Some of the Hidden Mickeys are quite intentional and easy to spot: the Mouse ears appearing in the crest of a shield in Pirates of the Caribbean, for example, or a dinner plate with two saucers carefully arranged at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the Haunted Mansion's dining room. (Even the copy of Life Magazine with Mickey on the cover in the Indiana Jones queue counts.) There are also ones which require careful observation, such as the one Noah and Amanda pointed out to me on a recent ride on Pirates that you had to actually turn back and look behind you to see, as only then would the holes in the grotto rocks line up just the right way (and they did.)
Then there are folks who take the concept to a literal extreme and will claim that any vaguely spherical grouping constitutes a Hidden Mickey -- look! the shadows of those three trees when the sun is at just the right angle in the sky! Those incredible Imagineers and their Stonehenge-like dedication to design! -- but they're considered crackpots and a general source of mirth and amusement. You can find many of these people over at hiddenmickeys.org, where every blotch on every wall is carefully noted as proof positive that the Imagineers have done nothing else since the early 1990s but throw as many somewhat-kinda Mickey shapes into an attraction as possible. ("This is a picture of a snake which I think could look like a Mickey," one of the contributors paraphrasedly writes. "It could be wishful thinking." Yup, you're right, man.) I guess if these people weren't busy doing they thang at Disneyland, they'd be looking for the Virgin Mary on ceiling tile stains and Elvis on burnt toast.
There's other stuff folks'll catalog online: the themed garbage cans, for one (indeed; Adventureland's garbage cans look nothing like Fantasyland's) or the location of every last Churro cart in the park just in case you're near the Frontierland ranch and just have to have a cinnamon sugary treat ASAP. The hardcore pin collectors, of course, have had an entire cottage industry created just for them, and I don't know there's ever been an official count of all nine hundred and ninety-nine ghosts, ghouls and goblins in the Haunted Mansion, but I bet someone has at least tried.
With all this going on around, I've grown used to the "let's obsessively list stuff" trend, but every now and then I get jolted out of my comfortably jaded perspective, and Werner Weiss has just done it for me this time. He's surprised the hell out of me -- and all of humanity, for crying out loud -- by bringing us, of all things, a list of gas stations in Disney parks that aren't really gas stations.
Apparently this is hot on the heels of a previous listing of hotels in Disney parks that aren't actually hotels. It is not often we get one who presents us with impeccably-researched findings of great import (well, actually, Werner's first effort mostly shows us signs that say "HOTEL") but now it's catalogued here for all the ages, and Mr. Weiss is no doubt doing his part to help restore the level of knowledge lost when the Library at Alexandria was sacked.
So have a drink tonight in honor of Werner Weiss and his perseverance. And if you find a bar in Disneyland in which you can't drink, take a picture and send it along to him.