey and other characters into the Walt Disney World rides, attractions, restaurants, shops, and other spaces they were designing. Now new Hidden Mickeys are eagerly anticipated in any new construction.
The most common Hidden Mickey is the “classic” frontal silhouette, consisting of Mickey’s round head and two round ears. “But a Hidden Mickey can take many other forms,” Barrett notes, “including a three-quarter profile, a full-body silhouette, or a detailed picture of his face.” Of course, not every image of Mickey is hidden. Most are in plain sight and are meant to be seen by all. Purists don’t recognize these as true Hidden Mickeys, and Barrett includes only a handful of them in his guide, ones he considers “sentimental favorites.”
Barrett’s interest in writing a Hidden Mickeys guide was piqued when he noticed groups of Mickey hunters carrying loose sheaves of printed lists, passed from fan to fan, arguing over whether a particular Hidden Mickey was actually there or not, and wishing aloud that they had a book to make the whole task easier.
Hidden Mickeys filled the void. Based on his own obsessive searching and tips supplied by a growing number of fans, each Mickey is personally verified by Barrett, who then tests his observations against those of friends and family members. To add to the fun, Barrett has arranged the book as a series of six scavenger hunts, complete with clues, hints, and points to be scored.
In the Walt Disney World theme parks, it’s not unusual these days to see families and groups of friends, Barrett’s book in hand, fanning out to compete in spotting the most Hidden Mickeys. Many of them spot new Hidden Mickeys, which they report to Barrett, who meticulously records and verifies their sightings, separating mere “wishful thinking” from the genuine article. The new edition of his book, in true scholarly fashion, acknowledges more than 900 fellow hunters for their contributions to the effort.
“Hidden Mickey mania is contagious,” says Barrett. “Searching for them has escalated into a bona fide vacation mission for many Walt Disney World fans, and even beginners have happened upon a new, unreported Mickey or two.”
Hidden Mickeys is available in the Walt Disney World theme parks and at bookstores everywhere. Barrett maintains a site where visitors can report sightings of new or suspected Hidden Mickeys. The address is
A Field Guide To Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets, 4th edition
by Steven M. Barrett
Index to Mickey's Hiding Places
Hidden Mickeys is available in bookstores nationwide, from online bookstores, by calling 203-469-0214, or by visiting www.TheOtherOrlando.com/hm4.html
Published by The Intrepid Traveler
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The Intrepid Traveler, P.O. Box 531, Branford, CT 06405
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To request a review copy of Hidden Mickeys, or for any additional information: Contact Mischa Benoit-Lavelle at The Intrepid Traveler
mischa @ intrepidtraveler.com • (203) 469-0214