Hidden Mickeys" Book Reviewby Jennifer Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides
I've long been a fan of hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World. I recall long days spent collecting details on them before my first couple of trips, and hours spent searching for them during my vacation.Back in my early vacation planning days (the mid '90s), there was really just one place to find information on hidden Mickeys -- the Internet. So when I learned from our colleague and fellow publisher Sally Scanlon of The Intrepid Traveler that they were going to publish a new book on "Hidden Mickeys," I have to admit I was surprised. Sure, hidden Mickeys are cool... but a whole book? Then I got my first copy of Steve Barrett's book, "Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secret" (ISBN 978-1-887140-56-0, $11.95) and all became clear. This book is COOL!
The first thing that stands out about the "Hidden Mickeys" field guide is its size -- it's small, lightweight, and could fit in a roomy pocket. The book weighs in at just under 175 pages, making it an easy read and an easy carry in the parks. "Hidden Mickeys" also has a colorful, cute cover (you can see the corner of Mickey's ear peeking out at the bottom). The book begs to be picked up and opened. A glimpse inside reveals a deceptively simple design that is playful yet easy on the eyes.
The book begins with a detailed description of hidden Mickeys -- what they are, how they began, where to find them, and more. For example, did you know that hidden Mickeys fall into several categories: you have the "official," accepted Mickeys that were clearly placed there on purpose, the "wishful thinking" Mickeys (also affectionately called "two-beer Mickeys") which are not likely to be intentional and you may have to really squint to see the Mickey, and "decor" Mickeys which are part of the decoration and not really hidden at all. The author Steve has chosen to list those hidden Mickeys he feels are well accepted and generally visible most of the time by the average guest.
Now here's the best part of the book: The hidden Mickeys chosen for the book (almost 500) are organized into scavenger hunts! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good scavenger hunt! There are six scavenger hunts in all -- one for each of the four major parks, one for the resort hotels, and one for everything else. Each hunt is organized logically and carefully by location with simple clues for each hidden Mickey -- there's even accompanying maps indicating where you can find each hidden Mickey. If the thrill of the hunt is what interests you (as it does me), the author doesn't give its precise location away -- you still get to search. Steve has carefully chosen the path he leads you on during the scavenger hunts, and you'll likely avoid crowds and long lines, too! Here's an example of a clue and a hint:
Magic Kingdom Hidden Mickeys Clue #1: Examine the scrollwork of the roof of the Main Street Train Station.
If you get stuck, hints are offered for each clue at the end of the hidden Mickeys hunt. And for you armchair readers out there, the hints are essentially the answers, so you can still have fun learning about all the hidden Mickeys at home. Here's the hint for the above clue:
Magic Kingdom Hidden Mickeys Hint #1: The periphery of the Main Street Train Station roof, second level, has scrollwork that repeats the classic Mickey motif.
The author, Steve Barrett, is one of the kindest, friendliest guys I know. He genuinely digs all this Disney stuff and I can really relate to his obsession. In "real life," he's an emergency room doctor -- Disney and hidden Mickeys are his escape from the demands and pressures of daily life. You'll find Steve's top ten favorite hidden Mickeys listed in the book, plus ten honorable mentions (it's hard to choose!).
Being an indexer (along with writer, editor, book designer, and graphic artist), I must say I really like the book's index. It includes the locations of every hidden Mickey confirmed by Steve (up to the time that the book went to press, of course). This means that if you're somewhere out in a park and wondering if there's a hidden Mickey lurking somewhere, you can just whip out this book and look up the attraction, hotel, or other locale in the index. If you find an entry, there's a hidden Mickey about! Very useful!
Perhaps one of the best features of Steve's "Hidden Mickeys" book is that he -- like PassPorter -- keeps his hidden Mickeys up-to-date with a web site: http://www.hiddenmickeysguide. There you'll find not only recent sightings, but a convenient catalog of photos showing some of the confirmed hidden Mickeys. The web site is also a useful conduit to ask questions and report Mickeys you think you've found in the field. If you find a new hidden Mickey that can be confirmed, it may even appear in a future edition! (My partner Dave Marx is very proud of the fact that he found a new hidden Mickey!)
Of course, being a perfectionist, I will admit to having a couple of constructive criticisms of the book. I am a fiend for information -- I'd prefer a bit more depth on the hidden Mickeys, perhaps in the Hints section or in entirely new sections. Of course, that begs the question of "how would it all fit?" -- and that's really what the web site is for. My only other comment is purely cosmetic -- the graphics that precede each chapter's clues and hints section are of a low resolution and not well produced. But that really does not affect the reader's experience, and is also easily corrected in a future edition.
You may know that we've been touting the "Hidden Mickeys" book's virtues in "PassPorter Walt Disney World" guidebook for several years now. And with good reason -- "Hidden Mickeys" is a real winner. It's been proven time and time again by the sheer number of vacationers who purchase and use this book. It always has a respectable sales ranking at Amazon.com, and we always see it well-stocked in the bookstores. It's a verifiable bestseller.
So why am I writing this review? It's not to sell books. Sure, "Hidden Mickeys" and some other Intrepid Traveler books are the only other publisher's books we're currently selling in the PassPorter Store, but that's because we believe in their quality. Sure, you could get your copy from us, but you can also get it online or in almost any bookstore. Ok, so why am I writing the review? Simple -- the book deserves it. My friend Steve deserves it. And you deserve to know about it and consider it for your next trip.
For more information, visit Steve's site at http://www.hiddenmickeysguide, the book's listing on Amazon.com, or the book's listing at PassPorterStore.com.
By the way, watch for Steve's new books soon -- one for hidden Mickeys at Disneyland, another on luxury vacations at Walt Disney World.
Here are comments about "Hidden Mickeys" that we've received from readers of PassPorter:
"I found that the Hidden Mickeys book was one of the best investments I have made. My hubby gets a little tired of some of the "calm" rides but gets a big thrill out of looking for all the hidden Mickeys. He will want to ride IASM and Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan over and over to find the hidden Mickeys. He will carry the book all over the park. I think it's what brings him back to Disney each year. The competitive spirit! " -- Meggara
"Definitely go for the Hidden Mickeys book...it's a blast!!" -- rescuesk
"I bought the Hidden Mickeys book and then when we were waiting in line, I would study the book to find out what hidden Mickeys were located on the ride or attraction we were waiting for. We had a lot of fun with this and found hidden Mickeys in places we never would have imagined. We were in WDW over New Years so the lines were very long. This really helped to pass the time while we were waiting." -- stretch2864
"On our last trip there was a little girl in front of us on The Great Movie Ride with the Hidden Mickeys book - she and her family were trying to find the Hidden Mickeys on each ride and it seemed like a lot of fun to me." -- Hanners