During these trying times, the need for that spark of magic has maybe never been greater. Unfortunately, with the closures of every Disney park since mid-March our regular sources of that special brand of magic have absolutely never been harder to find.
It's during these times that we have the unique opportunity to search for our much needed fix in places we may have never thought to look before; places that hopefully bring home those Disney-feels in ways we've never experienced while not within the berm of the parks.
One of my favorite ways to keep in touch with the magic during these times has been through the enchanting world of podcasts.
In this post I'll share some of my favorite pods, what's unique them, and episodes that capture that special brand of magic that each pod delivers.
*These podcasts aren't free to run/host and there's so much work that goes into creating each and every episode. If a podcast relies on contributions to run their show, a link will be included under each section indicating how you can help these artists maintain their livelihoods and the quality of their shows.
(in no particular order) Let's take a deep dive into the backside of the waters of the best Disney podcasts:
You're dropped right into the middle of the often-rumored, rarely ever seen, triple pal-around as founder Heyzen is joined by his passionate panel of co-hosts, Gavin and Melissa.
Each episode starts with the latest in Disney news and updates and may even get a littler personal too but, hey, we're all friends here! You can immediately tell this gang has a remarkable camaraderie and that serves them well as discussions can get a bit testy when they revolve around such beloved attractions and characters that have such a personal connection to so many. In this weekly show, Heyzen, Gavin, & Melissa always drop a hilarious, jam-packed episode delivered in a way that only three Disney-loving pals can.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Imaginative park-goers who care as much about the parks as they do about providing a great show
How does an imagineer come up with their brilliant ideas? Probably with an open roundtable discussion centering around a specific topic, just as the Podketeers do in their can't-miss episodes they call, "Armchair Imagineering." Gather around and listen as Heyzen throws science and safe construction practices to the wind as he plays Roller Coaster Tycoon with some beloved attractions, while Gavin ingeniously re-themes some bygone properties, and Melissa lays down the building blocks to some wonderfully creative grounds (that Heyzen and Gavin then build all over)... It's a fun time, you'll love listening in on these!
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Armchair Imagineering (Frontierland)
In this episode, the crew takes on (or takes down) Frontierland and lays down some very interesting ideas and I.P.'s that I could honestly envision Disney using in the somewhat near future, enjoy!
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DISNEYLAND FOR DESIGNERS
The Guiness World Record holder of the longest ride in the history of the Disneyland Tram and the artist behind Hipster Mickey team up to bring you this Adventures in Design podcast all about Walt's original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland.
*What is normally a monthly podcast, Mark has decided publish the FULL show, for free, each and every Wednesday (the day he normally set aside during his week to go to the Parks) until the Parks re-open.
D4D will feature Jerrod Maruyama, Philander Butler (an incredibly knowledgable VIP Disneyland Tour Guide) and guest appearances by some more Disney pros!
If that doesn't have your attention, then you may simply not have enough Disney-chlorians in your blood because... COME ON! These two are absolute legends in the industry. Follow along as you see (with your ears) the history and design of your favorite attractions, lands, and nuances through the eyes of designers and explore parts of the park where you may have never thought to look or, simply, didn't even know existed. Their love for the parks shines through every episode. Listener beware: you may choke up listening along as this place is as special to them as it is to you.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Super-knowledgeable super-fans who have worked for the Mouse himself (this means they've got some SERIOUS insider clout!)
It's one thing to read about it but both Mark Brickeyand Jerrod Marayuma have lived it! Mark was commissioned to do a piece of Disneyland featuring the train station and Main Street while Jerrod has been at it for years bringing you smash hits that you've seen all over the park, including Hipster Mickey (those ears, amirite?) and the Kingdom of Cute collection. These two take you into the nooks and crannies of Disneyland the way only a someone who's combed over the parks in intense detail could. The experienced park veterans are able to find and explain insanely tiny but crucial details of attractions, facades, and landscapes that brings a fresh take to topics of the parks that seemingly have been covered thousands of times before. Each month feels like a special treat when that Disneyland for Designers icon pops up on the "Listen Now" menu.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Designing the Haunted Mansion
Building the first marquee attraction since the passing of Walt, and without his guidance, the Imagineers faced one of the toughest challenges in the history of WDI and rose to the occasion beautifully. This episode tells the story of how the Haunted Mansion we know and love today came to be.
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This weekly roundup show enthusiastically delivers their recap of all things Disneyland news and updates with a more lengthy discussion saved for whatever specific topic they've chosen for the week.
Your Ghost Host's (because this pod comes to you from The Ghost Hosts, LLC) are Tage Bushman and Teresa Urban (and producer Vern, he'll come up later), both experienced Park-goers who are each particularly passionate about different aspects of the Park experience, which allows for well-rounded, and very opinionated, takes on all things Disney Parks. Their excitement for the parks is unrivaled and Tage's brilliance coupled with Teresa's energy (and brilliance too, of course) really makes the show a great, informative listen each and every week.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Answer-hungry park-lovers who share their knowledge through interesting means
While there's so much to be appreciated about what this pod accomplishes on a weekly basis (the fact that it's weekly is a huge accomplishment in and of itself) it's the trivia that is that unique factor that really sets this group apart. Producer Vern plays Disney trivia how I play Disney trivia: RUTHLESSLY. The questions are from left field, orange fields, the corn dog stand and everywhere in-between. Listening to Tage and Teresa waiver back and forth over their answers, you can tell they have the knowledge, but maybe not always the confidence, to take on the weekly questions and, yes, you'll find out the correct answers later! It's a fun way to present the more trivial topics and nuances that the parks have to offer.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: An Audio Tour of Disneyland
While this episode may not reflect the everyday intentions of this particular podcast, it absolutely embodies what I'm trying to accomplish with this post which is bringing the magic home while the parks are closed. Explore the original Magic Kingdom with these wonderful Disney fans and consider becoming a supporter to get the unabridged version of this wonderful pod!
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE: Become a Supporter
DISNEY HISTORY INSTITUTE
This one's for the listener who thinks they've mastered the history of Disney and is looking for those deep dives not covered in those books on every Dis-nerd's shelf.
Host Todd James Pierce prides his mission on "celebrating and preserving Walt Disney's creative legacy" which he accomplishes through many facets, one of those, being through this podcast. With an immediately obvious admiration for history, Todd not only talks listeners through what IS but what WAS, and what WASN'T by way of 92 episodes and counting.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Unrelenting knowledge from a writer who knows how to convey and tell a story
Todd James Pierce is a writer ("The Life and Times of Ward Kimball," "Three Years in Wonderland," and more) and it's evident from the moment his pod begins. Each episode is meticulously researched and delivers the facts through an elegantly written script, delving deep into Disney stories untold or picking up where other works have only scratched the surface. This podcast covers not only the parks but the Disney company as a whole. From the origins of audio-animatronics, to the Disney strike, to the unbuilt attractions that never saw the light of day, each episode presents an opportunity to learn. Take advantage of the knowledge that has been preserved on these recordings. There's been many trivial (and I don't mean that negatively) bits I've learned solely from Todd's work that I'm happy to have stored in my Disney memory databank for whenever the occasion presents itself useful.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: A Brief History of Disneyland Fireworks
Truthfully, any episode would have sufficed but I selected "A Brief History of Disneyland Fireworks" because it includes all of what I've come to enjoy about Todd's podcast in one, condensed episode; well-researched parks history with a couple "I never knew that" facts sprinkled in.
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A WINDOW TO THE MAGIC
Parks audio-capturing veteran/creator Paul Barrie, delivers on what he calls, "the Disneyland audio adventure podcast."
Walk through the front gates and hear that magical sound as Paul's pass is scanned, (be sure to smile and nod at the iPad-laden, questionnaire-ready cast member, don't be rude!) and feel transported as he takes you under the tunnel (right or left?) and into the parks from your car, desk, sofa, or wherever you plan to get your magic fix. Through this guided walkthrough of the parks, Paul does a great job of letting the magic speak for itself as people, music, and all of the sounds of the park come through vividly while you're miles (or years) away from the action. Hop on rides, check out a parade, hear the band play as you pass them by... this pod will make you want to bake up a Tio Pepe's churro or two as your senses will be tingling with Disney magic after taking a listen.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Sounds of the park without interruption makes you feel like you're there
There may be others, but Paul has mastered the art of letting the parks speak for themselves. A tour through this podcast really does sound like any other day you've experienced in the park yourself; people chatting, kids in need of a nap, and professionally recorded ride audio that dips your soul right into an omni-mover from anywhere.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: A Walk Through DCA When It Was California-Themed
Paul has been perfecting his game for years, that's clear, and while that provides us a great window into the parks of today what that also provides is the ability to travel back to a period of time that we were never able to experience and listen in on what was. In this episode, WTTM captures many sounds of DCA 1.0 that won't be heard in todays version of the park.
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Dubbed as the happiest place in cyberspace, MiceChat.com has been providing daily top-notch quality coverage of the park for years, garnering millions of devoted fans and has become "the recognized leader for information on Disneyland, Walt Disney World, the Walt Disney Company and top theme parks worldwide."
The MiceChat Podcast has been consistently pumping out a polished, panel-style, show since the veteran theme park news group joined the world of podcasts in early 2012. CEO, Dusty Sage joins host Doug Barnes and weekly guest hosts to bring listeners a fun way to consume their cutting-edge news with their own spin on not only Disney magic but various park's magic around the world. What's abundantly clear is that MiceChat's decades of success was not attained by luck but is due to the care and passion that those involved have for these theme parks and their willingness to share that magic, in their own special MiceChat-branded way, has obtained onlookers and fans respect for a long time.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Industry veterans with access to insiders
Because of MiceChat's reputation that they've worked years to cultivate, they are unequivocally "in-the-know" when it comes to the parks and have the ability to call on Disney insiders and theme park veterans to join their show to provide a unique perspective on the topics at hand. This gives listeners unparalleled access to some of the top parks insiders which makes their product that much more valuable to the park-going world at large.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Disney Magic Interuptus
OH BOY (AKA THE LOST BROS)
The O.G.'s of the small shop, The Lost Bros, finally entered the podcast ring in September of 2019 and, of course, they're slaying this game too!
The Lost Bros hold a special place in many people's hearts, and mine, because they're one of the first small shops that I really took notice of and helped inspire me to take my own journey into the realm of Disney-inspired apparel. That being said, the Bros have been pushing the envelope with creative designs and even more creative campaigns to keep their fans involved and coming back for years. The bonds that they share from growing their Disney powerhouse company are evident and shine through in this bangarang of a podcast.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Park-loving friends/co-workers bringing twists to the podcast game
A core group of "Bros" hold down the mics on a weekly basis as Cody, Lex, and "Jambo" Joe, bring an always fun and lively show discussing topics ranging from adulting at Disney to how they each fell in love with the parks as well as playing games like ranking their top villains to playing the party-favorite (Disney-family-appropriated version, of course) "keep, change, erase" with the Disney World attractions. The Lost Bros let their hilarious takes and love of all-things Disney parks fly as they seem poised to change the Dis-podcast game just as they've changed the Dis-small-shop game for years.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: FMK but Keep, Change, Erase Disney Attractions
They went there! In this episode, listen to the Bros get heated while the others erase or change some of their most beloved attractions.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE: Buy A Tee!
CONNECTING WITH WALT
Operating in conjunction with the Dis, or the Dis Unplugged, Disney historian Michael Bowling and co-host/producer/friend Craig Williams team up to bring listeners their adoring toasts to historical tidbits about Walt, the studios, and the parks.
This podcast explores a vast array of oft-reminisced topics like opening day at Disneyland, while taking deeper dives into more obscure, less-explored subjects such as the history of the Disneyland Hotel (which was not originally operated by Disney at all). While providing their opinions about all things current, Connecting with Walt allows listeners the chance to hear from Disney legends like imagineer Bob Gurr, animator Floyd Norman, and others.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Mastering the art of research and finely-crafted storytelling
Connecting with Walt is a well-researched podcast that only two people with an affinity for the all-encompassing brand of Disney can bring to fruition. Michael and Craig package their exhaustive findings into fun, informative hour-long episodes that continuously leave me, someone who feels they have a pretty good grip on Disney history as a whole, in awe. It's through five years, 143 episodes, and bringing in the right interviewee that they have harnessed their innate ability to make history so accessible, relatable, and interesting to today's modern park-goer. The legacy of Walt, his parks, and his company, are in good hands, being lovingly explored and preserved by people like Michael and Craig.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: The Magic Kingdom
Michael and Craig compare and contrast the layout and design of the Florida Project and the original Magic Kingdom.
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THE SWEEP SPOT
Former cast members and authors of the wildly popular, Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt’s Dream Spotless, Lynn Barron and Ken Pellman dish their tales from their time spent working for the mouse behind the other side of those pearly gates of the park.
The Sweep Spot crew shares amazing stories from their time as CM's during the 90's and early 2000's that those of us who crave that Dis-inside scoop will be sure to devour each and every week. This top-notch podcast is a fan favorite due to the cast's perspective not only reminiscing about the Parks of yesteryear but their outlook on current events and their eye to the future.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Two guys who have seen the parks like nobody else
Lynn and Ken provide an absolutely unique take on the Parks, particularly Disneyland, because they've seen it like most never will, on the other other side of the closed gates to an empty kingdom. The show also garners some tremendous guests who help to corroborate (and sometimes commiserate) Lynn and Ken's epic adventures with the Big Cheese. It may only take an episode or two of hanging with these pals before you learn something truly unique about the happiest place on earth.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Disneyland 1989
1989 was a splash! Listen to the guys talk about this year in Disneyland plus touch on current events.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE: Buy Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 of Cleaning the Kingdom, or support through Patreon
BONUS: This monthly contribution gives listeners exclusive content through Patreon
The imagination of the talented individuals behind this podcast is truly something to behold from a creative standpoint but it's their brilliance that allows this adventurous podcast to also be educational and informative. Brought to you in a way that only former skippers could, The Backside of Water pushes boundaries and leaves a slough of unrivaled storytelling (and much hilarity) in its wake.
02H was one of the very first Disney podcasts that I ever listened to, starting back at their 2015 episodes and following along up through their most current show, and it's one of my most favorite to share with anyone looking for a new (outside of the box) Disneyland podcast. It's easy to become entwined in their funny little world of a playful Disney past and become engrossed in the magic of their storytelling. These skippers take you from the Tiki Room (and to Trader Sams, of course), to Pirates, to The Haunted Mansion, to the mountains of Disneyland, and they even peal back the curtain on the Society of Explorers and Adventures (the S.E.A.)!
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Disney facts and history presented through unique, masterful storytelling
Allow yourself to be led on an adventure as the cast explores some of your favorite attractions, lands, and places of the Disneyland resort. This podcast, and your enjoyment of it, relies on the listeners ability to "just go with it" and become entangled in the world they've created, brought to life through voice acting, sound, and a painstakingly detailed, creative script. Honestly, it's actually quite difficult to do this podcast justice through writing (or at least my abilities when it comes to writing) so you just need to take the leap here and trust me that you'll absolutely love the fun, passion, and shear zaniness that The Backside of Water delivers each and every episode. I mean, hey! They are Jungle Cruise skippers after all. What did you expect?!
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: The Society of Explorers & Adventurers: A Deeper Dive
You may have heard rumblings of an organization called the S.E.A. but what is it exactly? A thrilling adventure awaits as Alex, Annie, and Freddy uncover even more secrets of Disney's most famous and infamous secret organization, The Society Of Explorers and Adventurers.
The official podcast feed of the DisInsider, The DCast covers all things Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars over five separate, but equally incredible, shows through the skilled expertise of five Disney-loving core panelists.
As touted in their bio, this podcast is these fans love letter to Disney which is as touching as it is true. Over the course of five seasons, the squad has engaged in topics far beyond the park's gates, venturing into the worlds of Marvel and Star Wars led by the most super of super fans, and taking deeper dives into the back page news (that may have gotten lost in the shuffle) through their Extra Magic Hour show. Their reputation they've built over the years of providing outstanding content on a multi-episode-per-week basis has allowed them to gain interviews with some top-tier insiders who provide insights as only they can. This team is less focused on where Disney has been, as in they don't present much on history, but where the company is going, in that their conversations rally around Disney news, movie reviews and their optimism (or not) for what lies ahead. It's a tall order to not only provide the content but deliver formulated opinions on a weekly basis but this team consistently delivers on its "love letter to Disney" episodically.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Caring Disney fanatics with specialized passions for almost every I.P.
Having such a diverse cast of characters helps keep the conversations lively on the mic but the DCast has found an even better way to engage the passions of its talented core through a series of more narrowly-focused spinoff shows; namely Marvel Tribe and Knights of the Rogue Republic. Along with the Insider series, where members on the DisInsider join the DCast, and their outstanding interview series with unbelievable talent, if there was a one-stop-shop that provided something for every Disney fan, the DCast might just be that place. A fun, up-tempo, energetic, informative show is what you can count on, and what the DCast has provided hundreds of times over. The long and the short of it is that these witty, well-rounded Disney fans are loaded with knowledge on everything Disney has to offer and provide a high level of entertainment and valuable content with every episode.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Seven Year Anniversary of the DCast
Because they report on current news, jump to the newest episode. However, if you're looking for a fun episode to get a feel of what the DCast brings, the Seven Year Anniversary is a great way to do that!
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE: Become a Patron
BONUS: This monthly contribution gives listeners exclusive shoutouts on the podcast, early access to new content, and entry into contests held by the podcast!
Now with over 600 episodes to their names in almost 12 years, Mousetalgia offers a talented (and obviously dedicated) cast of Disneyland-centric podcasters who have honed their craft into one of the undisputedly top podcasts in the world.
The bonds that this team has created amongst its panelists gives this show a special chemistry that can only be forged through time and dedication of a shared level of admiration for the Disney brand. With each member specializing in various aspects of the park, every topic and every episode is teeming with pertinent, grounded research that only someone who has been in the game as long as this team has can share. From secrets and travel tips, to interviews with the truest of Disney legends, Mousestalgia offers a glorious look inside everything parks, movies, events, and more from a passionate crew of some of the most adoring, lifelong fans out there.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Four longtime friends whose banter results in education on the Park's past and present
This team has seen the parks through nearly all phases of life and have watched themselves, their families, and the parks grow with them. Their wealth of knowledge is second to none and it's crystal clear why they've been one of the favorite podcasts among listeners for over a decade. With a resident resort and foodie expert, a charter member of D23 and the WDFM, a host who has been tapped by the Mouse to help promote special events at both Disneyland and WDW, and a professional storyteller on their team, the recipe for Mousestalgia's success is what each member brings to the table (or... microphone!) Hop on board the Mousestalgia bandwagon and let the magic sweep you off your feet as this tightly-knit band of Disneyland junkies are still delivering on their powerhouse of a podcast after all these years.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: 60 Years of Disneyland
The Mousestalgia team takes a look back at Disneyland’s origin story to see how different (and similar) things were back in 1955. They'll take you back to opening day (when four-person-wide lines stretched a mile down Harbor Boulevard) on a brief tour of the original attractions that are no longer with us.
1313 HARBOR THE PODCAST
Confession time: I found this show while researching for this blog post and I couldn't be happier to have stumbled upon this absolute gem of a podcast! Jasmine is an extremely knowledgeable park-going Disney fan that hosts a tremendously entertaining podcast with a rotating co-host (shoutout Michelle who had to bow out of her regular duties due to work)
In full swing since last February, Jasmine and Michelle have covered so much theme park magic in such a short amount of time (and they don't just limit themselves to Disney, my park-polygamous friends!) Having each gained access (multiple times... ya, I'm jealous) to that secretive, stairwell-laden, sanctuary in the sky, the ladies of 1313 kicked off their show with their experiences between the old and new Club 33 and discussed how fantastical Fantasmic is. Somehow they've only crafted even more spectacular, entertaining shows since. Their coverage of the Disney parks balances 'World and 'Land quite well as they often compare attractions, or even the parks as a whole. Coupled with her bubbling, exuberant personality, which shines through each and every episode, her vast time spent not only in the parks but at specialized events aimed at the most immense fans, it's no wonder that she's created such a vast network of equally talented, park-loving cohorts to join her on her magical little corner of the internet she calls 1313 Harbor the Podcast.
THIS POD'S SPECIAL MAGIC: Listening in on a genuinely interesting conversation between knowledgeable park-passionate people
Jasmine is the person everyone would hope to get stuck on the Monorail (or, more likely, if we're being honest, Indiana Jones) next to. With an admiration for the park's history, it's evident that the passion she has for the parks makes her show seem so much more like a genuine conversation with her guest than a scripted transaction between two passerbys. Tune in for the opinions of a parks princess who "tries to pet every cat that lives there (in Disneyland)" but stay for the voices, spontaneity, movie quotes used out of context, and so many more lovable anecdotes of a show so good, I've quite honestly ran out of appropriately-wondrous adjectives to describe it as. Jasmine works hard at her craft and completely won this pod-loving, Dis-nerd over after the first listen and I'm sure she'll be able to do the same to anyone who ventures over to 1313 Harbor (not the address, that's important) the Podcast.
CHECK OUT THIS EPISODE: Walt Disney World vs Disneyland, Part 1
Jasmine and Michelle engage in the ultimate debate; Disneyland versus Disney World. Listen as the hosts compare rides, entertainment, and even the culture represented at each park. It's a good one, y'all!
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE: Become a Patron
BONUS: This monthly contribution gives listeners access to bonus episodes and Discord, shoutouts at the end of each episode, monthly Google hangouts, ability to choose topics, and more!
These podcasts have become one of my favorite ways to keep in touch with magic that is needed now more than ever during these times. This post is my thank you letter to all of the talented people mentioned above who work so tirelessly to share that spark of magic with the rest of us and to so many more deserving individuals whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of listening to their devoted works.
We're all grieving in different ways and for different reasons at this time and to know that, while the parks are closed, the magic is not only alive and well but still being shared and experienced in many ways by many people, gives me hope that we'll all get through this crisis with much more magic to be had on the other side.
Tell us your favorite ways to experience the magic while away from the parks in the comments below. Or, if I missed your favorite pod (I'm sorry!), give them a shoutout!