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Here's a part of Disneyworld that you probably never knew existed before.

Or, even if you did know about the concept of 'Hidden Mickeys', you sure didn't know all about them that the author of this book does.

This is a fascinating insight into another aspect of that wondrous playground for young and old alike.

 
 
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Hidden Mickeys

A 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 lines.

 

Here is a sample of a Hidden Mickey mini-hunt.

And here is a series with lots more helpful information about visiting the Disneyworld complex.

 

 

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 complex.

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 round ears - 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?

Origins

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.

Definitions

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 chance.

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 Disneyworld complex.

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 the text.

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 Disney-related characters.

Each section of the book is divided into two main parts.

Scavenger Hunts

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 five points.

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.

Hints

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 First Edition

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).

Companion Website

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 located at 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 websites, www.TheOtherOrlando.com.

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 enthusiasts.

There are, inevitably, a profusion of websites on the topic.  One of the most encyclopedic is HiddenMickeys.Org

Sample Material

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.

Summary

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 between participants.

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 Amazon for $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.

Recommended.

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Originally published 6 May 2005, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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