Most Disney fans the world over are very familiar with the old expression, "It all started with a mouse". The phrase was coined by Walt Disney himself, and is something we've probably all heard in regards to pretty much anything Disney-related.
It bears saying that like so many other things in life, history has a tendency to repeat itself. And while we're not even in the same solar system as Walt Disney in regards to what we do here, we can also say that what we do here began with a mouse. Although there were definitely many variables that led to our beginning to blog about our adventures at Disneyland, the one that pushed us "over the edge" so to speak and actually led to our blog's creation was our love of Mickey Mouse, and more particularly, our love of Hidden Mickey Mouses. We've enjoyed searching for these little gems ever since we began going to Disneyland together almost three years ago now, so of course we became very familiar early on with what we've dubbed the "Yellow Book of Hidden Mickeys" (we're pretty sure there's some intentionality there), Steven M. Barrett's Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets - 3rd Edition.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the Hidden Mickey phenomena and what exactly that is, Hidden Mickeys are partial, or complete, likenesses of Mickey Mouse that are created by Imagineers and hidden (hence the name) all over the world among the different Disney properties including the Disney Park, Hotels, Cruise Ships, and Resorts. And not content to only place Hidden Mickeys around, there are also Hidden Minnies, Goofys, etc. By far the most popular and best known, however, are the Mickeys. They can be in the "classic" form (round head and two ears which you'll see on this blog!), in the form of mouse ears, a side profile, silhouette, entire body, etc. Even his initials can be fair game and used by the Imagineers to signify a Hidden Mickey. While hunting ourselves, we've always tried to look for some type of Mickey form where there shouldn't typically be one, and go from there!
While hunting Mickeys for yourself can be loads of fun, like so many other things in life, sometimes you'd just like a little something extra to help you along; a little nudge in the right direction, if you will. And that's where the Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys guide comes in handy.
One of the things that makes this book so great is that it give you an option! Rather than just spelling out each and every Mickey and where they are located, Mr. Barrett arranges his book in basically the same layout as a type of scavenger hunt. Who doesn't love a scavenger hunt?! We sure do! A big plus in this particular brand of scavenger hunt? Rather than your ordinary scavenger hunt which just tends to lead you from one destination to another, Mr. Barrett has assigned each Hidden Mickey a point value (according to "difficulty to spot/see") which can keep you playing throughout the day, ranging from one point to five points. The book tells you exactly how many points each Hidden Mickey is worth, and even includes a little box at the end of each chapter to write in what you've scored and give you your grade accordingly.
The setup of the book is also something that we think is just done wonderfully! The different steps that Mr. Barrett has taken in setting up the book, and in helping you locate the Hidden Mickeys inside, is extremely well done in several areas, we think. First, the Mickeys are arranged by Park, which makes it super easy to find ones in whichever setting you find yourself; the book itself is separated into Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney District and Hotel segments, and even includes a nice map of every area if you're unfamiliar with Disneyland, so that you know where to go. Second, as you're flipping through the book you'll notice that within each area, words referring to the different "Lands" and attractions in the different Parks on all of the pages are bolded, so you always know immediately which attractions the Hidden Mickeys on that page are for; it makes it so easy to know exactly where something is located. There's even a great index at the back of the book in which you can look up whatever Land or attraction you'd like and see if there are any Hidden Mickeys listed there. A nice touch and it makes it super easy to find whatever it is you may be looking for. Want to know if there are any Hidden Mickeys on Alice in Wonderland? Look up Alice in the index and, well, you get the idea. Which brings us to what we think is probably the coolest part of how the book is set up. Mr. Barrett has taken the liberty of doing each Park's Hidden Mickeys in two different sections. The first section offers very generic "clues" to point you in the general direction of a Hidden Mickey wherever you may be in The Park, and each clue is numbered so you know exactly what you are looking at. But, if that's not enough to get you to where you need to be, each clue number matches up with a "Hint" number in the next section of the book, which provides the reader with a more in-depth pointer about exactly where the Hidden Mickey is. We think it's a fantastic way to have set the book up! We figure there are two types of people in this world: those that refuse to look for the direct answer and would like to at least try to discover things for themselves (with maybe just a slight hint), and they're covered here, and those who want to know exactly where something might be hidden and don't care in the slightest about making the discovery themselves, and they're covered here as well!
Now that the technical aspects of the book are out of the way, we can get to the good stuff (it's all good!) and talk about just how much fun and entertaining Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys can be! We recently took the book into Disneyland with us (for the very first time, although we've of course scrolled through it ourselves many, many times), and what we noticed was that the entire day we never put the book down! Every attraction we rode led to us perusing the book to see what we could find. If it wasn't for the fact we had it, we would have completely missed many of the Hidden Mickeys that we had never seen before. Not only that, but we found ourselves exclaiming all over again about Hidden Mickeys that we already knew about! It's also amazing how much attention you get carrying that little yellow book around. We don't mean by how viewing some of the Hidden Mickeys make you do crazy things like climb on the back of chairs either, but just by reading the book in plain sight of everyone else. The color choice for the cover is just brilliant in that regard. The bright yellow simply bursts out at you, and everyone else within 100 yards of you, making it really easy to find when looking for it in some of the stores, and making it really easy for other to spot you at Disneyland carrying it around. It's a great conversation starter, and when we had it along and out with us the other day we had heard no less than five people commenting on the book around us, before we even gotten off of the tram. It's like a convo magnet, and if you enjoy chatting it up with other around The Land, then bring this little baby along. It might even score you some dates, although we're not entirely sure about that one.
Anything, and we mean anything that will keep children entertained is more than okay by us; this certainly does! We handed one of our copies to two energetic kids, and were constantly amazed at how many times they would repeatedly ask us, "Did you know there's a Hidden mickey on this ride?!" It was funny just to listen to them talk about how they were going to find every Hidden Mickey in the book, and how excited they actually got when they did spot one, which is the great thing!
And it's not like you're spending your money (if you buy the book) on a one time deal. It takes multiple trips out to hunt down every Mickey in the book. You could spend the whole day hunting down the infamous mouse, and you would barely scratch the surface of this book. Not only that, but it's pretty common belief that there are still so many Hidden Mickeys out there that not all are in the book at all. That's right! Not all the Hidden Mickeys are in the book. Mr. Barrett even handles this little difficulty awesomely and with tons of grace and thanks to his readers. There's a very good reason they're not all there too! Expansion! As The Resort grows, so does the Hidden Mickey count, and that's where we, the loyal Hidden Mickey hunters, come in. Disney Imagineers don't like to tell guests where they have hidden Mickey (there's no official list), so when a hunter finds a new mouse, they can submit it to Steven M. Barrett on his website, Hidden Mickey Guy.com, and Mr. Barrett will personally hunt your Mickey and if he likes it, you even get your name in the book in his acknowledgements section! Another great reason we love this book! He gives credit to the finder as a "thank you" for their efforts; something he doesn't have to do, and no doubt something that many other people wouldn't. Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys is currently in its third iteration (3rd Edition), which just recently released, as Mr. Barrett has continued to update his work with new additions as The Resort has expanded, and subtractions as Hidden Mickeys aren't permanent and are often removed during renovations or expansions.
Some of the other fantastic sections in his book include a chapter at the beginning entitled "Hidden Mickey Mania" where Mr. Barrett goes into some detail about the entire Hidden Mickey phenomenon and its history, provides hints and tips on how to hunt for Hidden Mickeys and how best to utilize his book to do so, gives you the low down as to what actually makes a Hidden Mickey (versus a "decorative" one), and explains a little bit about his own selection process and how he chooses what he accepts as a Hidden Mickey and what he does not; pretty interesting stuff. And at the end, he even dedicates a couple of couple of quick sections to his "Top Ten" Favorite Hidden Mickeys and Honorable Mentions from all over Disneyland. It's awesome to be able to see which ones the "Hidden Mickey guru" (our loving label) enjoys seeing himself; too cool!
Ultimately, Steven M. Barret's Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys is just a fun book to take along with you into Disneyland. Here at Days in the Park, we harp on the "little details" all around Disneyland all the time, and encourage people to slow down and take it all in. Part of those little details hidden all over the place are our favorite little Mickey Mouses, and this book is an excellent resource, and just plain fun tool, to help you along the way in discovering some of them for yourself. After all, who doesn't love Mickey Mouse? And these little beauties definitely deserve at least a cursory glance by everyone who enters The Gates; just our opinion. And who knows, if you've never been exposed to the phenomenon yourself, it just might make a Hidden Mickey hunter out of you.
Steven M. Barret's Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort's Best Kept Secrets - 3rd Edition is published by The Intrepid Traveler, and is available in bookstores nationwide, from online bookstores (such as Amazon.com), or by visiting The Intrepid Traveler website.
A review copy of Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys was provided to Days in the Park, courtesy of The Intrepid Traveler, for the purposes of this review. All opinions contained herein are solely ours.