Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 Top Ten Theme Park Podcasts! Numbers 6-4

Thanks for keeping the Wakefield Report going strong for 1 year! 
These reviews are my personal opinions of each podcast. Your Top Ten list may be something completely different than mine. Agree or disagree, feel free to comment, tweet, or email me your thoughts and opinions! 

6: Season Pass Podcast (Rank LY 3)            Rating PG-13

I consider this show to be the most underrated podcast out there. It is simply phenomenal. And to be honest its placement in this years ranking is a little bit unfair. There are just so many great shows out there this year, Season Pass dropped into this spot. That may change a year from now or so as a lot of theme park podcasts come and go quickly. Having been a top show since 2007 this podcast is a definite contender and here to stay. Host Doug Barnes is nothing short of a professional and would give any national radio host a run for their money. This podcast does not just cover Disney but also covers the smaller regional theme parks across the country. And just when you thought you have heard it all about theme parks, Doug will release a special ERT or Emerson Disney Files episode that will completely blow your mind!

STRENGTHS: This show has such a wide variety. If someone were to ask me, “What is the Season Pass Podcast about.” I would stammer and stutter my way through an explanation; more so than the usual amount of stammering and stuttering I usually do. In mid August the show topped out in the iTunes Places and Travel rankings at #82.This show has a big and loyal fan base that was earned by a lot of hard work by Doug. The ability of the show to cover so many theme parks across the nation is very special and unmatched in all of theme park podcasting. The live segments from the parks are a great treat for the listener. Also, this show has what may be the best audio quality out there. I look forward to many more years of great, top notch, quality podcasting from the Season Pass.

WEAKNESS: This show probably does the best job at covering Halloween events at theme parks. Their coverage is extensive; maybe a little too extensive. This year was not too bad, but I do think that the Halloween coverage this year was a little bit predictable. Don’t get me wrong, the most recent episode that covered the Knotts Trapped house was one of the funniest shows I have heard all year. The only down side was that the show came out in mid November. Other than that small little gripe, I think this show is on the right track.    

5: Disney Hipster Podcast (Rank LY --)       Rating R
I am definitely biased on this review for more than one reason. On top of this show being a fantastic podcast, the Disney Hipsters also have a fantastic blog, YouTube page, tumblr, and more. This show is new to the crowded theme park podcasting scene and made a big splash right away. And that is not easy to do. But I think the fact that the Hipsters are true fans of the parks, objective, and give their listeners an honest unfiltered opinion contributes to this young shows success. The highest ranking for this show this year was back in early June when the podcast reached #83 in the iTunes Places and Travel section; one of the best rankings for any newcomer this year.

STRENGTHS:  The show is described as one that, “Critique the aesthetic choices of the Disney company.” That kind of approach to Disney podcasting is fresh, unique, and has been well received by the community. And make no mistake about it, these two hosts pull no punches on the issues. They are not pixie dusted to death by Disney magic and their honesty with their listeners is appreciated. I am not just a casual listener of this show, but I am a true fan. I really am falling in love with the segment based format of the show. The Good Design, Bad Design segment is quickly becoming one of my favorites in all of theme park podcasting.

WEAKNESS: One of the shows strengths is also one of its weaknesses. Its great that the host give an unfettered view of the Disney parks but sometimes I feel like they take an approach of “if you don’t argee with us then you are wrong.” And while they have never come out and said that, it kind of feels that way. And that is not because they are smug or have a know it all approach; its because the hosts are so smart and lay out their arguments so well. So when I do find myself disagreeing with them, I kind of feel…. guilty. Its like Rachael Maddow; I disagree with her a lot, but have a lot of respect for how smart she is, and I kind of loath her for being that smart. If that made no sense to you then welcome inside the jumbled up birds nest that is my head.  

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4: Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast
(Rank LY 2)       Rating PG

This is the source for any theme park fan to go to for news and happenings at the Universal Orlando Resort. There is no question that this is the place to go for UOR news. Hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren, and sometimes Hunter have done something remarkable in carving out a niche in covering this Orlando resort. Its not just that they are the only podcast today that highlights events at the lesser known resort; it’s that they do a great job at doing it. Even though this show is only released on a bi weekly basis, they do a fascinating job at covering the UOR events from top to bottom. Match that up with a great music bed and top notch production quality and you have a podcast that sounds great no matter what the hosts are talking about.

STRENGTHS: Again, these guys have cornered the Universal Orlando market. Other shows have come and gone and UUOP has stood the test of time. One of the highlights of this show is the caliber of guests that are on the show. from people who have work on attractions, people who have worked on music loops inside the parks, and more, this was a stellar year for UUOP. The playful back and froth between husband and wife team of Lee and Tracey is always a great break from some of the more serious material in the middle of the show. There is non mistaking that this is a cant miss show and should make its way into your regular rotation.

WEAKNESS: One of the most glaring weaknesses of this show is one that I addressed earlier this year. I find that the show is becoming increasingly predictable. Not really the middle parts of the show, but almost the entire beginning and ending of the show are all scripts reads and very predictable and almost boring for the listener. It is always a difficult job to get a message out to your listeners on a consistent basis and still sound fresh, new, and exciting; but the same roll call of twitter handles, web sites, and plugs at the beginning and end of each show becomes tiring and a bit dull. If you can stand this, “sameness” then this show is nearly perfect.     

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Top Ten Theme Park Podcasts! Numbers 9-7


Thanks for keeping the Wakefield Report going strong for 1 year! 
These reviews are my personal opinions of each podcast. Your Top Ten list may be something completely different than mine. Agree or disagree, feel free to comment, tweet, or email me your thoughts and opinions! 

9: Dis Unplugged (Rank LY Hon Mention)              Rating PG-13

DISCLAIMER: Dis Unplugged host Pete Werner is part owner of Dreams Unlimited Travel. Dreams Unlimited Travel is the main sponsor of the Wakefield Report blog. Now obviously that sponsorship had no bearing on this ranking or the comments made in this post. Pete made it very clear that he did not want any sort of favoritism in these posts or on this list. Anything short of complete honesty and criticism would be unacceptable in mine and Pete's book.   
This is a show that is hosted by a group of travel agents who bring up the latest in Orlando area theme park news, topics, and discussions. Released on a weekly basis, this is one of the best produced and professional shows out there. While many podcasters strive to get theirs shows to sound as close to an actual radio show as possible, Dis Unplugged does one of the best jobs at accomplishing that goal. The crew knows a lot about the parks and this year they saw a lot of growth, staff changes, and expansion. The last six months saw this show breaking the top 50 in the iTunes Society and Culture category.
STRENGTHS: When it comes to me making my list of favorite theme park podcasts, consistency counts. You can always count, for the most part, on a new Dis Unplugged show coming out each week. Another cool thing about this show is they just don’t cover Disney World. They branch out and talk about cruises, and other elements in themed entertainment. Their overseas trip reports about Adventures by Disney trips are podcasting gold. The crew is comprised of true friends and that chemistry comes across each week. After I told Pete that I thought this show was a bit out of touch, Pete made a little bit of a change in the way the crew approaches the parks and their coverage.

WEAKNESS: While not as out of touch, it is a bit concerning to hear the host continue to talk about and push some very expensive Adventures by Disney packages. Ii guess when you have a show that comes to you from travel agents, you have to accept that there will be some sort of level of selling, and while I don’t always feel like I'm being pitched a vacation when listening to this show, there are some times when I can tell they are covering a news story or event to book trips through their travel agency. Co host Kevin does all of the food and restaurant reviews for this show and it seems like every time Kevin goes to eat somewhere he manages to get the worst food and service possible. I think his expectations might be a little too high. Or maybe it just makes for better radio to give a bad review? I'm not sure, but it is weird how almost 90% of his reviews are negative and he walks away from the experience with an overly critical and negative review.     

8: Generation Mouse (Rank LY: --)           Rating: PG
This podcast is, “young adult perspective on all things Disney”. And that self description is fair enough. The hosts are not young, like teenagers, but they are a group of twenty somethings who try their best to bring you an objective view of the Disney Parks. With the shows being released on a weekly basis, this is yet another consistent stand by that has made its way into my weekly rotation. While the show has struggled to get past the iTunes Society and Culture rankings 150 spot, it does have a fairly large and devoted fan base. This show reminds me of a younger Mouse The hosts are smart, funny, and try their best to express themselves in a professional manner.

STRENGTHS: One of the really cool things about this show is a recent move by the crew to sort of branch out and not just talk about Disney World. With a smart and educated crew, it would be neat to hear them express themselves on other things like movies, cruises, and such. Their Once Upon a Time episode was a big eye opener for me. Not only for the content of the episode, but the way the crew communicated their opinions and view on the television show. With two of the hosts being married and the rest of the crew being friends, it really comes across to the listener; major points for chemistry and production quality.

WEAKNESS: It is almost the exact thing I listed in the strengths section. I really wish this show would spread their wings and cover other topics in the Disney and themed entertainment field. Sometimes you just get tired of hearing the same old stories and Disney news over and over again. How many times can you hear about the freaking Epcot Food and Wine festival? This crew is better than that, and I think with a renewed since of commitment and energy in the show, Generation Mouse could easily work its way up this, and other lists.

7: WDW Fanboys (Rank LY 9)                      Rating: PG 13
Before there was a WDW Kingdomcast or WDW Discussion show there was the WDW Fanboys podcast. This show was the initial trailblazer for the more edgy pixie dust free types of shows. Hosted by a trio of true WDW fan boys, this show covers any and everything Disney World. With one host who cant stand Animal Kingdom, this show has no shortage of discussions, arguments, and general fan boy talks. The arm chair imagineering shows are some of their strongest. The three hosts have plenty of chemistry and they have proved they are committed to the show and their fans by putting out a new show each and every week. This is also complimented by a monthly live podcast where the shows fans can ask the hosts questions.

STRENGTHS: Every Sunday morning or afternoon I know that there is one thing I can count on, and that is a new show from the WDW Fan Boys. The production quality of this show is top notch also. One of the coolest things about this podcasts is the diverse opinions that populate this show. With the three different hosts coming from different backgrounds and living in different areas of the country you are always going to get different opinions and sides of any story. The fact that co host Brett lives, “close” to Orlando, the show is able to keep up on the latest news and stories. With this being one of the most senior and veteran shows in the lineup they do a really great job at choosing which stories to talk about and cover.  

WEAKNESS: Where do I start? While this show is a great one, and has a lot of strengths, its flaws stand out. Co host Brett seems to fancy himself as a bit of a bad ass. One of the things you can count on each week is Brett is going to have a problem with something or someone else. This may be his attempt to come across to his audience as cool or something, but in the end it just sounds sad and immature. And when he is not busy calling people out, it seems he spends the rest of his time trying to be funny. Trying to be funny. Often times he ends up knocking the show and his co host off topic by re telling another boring story we have all heard before or just trying way too hard to be funny or ironic. I really think that if this show could be just a little more mature it would be one of the best of the best out there. Its ok to be funny, but when you are the one guy in the room running around to everyone else trying to be funny or trying to look cool, you just end up looking like an ass.  

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