Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets, 2nd
ed, by Steven M Barrett
Hidden Mickeys reveals a whole new way to experience and
enjoy a visit to the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando.
With this book in your
pocket, you'll be able to treat yourself to a Disney
experience that - blessedly - seldom involves standing in
Here is a
sample of a
Hidden Mickey mini-hunt.
And here is a series
with lots more
helpful information about visiting the
The chances are you've been to
Disneyworld before, and the chances are, you'll probably be
visiting again one of these days.
However, even the most avid
Disney enthusiast eventually tires of the extraordinary variety
of entertainments and amusements in the multiple parks that make
up the Disneyworld complex in Orlando. Here's an insight
into a whole new way of enjoying the various parts of the Disney
Whether this is your first or
your twenty first visit, Steven Barrett's book gives you an
amusing and entertaining fun new way to enjoy the parks.
The Hidden Mickey Phenomenon
My favorite character was
always Donald Duck, but even I'll admit the defining image
of the entire Disney genre has to be Mickey Mouse, who was,
after all, Disney's original cartoon character.
Mickey Mouse - and his
most immediately recognizable silhouette, a round head with two
- has long been an overt icon for many Disney things. And,
in a manner which possibly predates the 'Easter Egg' concept that can
sometimes be found in computer programs (hidden menus and jokes
accessibly through unusual key combinations, discussed
here) there has been a similar series of variously less
obvious and sometimes hidden images of
Mickey Mouse that can be found in and around the various Disney
attractions in all the theme parks, all around the world.
These images range from
obvious to subtle, and can take various different forms, with
the most classic image being a silhouette of the famous mouse
head and ears.
You've probably seen one or
two of the more obvious of these yourself and thought 'how
cute', but did you realize just how many less obvious ones are
also sprinkled throughout the theme parks?
It is thought that the first
Hidden Mickeys may have arisen with the development of Epcot
(which opened in 1982). This was the first non-core Disney
theme park (ie it was not based on Disney's well known
characters) and the official Disney line was to keep the
characters out of Epcot so as to preserve the distinction
between Epcot and The Magic Kingdom. Apparently some of
the Epcot designers (known as 'Imagineers') viewed this as a
challenge to secrete away some Hidden Mickeys, hiding them not
just from the public but also from senior Disney officials.
Since that time, finding
Hidden Mickeys (HM) have become an increasingly popular pastime
among Disney park visitors, and the HMs can now be seen in most
parts of all Disney's parks. Finding HMs has become a new
reason to visit a Disney park, and it has become a type of treasure hunt exercise for people to see
who can find the most.
It is not always possible to
agree on whether a certain design or combination of objects
truly is a Hidden Mickey or not. Not only are their fine
shades of distinction between what may be overt and what may be
hidden references to the Mickey shape, but debates also rage
between enthusiasts as to whether, for example, the arrangement of three pots
represents a bona fide HM or a simple act of
Perhaps that adds more to
the fun of it for some. And similarly, for others of us,
it is sufficient to merely be able to spot some allusions to the
mouse form and feel pleased at our efforts. But,
inevitably, you'll start to wonder how many of the Hidden
Mickeys you are discovering and how many you are missing, or
perhaps you'll want to be pointed to where they can be found,
and this represents the concept that Steven M Barrett's book has
been designed to address.
What the Book Contains
The paperback book
is a non-standard size - it is tall, thin and slim, measuring 4"
x 9", and its 173 pages make it 3/8" thick. It
lists for $11.95 and is available on
Amazon with a 20% discount for $9.56.
The book is printed onto
good quality white paper. It has no photographs (except
for a picture of the author), but does have some half-tone
sketch maps of the various theme parks that make up the
I'll guess Disney
didn't allow any photos to be included, asserting their
copyright over all such images. However, Disney don't seem
to be totally opposed to the book, indeed, they even sell it in
their stores inside the theme parks.
The book is divided into
main sections, one for each of the major theme parks (Magic
Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom) plus
also sections on the various resort hotels, the other parts of
the Disney complex (eg Downtown Disney, the Water Parks, etc).
There are also listings of the author's favorite Hidden Mickeys,
and a helpful index of places/locations which are featured in
At the beginning there is a
chapter of explanatory commentary on topics such as 'when is a
HM not a HM'. This is actually a core issue and subject of
great debate, and the author sets out his criteria and comments
on those used by others.
Not just Mickey
Although the book would seem
to be all about hidden Mickeys, in some cases other Disney
characters are also hidden; and indeed some of the other
featured characters are not originally Disney characters at all,
but instead are ones which Disney seems to have taken.
For example, Winnie the Pooh
(a subtle hidden Pooh can be found in Space Mountain) was the
creation of A A Milne long before the Disney cartoons featured
him. And, yes, my favorite, Donald Duck, is also to be
found in some hidden guises.
So the term 'Hidden Mickey'
has become a generic term that extends to obscured images of all
Each section of the book is
divided into two main parts.
The first part is called a
scavenger hunt, where you're directed through the featured theme
park and given vague clues to where you might find HMs.
The object of the scavenger hunt is to slightly tease and
challenge you, or perhaps to serve as a competition for several
of you if you're doing it together.
As you find the HMs referred
to in the scavenger hunts, you award yourself points, which are
offered based on the difficulty of finding the HMs - easy HMs
earn you one point, harder to find ones may get you as many as
At the end of the hunt, you
can add up your score and see how well you did. For
example, the Magic Kingdom has a perfect score of 232 points.
We have a short simple
sample of a scavenger hunt
for you to look at.
The second part of each
section is the hints section. Depending on your point of
view, these are either hints or cheats. Some people will
get a more passive pleasure out of simply being told where to
see Hidden Mickeys and then going to see them. Others
prefer the challenge of hunting down HMs with just gentle clues
to point them to where they can be found.
Depending on your
preference, you may or may not choose to make extensive use of
the hint section!
Second Edition compared to the
This review is of the second
edition, published 5 May 2005. The second edition is very
much changed from the earlier first edition (published in April
2003). The first edition featured 400 Hidden Mickeys; in
the two years since then, the author has taken out HMs that are
no longer in existence, and has added (I estimate about) 150 new
HMs, to make a new total of 500 HMs in the new edition.
The differences are
definitely sufficient as to justify upgrading if you have an
earlier edition, and if you're looking at buying a copy, be sure
you're getting the new 2nd edition.
About the Author
Steven M Barrett is a Disney
aficionado of the highest order, and says he has been visiting
Disneyworld almost weekly for two decades. And, no, he
surely hasn't been paying the $65 or more per day that an
admission ticket currently costs - Florida residents can get
special annual passes at massive savings.
Steven has parlayed his vast
Disney knowledge into another book as well,
The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation (most recent edition released in 2005).
When he isn't at Disneyworld
or keeping his books up to date, Steven is an emergency room
physician at a local hospital. Steven is another example
of the broad appeal of Disney to people from all walks of life,
so you don't need to feel at all 'guilty' when admitting that
you too are a Disney fan, like Steven (and me).
The second edition of the
book was published today (5 May 2005) and the author plans to
release a companion website 'any day now'. It will be
www.HiddenMickeysGuide.com and will contain updates to the
material in the book.
Similar extensions to the
earlier first edition can be found another of the author's
Other Hidden Mickey resources
Steven M Barrett's book
provides a thorough and near definitive coverage (if such a
thing is possible on a topic that often becomes subjective) of
Hidden Mickeys in the Orlando Disneyworld theme parks.
However, it is far from being the only resource for HM
There are, inevitably, a
profusion of websites on the topic. One of the most
To give you a feeling for
the types of 'hunts' that Steven has created in his book, he's
put together a short sample hunt
for you to look at.
This is a fascinating book
on a subject that many of us never even knew existed, let alone
dreamt it could be made into a book. Using the information
in the book can add a whole new dimension to your next
Disneyworld experience. Spotting the Hidden Mickeys is
something that can be enjoyed as part of a Disney visit along
with other activities, or something that can make up a complete
reason for visiting.
It is an activity that can
be done either passively (using the hints section to go straight
to the HMs) or actively, using the less specific clues to hunt
them down for yourself. And, for the really keen searcher,
you can always try and find new HMs that aren't yet listed.
It is something that can
appeal to children as well as adults, and spotting the HMs can
either be done as a shared group activity, or competitively
All in all, it is a fun
activity at whatever level you choose to adopt, and this book is
an essential part of being able to enjoy HM spotting.
The book lists for a modest
$11.95 and is available on
$9.56, being a 20% discount off the list price. Amazon
also have links to sellers of second hand copies of the book -
if you are buying a second hand copy, do make sure it is the
second edition you are buying, not the earlier and now
out-of-date first edition.
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6 May 2005, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.