Mickey Mouse is a funny animal cartoon character who is the official mascot of The Walt Disney Company. Created by Walt Disney and his cartoonist partner Ub Iwerks, he has become one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world. An anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears outfits with a red, yellow and white color scheme, Mickey is depicted as a pleasant, cheerful Everyman with a mischievous and adventurous side, who lives in his own universe with his girlfriend Minnie Mouse and various friends.
Mickey debuted in Steamboat Willie, one of the first cartoons with sound, in 1928. Mickey went on to star in over 100 short films, and various feature films such as Fantasia. He has also been featured in a newspaper comic strip, several comic book series, television series such as The Mickey Mouse Club, and video games; and has also been a mainstay meetable character at Disney's theme parks. In 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to be honored with a star on Hollywood's "Walk of Fame."
History with the Macy's Parade
In the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mickey has appeared as a balloon in four versions.
Mickey Mouse (1934)
The first original Mickey Mouse balloon appeared in 1934, making him the fourth pop-culture character to have a licensed balloon in the parade. This balloon was 40 feet tall, 26 feet wide, and required 25 handlers. To tie-in with Macy's, Walt Disney himself recommended the balloon have a star on his chest to represent the Macy's Logo. Alongside Mickey in the Parade were fellow Disney characters Pluto, Horace Horsecollar, The Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf, and eventually Donald Duck. In 1935, the balloon got a minor paint job to have a bigger star on his chest. This balloon was retired after 1935, alongside all the other Disney balloons. A few years after this, he was moved to Boston for the Santason Parade in 1938, which made him the first Macy's balloon to ever appear in an outside Parade. He hasn't been seen since this appearance and was most likely donated as part of the 650 pounds of rubber to the military.
Mickey Mouse (1971)
37 years after his original balloon got retired, a second balloon, which was slightly more colorful. The balloon was created in 1971, and was constructed out of 800 yards of nylon and was painted with 75 gallons of paint. It had three successful test flights that year (with a Mickey walk-around also accompanying the balloon) that made him one of a few balloons to have more than one test flight. This Mickey Mouse was scheduled to debut in the 45th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside Smile to celebrate the opening of the Walt Disney World resort in Florida. However, strong winds reaching up to 40 mph and rain mixed together to create weather unsuitable for flying balloons, thus resulting in the only occasion in parade history where the giant balloons were grounded. As such, he started his first march in 1972, appearing alongside fellow Disney character Donald Duck. 1935, 1971, and 1972 are the only years in the Parade's history where Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse both appeared in the parade together as balloons. The second balloon itself was a replacement for the second Donald Duck balloon that appeared from 1962 to 1972.
The balloon continued to appear until after the 1983 parade due to extreme damage done to the balloon during the preparation of that year's parade. After that, his 1982 appearance was used in the 1986 parade telecast as part of a presentation showcasing retired balloons. Parts of the balloon, including one of his shoes, used to survive in the original Parade Studio but were most likely disposed of when they moved to the current building in 2011.
Bandleader Mickey Mouse (2000)
After 17 years of absence, Mickey returned in 2000 with a "Bandleader" balloon, which led that year's balloon lineup. The design was based on Mickey's first-ever colored cartoon, The Band Concert, which debuted in 1935. 2000 was the only year this balloon appeared. Despite this, the balloon is speculated to still survive.
Sailor Mickey Mouse (2009-2012)
Several years later, the fourth balloon of Mickey was made, depicting him as a sailor, it debuted in 2009 to celebrate the announcement of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships. That same year, he appeared as a cold-air inflatable upon one of three Macy's 34th Street marquees.
On February 3rd, 2011, the Sailor Mickey balloon made its first appearance outside of the Parade outside Orlando, Florida's Amway Center. This new Mickey was retired in 2012, as both ships had set sail by that time. Since this balloon's retirement, the Parade has been without a Mickey Mouse balloon.
Additionally, Mickey's "meetable character" version from the Disney Parks has appeared in the parade on various occasions. The Mickey walk-around first appeared in the 1968 parade, to celebrate the character's 40th birthday. He later appeared during the second Mickey balloon's test flight, and then from 1969-1976 appeared on a wagon (mainly with the walk-around Pluto and Goofy) that appeared alongside the other Disney floats and balloons and then was moved to the castle float in 1977, 1978 and 1980. He then appeared again in 1981 on a float promoting that park's Tencennial anniversary celebration. After 1981, the Mickey walk-around did not appear regularly in the Macy's parade, due to the Disney Parks having their own Christmas Day Parade, which was the first telecast in 1983 and is filmed exactly one month before Christmas; and also due to Disney's acquisition of ABC, whose affiliate WPVI has since featured Mickey on a "castle" float at its own Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, he did return in 1984 on a float celebrating the 30th anniversary of Disneyland and in 1985, except without any Disney balloon following it and most recently in 2005 on the special "50th Anniversary of Disney Parks Magic" float where he, a multitude of other Disney characters, and country singer LeAnn Rimes appeared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Disney Parks.
Below, you will find a list of the music that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast
- Generic Milton DeLugg Music? (Also used for Linus The Lionhearted, Happy Dragon and Aviator Snoopy) (1971-1977)
- Mickey Mouse Music (1978-1982)
- Unknown (2000)
- "Mickey Mouse March" (Matching band arrangement, 2009-2012)
- Mickey's 40th Birthday (1968)
- Disney Wagon (1969-1976)
- Test Flight (1971)
- Walt Disney World Castle Float (1977-1980)
- Walt Disney World Tencennial (1981)
- Disneyland's 30th Anniversary (1984-1985)
- Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary of Disney Park Magic (2005)
- In 1971, Mickey couldn't make his debut due to 40 mile per hour winds and rain that caused all of the balloons to be grounded. This means that Smile and Mickey had to make their proper debut the following year.
- In 1972 and 1975, the winds pushed Mickey dangerously to the ground at the start. Due to this, the balloon's handlers were having a tough time putting the balloon back up into the air. Luckily, the balloon went back up and wasn't damaged.
- In 1973, Mickey's left ear was a little ripped.
- In 1982, Mickey was pushed around by strong winds at the start. As he was being pushed around, the balloon's foot hit a street sign with his foot and began to tilt. When the balloon reached Herald Square, his right ear was bent and his head was also bent causing the balloon's head to look into the air during his appearance, the balloon, however, didn't get any damage.
- In 1983, Mickey's arm was accidentaly ripped off during preperation, leading to the balloon exploding and having to be removed. He wasn’t mentioned in NBC telecast.
- In 1974 and 1980, Mickey's right finger was deflated.
- In 1978, Mickey's right ear was possibly bent or deflated.
- In 1980, Mickey's left arm was slightly bent.
- In 1981, Mickey's right leg was slightly bent.
- Mickey's ill-fated 1983 appearance originally had him placed in-between Bullwinkle and Olive Oyl . By the time he was removed, he was placed in-between Olive and Kermit the Frog.