Hidden Mickeys

by Mike Scopa, contributing writer

Well he's done it again. Steve Barrett, author of The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation, 2003 (Intrepid Traveler, 2nd edition: 2005, ISBN: 1-887140-56-5) and better known as the author of Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets (Intrepid Traveler: 2004, ISBN: 1-88714-05-14) has undoubtedly made a lot of his fans very happy with his recently launched Web site, The Hidden Mickeys Guide (link).

Oh, I may be assuming too much. Perhaps there are some of you out there who may not be familiar with Steve and his connections with Hidden Mickeys. Allow me to enlighten you.

Steve was an academic emergency medicine professor and…

Wait, we have the technology at our fingertips to make this task much easier for me and much more informative for you. For background on Steve, read my MousePlanet article from a year ago. You will find this article (link) and it will provide you with information on just where Hidden Mickeys came from and how Steve Barrett's name became synonymous with the words “Hidden Mickey.”

Hidden Mickeys Guide: Launched!

In May 2005, Steve launched his Hidden Mickeys Guide Web site (link), which was exciting news for all those Hidden Mickey fans, including myself. Imagine Hidden Mickey info online from Mr. Hidden Mickey himself.

On my first visit to Steve's site, I didn't know where to go first, as it has just about everything that the new and veteran Hidden Mickeys fan is looking for.

I went everywhere, including the “What are Hidden Mickeys?” link. According to Steve, a Hidden Mickey is “(A) partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas.”

My favorite place on the site is the Hidden Mickeys Catalog, which offers visitors the opportunity to look for Hidden Mickeys just about anywhere. For instance, if you click on the Hidden Mickeys Catalog link, you are taken to a page that contains a number of links to Hidden Mickey sightings.

These sightings include theme park areas, resort hotels, places outside the theme parks and resort hotels, signs, transportation areas, and, of course, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.

As you search through the catalog, you may find yourself finding Hidden Mickeys and thinking, “Hey, next time I'm in Walt Disney World, I'm gonna look for that one.”

On my first journey through this catalog, I worked my way to the Magic Kingdom theme park and Fantasyland. I then clicked the Snow White's Scary Adventures link and the next thing I knew, I was looking at a photo of a certain part of that attraction. Lo and behold, there was a Hidden Mickey and a description of exactly where it was in the attraction.


I decided to test the site and see how good Steve was. I started back at square one, then clicked Epcot, then Future World.

I found what I was looking for: Information on Hidden Mickeys in the new Soarin' attraction at The Land pavilion. I wished I had checked on those Hidden Mickeys before my last trip. Three Hidden Mickeys, huh, Steve? I do recall seeing one on my last visit, so I'll be looking for the other two on my next visit.

Did I also mention that this site also discusses Hidden Mickeys found on the Disney Cruise Line as well as those lost Hidden Mickeys? The lost Hidden Mickeys are those that are no longer with us because of things like refurbishings.

A Living Site

Steve is always on the lookout for more Hidden Mickeys, and is constantly adding to this site. “I add several Hidden Mickey sightings (many with photos) each week,” Steve said. These sightings are either mine—I'm alone or with friends or family at WDW—or from folks who e-mail me through my publisher or directly through my Web site. People are continually finding new ones.”

Where and how do these new Hidden Mickeys pop up? Steve has his own ideas as to where the new Hidden Mickeys appear. “I believe imaginative cast members and those awesome Imagineers add Hidden Mickeys when the mood strikes them,” he says. “Then wait for us to find them!”

Recently, Steve spotted a classic three-circle Mickey bush in the miniature railroad at the Germany Pavilion at Epcot.

The three-circle Mickey bush at Germany's miniature railroad display. Photo by Steve Barrett.

"Mickey bushes don't seem to stay at this location, however. It depends on the mood of the horticulturists who maintain this wonderful display. I hope this Mickey bush stays a while,” Steve said.

"I'm a happy person when I'm on WDW property, which is at least once a week,” said Steve. “But nothing compares to the feeling I get when I—or a friend I'm with—discover a new Hidden Mickey! I'll never forget January 29, 2005, the day I finally gazed in awe at the huge Hidden Jafar on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in the Animal Kingdom. I'd been searching for weeks for this mighty hidden character, and I'd passed this spot—the right side of the suspension bridge just past the gorilla viewing area—many times to no avail. I shouted and pointed as I finally noticed it. That's the true meaning of 'hidden!'”

Animal Kingdom's hidden Jafar. Photo by Steve Barrett.

Steve experienced another recent discovery, also in that same theme park. “A few months ago, a friend and I were wandering the Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Animal Kingdom. We passed through the tiger viewing palace ruins, and he called to me. I turned and he was pointing at a mural on the left outside wall,” he said.

Steve's friend pointing to Hidden Mickey leaves. Photo by Steve Barrett.

"Buried in the leaves of the trees was a perfect classic Mickey, unlike any of the other leaves. The artist hid a Mickey for us to find!” he said.

A closer look at the Hidden Mickey leaves. Photo by Steve Barrett.

And the Hidden Mickeys kept turning up.

"Just around the turn to the first left viewing area, I'd seen before a Mickey-shaped tree stump,” Steve said. “It was still there! My friend asked a nearby cast member about it, and this is what he was told: After the 2004 hurricanes, the fallen trees were sawed into sections. One cast member noticed that a stump had the three-circle shape of Mickey's head! So they put it there, near a tree before you get to that first animal viewing area past the tigers.”

Animal Kingdom's Hidden Mickey stump area. Photo by Steve Barrett.

A close-up of the Hidden Mickey stump. Photo by Steve Barrett.

Steve hopes the cast members preserve the stump for all of us to see again. It's on my list for my next visit.

In his book, Steve describes almost 500 Hidden Mickeys and other hidden characters at WDW.

Steve says, “At the rate I'm finding new ones, there may be hundreds more at WDW that I haven't discovered yet.”

I guess no matter how hard he tries, Mickey cannot hide from Steve Barrett.

Steve Barrett Poses with a bashful Mickey. Photo by Vickie Barrett.

Submitting a Hidden Mickey

By now you may be thinking, “Hey, on my last visit I was in such and such and I took a picture of so and so because I thought it was a Hidden Mickey.”

If you feel you have discovered a Hidden Mickey and would like to notify Steve of your find, go to his Hidden Mickeys Guide Web site and click the Hidden Mickeys Catalog link at the top of the home page and fill out your Hidden Mickey information on the form on the right side of the page. Steve and his team review and validate your Hidden Mickey, and if found to be a true, Hidden Mickey will post it on the site.

I'm shining up my camera for my next trip, as I am on the lookout for a yet to be discovered silhouette of the Mouse.

I wonder when Steve started writing about Hidden Mickeys if he ever realized that the notion of looking for Hidden Mickeys would add to the guest experience and their vacation enjoyment and just maybe make them…

…remember the magic!

Next Time

Let's look at some info for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and how to go about “touring” Magic Kingdom during that event.

Well, since it's almost October there's no time like the present to take a look at this event and try to put together some thoughts on just what might be the best way to attend this party.

We'll do so next time.