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The Hidden Mickey You Can Only See At Disney World Once A Year

Within the growing online community of theme park enthusiasts, Disney theme park culture has become "a thing" unto itself. The web is replete with guides, YouTube channels, discussion forums, blogs, histories, and fun facts about the 11 Disney parks scattered across the world. It's a veritable subculture. If you're willing to put in the extra effort, there's a whole universe of secrets to indulge in. One of the more popular examples is the scavenger hunt for Hidden Mickeys.

If you're not up on this global game of I Spy, there are places all over every Disney park where simple icons of Mickey's head (just three circles making up the head and ears) are incorporated into decorations and architecture — even large-scale feats of civil engineering. Light posts, gardens, repeating wallpaper patterns — you name it. The imagery is cleverly woven into every inch of the park around you, waiting to be found like an Easter egg. This is such a popular little side quest among Disney aficionados that someone wrote a whole unofficial fan guide about it to help you find them. One, however, is special: It can only be found once a year, and only under special circumstances.

A trick of the light

If you haven't been initiated into the Hidden Mickey lifestyle, it may strain credulity to imagine that park planners put in so much effort for such a little thing. If this is your attitude, we must interject and tell you, "Nay, friend, this is just the kind of minor, done-for-fun magic that keeps the Disney parks as popular as they are." Disney is about more than waiting in line for rides and taking pictures with bobble-headed cartoon mice. Disney's goal has always been to craft a mythology around its parks. To this end, the Hidden Mickeys are nigh sacred.

This most ephemeral of the Hidden Mickeys is only found in Walt Disney World, and occurs around the Under The Sea attraction, a popular ride that takes you through the story of The Little Mermaid. The queue for the ride wraps around a cave-like structure, and once a year — specifically on Mickey's official birthday, November 18th — the angle of the sun around noon reveals a Hidden Mickey when the light hits the wall of the queue just so. Take that, Stonehenge! You can see what it looks like here

We want to shake the hand of whichever Imagineer cooked up that little chestnut. Kudos, dude. That's just before the peak holiday season begins at the park, too, so if you're itching to get out and make a vacation of it at a Disney park soon, why not make it mid-November, just to capture that little bit of extra magic in your hands?