On your first trip to Disney World there’s several important things one must do: eat a giant turkey leg, have a dole whip, ride the monorail and meet Mickey Mouse. Oh, there’s one more thing, get yourself a Mickey Mouse Ear Hat. No matter your age, no matter how cool you think you might be, Mickey Mouse Ear Hats are the one souvenir you can’t leave the Walt Disney World Resort without.
It was the Mickey Mouse Club (which aired originally from October 3rd, 1955 to September 25th, 1959 and had 260 one-hour episodes and 130 half-hour episodes) that made them so famous, and while it seems like such an obvious idea for them to wear, it wasn’t until Walt asked what the kids would be wearing that the idea was thought up. It was former Disney Studio Cartoon Storyman, Comic Strip Storyman and Adult Mousketeer (known as the Big Moosketeer) Roy Williams who created them.
Based off a joke in the 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Karnival Kid” (the first Mickey cartoon that Mickey actually speaks in) Mickey tips the top of his head to Minnie, much like he would do with a hat, only he took off the top of his head and ears. It was this joke that gave Williams the idea to have the kids wear “Mickey Mouse Ears”. After doing a sketch of the hat for Walt the hats were made for the show.
The first official Mousketeer Ear Hats to buy was a basic black hat with Mickey ears and the letter “M” on it. This made it easy for people to copy, so to prevent fraudulent hats the logo was changed to “Mousketeers” with a smiling Mickey Mouse. Within just 12 weeks of The Mickey Mouse Club being on television, more than 2 million hats were sold.
Today millions of hats are sold and the Mickey Ear Hats are the best selling item on property. Over the years various versions have been made of the hats to include a bride & groom, a Kermit the frog, R2-D2 and even the most recent ones, the “glow-with-the-show” ears.
Here’s just a few that I encountered on my recent trip to Walt Disney World:
Spider-man Mouse Ear
Iron Man Mouse Ear
Pirates of the Caribbean Mouse Ear (notice the earring in the ear)