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The story behind the planting of Mickey’s Forest – Disney’s largest Hidden Mickey

by Banks Lee

By Don Gworek

Mickey’s Forest is Disney’s largest Hidden Mickey. You can, however, find it pretty easily if you do a search for “Hidden Mickey” in Google Maps. This is my first-person story of how it was made.


This 1992 article in the Walt Disney World cast member newspaper, “Eyes and Ears”, invited volunteers to help plant Mickey’s Forest.


What follows are excerpts from e-mail and photos I sent to friends in 1992, telling the story of how Mickey’s Forest was planted.

A few years ago Walt Disney World bought some additional acreage that used to be orange groves. The trees were killed with the killer frosts in the 1980s, and the land has been sitting idle ever since.

Over the last five weeks, the left ear and head were planted with pine seedlings. Today the right ear was planted by about 300 volunteers.

We started at Pleasure Island, a convenient place for all of to park our cars. Eventually we started to board the buses, and by 9:05 a.m. we were on the way. The buses pulled up to the forest site at about 9:40 a.m. That’s a 35 minute drive!


We piled out, and headed up the hill with news cameras recording our assault.



(Buckets with seedlings ready for the volunteers.)



We separated into groups of 18, and separated again into groups of three. One person dug the hole and the others planted the trees carefully.



We were at about the 12th row from the top, and planted maybe 125-150 trees in the row. It took maybe 20 minutes.



Most of the time we were being circled by a helicopter, taking news footage.



It was a lot of fun!



After we finished our row, we started helping out other rows.



By 10:40 a.m. or so, all of Mickey’s right ear had been planted, and the trek began back down to the buses. We were back at Pleasure Island at about 11:30 a.m. It’s going to be great over the next few years to look out jet windows and see these trees!



And you can indeed see Mickey’s Forest from flights departing from Orlando International Airport.


Westbound flights tend to use a departure flight path called “Epcot Two”, as illustrated in this page from the FAA US Terminal Procedures Publication. The yellow arrow indicates the approximate location of Mickey’s Forest, and experience is that you’ll see Mickey’s Forest from the right-most window seat (typically, seat “F”).



From the ground, however, there is not much to see. This is a typical view, where additional pines, more sparsely planted, hide Mickey’s Forest.



There’s really only two road side locations to see Mickey’s Forest. There are two access roads for the property owner, these roads are indicated with the yellow arrows.



The view up the north-east access road.



The view up the south access road. Mickey’s Forest is the at the end of the road.

Please note: Mickey’s Forest is fenced private property. If you visit, stay on the public road, do not cross the fence.



Just up the road from this location, you can see the tallest landmarks of Walt Disney World, as seen in this extreme zoom view. The arrows point to the spires of Space Mountain and Cinderella Castle. Also seen are the towers of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.



Mickey’s Forest is also visible from U.S. 27. The yellow arrows indicate the horizontal range of the north ear.


More of Mickey’s Forest from the air, from a small private plane, can be seen in this video.

Hidden Mickey Forest - Learn how it was created by planting trees near Walt Disney World

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Barton sent us this photo in March 2018 of the trees being cleared away. This makes the solar panel Hidden Mickey at Walt Disney World the current largest.

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4 comments

surfer john January 5, 2012 - 12:17 am

wow! that’s just too cool! thanks for the effort,everyone..!!

Reply
tim January 8, 2012 - 12:46 pm

Sorry folks, although it is a Mickey head, and is cool, it doesn’t qualify as an official hidden Mickey by Disney’s own rules.

Reply
Mark July 9, 2012 - 11:38 am

Tim, hey dipshit. Put a sock in it.

Reply
JS May 31, 2018 - 12:48 pm

Very Sad it is being cleared away

Reply

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