It was a beautiful, sunny spring day. The temperature was in the low 70’s, the birds were chirping, there were green leaves on the trees and the flowers were starting to blossom. There was also a small breeze, the kind you only get in the spring. What a gorgeous day in New Jersey.
Except for one thing.
I wasn’t in New Jersey and it wasn’t in the low 70’s. It must have been at least 100 degrees in the shade. I was standing in the middle of Animal Kingdom, sweating bullets and praying for rain. Only the Disney Imagineers could bring the African heat to the happiest place on earth.
My wife and daughter were smart—they left the park to spend the rest of the day at Typhoon Lagoon. So, it was just me and my son waiting on a very long line for Kali River Rapids hoping to get drenched when our turn comes. Unexpectedly a cast member approached us with two ice cold bottles of water. The cast member said we could have the water if we would help him hunt for the Diamond Hidden Mickey. All we could think about was the mouth watering, thirst-quenching, ice cold bottles of water. Without hesitation we said yes we would help him and within a few seconds we drank our bottles of water. Never before and not since have I had such a refreshing bottle of water.
We asked the cast member, whose name was Davey, about this Diamond Hidden Mickey. He said no one knows exactly what it looks like and all he knows is it’s made completely of diamonds. Then Davey told us, “Others have tried before to find the Diamond Hidden Mickey and all have failed.” He said Indiana Jones couldn’t find it. Not even the great Hidden Mickey Guy, Steve Barrett has been able to find it.
“Gee Davey, then how do you expect us to find it?” asked my son. That’s when Davey pulled a rolled up parchment paper out of his back pocket and said, “I have a map that will lead us to this sparkling treasure.” He opened the map and pointed to where we were and where we needed to go. The map pointed right to the Magic Kingdom, but Davey told us to first go to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and wait for him at the entrance.
As we headed out of the park we stopped for a brief moment at the Tree of Life so I could text my wife and let her know what was going on. We then went to catch the bus for the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We waited, and waited, and waited, and finally a bus stopped right in front of us. Soon after, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and as we stepped off the bus there was Davey waiting for us. He handed us each a T-shirt that read ‘Official Walt Disney World Hidden Mickey Hunters’ a van then pulled up and we all got in. Next stop the Magic Kingdom! As soon as we made it to Main Street, Davey looked at the map but he wasn’t sure where we should go so my son and I read it. I thought that logically we should go to The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Adventureland but my son was insistent on going to Pecos Bill’s in Frontierland. So we did. When we got there we asked my son where to go next and he politely said “inside for a cheese burger and fixins’ bar.” We went inside and grabbed a bite to eat.
According to our calculations we would need to get to Tom Sawyer Island. So we raced over to dock. Lucky for us we were the last ones to get on board the raft. Once on the island we went through the caves in search of the elusive Diamond Hidden Mickey. The map pointed to an old mine where we found what we thought was the spot where the Diamond Hidden Mick would be located. Instead all we found was a Mickey shaped map. This map pointed us right back across to Frontierland. So, it was back on the raft to Frontierland.
The three of us studied the map and we all agreed the Diamond Hidden Mickey had to be at the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade. So we hurried over but this wasn’t exactly the Shootin’ Arcade I remember. Well, the shooting gallery was the same, so were the targets, and even the guns but, it was free to play and there was a cast member standing to the side of a makeshift wall that had shelves filled with plush Disney dolls. Above the shelves was an old wooden sign indicating how many points were needed for the plush dolls. I also have to tell you that as strange as this sounds the cast member looked like a young Walt Disney.
We stood in front of the Shootin’ Arcade pondering what to do next when my son said “I bet the Diamond Hidden Mickey is on one of the plush dolls.” We intensely studied the plush dolls from top to bottom but we didn’t see any kind of hidden Mickey anywhere. The cast member told us to look at the back of the map. So Davey turned it over to the other side. There was a clue that we all swore wasn’t there before. It said “shoot for the prize and it will be right before your eyes.”
As we select our rifles and start to take aim we see a woman come casually walking over. She picks up a rifle taking shot after shot. Each and every shot was a bullseye! The cast member tells her that she can have any prize she wants. The woman points to a very large stuffed Minnie Mouse wearing sun glasses. As the cast member reaches for it the woman said “I’ll just take what’s behind the shades.” There it was about the size of a golf ball so shiny and bright. So, I asked her how she knew it was there? The woman responded “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” As she took the prized possession my son asked “who are you?” The woman said with a smile “Why, I’m JL.” My son then asked her what the JL stood for to which she replied “just lucky!” She then disappeared into the crowd with the diamond Mickey hidden no more.
Contributed by: Stuart S. (NDD #47). Stuart is a contributor to the Disney Driven Life and is the author of the Disney Geek Dad blog.