When I arrive at Disney World, everyone immediately starts pointing out the “hidden” Mickeys that are, apparently, everywhere. Oh, look, there is one in the bottom of the aquarium at the Finding Nemo observation deck. Did I catch a glimpse of the three Mickeys painted into the background of the skyline outside the Backstage Hollywood Tour? No? What about the one in the table arrangement at the Haunted Mansion ghost dance scene?After the hundredth time in a half hour span that someone wants to show me a hidden Mickey, I begin to see them where none exist. Like the cracks in the cement sidewalk. The water fountain drain. Shadows. Pretty soon, the cloud formations in the sky are all about Mickey, as if God Himself is on the Disney payroll.
And the t-shirts! Every family (except for mine) seems to be in matching Mickey t-shirts. I finally get my nerve up to ask a random mom what the deal is. I frame my question in the form of a compliment, a technique that always works when used on me:“Excuse me, ma’am? I love how your family is all coordinated! What inspired you to do that?”
The woman looks at me as if I have, well, a hidden Mickey growing out of my nose.“Safety reasons, obviously!” she squeals. “If someone in my group gets distracted and separated from us at a gift shop, all we have to do is look for the fluorescent orange shirt with the Mickey logo.”
Now it was all beginning to make sense. I have had this same difficulty finding members of my group in gift shops. There are expansive gift shops everywhere I look, so it is easy to get lost in one. Right when you step off a ride, still basking in the adrenalin and exhilaration of the special effects, there is a conveniently located gift shop! Sometimes I am even the person that gets lost in the gift shop.The gift shops have all manner of t-shirts, key chains, hats, and refrigerator magnets. Suspiciously absent are the postcards that were familiar from my youth (much to my dismay, a teen-aged cashier tells me that “Postcards don’t sell well here, everyone just texts nowadays”). The gift shop also stocks cheaply-made rain ponchos with a giant Mickey logo on the back.
The Husband and I scoff at the over-priced plastic ponchos. Twenty bucks! Ha! What a waste of money. We congratulate ourselves on our blatant superiority for not falling for a marketing gimmick such as this … until the sky opens and it rains for one hour straight. We decide that $80 (we are a family of four) is actually an “investment in our health and wellbeing” (my words) and that “the exorbitant profits are most likely going to Wildlife funding” (The Husband’s new hopeful theory). We buy the ponchos (no lay-away plan is mentioned or offered). The ponchos keep us bone dry for approximately 22 seconds. No, they do not leak … the storm passes and the bright sun returns. We fold up our ponchos and carry them in a plastic bag with Mickey on the side. The bag is considerably heavier than those four 20s that used to be in my wallet mere moments ago.My eight-year-old son, Tall, and I decide to ride the cars in Tomorrowland. He starts driving and I start taking photos.
Next thing you know, he stops and points out a few hidden Mickeys of his own.