Mickey Mouse first appeared publicly in the short film “Steamboat Willy” on November 18, 1928, the day fans officially recognize as Mickey Mouse’s Birthday. It must be fun to celebrate your birthday when you never age! Mickey reminds us of the magic of childhood — a time when dreams had wings, and our imagination made everything possible.
History of Mickey Mouse Day
Mickey Mouse is more than just a character, he’s an iconic figure for the Disney brand. But he almost didn’t exist. Mickey Mouse was only created as a replacement for Walt Disney’s original successful creation, Oswald the Rabbit. Oswald was made by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz, a film producer and distributer through Universal Studios. With so much success from Oswald, Disney asked Mintz to increase the studio’s budget, but instead Mintz demanded Walt take a 20 percent cut. He then reminded Disney that Oswald was owned by Universal and that he had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to his new contract. Disney refused to sign the new contract, finished the final Oswald comic of his contract, and ended his work with Universal.
With just himself and two loyal animators, Ub Iwerks and Les Clark, Disney had to start from scratch. From this experience, he learned to make sure he owned all the rights to characters produced by his company. His inspiration for Mickey came from a tamed mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. The original name for the character was Mortimer Mouse until his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, ultimately creating Mickey Mouse.
On May 14, 1928, Mickey appeared in a test screening of the cartoon short “Plane Crazy”, but failed to impress audiences and attract distributors. Walt then produced a second Mickey short called “The Gallopin’ Gaucho”, which also suffered from a lack of distributor interest. “Steamboat Willy”, first released November 18, 1928 in New York, was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Intended as a parody of Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, it was the third Mickey film produced and the first to find a distributor, serving as Mickey’s debut.
Mickey Mouse Day timeline
Mickey Goes CGI
"Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas" featured the character in CGI animation for the first time.
Mickey's Toontown opened at Disneyland. The 1988 Disney film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" inspired this new part of the Magic Kingdom. The area featured the "Mickey's House and Meet Mickey" attraction.
Ear Force One
The first Mickey Mouse hot air balloon took flight.
Mickey — in color
The first Mickey Mouse film in technicolor, "The Bad Concert," was released. This marked the end of Mickey's black and white era.
From rabbit to mouse
Artist Ub Iwerks modified Oswald Rabbit — turning him into Mickey Mouse. Mickey's big-screen debut came in the feature film "Steamboat Willie."
Mickey Mouse Day FAQs
What day is Mickey Mouse's 90th birthday?
What is Mickey Mouse's full name?
Why does Mickey Mouse always say "hot dog"?
Mickey Mouse Day Activities
Put him on your wrist
Mickey Mouse watches never seem to go out of style. There's even a 90th anniversary edition now available.
Visit a Disney resort
Enjoy music, fireworks, and special snacks as the parks stage a Mickey-themed party.
Throw your own party
How about a Mickey Mouse party for the kids where everyone gets to dress up like Mickey, Minnie, or another Disney character?
Why We Love Mickey Mouse Day
He cheered up the world
Mickey Mouse was born at time when the world most needed a mischievous mouse to lift their spirits—his film debut occurred just 20 days after the stock market crash in 1929, and his endless optimism and good cheer made him an instant favorite of both children and adults. It's only right that we celebrate his birthday!
It’s a celebration of imagination
Take a moment to consider the implausibility of a cartoon mouse achieving fame. He’s been a sailor, a musketeer and a mouseketeer, a prince and a pauper, a sorcerer and much more. And it's all due to the imagination of the humans that put him there. Thanks, Walt Disney, for your inspiring vision!
The world’s most famous mouse deserves his own day
Oddly enough, there have been a number of famous mice. There’s good old Jerry (from Tom and Jerry), Speedy Gonzales and Geronimo Stilton to name a few. But none can hold a candle to the original mouse with a mission. He's a bona-fide legend, and we have to celebrate that.
Mickey Mouse Day dates