Welcome to The Disney Hack Podcast. Before I get into what this show is about, you may be wondering, “Why another Disney Podcast?”
Well, to answer that, let me tell you a story…
While planning for our most recent family vacation to WDW, in March of 2017, I was doing some research and turned to the Internet, of all places. Long story short, I found the plethora of Disney Podcasts to be a welcome resource to learning all I could in the time before our trip. Of course, hosting and producing my own Disney podcast was nowhere on my radar at that time, but I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Perhaps a little background on me can help color this story…
My parents liked to kid me as a child that my birth, in January of 1975, ruined a trip to Disneyland for them. There’s no real evidence of this, since my mother would have been nine-months pregnant and although I was born premature, it was only by three weeks. Nonetheless, my father continued to joke that I ruined a trip to Disneyland for the whole family, even though he would tell the story with his patent transparent sideways smile that translated to the rest of us, he was only kidding. I believe the true story was, had I not been about-to-be-born, the family would have gone to Disneyland that weekend.
From that moment on, my family went to Disneyland annually for my birthday. Not because I was that special; nor that my father was by any means somehow clairvoyant enough to know I would grow up to be a big fan of Disney the man, his company. their films or theme parks. No, we went to Disneyland the last weekend in January, every year, because we could get discount tickets for one day of the year, and it was always the last Saturday of January. This, by no means, meant anything to me other than, “I was special.” Kids who were born around Christmas often have their birthdays wrapped in with the Christmas festivities, making the experience somewhat watered down for that kid. Going to Disneyland for my birthday, every year, meant my birthday was often wrapped into the trip to Walt’s park, and this somehow supercharged the experience for me and made it that much more magical, year after year.
Throughout my childhood I grew more and more fascinated by the inner workings. The magic behind the scenes. I would consume every TV special (recording them on the family VCR) and every behind-the-scene extra I could find. I relished the magazines, books and collectibles. My first dream job was to be an animator for Walt Disney Productions. At the age of 22, I was lucky enough to apply to work at Disneyland and I was hired! Broke and full of ambition, I realized the only way I could support myself and work at the park meant taking a job with a higher starting pay, and the best option was Night Custodial. I would have said anything to get a peek behind the curtain, and when the hiring manager asked if I, “Would jump into a dumpster and clean it,” if he asked me to and I replied with an enthusiastic, “You bet!” The interview was over and I was an official cast member. Albeit, hoping I was never actually going to be asked to jump into a dumpster and clean it. Fortunately, that never happened (during my time there). It turned out to be a great position as it afforded me the lifestyle I wanted and the time to spend my sleepless days playing inside Disneyland and my sleepless night, cleaning up my own mess.
After leaving Disneyland to start my own string of sometimes successful businesses. I maintained an annual pass and would often take an unplanned day to drive almost 100 miles from my home to spend time, either with friends or alone, walking the park, enjoying attractions and experiencing the magic of a day at Disneyland.
In 2008 I moved to Texas. The Disney trips stopped and I was further than I had ever been from my laughing place. I had never been to Florida in my life and going to either coast seemed as far from reality as I could imagine. Fast forward a few years and I was married to a wonderful woman. Her brother and I had become fast friends and it turned out, he owned a timeshare in Orlando and would take his family to Disney every other year. I shared my passion from my childhood and he invited us to join them in 2014.
That trip was the beginning of bringing me back to feeling like myself again. I was waking up to something I always knew, and somehow lost over the years. I was a total, unabashed Disney fan (Geek, nerd, etc…)
This brings us almost to the present. I had been the co-host of a now defunct podcast back in 2014/2015. I was already listening to them daily and when my research on WDW lead me to some great bloggers who also had podcasts, well, I checked them out. They would mention other Disney podcasters on occasion and I would check those out, as well. One day, I just searched iTunes for every Disney-centric keyword that would unearth a podcast related to Disney Theme Park tips, tricks and hacks. I currently count 103 different shows I am subscribed to on iTunes, and I know there are others.
Certainly there was no reason to start my own Disney Podcast. I had more great information and a way to consume it, freeing up work time and occupying my drive time, mowing-the-lawn-time and walking-from-the-car-to-the-store-time. I would listen to them constantly. I estimate that I listened to over 300 hours of Disney podcasts between the Summer of 2016 my trip in March. I begin to have the voices of the podcasters in my head. I started to wonder what they would think about “this-or-that,” and thanks to social media (and their constant insistence of wanting listener feedback) I was able to start connecting with a few of them.
I felt like I was among my people. It was my own personal ugly duckling story. I remember kids in high school making fun of me because I had just returned from Disneyland (for my birthday) and I was proudly sporting my new Mickey Mouse t-shirt. They didn’t get me. These podcasters (and the wonderful world of Disney Bloggers), they get me.
So, why start a Disney Podcast? Well, as much as I am a fan and for all that I may know, I’m no “Disney Expert” when it comes to what some of these folks know. I mean, I live in Texas, I don’t have the luxury of running off to Walt Disney World or Disneyland when I feel like it. I certainly didn’t feel any need to add to the ranks of great Disney podcasters already working hard to broadcast regularly, but It was a combination of things:
- Whether the other podcasters knew it or not (and they did not), I was becoming a part of their family. Not like, Thanksgiving Dinner Family, more like their friend. I felt a part of the community. And I wanted to be counted as an equal. I wanted to be able to connect with my friends. I could have just asked them if I could come on their show to geek out about Disney, but this is a way I can illustrate my passion is not only aligned, but I’m willing to work as hard as they do to share my experience and connect over our mutual love of Disney.
- I felt I had something to contribute. Yes, if you have a Disney podcast and you are listening to this, I’m the guy screaming the answer when you either get the fact wrong (and you know it) or you just have a brain-fart and can’t remember what it’s called…However, after doing a few podcasts of my own, I’m just as guilty and have just as many “old-person-moments” myself. Nevertheless, I feel I can be of value, and I’d at least like a chance.
- I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to start a Disney Podcast, but friends kept bringing it up, especially since I kept talking about what I had just heard on the last Disney podcast I was listening to. My wife is almost to the point where if the words, “I was listening to this show when I heard…,” leaves my mouth, she gives me a very specific look like, “This better not be another fact about WDW.” Only, it always was…so I need someone else who gets it to talk to, because now I am HOOKed and I need to get it out. (Queue the Frozen theme song now…)
- Okay, so, convinced I was NOT going to do another podcast and theme it around Disney travel, I was riding the Monorail through Epcot on the rainy afternoon of Monday, March 15th, 2017 when a still small voice entered my mind and “spoke” the words, “The DIsney Hack.”
All of a sudden, there was an explosion of thought. For several minutes, my body was paralyzed as we headed for the Epcot station. Inside my mind, ideas were rushing to the surface. It was all I could do to capture my thoughts and contain the essence of what was coming to life inside me. No joke, I was passing the Imagination Pavilion when my imagination went into overload, the Land Pavilion when my thoughts began to soar and the Sea Pavilion when I was flooded with inspiration to…wait for it…start my own Disney podcast!
Now what? Well, I don’t really know. We’re just getting started.
Here’s what I invision though. The Disney Hack is several things. Sure, we’re going to talk about ways you can save time and money when visiting the many Disney Theme Parks. A, “Hack,” is a trick or tip that someone with more insider information or a somewhat more unique perspective shares with others to improve some aspect of their life. I myself don’t have all the answers. Many of the podcasts that I love already do this, therefore I am making this an open invitation for them to come on the show, promote their own podcasts, share their favorite hacks and have some FUN!
We’re also going to talk about intangible hacks, like enhancing the magic, both during, and in between your trips. The fact is, people who go to Disney, even those who do an incredible amount of research find that even though they saved money and optimized their time well, they come home feeling like they missed the magic. That’s just a shame, so we are going beyond the tips and tricks to unearth unique hacks that will remind you why you went and fire you up for your next trip.
I think this is what I am most excited about. The opportunity to bring other great minds onto the show. If you are a Disney blogger or podcaster, a former (or even current) cast member, a travel agent, an author of a Disney book or possibly even a Disney Legend, please contact me so we can schedule a time where I can play guest to an opportunity to pick your mind for your favorite hacks when it comes to visiting The Happiest Place on Earth.
The Disney Hack is a collaborative space where we plan to create a home for the best tricks and trips for your Disney trips.