I realized I didn't know the true origin of the Hidden Mickey. Where exactly did it come from? Who came up with the first one? Does Disney themselves actually endorse these? My curiosity led me to do a bit of research, which eventually led me to post this blog.
Hidden Mickey (n):
A representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney Theme Park, Disney properties, animated film, feature-length movie, TV series, or other Disney product.
How it All Began
In 1991, an article in the Disney News was written by a man named David Fisher, a custodial worker who worked his way up to writing and eventually became an Imagineer. Fisher's article titled "The Secrets of Walt Disney World: Mickey, Mickey Everywhere" broke down the origin of the Hidden Mickey, which all started over in the futuristic, worldly land of Epcot.
Even though the cat was out of the bag now, feelings weren't synonymous between the Imagineers. Many felt sad that their secret had been revealed. There was a moment of hysteria within the team where Imagineers felt as though guests would begin to concentrating too much on finding the Hidden Mickeys and not truly enjoying the overall experience. Some HMs were even removed from new attraction openings at the 11th hour. Cast members quickly jumped onboard to "save" the existence of the HMs. They would go about placing their own within the rides and attractions themselves. Even when they got taken down, the cast members would just put them right back up. Walt Disney, and the Imagineers against the movement, soon realized this was a battle they weren't going to win.
The Hidden Mickeys were no longer going to remain an inside joke between the WDI team, but something all cast members took pride in sharing with the WDW guests. The Epcot Outreach and Teacher Center even had several lists they would hand out to cast members that included an ever-changing rundown of HM locations so they could be well informed. The lists were and remain helpful, but one thing is certain: it will never be complete. Even Imagineers admit that they will never have knowledge of just how many HMs are actually out there. They never kept official record.
Still in Hiding
To this day, the Walt Disney Company has still never produced an official list or even acknowledged the existence of the HMs. Sure, cast members will let you in on the secret (if you ask nicely) but don't expect Disney to publish anything of their own that will focus on this marvel any time soon. It's been 20 years since the existence of the first Hidden Mickey was known, and Disney fans have still never gotten an absolute resolution to this timeless question.
It's hard to believe that this well-known pheneomnum can be labeled a Disney "secret" while also having such a popular following. As a fan, I love that Hidden Mickeys are a true Disney secret that is accessible to us while still remaining a bit mysterious. Wait... is that actaully a Hidden Mickey? Or just wishful thinking? We will never totally know, and maybe that's just a reflection of carefully crafted Disney magic.