Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Review: Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys by Steven Barrett

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Detailed instructions make it easy to spot the hidden Mickeys.
Cons: Organization is the pits.
The Bottom Line:
Fun Disney Mouse hunt
Not organized logically
Makes it hard to use

Going on a Mouse Hunt

I must admit, with all my trips to Disneyland (and this year Disney World for the first time), I've never paid much attention to "Hidden Mickeys," the three circle designs hidden by the Imagineers in the various attractions, shops, and restaurants around the theme park.  That was before I won a copy of Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys, a guide that points them out to you.  I've got to say finding them adds some fun to your visit, but the book could be so much better.

The book starts out with a brief introduction to the history of the hidden Mickey and defining what exactly it means.  It even discusses the fact that other characters can be hidden as well.

Then comes the meat of the book.  The three main chapters, or "scavenger hunts" as the book calls them, cover the two parks and the surrounding hotels, Downtown Disney, and parking structure.  (No, I'm not kidding.  I've found the Mickeys in the garage.)  The main chapter breaks are fairly logical since there is no overlap between chapters.  One chapter focuses on Disneyland, one on California Adventure, and the final one on the rest of the area.

Each chapter then further breaks down into "clues" and "hints."  The clues are rather vague like (making one up), "Look around in the second room you pass through."  But the hints spell things out for you.  "Check out the dishes on the far wall.  The three plates on display are a perfect Mickey."  The clues and hints are both numbered, so it's easy to flip back and forth and find the hint for a clue that is completely stumping you.  That's what I usually have to do, especially when something is hidden on a ride.  You just don't have the time to stop and really look for it.

To make things more fun and challenging, each hidden Mickey has a point value attached to it.  If you are so inclined, you can keep score and see how successful you were.  Hence, the scavenger hunt titles.

While the clues can be frustratingly vague, the hints spell things out very specifically for you.  Using those, I can find what I am looking for almost right away.  That kind of makes the point system irrelevant since you can find whatever you are looking for.

There are no pictures in the book, but you don't need them.  The descriptions under the hints are so well done that most people should be able to find the Mickey in just a few seconds.

My main complaint comes with the way the clues and hints are organized within the chapters.  The book assumes you are heading to the parks and want to spend the most amount of time looking for Mickeys.  So it sends you to all the popular attractions first, before the lines get too long.  That's fine, except you spend too much time walking.  For example, the guide starts you in Tomorrowland, then you go to Critter Country, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Mickey's Toon Town, and back to Fantasyland.  My guess is you spend the time you could have spent in line walking around the park, so it's not a great savings.

For my purposes, I've just used the guide as I was going about my normal day in the park.  I found the system frustrating because you have to flip through the entire chapter to see if there are any hidden Mickeys at your current location.  I'm just now discovering that some of my favorite rides are listed.  Yes, there is an alphabetical index in the back, so flipping back there to find stuff isn't much better.

The book is narrow and skinny enough to fit in a back pocket.  But it is tall, so I kept mine in my backpack.

I know I will enjoy using Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys over the years since hunting for them has made me see the park with new eyes.  I just wish it were organized in a truly logical fashion.

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