Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hidden Mickeys: An Obsessive Child's Dream

In all Disney movies and in many rides and buildings at Disney theme parks, deviously clever animators have hidden "secret" occurences of the shape of Mickey Mouse's head in silhouette -- either the three circles of head and ears, or a profile. Sometimes these little secrets are very very subtle, like a tiny knothole on one of the trees at the entrance to the Peter Pan ride, or a miniscule mousey embellishment on Madame Leota's cart outside the Haunted Mansion. Some are more obvious, like the mouse-head-shaped constellation in the movie "Lion King 1 1/2" or the Mickey shaped leaves on a vine in Small World.

People get obsessed about hidden Mickeys. People argue about whether something is or is not a real hidden Mickey. Is it a hidden Mickey if it's just part of the decor? Is it a hidden Mickey if it's an accidental grouping of three bubbles in a scene with a million bubbles? Obviously, the animator or set designer had to be doing it on purpose, for it to "count," and usually you can tell if something is intentionally hidden or not. Sometimes not though. Difficult to decipher. Plenty of people on the internet are trying though. Google "Hidden Mickey" and you'll find lots of people claiming to have seen Mickey in the clouds, or in a lemon they just cut in half, or in Cinderella's pupils, and more people telling them they're just experiencing wishful thinking.

I like the idea. The Disney people leave lots of little portals open into their secret magic world, which is really not secret, and not magical. It's fun to pretend it is though, and little breezes from open portals make it more enticing and mysterious. Finding hidden Mickeys gives you an insider feeling, a way to identify yourself as "in the know" and separate from the sweaty masses around you. It's another way that you can embrace the manipulation that Disney lays out for you -- enjoy it, examine it, and think about it -- but don't think too hard.

Last year, Benny collected a few hidden Mickey pins, but he didn't really get the whole mystery and intrigue of it all. This year he got it, BAD. On the way down, the kids were watching Lion King 1 1/2 and Benny found seven hidden Mickeys, almost accidentally. He found the first one without knowing what he was looking for, and then after I explained to him what they were, he found six more. He was hooked. Dan bought him a book called "Hidden Mickeys," which gives hints to finding the little suckers, and he found many. Many in the book, many not in the book, many that I privately thought were just naturally occurring shapes, and many that I was amazed he had noticed.

It was fun, it provided a whole other layer to his experience, and it was interesting for the adults in the family too. I highly recommend turning your little acutely "noticing" child onto the search for Hidden Mickeys. You can start with the DVDs you already have. For example... did you know that in the concert scene at the beginning of "The Little Mermaid," Goofy and Mickey and Donald can be seen in the audience of merpeople? Go on -- look. You know you want to!


  1. you know I'll be putting in The Little Mermaid for the gazillionth time this month just to look for the characters crashing the party.

    Thanks for the tip, glad you had a great trip!

  2. We looked for hidden Mickeys in Sept. It is a great way to pass the time in line for a 5 year old.

    We found one in Ratatolli last night.