I had the pleasure of attending the press preview of the Mickey: The True Original Exhibition in the city, located right next to the location of this summer’s Pint Shop, at 60 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10014. The cost of admission is $38 and it’s running from now until February 10, 2019. Like most pop-ups, the Mickey exhibit is available by time slot so you have to purchase your tickets in advance online and enter according to the time you selected. You do not have to purchase a ticket to access the retail store inside though if you just want to view and buy the merchandise.
I learned of this exhibit over the summer, when the walls were already heavily decorated outside, and Disney had started advertising heavily for Mickey’s birthday in advance through special Oreos, Goldfish and other food merchandise and such you can buy at your local supermarket. The Highline ended up being an area this summer that I would visit multiple times since this block is so popular for quick temporary pop-ups. I was even here a few weeks prior for the Brandless pop-up.
Upon checking in, you are given a limited edition set of Mickey ears and pin to commemorate the exhibit and Mickey’s birthday. The waiting area before you’re officially introduced into the exhibit has a map of all the rooms you can walk through, as well as a few quick backdrops for cute selfies. There’s also a list of all the artists who contributed to the exhibit. From there, you walk into a huge room where they play a quick video about Mickey and his contribution to the world over the years and his evolution. Videos and photos are highly encouraged throughout the entire exhibit so don’t worry about overdoing it. The next room showcased Walt’s Oscar from his work with Mickey and the Steamboat Willie film. You can watch two different versions of the film too in a dark room, the original and a modern day interpretation. There’s even a lifesize steamboat for you to walk on to and take photos. My gripe with this room and a few other rooms in the exhibit though, is the lighting isn’t that great. It was hard to take photos in some areas due to this. For pop-ups, this is a big faux pas. Lighting is key for grammable photos. One of my favorite rooms was the Ink and Paint room but it was hard to capture nice photos here because it was so dark and the light changed too quickly between patterns. Same thing with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice room. There was so much potential but dampered by low lighting.
As we walked through the exhibit, we saw many different variations of Mickey, seen through the eyes of all the artists that contributed to it, as well as original artwork and pieces. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, as well as helpful if you need a hand with taking photos. I found some rooms were very monochromatic and some rooms were splashes of color. Of course, I enjoyed the splashes of color more. Towards the end of the exhibit, you’re given a sample of Ample Hills Creamery ice cream, with flavors designed specifically for the exhibit.
Towards the end, there’s a room where you can play Mickey trivia with other guests on the Google home Mickey, and then view a collection of old Mickey Mouse memorabilia and merchandise throughout the years. The exhibit finishes into the retail store, which hides the neon room, the psychedelic room of hidden Mickeys. The lighting in this room also makes it hard to capture photos nicely.
So what is my review of the exhibit? Honestly, compared to other pop-ups I’ve attended, I think the $38 price tag is a bit steep for the content. I appreciate all the art and displays you can view, but it’s lacking the interactive, fun aspect of pop-ups like The Color Factory and Rose Mansion. There wasn’t a lot of different, hands-on, fun things you could really do other than take photos, but even the photos felt a little flat. I felt there were a lot of missed opportunities. There was so much potential but this pop-up didn’t take full advantage of it. The only food sampling is the ice cream and we were given a very modest portion of it as you can see our cups weren’t even filled. They could’ve given away a lot of other Mickey shaped treats and food like the Oreos and Goldfish. Or even have the famous Mickey bar available, even if for purchase. I didn’t feel it had the magic of Disney in it or the fun factor. It’s more for the art and museum goers. It’s very “museum-like” than it is a pop-up, but with not enough content really to make the entrance price worth it, in my opinion. You are given ample time to walk through and view everything at your leisure, however. And I did feel that every one was very friendly. I never felt rushed. I went on press day so it wasn’t crazy crowded but I did read a few other reviews on Google stating that they’re very good at only allowing a limited amount of people in at a time so you never feel crowded or have the problem of other people in your photos or feel rushed to take your photos because someone’s waiting behind you.
So ultimately do I think this pop-up is worth a visit? Yes if you’re an art lover and museum goer and don’t mind paying a steeper price for pop-ups. But no, if you’re looking for something more interactive with that wow-factor. I’m more on the interactive, fun, wow-factor spectrum for pop-ups, so I wasn’t really impressed to be honest, nor in love with the palette of colors used in this exhibit. It felt like a lot of red, white and black, instead of the pop of color world that I prefer for Mickey. And for the price, I think we could’ve received a few more freebies and cute Mickey treats, like the Sugarfina candy. I’ve also read that Mickey sometimes makes appearances for photos, but that’s not always guaranteed so I do feel that should be more consistent in the pricing as well.
Regardless, I did enjoy attending the preview day and being able to experience it to find out what the exhibit was all about. And again, Happy Birthday to a true icon that I grew up with, Mickey Mouse. Without him, the Disney World of imagination would not have been possible. It all started with a mouse to launch one man’s amazing dream that he wanted to share with the world.