I thought I'd talk about what I do to verify Hidden Mickey sightings that folks send me.
As many of you know, I like to use fairly stringent criteria for the "classic" (three-circle) Mickey.
The highest order criterion is if an Imagineer or Disney artist tells me directly that he or she placed a Hidden Mickey image. That's a no-brainer, but that's happened only twice. An Imagineer took me to a classic Mickey image in the interactive area at the exit of Mission: SPACE.
A Disney artist e-mailed me a few months ago that I have all the Hidden Mickeys he knows of in Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom (he painted most of them in the entrance mural). That made me feel great!
One other instance that didn't involve me directly is when a graphic artist posted on a website that he'd painted a Hidden Mickey on the rotating earth (the "O" of Epcot) on the Tip Board in Innoventions Plaza. He made Australia appear as a classic Mickey, and he had to tell someone since nobody had discovered it!
Most of the time, I check out submissions by myself. I work faster and more intensively if I'm alone. I observe images from different angles, reading the descriptions several times over, as I try to re-create what the submitter saw.
One recent day, I was at Animal Kingdom with my bag of papers. The sky was cloudy, but it didn't rain. The temperature was comfortable and the crowds were moderate. My first stop was the Spoonbill area, just to the left as you walk onto Discovery Island from the Oasis bridge. Some rocks suggested a classic Mickey image. I understand the poster's idea, but the rocks are not proportioned quite right and are a bit too distorted for me, especially the "ear" to our left.
Next stop was the "Creature Comforts" shop. Close to a large decorative giraffe inside the store is a beetle with a classic Mickey marking. The photo shows this image, which is acceptable to me, as the "head" circle is larger than the "ears," which touch the head but not each other. (Jesse Kline sent me this image).
Near the bridge to DinoLand, I enjoyed a group playing South American music (from Peru, Ecuador, etc.); excellent performance!
Inside Pizzafari Restaurant, I revisited a classic Mickey in the trees in the first room to the right as you leave the food order area. The three highest circles form a sideways Mickey, and they seem somewhat proportionate. I like it, and the MouseFest, 2007 Hidden Mickey Hunt group liked it, too! (Thanks to Sharon Dale for this image).
I checked out many more sightings, some I liked and some I didn't like. As usual, I ran out of time before I could finish. No matter, this was a satisfying day of research, the kind of day I live for!
Read more about Steve's Hidden Mickey finds on AllEarsNet.com
Steve maintains a Catalog of Hidden Mickeys on the Hidden Mickeys Guide.
The Third Edition of Steve's Walt Disney World Hidden Mickeys book is available on Amazon.com. Hidden Mickeys, 3rd Edition: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best-Kept Secrets
His First Edition of Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys is also available on Amazon.com Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to the Disneyland Resort's Best-Kept Secrets (Disneyland's Hidden Mickey's)