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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