Uncovering The Secrets of Hidden Mickeys

When I went to Disneyland over the weekend, Alex asked me if I could take some shots of the hidden Mickeys around the park. I knew there is supposedly at least one on every ride, so I agreed, thinking it was an easy project. Little did I know just how difficult hidden Mickey spotting can be and how much debate goes in to the definition of a hidden Mickey. So on top of sharing some hidden Mickey images with you, I'd like to open the floor to your interpretations and ask if any of you readers have photos of the phenomenon. Let me start off by saying just how difficult it can be to spot hidden Mickeys (let alone photograph those of them on the rides). On our first day in the park, my boyfriend and I spent about an hour in The Golden Horseshoe eating ice cream and enjoying the musical stylings of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. While in the saloon, I looked ceiling to floor to find a Mickey. Eventually, I decided there must not actually be one in The Golden Horseshoe. When I got back to the hotel though, I thought I'd check the internet just to make sure. That's when I discovered that the only one in the building is one tiny Mickey in the central vent under the stage. That's when it started to strike me just how hard this project was really going to be.

That's also when I started to realize just how hard it is to define a hidden Mickey. While it seems like a basic concept, the definition of "hidden" is quite open. I read a few forums where people argued about this idea and even as we started spotting our own hidden Mickeys, my boyfriend and I started debating over what was too obvious to be considered hidden. For example, I thought these Mickey rivets should be considered hidden because they weren't something you'd expect and you certainly wouldn't notice them on first glance. On the other hand, he felt they were simply decorations and too in-your-face to be hidden.

Mickey's House in Toon Town proved to be an excellent example of this concept as everything is already Mickey themed. Do the obvious music notes and metronome count?

And if those are considered to be too obvious, then what about the tiny Mickey heads on the book backs of both Mickey and Minnie's favorite titles?

Were these lights in the movie theater too obvious?

The matter only became more problematic from that point on. While some Mickey's were very obvious and intentional, like the rock formation below, it's sometimes hard to determine if any given arrangement of three circles beside one another would count.

Did the Disney gardeners intentionally clip the cactus so it would form a Mickey head?

Does a hidden Mickey have to be completely closed and circular to count?

And what about the layout of the three umbrellas in this billboard seen in California Adventure?

On our final day, we thought our questions may finally be answered when we ran across a book titled Disneyland's Hidden Secrets: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets. Once we started browsing through the book though, we soon realized that it was not written by an imagineer or someone else with a definitive authority on the subject, but simply an avid Disney fan. In fact, the book had many of the questionable hidden Mickey examples that we also saw on line. For example,can Smee's eyes and nose on this wood carving really be considered a Mickeyface?

And is this decoration on the stalls in Downtown Disney really secret enough to be considered hidden?

I guess that like so many other things in life, there is no definitive answer as to what is, or is not, a hidden Mickey (at least not until the imagineers come forward and list off every one they intentionally embedded in the rides and shops.) So rather than speculating, let's just step back and appreciate the pictures of the following "subtle Mickey" images from around the park.

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Before I thought it was just a logo design but they said it has a purpose and i know why, to still entertain kids and kids at heart. Good Job Disneyland!!

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I'm a former Disney World cast member, and a current Disneyland cast member. Here's how I, and most of my Disney friends, break down Hidden Mickeys to be:

A hidden Mickey is a Mickey Mouse-shaped (logo, actual Mickey head, body, etc) that was purposefully put into the park by Imagineers, excluding Mickey Mouse/Disney themed decoration or theming.

In Laymon's Terms; if you see a Mickey shape, and it's being used as decoration in a store window or on the FastPass dispenser, it's probably not a HIDDEN Mickey. Don't forget you're in Disneyland when you see Mickey Mouse logos and theming, of course it's going to be everywhere.
This goes for Mickey's Toontown and like areas. I hate that Disneyland’s Hidden Secrets book because it was not written by Imagineers. It was written by a guy who collected OTHER people's findings and catalogued them. Of coure Mickey's house is Mickey themed, why wouldn't it be? It thinks every Mickey shaped vegetable in his garden is a Hidden Mickey. No, it's not. It's right there.
HOWEVER, I would say the Mickey-shaped female symbol and the Mickey-profile on the books are Hidden because they are pretty inconspicuous, and because they are parodies.

Hidden Mickey's tend to be things arranged to the Mickey logo (one big circular shape, with two appropriately proportioned circular shapes in the correct placement, ie, the rocks or the cactus in the shooting range) or a shape of Mickey Mouse himself (ie, the lying down Mickey shaped cloud in Splash Mountain) placed somewhere where everything around it is not done in the same way.
You know the hole in the vent below the stage is a Hidden Mickey, cuz it's the only one. The rivets on the gate are all Mickey's so that's probably Mickey theming.

Last thing I'll say is this, the Hidden Mickeys are placed everywhere. They're in the rides, they're in the fireworks, they're in the films, there are even Hidden Mickeys at Universal's Islands of Adventure (bonus round). Imagineers found opportunities to place them Everywhere. Some are hard to find, some are not, and some are damn near impossible to see unless you already know where and when to look. And they did it for fun, not because they had to. They didn't need to stretch to fit them in.

General rule of thumb: You'll know it's a Hidden Mickey when you finally see it.
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I always thought hidden Mickey's were more of a Disneyworld thing. Disneyland wasn't built to have hidden Mickeys in fact there were not even any characters walking around during the first few years of operation. For opening day hey had to borrow the characters from ice capades, which is why they looked so bizarre.
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