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Where’s Wally (Where’s Waldo in the US) is a series of children’s picture books created by British illustrator Martin Handford. The books ask readers to search for “Waldo,” a man dressed in a distinctive red striped shirt and hat amongst an densely illustrated crowd. Waldo and his elusive nature has been the subject of many parody YouTube videos.
The first Where’s Wally book, titled Where’s Wally was published on September 21st, 1987. Other titles in the series include Where’s Wally Now? (1988), Where’s Wally?: The Fantastic Journey (1989), Where’s Wally? In Hollywood (1993), Where’s Wally? The Wonder Book (1997), Where’s Wally? The Great Picture Hunt (2006), and
Where’s Wally? The Incredible Paper Chase (2009). There have also been numerous sticker and activity books based on the series. Where’s Waldo was briefly turned into an animated series for one 13 episode season airing on FOX in 1991. The books have been published in over 20 countries with the title character’s name altered to Charlie, Hugo, and Effy, among others. In addition to the main character several secondary characters populate the books including Waldo’s dog Woof, his friend Wilma, and his enemy Odlaw. As of March 2014, the Where’s Wally Facebook page has over 4.4 million likes and its Twitter account has over 20,000 followers.
On December 10th, 2007, YouTuber imponderables uploaded a video titled “Waldo Ultimatum” which parodies the Bourne Ultimatum films by replacing Jason Bourne with Waldo (below, left). As of March 2014, the video has gained over 310,000 views. On June 29th, 2009, YouTuber Hitler Rants Parodies uploaded a video titled “Hitler can’t find Wally/Waldo” which features an actor dressed at Hitler yelling in German with English subtitles that indicate he’s angry about his inability to find Waldo. As of March 2014, the video has gained over 970,000 views.
On August 17th, 2011, YouTube channel The Online Musical uploaded a video titled “Where’s Waldo?: The Musical” that explored the lives of secondary Where’s Waldo characters such as Wenda and Wizard Whitebeard (below, left). As of March 2014, the video has gained over 107,000 views. On February 28th, 2012, YouTuber Joule Thief uploaded a video titled “Waldo the Movie” that imagined Waldo was a secret agent specially trained to blend in (below, right). As of March 2014, the video has gained over 1.1 million views.
Where’s Waldo flash mobs, in which groups of people in red and white striped clothing converge onto an area to recreate a page from one of the Where’s Waldo books, have occurred in many cities across the US and UK.
On November 11th, 2006, a Where’s Waldo flash mob occurred in San Francisco, California. A video of the mob was uploaded to YouTube by sfmallon the same day (below, left). As of March 2014, the video has over 800,000 views. On June 18th, 2011, the Street Performance World Championships in Dublin, Ireland tried to break the world record for the biggest mob of people dressed like Where’s Wally. There was over 3,600 people dressed as Wally in attendance, effectively breaking the world record. The same day YouTuber bittacraic uploaded a video of the Wallys dancing to the Village People song “YMCA” (below, right).