In designing, constructing or adding the final touches to an attraction, Imagineers subtly "hide" Mickey Mouse silhouettes in plain sight. Soon, it became a tradition, and as the word spread, Disney fans everywhere went on the search for Hidden Mickeys in Disney movies and theme parks.
The first published sighting of a Hidden Mickey was made by Arlen Miller. Arlen wrote an article back in 1989 on Hidden Mickeys for WDW's Eyes and Ears (Cast Member weekly publication) in the parks. This was the first time it was made publically known and then months later the author was contacted by Disney News for more infomation for an article on Hidden Mickeys.
Today, the Hidden Mickey has taken on many forms: the classic tri-circle head with ears, such as the stone Mickey in Disneyland Toontown, Mickey-on-the-boots at Walt Disney World's All Star Music Resort or the alien symbols on The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter in the Magic Kingdom; a silhouette or profile of the loveable Mouse; an actual animated face with features, such as Mickey appearing in the rock concert scene in A Goofy Movie; his full figure in either shadow form, silhouette, or detailed drawing, for instance, the mural Mickey in Disneyland's Frontierland and the "broccoli Mickey" in the Body Wars mural in Epcot; a Mickeyesque feature such as one of his white gloves or his clumpy yellow shoes, such as in the shoes in Disney Studio's The Great Movie Ride and the shoes in Tummy Trouble; his initials, such as in Maraglyphics in Disneyland's Indiana Jones; a three-dimensional Mickey such as a stuffed doll hidden within a Disney amusement park ride or movie, such as the plush in the Tower of Terror at the Disney Studios or even a pair of Mouse ears on someone or something else of Mickey where it isn't normally expected, such as the Viking in the Maelstrom's loading area mural in Epcot.
Additionally, some Cast Members slip them in for fun such as the Mickey in the warehouse on The Great Movie Ride, on "Bones" in Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure and at Typhoon Lagoon. Also, there are some serendipitous Mickeys that just happened and were not planned at all.
Although, this describe the classic hidden Mickey, I have learned from Imagineers that 'they do the best with what they can.' Unfortunately, Imagineers have never kept official track of where they were originally placed. Since attractions change or are enhanced throughout the years, Hidden Mickeys can disappear. And, others will appear or reappear for many reasons.
Since the Walt Disney Company has never compiled a complete list of all the "known" or "deliberate" (Imagineer- or Cast Member-created) Mickeys, there is no way to confirm or disprove every single Mickey sighting, but here are some guidelines to use when searching:
In addition, your viewpoint and age has a lot to do with it, too. On the side of the Disneyland Star Trader building, there are neon signs of Mickey Mouse in a space suit. They blink off and on, in a form that shows Mickey Mouse flying along the side of the building. Well, to a four year old, when the lights go on, the Mickey is not hidden. When the lights go off... it's a Hidden Mickey! (Where did he go? He must be hidden somewhere!)
Similar to Hidden Mickeys are Decor or Deliberate Mickeys. These are in plain view, such as Mickey-shaped corn chips or butter, Mickey appearing in a Disney Logo, a Mickey cut-out on the back of a high chair, Mickey ears on the Earful Tower at Disney Studios, a Character Totem Pole Mickey at Wilderness Lodge, etc. These are annotated as Mickeys in the list.
Whenever a reported Hidden Mickey receives two (2) "Wishful Thinkings" with explanations, it will be moved to the appropriate Wishful Thinking page. Please check the appropriate Wishful Thinking page to be sure that your sighting is new. I will consider, within editorial judgement, moving a Wishful Thinking sighting back to the Hidden Mickeys page, if I receive a convincing picture and explanation on why the sighting should be moved.
Additionally, Imagineers have placed other fun items in the design of the parks and movies, many other characters, such as Donald, Goofy, Ewok or Minnie; their names or initials, such as on the tombstones and on equipment baskets; and tributes to people and organizations, such as the tribute to Walt and the one to the companies that bought the property for Walt Disney World. I will take sighting for these, as well, and maintain them on separate pages using similar criteria as for Hidden Mickeys.
Hidden Mickeys List
At Walt Disney World, Disney has an unofficial "official" list. It has changed numerous times over the years. Some of the Hidden Mickeys on this list suddenly appeared upon an update of "their" list. Like you, Disney, monitors and uses this list and your inputs! Originally, I maintained the chronology of when Walt Disney World finally found one of your Hidden Mickeys. However, in the interest of communicating "official" Hidden Mickeys (Note: Walt Disney Corp states "there is no official list of Hidden Mickeys." But, "Walt Disney World Inside Out" on the Disney Channel has described them! What's a fan to do?...) Anyway, for Walt Disney World, I have elected to place the current version of their list as the first sighting to indicate Disney's confirmations of your sightings.