Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing where you can find Hidden Mickeys – and activities like Hidden Mickeys for those who enjoy it!
For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have enjoyed Hidden Mickey Hunting when we visit Disney parks and cruise ships. (PS – Did you know that in addition to Steve Barry’s iconic books for World, Land, and Sea, there are also Hidden Mickey books (from Kevin and Susan Neary) for Walt Disney World and (from Bill Scollon) for Disneyland? I haven’t purchased these yet, but thumbed through one on a few recent trips. The photos are a lot of fun!) Our kids have shown a growing interest in the last couple of years, but for a significant number of our visits they weren’t really into it. Oh, they liked “finding Hidden Mickeys”. But they usually looked sort of like this:
Suffice it to say, the cleverly disguised, meticulously placed Mickeys that probably brought Disney Imagineers lots of pride were totally lost on my young kids.
It worked out ok though, because in the meantime we were able to discover some other super fun ideas!
Interactive Activities like Hidden Mickeys…
Lots to do in Line: Walt Disney World or Disneyland (books) by Meredith Lyn Pierce. When our Passporter Treasure Hunts book (see below) was well-worn and growing more outdated, I set out to find something similar. I first tried the “Lots to do in Line” book format for a visit to Disneyland, but purchased the Walt Disney World version immediately upon our return. This book becomes more useful with every subsequent trip, as lines seem to grow longer and longer no matter what time of year you visit (#ThanksFP+). Even if you do find yourself there in a slower time, the books will point out details and backstories you may have otherwise missed, and will make your trip extra special. Rides are grouped alphabetically by land, so its easy to pick up intermittently as you see fit. The books contain multiple-choice trivia questions, traditional “scavenger hunts” and other options such as building “collections” of things you see throughout the park, Pop Quizzes to test your memory of something you may have passed, and more. The author has even been so thorough as to note which questions should be able to be answered from the Fastpass queues. There are point systems provided, or you can just work together to see what you can find and learn! I highly recommend either of these books for your next trip, whether it’s your first visit or your 100th.
Passporter Treasure Hunts (book) by Jennifer Marx. I’ll admit, this is one of my favorite books we’ve ever owned and used in Walt Disney World. I absolutely loved how it was laid out, and the questions were a range of difficulty which made it fun for anyone who was traveling with us. Very few were so easy that Walt Disney World buffs could just guess from home, but very few were so hard they couldn’t be found – unless they had changed. Unfortunately, that’s the rub with books like this – and this one in particular. With as many changes there are in the parks day after day, many of the answers and clues can quickly become obsolete. With this book having only been printed in 2006 (and in 2007 with a slight update), I venture to guess many of the questions are no longer applicable. Keep moving forward, right? 🙂 For that reason alone, I can’t recommend this as a first choice for anyone coming across this post. That said, it can still be super fun for anyone who travels to Walt Disney World frequently, to find the answers are left and/or reminisce and test your WDW trivia knowledge!
Disney in Details: A Scavenger Hunt Throughout the Walt Disney World Resort (book) from Disney Editions/D23. We purchased this one in the park a few years ago, and while it is fun in the parks (and a great option), we probably enjoy looking at it at home just as much – or more. The pictures are beautiful, the descriptions thorough and well-planned from Disney’s Fan Club, D23. It’s only available on Amazon through third-party sellers, but that means you may find a great deal on it! Otherwise, keep an eye out for it by the checkout lanes in many stores throughout Walt Disney World, or in stores such as the Emporium or Big Top Souvenirs that always have a great selection of books.
Attention to Detail: A Look at Walt Disney Parks (Volume 1) and Attractions (Volume 2) (books) by Keith Black. These books, full of photographic clues, are lots of fun. The first begins with “The Weenie Level”, covering things that may not be considered details per se, but are no less intentional. Next it covers “The Prop Level”, and finally gets down to the nitty gritty in “The Pixie Dust Level”. The second volume is broken down into Queues, Attractions, and “Post Shows”. Both books show a picture, and ask the guest to fill in pertinent details when they’ve located the answer. The author has also provided a few more formalized scavenger hunts, if you’d like to participate in a more competitive way with your friends and family. Simply find the item(s) photographed and snap a picture next to them to get points. This is super fun, and one we can’t wait to do when our kids get a little bigger. (Except, you know, we can totally wait until they’re old enough to split up from us with their own smartphones. That milestone can take its sweet time…)
Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom. We just experienced this tour on our trip last month (review forthcoming!), and it was absolutely worth the money. I’m including it here because, even though it differs from the other options as things you may experience on your own, it is very much in the same vein. The “tour” is actually a formal scavenger hunt throughout the park – complete with games and activities, a ride, and a visit from a special guest or two! We chose to do it this trip because my kids (4, 8, and 8) would all enjoy it – and they absolutely did. It’s offered for all ages, but I do think the kids who got the most out of it were able to help read the clues.
Count it! This is totally not a game, book, or formal activity that I ever would have thought to include. However, it was a lifesaver (or back saver, at least), on our most recent trip. My husband started the “game” as a way to distract my four-year-old and keep him walking a bit longer. It turns out though, that although it’s super simple, it kept all five of us entertained for large chunks of time throughout our trip. Even better, it requires absolutely no book or supplies – and can even lead to great math practice for little ones! Get the details here (along with a free starter list!)
This great collection of Free Scavenger Hunts from A Pinch of Pixie Dust. I’m really impressed how thorough and thoughtful these lists look. I haven’t tried them or poured over them in detail, but I am glad I stumbled on them – and encourage you to check them out before your next trip! Emma offers scavenger hunts for the Magic Kingdom, Boardwalk/Crescent Lake Area, Disney Springs (though the “Downtown Disney” scavenger hunt may have some things that are out of date with all of the recent changes), the Grand Floridian, World Showcase, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Cruises/Castaway Cay, Disneyland, California Adventure, and even a hunt specifically designed for the holiday season!
Where in Walt Disney World? app. I haven’t had a chance to review this app, but can’t wait to check it out. It is set up as a straight forward photo scavenger hunt: look at a picture, tell where it’s located. There is a free version, as well as several add-on purchases to unlock more fun. The reviews are good, but it does seem like the free version might contain several ads. For our family, it’s usually worth it to purchase the ad-free versions of most apps we enjoy – but your mileage may vary. I’ll definitely update with our opinions once we have a chance to try it out, but I wanted you to see it at least. The number of apps for in-park fun is surprisingly limited!
Free Printable Scavenger Hunt from Steph at Crafting in the Rain. This one looks very simple, making it both perfect for families with young children and relatively timeless. I’m pretty sure, for example, there will always be Mickey balloons in one form or another in Disney parks!
Or try a different Photo Scavenger Hunt (with cute hints!) from TouringPlans.com
Kenny the Pirate’s WDW Character Locator (app/subscription). We have used Kenny’s site for several years to gather information, but this is the first time we’ve subscribed to the Character Locator app (which is actually a homepage shortcut to a mobile site, to allow for realtime changes). The subscription provides additional resources such as show times, ride information, etc, but it makes this list for two reasons. First, the Master Character List. For many people who like to look for Hidden Mickeys, part of the thrill is the idea of collecting as many as possible or checking off everything on a list. It’s Walt Disney World touring, gamified ! When my kids were first interested in collecting character autographs, my husband and I would tag along somewhat reluctantly, depending on how long the lines grew. As we collected more though, something happened. All of us enjoyed filling up book after book with new signatures, seeing who else we might be able to find, etc. The biggest thrill became the collecting, and then the memories were made during each encounter. Kenny’s Master List is the list you need if you really want a challenge!
The second thing the site offers that was really fun on our last trip is a Disney trivia game. Admittedly, you’ll run out of questions eventually… but “beat the clock” format and leaderboard makes it really fun!
Other Books and Activities Disney Fans Might Geek Out Over…
These are admittedly not all set up for an activity to be done in the park. That’s not to say that you can’t sit somewhere at Walt Disney World and read them, walk around listening to them and taking in the details as you hear them, etc. Still, I wanted to include them because I have learned one thing in my decade and a half as a full-blown Disney Nerd: people who like Disney details and stories can never get enough of them. If that’s you, I hope you find something here you like and hadn’t already found!
The Complete Walt Disney World Fun Finds & Hidden Mickeys: The Definitive Disney Field Guide (book) by Julie & Mike Neal. Truth be told, this book isn’t exactly “definitive”. Some of the details are more obvious than those covered in some other books, and the attractions aren’t all covered with the same attention. That said, it’s a really, really fun book to look at if you’re a fan of the details throughout Disney Destinations. Though I’ve never taken it through the parks, the setup is such that it would be easy to do – including lists of must-see details and explanations of many sight gags you may not otherwise recognize. My favorite benefit of owning this book, though, has to be the inclusion of many attraction backstories as the authors describe the details in that context.
The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World: Over 600 Secrets of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom (book) by Susan Veness. This book is so detail rich, that it’s perhaps better read outside of the parks. Veness covers so, so many details of every area of the park, as well as stories from Imagineering, fun facts, and more. I would absolutely love to go on a solo trip sometime and just look at some of these secrets I’ve never seen (or don’t remember), but I do believe that’s the kind of trip it would take to digest the book. Instead, if you’re like me, you may want to just read this for entertainment and enlightenment, remember what you can the next time you visit (and surprise yourself when several details provoke recall of a fact you didn’t know you knew), and read it again as you retain more and more Disney history each time. I’d love to hear if you do something different with it, because the argument could certainly be made that it’s better if you can read stories as you’re among the parks and attractions being described!
Audio Tours of the Magic Kingdom (audio productions) from Lou Mongello and WDW Radio. It’s no secret I’m a fan of my friend Lou’s work, but these Audio Tours are extra special. They are super unique, allowing you to listen along from home and feel as if you’re there (having included just the right amount of background noise/music). The other option though, and one of my absolute favorites when I’m traveling or visiting a park alone, is to pop in headphones and listen as you walk around. It’s like having a VIP Tour Guide that is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of Disney details and story, but you don’t have to talk to anyone or hang out with a group if you’re an introvert like me! Hehe. Lou also provides really great scavenger hunts every month, designed just for members of the WDW Radio Nation.
Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never Knew You Never Knew (books): Volume 1 or Volume 2 by Jim Korkis. Some of Jim Korkis’ books are free for Kindle Unlimited folks, otherwise I would like to vouch that they’re worth every penny. I had the opportunity to chat with Jim at length in an interview featured on The Disney Nerds Podcast. He is a fantastic storyteller, and has countless fantastic stories to tell – stories that you might not hear anywhere else!
Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years from California to Shanghai (book) by Vanessa Hunt, Kevin Neary, and Susan Neary. This brand spanking new book arrived at my house the day we left for Walt Disney World last month. On that trip (and despite having no idea such a book exists), all three of my kids were thoroughly entertained by looking at current park maps while we were waiting at a park or hanging out in the hotel room. So now, you can bet that all five of us are obsessed with this spectacular book. It’s a gorgeous, oversized coffee table type book, and I truly believe it’s a must have for any fan of Disney Parks. Having not visited until the early 2000s – but exploring Disney Parks history at length – this collection of maps was surreal to me. It’s not just fun to look at, but also contains lots of information on how and why certain transfmorations have been made. My kids were just thrilled – and so entertaining – to point out how few (or how many) rides used to be in a particular area, how “young” many of the rides are they assume have always been around, etc. The book was put together by Imagineer Vanessa Hunt (who has helped curate the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library) alongside other authors and Disney Historians within the company – so it’s an incredible resource!
Poster Art of the Disney Parks (book) by Daniel Handke, Vanessa Hunt, and Tony Baxter. After seeing this book in the parks in 2012, it was high on my Christmas list that year. When I received it, my husband and I spent quite a while looking through it – and a number of people have done the same since. Much like the Maps… book (above), this is a title that was put together within the company, with lots of input from renowned Imagineers and historians. Be advised, this is a big book – measuring approximately 11 x 14 inches. The size is an appropriate choice though, to provide plenty of room for the “posters” as well as commentary on the art, attraction history, and the artists involved in bringing them to life.
Do you have a favorite book (or 5) about the Disney Parks? Have you tried any of the in-park activities beyond Hidden Mickey hunting? I’d love to hear!
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Best Disney Apps” at Disney Loop:
- 1st Stop – Frontierland Station | Hidden Mickeys of Magic Kingdom
- 2nd Stop – The Delightful Life | More Walt Disney World and Disneyland activities for Hidden Mickey Fans