Where's Wally?

For the first book in the series, see Where's Wally? (book).
Where's Wally?

Martin Handford with (right-to-left) Wally, Wenda, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard, and Woof
Author Martin Handford
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's literature

UK: Walker Books

US: Little Brown & Co then Candlewick Press
Published 1987 – present
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)

Where's Wally?, published in the US as Where's Waldo?, is a British series of children's books created by the English illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. Wally's distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognise, but many illustrations contain red herrings involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects. Later entries in the long-running book series added other targets for readers to find in each illustration.[1] The books have also inspired a television show (Where's Wally?: The Animated Series), comic strip and a series of video games.


In 1986, Handford was asked by his art director at Walker Books to draw a character with peculiar features so that his pictures of crowds had a focal point. After much thinking, he came up with the idea of "Wally", a world traveller and time travel aficionado who always dresses in red and white.[2] Sometimes it would take him up to eight weeks to draw a two-page sketch of the elusive "Wally" and the characters surrounding him.[3]

The first Where's Wally? book was published on Monday 21 September 1987.[4] The Where's Wally? books were published in the United Kingdom by Walker Books and in the United States under the title Where's Waldo? first by Little, Brown and Company before being taken on by Candlewick Press (Walker Books' American subsidiary publishing company). The first four titles were originally printed in Italy, but later reprinted in China.

The books became extremely popular and were localised for many different territories, with name changes for Wally in certain regions. The franchise also spawned other media in a more storyline-based form, including a television series, a comic strip and a series of video games.


International editions

In international editions, Wally has often been given a name in the local language:



Primary books

As of 2009, there are seven primary Wally books. The books were released both in hard-cover (for the original books) and subsequently in paperback. Each contains around a dozen scenes with Wally hidden in them. Each book has additional hidden objects and/or characters hidden in each scene specific to that book. The books usually reserve telling the reader about some item(s) to find until the end of the book so that the reader will have to go through the book again. The books contain checklists for each scene of interesting things or people to find.

  1. Where's Wally? (US title: Where's Waldo?) (1987)
  2. Where's Wally Now? (US title: Find Waldo Now, renamed Where's Waldo Now? later) (1988)
  3. Where's Wally? The Fantastic Journey (US title: The Great Waldo Search) (1989)
  4. Where's Wally in Hollywood? (US title: Where's Waldo in Hollywood?) (1993)
  5. Where's Wally? The Wonder Book (US title: Where's Waldo? The Wonder Book) (1997)
  6. Where's Wally? The Great Picture Hunt! (US title: Where's Waldo? The Great Picture Hunt!) (2006)
  7. Where's Wally? The Incredible Paper Chase (US title: Where's Waldo? The Incredible Paper Chase) (2009)

There have been three rounds of revised editions. In 1993, to coincide with the publication of In Hollywood, the first three books were reprinted with Wenda, Woof and the Wally Watchers added to the original illustrations, and the books were numbered on the cover. A "pocket edition" of the first book was also published, in a tiny A6 format (105 millimetres (4.1 in) × 148 millimetres (5.8 in)). Wally is even harder to spot when shrunk to this degree, and later printings included a free magnifying lens.

In 1997, to coincide with the publication of The Wonder Book, special "Tenth Anniversary Editions" of the first four books were published with a distinct silver border on their front covers, and added later-introduced characters and objects to look for in every scene, and also moved Wally to different locations from the original versions. These special editions appeared in both standard and "pocket" formats.

In 2007, for the 20th anniversary of the first book, the special editions of 1997 (and The Great Picture Hunt) were re-released with a new cover into paperback format. The silver borders on the books were removed and instead, the books were numbered in the top left-hand corner of the cover. Aside from the new numbering system, some of the front covers were also revised otherwise; for example, the "NOW?" on the cover of Where's Wally Now? was given a 2D effect, but it was originally designed to look like a 3D shape.

Other books

In addition to the primary books, other books have also been published in the Wally franchise. The first alternate-format Wally book was the Ultimate Fun Book. In addition to standard Wally scenes, this paperback activity book featured other types of games and activities, as well as cardboard punch-outs and stickers. The Magnificent Poster Book, which was a large-format book of posters including five scenes from past books and six new scenes (later included in The Great Picture Hunt).

Several other "activity books" have also been published featuring art from the "Where's Wally" comic strip:

The first six activity books mentioned were reprinted in 2009 in a smaller size with different packaging.


Year Title Contains
1995 Bumper Activity Book The Wildly Wonderful Activity Book, The Simply Sensational Activity Book, The Really Remarkable Activity Book and The Completely Crazy Activity Books in one large book.
2000 Boxed Set Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Ultimate Fun Book, The Truly Terrific Activity Book and The Absolutely Amazing Activity Book
2004 The Completely Cool Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions
2006 The Mega Mini Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey and In Hollywood mini special editions.
2007 The Solid Gold Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book special editions and The Fabulous Flying Carpets Sticker Book.
2009 The Ultimate Travel Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book special editions in one travel-sized book.
2009 The Magnificent Mini Box Set Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood and The Wonder Book mini special editions with special Where's Wally? magnifying glass.
2011 The Totally Essential Travel Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book, The Great Picture Hunt and The Incredible Paper Chases special editions in one travel-sized book.
2012 The Wow Collection Where's Wally?, Where's Wally Now?, The Fantastic Journey, In Hollywood, The Wonder Book, and The Great Picture Hunt special editions and an 80-piece jigsaw puzzle (of WallyWorld Again, from The Great Picture Hunt!) in a hardcover slipcase.

Publication details


There was a series of geographical magazines made available for children in the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, France, Hungary, Malta, Bulgaria and Russia, called Wally's World. In each issue Wally traveled to a different country or region of the world telling the reader interesting facts. This was published for 52 issues from January 1997 to January 1998, when Wally's History of the World began, focusing more on history than geography. The first issue was given away free with the last issue of Wally's World.

Television show

A 13-episode animated series, Where's Wally?: The Animated Series, with Townsend Coleman as the voice of Wally, was produced by DiC for CBS in 1991 for the North American market under the "Waldo" name. The show was later translated for international markets – usually renaming the character to match the books of that country. The dialogue and theme song were recorded in alternative Wally versions, with the same voice cast of the original US production, in order to market the show in the UK. The distribution rights to the show are currently held by HIT Entertainment.


A film based on the Where's Wally? series of books has been pursued by various studios. Nickelodeon was the one of the studios to take an interest in the idea but when the regime at Paramount (Nickelodeon's parent company) changed, the project was cancelled. In June 2009, it was announced that Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment had acquired the rights to turn Where's Wally? into a live-action film,[5] but the project was also cancelled.[6]

In November 2011, MGM and Classic Media announced that a live-action film based on the Where's Wally? series is in development.[7] Screenwriter Todd Berger has been hired to write the story for the film, which was slated to be released in the summer of 2015.[8] On March 9, 2016, Deadline reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are in talks to produce the film with their producing partner James Weaver while Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir will write the film, under their Point Grey Pictures banner.[9]

The 1994 comedy film Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, starring Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley, features a cameo appearance by Wally at the end of the film during a scene that takes place at the Academy Awards.

During the 2012 Super Bowl, Wally was featured in a MetLife commercial. As in the series, Wally was hard to find in the commercial.

Video games

A number of North American video games were developed using the US/Canada regional name "Waldo".

Comic strip

For several years in the early and mid-1990s, Where's Wally? was turned into a Sunday newspaper comic/puzzle, distributed by King Features Syndicate. The comics were also released in book form in the US, using the regional name 'Waldo'.

Cereal boxes

In the early 1990s Quaker Life Cereal in the US carried various Where's Wally? scenes on the back of the boxes along with collector's cards, toys and send-away prizes.

This was shown in The Simpsons episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" where Homer shouts "WALDO, WHERE ARE YOU?!" after looking at the scene on the cereal box as Waldo walks by the kitchen window.

Real-life Where's Wally? phenomena

World record attempts

Attendees at the 2011 Where’s Wally? World Record event in Dublin, Ireland

On Thursday 2 April 2009, 1,052 students, alumni, and members of the community at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US, captured the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Wally. The event raised money for local public schools.

On Monday 31 May 2010, Great Yarmouth attempted to break this record, but fell short of 1,052 with only 930 fans.[10][11]

On Sunday 19 June 2011, the previous record was broken when 3,872 people dressed as Wally gathered in Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland.[12]

The Waldo Waldo 5K has tried to break the record in a 5k fun run to raise money for the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area in Colorado Springs, Colorado, US, every year since the fire in July 2012. The first attempt, on Sunday 21 October 2012, had just over a thousand [13] The second attempt, on Sunday 27 October 2013, had over 2,700 [14] The third attempt, on Sunday 26 October 2014, hosted 3,104 participants [15] The fourth attempt, on Saturday 17 October 2015 came closest with 3,400 participants.[16] The next attempt will be made on 22 October 2016.[17]

Real-life recreation

On Saturday 12 September 2009 a re-creation took place in downtown Chicago. The re-creation featured all of the characters, Wally, Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard, Odlaw, and Woof, hiding throughout downtown Chicago and invited others to come and find them.[18][19]

See also


  1. Duckett, Jodi (26 November 1997). "Waldo's World". LA Times. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  2. "Up Against the Waldo", by Cyndi Stivers, 14 December 1990, Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 8 Feb 2010.
  3. "Interview with Martin Handford", Scholastic Book Club. Retrieved 7 Feb 2010.
  4. Walker Books. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  5. "'Waldo' finds his way to the bigscreen – Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  6. Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. “Waldo” and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion “The Addams Family” are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn’t crack “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
  7. "MGM Acquires Film Rights To Where's Waldo? Franchise, Eyes Live-Action Pic". MGM via Deadline. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  8. Sivadel, Sulai. "'Where's Waldo?' Movie Snags a Writer". ScreenRant. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  9. Fleming, Jr, Mike (March 9, 2016). "Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg To Spearhead 'Where's Waldo' For MGM". Deadline.
  10. "Where ISN'T Wally? 930 fans put on bobble hats and glasses to break world record". Daily Mail. London. 1 June 2010.
  11. Rutgers students set Where's Waldo record
  12. Ingle, Róisín (20 June 2011). "Let me entertain you". The Irish Times.
  13. "Waldo Waldo 2012". 21 Oct 2012.
  14. "Waldo Waldo 2013". 27 Oct 2013.
  15. "Waldo Waldo 2014". 26 Oct 2014.
  16. "Waldo Waldo 2015". 17 Oct 2015.
  17. "The Waldo Waldo". 22 Oct 2016.
  18. "Play real-life Where's Waldo? downtown this Saturday – on A.V. Chicago Decider".
  19. "Where's Waldo? In Chicago! – on NBC Chicago".
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