Hidden Mickeys are representations of Mickey Mouse, often his famous profile, found scattered around Disney theme parks and used in Disney movies. These silhouettes can be found painted, animated or made up of various props. Searching for Mickeys is a favorite activity of Disney fans, and many websites have been created that keep records of all hidden Mickeys that have been found.
The supposed official history behind hidden Mickeys claims that in the construction of the Florida Epcot Park, Disney designers, called Imagineers, began placing them in various locations for fun. Another popular explanation suggests that, when designing Epcot, Imagineers and park management clashed over whether Disney characters should be present in both parks or only in the original Magic Kingdom Park. Annoyed Imagineers apparently snuck Mickeys into the designs in order to get their way. Today, Mickeys are often intentionally added during ride rehabs or refurbishments to encourage continued fan interest.
Hidden Mickeys are called “hidden” because they are not meant to be obvious elements of design. For example, some lampposts at Disneyland feature Mickey Mouse ears on top. These are not considered hidden Mickeys, as the detail is obvious and repeated. Mickeys are often slipped in by designers and Imagineers as subtle features that do not appear obvious at first glance. For instance, in Disneyland’s ride The Haunted Mansion, three plates are arranged together on a dinner table to resemble Mickey’s head. To the untrained eye, this may appear to be simply coincidence, but to fans, this is clearly an intentional hidden Mickey.
At the Anaheim Disneyland Resort, more than 100 hidden Mickeys have been discovered. In the Disneyland Park, favorite versions include the Haunted Mansion dinner plates, the Buzz Lightyear Mickey-painted planets, and the large gears visible on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At the resort's second park, California Adventure, Mickey’s are found decorating Sully’s fur in the Monsters Inc. ride and behind the entrance sign of Engine Ears Toys.
Mickeys frequently appear in Disney films, both animated and live-action. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl smoke following a cannon blast forms a hazy silhouette of Mickey’s head. In the animated Aladdin, the genie’s transformation of Rajah back into a tiger turns his head into Mickey’s for a split second. Pixar Animation Studios, whose films have been produced by Disney, frequently includes hidden Mickeys in their movies. Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles and Ratatouille all feature at least one hidden Mickey.
Several websites and books exist devoted to discovering Hidden Mickeys on film and in the parks. Some offer a checklist you can take to the Disneyland Resort with you, to mark of successful finds. If you are a Disney fan, the search for Mickeys can add new levels of enjoyment to your park trip or movie viewing.