Podcasting has been around for a long time. As with most things Disney though, I’m behind the curve. Disney related podcasts are no exception. I drive a lot for work, so listening to audiobooks and podcasts is a no-brainer for me. Anything to make sitting in traffic a little more pleasant is a great thing. Enter Disney podcasts.
Chances are, you probably know what podcasts are, but just a quick description in case you don’t: podcasts are audio or video broadcasts usually uploaded into Apple’s iTunes store for users. As far as I know, all iTunes podcasts are free, and topic range includes anything you can imagine – sports, politics, and yes, all things Disney. Some sports podcasts are ok, but since I’m already annoyed enough due to traffic, I avoid politics. Let’s just say I’ve had it with both sides and leave it at that. But at least we can all agree that we love Disney.
To get started, go to the Podcast section of the iTunes store. An iTunes podcast search using “Walt Disney World” returned right at 100 results. So that should give you an indication of just how many podcasts are out there if you use a broader search. On the other hand, searching “Disney photography” only returned a handful of podcasts. Depending on your particular topic of interest, you might need to browse through a show’s history and see if the title reveals your topic.
So far, I’ve subscribed to a few podcasts. For Disney Photography, the best podcast I’ve come across is ISO5571. Cory Disbrow, Ryan Pastorino, and Tom Bricker, all extremely accomplished Disney photographers, share tips on Disney related photography. A side benefit to listening is their tips are very useful for other specific photography and techniques you can use each time you pick up your camera. Unfortunately, the most recent show was about a year ago, so I can’t help but wonder if they’re on permanent hiatus. That’s a shame, because the shows are an entertaining way to learn more about photography. There are 69 episodes.
My favorite podcasts for general Walt Disney World topics are WDW Radio, The DIS Unplugged, and Touring Plans.
At the time of this writing, the WDW Radio podcast, hosted by Lou Mongello, is up to episode 443. Lou covers a wide range of topics ranging from food reviews, history, travel tips, rumors, and upcoming park and resort changes. I particularly like Lou’s enthusiasm for all things Disney (past, present, and future), his ability to describe park and resort settings, conversational broadcast tone, and attention to detail. Lou broadcasts pretty much every week from inside the parks, his studio, or from the road.
I’ve only recently discovered The DIS Unplugged podcast, but I’m impressed. They have a ton of episodes, broken up into different interest areas, such as the Disneyland edition. The Disney World edition alone has 299 episodes. They offer daily and weekly editions covering a wide range of topics. The shows I’ve checked out so far are in a round table discussion format covering the show’s topics, and all of the panel members are Disney veterans. They spend a ton of time in and around the parks and share their wealth of knowledge. The hosts pull no punches when it comes to telling listeners whether they like or dislike something. What I like in particular about this show is how they relate things from a local’s perspective.
The Touring Plans podcast, hosted by Len Testa, covers conversations with Jim Hill. The Touring Plans folks publish the Unofficial Guide series, an extremely useful reference for Disney related travel and touring. Len is one of the people who’ve used a combination of statistics, guessing, and sorcery to develop the Touring Plans and Lines app that a bunch of us probably use. Besides being able to quote the value of the square root of 2 out to the 15th decimal place, he’s spent a lot of time in and around the parks. Jim Hill appears to know the past, present, and future of every theme park built in America. His inside knowledge of park/resort design, construction, and operation is tremendous. This show is a great look into what’s in the short, medium, and long term range for the parks and resorts from two very knowledgeable insiders. There are 101 episodes in this podcast.
Another useful item is most episodes also contain show notes, where the podcasters will include website links mentioned in the show, so you don’t have to scribble notes as you’re listening, and you can follow up later. Some shows also broadcast on their own video channel, accessible on YouTube or their own website, some shows are live and encourage the audience to contact the show. All of them, with the exception of ISO5571, encourage strong social media interaction.
I’m not sure how this works for Windows users, but I bet it’s similar for Mac OS iTunes users. Or if you’re using a mobile device, it’s probably very similar to how it works on an iPhone.
If you’re using iTunes or searching podcasts on a device using iOS, and want to get all future episodes automatically, it’s as simple as subscribing to a podcast. You’ll be able to stream or download episodes. You’ll see a display item called “feed” that lists played and unplayed episodes. If you’d like to keep memory usage to a minimum, you can set download, storage, and deletion options. For example, my device automatically downloads new episodes as they’re available, then deletes them after they’re played. I’ve selected a couple of episodes that I want to keep (maybe forever), so they’re stored on my device until I change my mind. If you’re a pro at using a DVR, you can do this – or just ask your kids!
One unfortunate thing I’ve noticed is the podcast section of the iTunes store only goes back so far for some of these podcasts. As near as I can determine, some episodes 3 years old (and older) are listed in a show’s feed, but are no longer available for download or streaming. So if you discover a podcast you really like, and you’re scrolling back in iTunes through past episodes, you probably will see an episode listing that you want to check out, only to discover that it’s not available. Don’t worry – you didn’t do anything wrong. At some point I guess the iTunes people whack old episodes to clear server space.
Not all is lost though – some of the podcasts are archived on separate websites. Some, like WDW Radio and The DIS Unplugged, allow episode downloads or streaming the episode from your browser. Pretty neat.
If you’re also a Universal fan, most of these podcasters also have at least one series dedicated to Universal topics, much like their Disney shows.
Do you have a favorite list of Disney podcasts? Did I miss some? Share them with us!