Walt Disney opens Disneyland. For opening day Mr. Disney barrows costumes from The Ice Capades. The Ice Capades has been making Disney themed shows as early as 1950. Disney loved the idea of characters roaming the park and greeting people, so he decided to keep them around.
There's two versions of the Ice Capades Mickey and Minnie costumes; specially the heads. The first heads had large view points (spots where the performer can see out of) all over the face of Mickey and Minnie. These view points are excellent for the performer to skate around, but not so much to greet guests. The view points looked awkward and creepy. The next pair of heads removed the large view points, giving them a much cleaner look.
Version 1 of The Ice Capades Mickey and Minnie, 1955.
Version 2, with cleaner faces, credit
Disneyland is celebrating it's 5th anniversary and they redesigned Mickey and Minnie. They designed Mickey and Minnie with large round heads, with a modified version of the previous one's clothes. I call them Bobble-Head Mickey and Minnie. These din't last long. Sometimes an Ice Capades Mickey will show up along an Bobble-Head Minnie, and vise versa. Awkward.
The Bobble Head couple. credit
Bobble Head Minnie along with Ice Capades Mickey. credit
1960- 1963: Big Head Mice
During this time, Disney eliminated any versions from the Ice Capades and created their own versions of the Disney assemble of characters. Many of the characters, including Mickey and Minnie, were designed with little bodies and big heads, giving them a cartoony feel. These costumes looked better that the previous versions, but they had a flaw. Their flaw was that the performer inside the costume could not interact with guests easily. The performer did not have easy control of the character's hands and that factor didn't add to the illusion of the character being alive. After noticing that, Mickey and Minnie were redesigned.
The Big Heads at Disneyland credit
Mickey and Minnie get a major makeover. The costumes were designed to resemble and fit a person. Both now has a rubber head with oval ears, covered with black rayon fur. Mickey spots black eye shadow to make his eyes stand out. His wardrobe was simple; black shoes, red pants, white vest and collar, black jacket and an orange bow tie. The performer would wear white marching band gloves for Mickey's hands. Minnie was designed and modeled after Mickey. Him and Minnie shared the same head mold and shape, but Minnie had added features like eyelashes, red lipstick and later, lavender eye shadow. She had some wardrobe changes through out this period (listed bellow.) Over the reign of Common Mickey, he had subtle changes; like his head getting a cleaner look over time, the buttons on his pants being removed and his bow tie would loose it's ribbons.
These versions of Mickey and Minnie wear used at Disneyland, Disney World and other official Disney events. These Mickey and Minnie costumes was used during the opening of Disney World in 1971.
While Disneyland and Disney World shared the same Mickey and Minnie costumes, there was a difference between the two parks. The Common Mickey and Minnie debuted with screen, mesh eyes with painted black pupils, which made their eyes look gray. This style of eyes was used at Disneyland until 1978. Even though Disney World used Mickey and Minnie with screen, mesh eyes, around 1973 Mickey and Minnie appeared with white painted eyes with dark lenses for pupils. Meaning the performer can eye out the pupils and the audience can't see in; like sunglasses. When it came time to update their costumes, they keep the Disney World style eyes for all the parks.
1964- 1969: Steamboat Minnie
Minnie didn't make many appearances, she mainly appeared on parades and special events. Her wardrobe was modeled after her early cartoon films. She wore a pink skirt matching collar and hat. She would appear with either a pink hat or a pink bow.
1968- 1974: Bootleg Mickey
There's little known facts about this particular Mickey. Mickey's head almost looks like a bootleg version, but they used as an "official" Mickey. This Mickey rarely appeared. He was used to celebrate Mickey's 40th birthday outside of Disneyland and to promote Disney World outside of the U.S.
Minnie becomes a more frequent character and now wears a new outfit. She wears a yellow dress with a red bow around her waist and head. Her shoes were black single strap shoes with no heel. I love this version of Common Minnie.
Disney on Parade was a live show that toured around the world featuring Disney characters and stories. Mickey and Minnie appeared during these shows. Mickey would appearing wearing his traditional outfit, while Minnie had a different dress for each edition of the show. She would wear her yellow dress, a pink dress or a red shirt with yellow dots and shoes.
1976- 1978: Pre-Polka Dot Minnie
This version of Minnie is the predecessor of the next versions, so that's why I call her "Pre-Polka Dot Minnie." She now wears a red, polka dot dress with a matching top with a white collar. She starts wearing lavender eye shadow and wears a straw hat with polka dot trim and a flower. Sometimes she would wear a matching bow around her head.
French singer Douchka made a music videos with the Disney characters and Minnie was part of her repertoire. When Minnie appeared with her, she often appeared wearing this outfit. Although she sometimes she would wear a different bow, four fingered gloves and yellow shoes.
Walt Disney with Mickey and Friends, 1965. credit
Artistic rendition of Common Mickey, credit
A colorized version, by me, of Steamboat Minnie, 1969
Bootleg Mickey, ebay listing
Bootleg Mickey promoting Disney World in England. video link
Mickey and Yellow Dress Minnie, with gray eyes, Disneyland, 1970. credit
Mickey and Yellow Dress Minnie, with white eyes, Disney World, 1973. credit
The cast of Disney on Parade, 1971. Minnie wears a pink outfit
Sorcerer Mickey and Minnie on Disney on Parade, 1973.
Mickey and "Pre-Polka Dot" Minnie, 1977. credit
"Pre-Polka Dot" Minnie with a matching bow, Magic Kingdom
Minnie in a Douchka music video
With Mickey's 50th birthday around the corner, a big portion of the Disney charterers get a redesign, including Mickey and Minnie. They get a completely new wardrobe. Mickey gets new black mascot style shoes, red pants with big white buttons and a black ribbon on the side, new white shirt and vest, a new black jacket and a small yellow bow tie. Minnie has yellow mascot pumps, white exposed bloomers, red polka dot dress with matching bow. The fabric used for her dress was previously used for Practical Pig's bandanna. They now have four fingered gloves, with three black lines on the back of the gloves. Mickey and Minnie now have big round hips, giving them that cartoon feel. These versions Mickey and Minnie were used at Disneyland and Disney World until 1988. Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 with these versions and used them until 1992. Disney on Ice used these costumes from 1981 until 1990. Also these costumes were used for the groundbreaking of Euro Disneyland in 1988.
On a 1986 Disney World ad, Mickey winked at the camera. For this commercial, they used a modified Mickey head that was able to blink via a mechanism in the costume. By the looks of the commercial, he only winks on the right eye and doesn't fully blink. It's most likely that this winkin' Mickey was only used for commercials and special or private events.
80's Mickey and Minnie used the same heads as the previous version, but with a different finish to them and different fur. Although Mickey and Minnie share the same head shape, some heads were different. Some heads had different lower jaws and smiles. One head would have a wider smile with a pointy lower jaw and the other would have a wide smile with an almost swollen lower jaw. These different smiles and jaws was used in tandem with each other and both styles were used Mickey and Minnie; though Minnie would usually had the pointy lower jaw and Mickey had the swollen jaw.
I'm a huge fan of these versions of Mickey and Minnie and one day I wish to add them to my costume collection. Even though I'm not from their era and did not live to see them in person, I was able to see a 80's Mickey head on display at Van Eaton Galleries in person last year. That's close enough for me!
Mickey and Minnie with swollen lower jaws, 1981. credit
Comparison of the swollen and pointy lower jaws
Mickey and Minnie with pointy lower jaws, 1983. credit
Footage of Mickey winking, slowed down. video
Special thanks to Brandon for sending me the footage
Me and 80's Mickey Mouse, 2015
Mickey and Minnie get new style of heads. While both keeping their previous wardrobe, Mickey gets a new head modeled after the 80's one, with smaller facial features like: smaller eyebrows, eyes, tongue and widows peak. Also Mickey looses his black eye shadow. Minnie has a new head shape, unique to her (because she used to share the same head spade as Mickey.) She has even smaller facial features compared to Mickey. She has smaller nose, snout, smile, eyes, eyebrows and widows peak. Also, she now has new three pointed eyelashes, instead of the previous "rag doll" eyelashes. Minnie still has lavender eye shadow and red lipstick. Both Mickey and Minnie have round ears instead of oval ears; Mickey's ears are slightly larger than Minnie's. Subtle changes happened to them throughout time like: different four fingered gloves, eye focus and wardrobe modifications. These versions of Mickey and Minnie became the official costumes since their debut and are used where-ever they're required. Also these versions of Mickey and Minnie were used for the opening of Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland and makes them the only versions to have open two Disneyland theme parks.
I call these versions "Nostalgic" because of what they mean to me and to a lot of people. I grew up exposed to these versions trough Disneyland Fun, Disney on Ice and when I visited the Magic Kingdom as a kid. I love these versions and always said to myself "Mickey and Minnie will never change because they're perfect the way they are." When I see them, I think of my childhood and all those happy moments that I lived watching them. But for the opening of Shanghai Disneyland, Disney redesigned Mickey and Minnie. When I saw the new design, I almost cried. Not because the new design look bad, but because they got rid of something that was and is a part of me. To me, this is Mickey and Minnie, not the new designs. Call me silly, but I think everyone is over protective when it comes to the things they love. I was mad at first, but then I realized something. We are entering a new era of positive energy, love and light, everything around us is changing and transforming, like Mother Earth. Since we are in a new era, it makes since that Mickey and Minnie are transformed for the new era. Not only the new era, but a new generation that is being born. This future generation will grow up with New Mickey and Minnie like I did with the this ones. It's time to past down the torch and watch new Mickey and Minnie do their magic in this new era and generation like what these versions did to me.
Mickey and Minnie at Disney World, 1988. credit
Mickey and Minnie at Hong Kong Disneyland, 2016. credit
Me and Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom, 2005
Mickey & I at Epcot, 2017
Minnie & I at Epcot, 2017
Mickey and Minnie's heads have become articulated so the mouth can open and close and the eyes fully blink. Disney have been working on articulated versions since 1994. The first version of an articulated Mickey was in 1986, Winking Mickey (listed above.) In 1994, Mickey made an appearance in Disney World during a private event, debuting and testing this new technology. They officially debuted in 2004, they first appeared at Disney Live.
The articulated heads of Mickey and Minnie are modeled after their Nostalgic versions, with little alterations made like fixing the jaws so they can fully close. These heads are controlled by the performer wearing the costume. Two cables run from the character's head, one cable runs through one arm into the performer's hand and the other cable through the other arm. Each hand has a trigger on the index finger and controls either the mouth or the eyes.
These versions of Mickey and Minnie are always used on Disney Live, Disney Parks shows and, since 2010, they are heavily used on promotional events for the Disney U.S. theme Parks.
Articulated Mickey and Minnie, 2013. credit
Articulated Mickey and Minnie (notice the cable inside Minnie's arm) credit
Try to keep an eye on their fingers. video link
In 1994, Disney started working on a speech transformation system, patent. This system allowed to change and transform the performer's normal voice into Mickey's falsetto pitch. In 2010, Disney tested this new system with Mickey. Mickey would talk to guests and interact with them in a personal level, like Mickey would notice your princess shirt or say your name. I call this Mickey "Live Speech Mickey." Throughout more testing with Mickey, Disney has removed the speech transformation system and replaced it with pre-recorded lines. Now Mickey will talk with you, but only say generic lines like: hi-ya pal, great to see yah, oh boy, hot dog!, etc. I call this Mickey "Robo Mickey."
This version is similar to Articulated Mickey, but there's a difference. Articulated Mickey's facial features are controlled manually by the performer and Robo Mickey's facial features are not controlled by the performer. I'm guessing that his facial features are controlled via remote control. Robo Mickey is mainly used in Disney World at the Magic Kingdom as a meet and greet character. He is also used on stage shows at Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.
In 2017, Robo versions of new Mickey and Minnie where to the parks. Old Robo Mickey was replaced by the new version at Magic Kingdom. At California Adventure, Robo versions of New Mickey, New Minnie and Donald appeared meeting guests.
To tell apart Robo Mickey from Articulated Mickey is simple. Look at his fingers. If you see Mickey hiding his hand gestures or wiggling his index finger while talking or blinking, then that's Articulated Mickey. But if Mickey is talking or blinking and his hands are still or the index finger isn't moving, then it's Robo Mickey. Also Articulated Mickey is mainly used for live appearances while Robo Mickey is for more controlled, closed environments, so he can be operated via remote control.
Robo Mickey at the Magic Kingdom, 2013. credit
First "Live Speech Mickey" testing, 2010. video link
Another "Live Speech Mickey" test, 2011. video link
One of many examples of prerecorded Robo Mickey, 2014. video link
Robo Mickey at Hong Kong Disneyland, 2015. credit
Old Robo Mickey & I taking a selfie, 2017
New Robo Mickey at Magic Kingdom, 2017. credit
Robo Donald, New Minnie and New Mickey at California Adventure, 2017. credit
Robo Donald, New Minnie and New Mickey greeting guests, video link
They say that good thing must come to an end. These new version of Mickey and Minnie replaced the current versions. They debuted on April of 2016 during a promotional event for Shanghai Disneyland. They look completely different than the previous ones. Mickey and Minnie have been remolded after their animated and cgi counterparts. Both of them have new heads. Mickey and Minnie have rounder faces with new smiles. Their dimples are rounder and indented more. Their lower lips are sticking out more exposing their new tongues. Both have new, smoother snouts and new noses, eliminating any wrinkles around snout. Both Mickey and Minnie share a similar new nose, giving Mickey a new nose and giving Minnie a bigger nose than before. Minnie lost her makeup, now she doesn't have the red lipstick or the lavender eye shadow. She still has her eyelashes. Both of their eyes are now taller and more oval shape, like their cartoon counterpart. Their ears appear to be the same as before. Minnie's head is slightly smaller than Mickey's.
They both have new wardrobe. Mickey wears an updated version of his iconic look. While his black jacket looks to be the same, but the rest changed. Both Mickey and Minnie have new gloves, with long and skinnier black lines on the back. Mickey's bowtie is now smaller and less firm than previous one. His new bowtie resembles the one he used to wear during the early 80's. His pants look saggier, they lost the black line running through the side and now have new oval buttons in the front. His vest and shirt have new, bigger buttons. His vest now only have one large button rather than three normal size ones. His shoes are now curved at the toe. Minnie's appearance completely changed. She has a new polka dot dress. Her new dress only has polka dots on the skirt and the sleeves, the top is plain red with a white doily-style collar and two small white buttons in front. She now wears a white ribbon with a bow around her waist. Her (head) bow is now larger and odd looking. The bow is meant to look a cartoon bow, but it gives her an award look. Her new bow resembles to the one she wear on the 80's. She has different bloomers with new, shorter trims. Her classic yellow pumps are no longer part of Minnie's attire. Minnie now wears the same shoe style as Daisy's shoes. They are yellow with small red bows on top.
On June 2016, at one of the opening ceremonies of Shanghai Disneyland, an articulated version of New Mickey appeared. New articulated Minnie debuted along side New Mickey at the Magic Kingdom's new castle show called "Mickey's Royal Friend Ship Faire." These new heads can blink and open and close their mouths. They work the same way as the previous articulated versions.
New Mickey and Minnie's debut at Shanghai Disneyland, 2016. credit
New Classic Mickey, 2016. credit
New Mickey & I at Disneyland, 2017
New Minnie Mouse, 2016. credit
New Minnie & I at Disneyland, 2017
Together at Hong Kong Disneyland, 2017. credit
Articulated Mickey and Minnie at "Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire," 2016. credit
Articulated Mickey and Minnie at "Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire," 2016. credit
What do you think of the new design of Mickey and Minnie?