92 years ago today, the world was introduced to one of the most iconic fictional characters of all time. Mickey Mouse has gone on to make fans all over the world, starring in dozens of animated shorts over the course of those 90+ years. He's part of theme park attractions, and he's the face of the Walt Disney Company. Walt said more than once "it was all started by a mouse" and there was no way to know nearly a century ago just how far that little mouse would take the name Disney. Born as a combination of Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn, both hero and comic genius, Mickey Mouse has seen it all.
If this was a normal year, Mickey would probably get a party worthy of his stature and his age at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Instead, we can all have a socially distanced birthday party together by enjoying Mickey Mouse's greatest moments on Disney+. Here are a few items you'll want to be sure not to miss.
If we're celebrating Mickey's birthday, then it only makes sense to go back to the very beginning. Steamboat Willie wasn't just the debut of a cartoon mouse, it was a revolutionary piece of animation as it was the first cartoon short to debut with synchronized sound. It changed the entire animation game and was probably a big part of the reason that Mickey Mouse became so popular so quickly. But beyond simply being a technical achievement, Steamboat Willie is a fun, if more than a little strange, cartoon.
Steamboat Willie also saw the debut of Minnie Mouse, so it's her birthday too, as well as frequent antagonist Pete. There's no voice acting for Mickey, that would come later, but there's a reason this has stood the test of time. It's just a pleasant little animation with catchy music. Although, it has to be said that much of the humor in the finale comes from animals being repurposed into musical instruments in a sequence, that, with a modern eye, actually feel cruel. It's just a cartoon, but it's a weird one.
Mickey's Birthday Party
If we're celebrating Mickey's Birthday then let's do it in style, with an animated short dedicated to the purpose. 1942's Mickey's Birthday Party is classic Mickey, in color, during the era when Walt Disney himself was still providing Mickey's voice. All the other classic Disney characters, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy are here to help celebrate their friend's special day. There isn't a great deal of plot in this short, beyond Goofy having some trouble with the cake, but it's just a fun piece to watch all your favorite characters having a good time.
If you grew up in the era when Disney wasn't making a lot of Mickey Mouse cartoons, but you had The Disney Channel, then this classic era Mickey is very much your Mickey Mouse. It's a beautifully animated piece, just like everything Disney created, and this fun, slightly suave, Mickey is exactly the character you remember.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Fantasia
Mickey Mouse has done it all. He's a ubiquitous part of the Disney brand and he can be found anywhere. However, while most of his animated shorts made their debut on the big screen, the mouse has never had his own theatrical movie. However, he has been part of big screen movies, and without question his part of Walt Disney's classic Fantasia is not only the most popular part of that film, but one of Mickey's most popular appearances ever.
The sorcerer hat from Fantasia has become a part of Mickey's regular wardrobe, appearing in theme -park attractions, video games, and numerous other places throughout the years. And Mickey was the only part of the original Fantasia to make the jump to Fantasia 2000. The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a beautiful silent film. Only Mickey Mouse and the history he brought with him could have made the sequence as special as it became. Even if you've somehow never seen it, you likely know this version of Mickey before all others. And if you haven't seen it. Fix that.
Yes, it's another Mickey Mouse animated short about celebrating Mickey Mouse's birthday, but outside of a thematic similarity, this one is completely different. First off, it's part of the modern series of Mickey Mouse animated shorts which, if you haven't seen them, are gloriously zany in a way that we hadn't seen from Mickey Mouse in decades. Second, as the title may give away, there's a Mexican theme to the short, and in fact, the entire thing is voiced in Spanish. There's aren't even English subtitles.
There are a handful of these shorts in the modern collection which are done in other languages and they're universally great. If you don't speak the language, they're basically silent films, but they work just as well that way, the humor is universal and can be understood in any language. The modern Mickey Mouse shorts bring back the sillier side of Mickey, an element of his character that was there in the beginning, but began to slip away over the years as his Errol Flynn side took over from his Charlie Chaplin side.
The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse
And if you do like the modern Mickey Mouse shorts, then Disney+ is celebrating Mickey's birthday with a gift for all of us, more of them. The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse is an all new series of shorts done in the same style as the most recent ones. However, these new entries are about twice as long as any of those, about seven or eight minutes long, closer to the length of a classic theatrical short. That just means more insanity for fans to enjoy. The first two episodes arrived on Disney+ today and more are planned in the coming weeks.
These are just the highlights of everything Disney+ has on offer using the most iconic mouse ever created. There's a lot more where that came from and there will certainly be a lot more in the future. It was, indeed all started by a mouse and so we wish him a happy 92nd birthday. I can't wait to see what the future holds. Looking forward to that centennial celebration in just a few years.