This May, my life changed.
I am not sure exactly how it happened, but I stumbled upon The 3028 podcast, which, at the time, had just published an episode about ‘The Golf Resort’ in their series detailing “50 Years of WDW Resorts.” Since I was up late a few nights painting, hosts Kevin Quigley and Matt Parrish quickly became stand-in friends as I worked.
Within a few weeks, I had started to listen back to recent episodes, and came to understand small, humorous references (“hey, did you know that Kevin has been to Japan?”), but simultaneously appreciated that each episode wasn’t too in-joke ridden (a criticism I sometimes have of other shows). I also loved that I could pick out any show in the library and enjoy it without external context. Soon, I was listening while cleaning, running, or taking the kids to school and realized that I should just start from the beginning so I could ensure that I would not miss a single episode.
Over hundreds of miles ran, through the end of spring, all through summer, and most of fall, I had a “fresh” episode to look forward to. With more than 209 (at blog post writing) episodes, it took me a while, but right before I ran my October marathon, I had accomplished the challenge I didn’t even realize I had set for myself: I had listened to the entire catalog of episodes.
Over the many, many hours of spending time with this podcast, I’ve had the unique delight of delving into topics, worlds, and places – a welcome reprieve in an unsure world. The comfort of re-visiting theme parks – not in physical life, but through memories and recollections – has been a true joy. I joke that referencing episodes and topics from this podcast has become a personality facet of mine, but it’s true: these stories have imprinted my heart, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.
So, in the spirit of this love, I thought I’d share my “BEST OF” podcasts (and one “most recommended” episode) for not only this, my favorite podcast, but the top 10 that have shaped my year.
MY TOP 10 PODCASTS AND EPISODES of 2021
Note: In curating this list, I quickly realized my preferred genre of podcasts can be grouped into these categories: History/Pop Culture, Disney/Theme Park, and the non descript “other.” If you enjoy any of these topics, you will likely enjoy these recommendations 🙂
PODCAST: No-Guilt Disney Podcast
EPISODE: Resort Preserve, Refurb, Demolish (5/26)
If you’re searching for a Disney-centered podcast that shares a healthy dose of news, opinion-based discussion, and general lighthearted humor, you’ll find it all here. Patty, Jane and Theresa are your hostesses with the mostest(ess?) and share their unique perspectives on the domestic Disney theme parks. This particular episode showcases a fun twist on a familiar game and will likely hook you into their fun world.
PODCAST: Films to Be Buried With with Brett Goldstein
EPISODE: The Resurrection: Yvette Nicole Brown (9/22)
My gal Jillain recommended I check out this podcast to fill the void in my heart left by Ted Lasso, and I am so thankful she did. If you love Roy Kent (or movies, or humor) you will love this – the premise is that the host, Brett, explains to his guest that they have died, and then asks questions about their favorite movies as a way to explain their time on Earth. I was hooked after listening to the Brene Brown episode (def recommend) but I could NOT stop laughing after back-to-back listening to Yvette Nicole Brown’s original episode, then her return (in the episode I selected) as a “resurrection” style, which asks additional questions after the guest is miraculously brought back to life.
PODCAST: Hi-Phi Nation (11/19)
EPISODE: The Selfless Kidney Donor
I discovered this podcast after it participated in a sort of crossover with another fav of mine (Decoder Ring). In it, host and producer Barry Lam discusses various philosophical concepts, presented through the lens of topics palatable to those not quite “in” the intellectual world (me). In this selected episode, we meet Penny Lane, who details her experience with altruistic kidney donation. I really enjoyed hearing her thought process, and the way concepts are discussed, it makes you consider a perspective in a gentle way.
PODCAST: Very Amusing with Carlye Wisel
EPISODE: Hidden Mickeys: Robin Lopez (10/27)
Wisel’s “popcorn-fueled” podcast features a treasure trove of fun topics that bounce right out of her theme park reporter life, but one of the best series has to be the “Hidden Mickeys” series she has curated, which profiles a variety of celebrities who have a deep affection for the Disney brand. In this particular episode, we hear from Robin Lopez, of the Orlando Magic, about his adventures, funny twin brother stories, and more. A major bonus of Very Amusing is that no matter the topic, it’s always family-friendly – this is one of my kids’ favorites to listen to, as they love Carlye’s excited voice.
PODCAST: Podcast: The Ride!
EPISODE: Nickelodeon Guts with “Mo” – Moira Quirk (5/7)
Podcast: The Ride is a powerhouse of theme park podcasts, and features countless episodes about so many different park properties, popular culture, and more. I definitely have listened to only a small percentage of them, though I particularly enjoyed their recent “Country Bear Jamborweek” as well as the episodes that feature the Tokyo Disney Resort. The episode I chose as favorite of the year, however, was an interview with Moira Quirk, who served as “referee” in the popular “Guts” show in the 90’s. Her anecdotes about Universal Studios in its heyday are truly entertaining, and her attitude is just delightful.
PODCAST: Maintenance Phase
EPISODE: Snake Oil (2/2)
Michael Hobbs and Aubrey Gordon host this weekly podcast that discusses a wide range of topics regarding health and “wellness.” While the episodes are excellently researched, narration is clear and entertaining, the true gem is the chemistry between the hosts, with a particular emphasis on Gordon’s incredible laugh. I have listened to this series since its launch last fall, and would recommend any episode, but the one that stays in my memory is about the idea of “Snake Oil” and its unlikely origin story.
PODCAST: Decoder Ring
EPISODE: That Seattle Muzak sound (6/28)
Decoder Ring explores a wide range of cultural phenomenon, including, but not limited to: Segways, Soap Operas, the Invention of Hydration, tattoo flash and more. Host Willa Paskin crafts each episode as a delightful romp, and answers questions you may have never even knew you had. It was hard to choose a favorite, but the ‘Seattle Muzak’ episode from this summer was definitely a memorable one, as I never realized the actual definition of the genre.
PODCAST: You are Good
EPISODE: Grosse Pointe Blank with Chris Gethard (6/16)
Hosts Sarah Marshall and Alex Steed (“Hellllloooo!” #IYKYK) discuss a variety of film, sometimes with guests, as jumping off points to emotional connections, personal narrative, and much more. This is another podcast that is fueled by the perfect matching of conversation style, along with a truly wonderful range of movies – I love that I have seen about half of the movies they discuss, and listening has broadened my interests, as in the case of my favorite episode in which they discuss Grosse Pointe Blank, which became one of my favorite movies this year! Along with wonderfully produced episodes, the team, with producer and musical director Carolyn Kendrick, also curate Spotify playlists to accompany the conversations.
PODCAST: You’re Wrong About
EPISODE: Cancel Culture (6/7)
Sarah Marshall (also of You are Good) is at the helm of this popular culture podcast, which explains all the things we didn’t get out of stories, past and present. I became hooked to this one last year after Marshall (with former Co-Host Michael Hobbs – Maintenance Phase) detailed what we were not understanding about the Wayfair/Trafficking drama. This year, the great episodes continue, and their analysis of ‘Cancel Culture’ is what I want to send to every person on Earth who misuses the term. Enjoy.
PODCAST: The 3028
EPISODE: MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park (4/8)
If you follow me on social media at all, you know that the 3028 has definitely taken the crown in my podcast-loving heart this year. It has it all (cue: SNL Stefon voice) terrific hosts with entertaining banter, a wide range of topics, and beautiful editing. While the focus is primarily on Disney (though you might not guess from its name, but the real ones know!), both hosts Matt Parrish and Kevin Quigley showcase their own interests and expertise to weave well-written episodes appropriate for fans of all ages. It was most difficult to choose just one episode that was my favorite of the year, but their April Fools’ episode was definitely memorable, as it detailed an extinct theme park that I had never even heard of. If you have not yet started listening to these “two woke dopes,” what are you waiting for? Warning: you just may binge their entire library of episodes – there are 209+.
…so, there you have it! Please let me know if you check out any of these, and, of course, if you have recommendations for me, based on these!
Happy end of the year, and I hope to make this an annual tradition!