Steven Barrett is living the American Disney Dweeb dream.
How so? Well, Barrett is this guy who made his very first trip to the Walt Disney World Resort back in the late 1980s. Clearly, that old Disney magic must have gotten to Steve. For -- after several years of visiting the resort twice annually -- Barrett finally moved down to the Orlando area in 1998 and began visiting the theme parks on an almost weekly basis.
As a result of his frequent visits to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom (in addition to sampling every restaurant on property as well as visiting every resort), Steve developed this truly intimate, in-depth knowledge of Walt Disney World. Knowledge that he was happy to share with his friends and colleagues whenever they were planning to visit the Parks.
The advice that Steve gave these folks about the proper way to visit Walt Disney World (so that someone could truly get the most out of their visit to the resort) was so on the money that Barrett's buddies said: "You should write a book."
And so Steve did. And "The Hassle-Free Walt Disney World Vacation" (Intrepid Traveler, November 2002) quickly emerged as THE book that would-be WDW visitors should read if they want to avoid many of the frustrations but miss none of the fun associated with a trip to Disney World.
Unfortunately, Barrett wasn't able to cram everything that he knew about D-World into a single volume. Which is why Steve's back with an all-new book, "Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best-Kept Secrets" (Intrepid Traveler, April 2003).
As its title promises, "Hidden Mickeys" really does deliver the goods. Offering clues to the exact location of nearly 400 secretive mice that are stashed somewhere around Disney World's over 30,000 acres.
Just today, I've finished reading through an advance review copy of Barrett's new book. And he manages to touch on all of the classic Hidden Mickeys (EX: the one that's stashed in that green broccoli-like tissue in that mural above the entrance of "Body Wars," the hieroglyphic Mickey and Donald that are hidden away in the shadows of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" sequence in "The Great Movie Ride," as well as that plate and two saucers on the banquet table in "The Haunted Mansion"'s ballroom scene) as well as some pretty obscure ones. (Who knew that there were 18 separate, legitimate Hidden Mickey hidden away inside of Disney's Animal Kingdom's Conservation Station?)
To my knowledge, the only Hidden Mickey-related item that Barrett's book seemed to have missed was the real origin of the Hidden Mickey at Walt Disney World. This actually dates back to the late 1970s / early 1980s, when the Imagineers were designing and building EPCOT Center. Disney Productions management -- because they wanted WDW visitors to be able to make a clear distinction between the Magic Kingdom and the resort's newest theme park -- decreed that Epcot would be a character-free zone. No Donald. No Goofy. And certainly no Mickey Mouse.
Once this order came down from on high ... well, you have to understand that the Imagineers -- back then and today -- are a fairly free-spirited bunch of guys. And they just hate being told what to do by a bunch of stiffs in suits. So, when then-Disney Chairman Card Walker and Co. issued that "no character" decree ... well, the Imagineers almost immediately began looking for ways to slip a Mickey into that theme park. And that -- honestly -- is how this tradition of secretive mice was started.
Anyway ... obsessing about this admittedly trivial aspect of the Disney World Resort may seem dumb or dull to some folks. Not me. And certainly not Barrett. His obvious enthusiasm for this somewhat silly subject really permeates this book. Which helps make it a truly fun read.
Speaking of fun ... Steve invites his readers to actually get in on the fun by setting up six different do-it-yourself Hidden Mickey scavenger hunts. This book includes a scavenger hunt check list as well as a score card for each of the four Disney theme parks, plus one for just the WDW hotels and another for all the mice that are stashed in the water parks, Downtown Disney et al.
Affordably priced, as well as being pocket sized, Steve Barrett's "Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best-Kept Secrets" is definitely something that you'll want bring along the next time you head down to WDW. Whether you're looking to test how well you really know the Disney World Resort and/or just want something to help you kill time while you're waiting in line, this is a book that no discerning Disney dweeb should be without.
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