As of this writing, we are about a week away from the next DiOrio family Walt Disney World Vacation. Those of you that have recently planned a WDW vacation know that there’s a ton of work involved. So much advanced planning is needed that it’s often been said that after the trip there’s a void in your life from where all the thinking about Disney used to reside. From picking what time of year to go, to choosing where to stay, to knowing where you want to eat six months in advance, to knowing what rides you want to ride two months in advance, it’s not only intimidating, but you’re family’s very happiness hangs in the balance. Obviously there’s no shortage of resources eager to help you plan your trip. Some also want to part you from your money. Get used to that because everything about a Disney trip is designed to separate you from your hard earned cash. There are plenty of books on planning, travel agents, websites (some behind pay walls, some without) and YouTube channels. Since you’re reading a post about podcasts, it would be negligent of me not to mention them as well.
Disney podcasts are strange, and not just the whole “adults who love Disney so much they want to start a podcast to talk about Disney” strange. They are strange because there are so many, and so many that are so short lived. There are plenty of “best of” lists out there for Disney podcasts, but to be more specific, if you’re looking for a podcast to help you plan and be as prepared as possible for this adventure that could start a year before you jump on that plane, for me there’s one that I turn to above all others. The strangest thing of all? I can’t really figure out why.
This enigmatic podcast is WDW Prep to Go. This is a podcast that spun off of the website WDWPrepSchool.com. Prep to Go is about 4 years old. It started out as a weekly podcast that examined a different topic of Disney trip planning each episode that ended with a “quick tip.” These episodes ranged from 15 minutes to a half an hour making them consumable even for short commutes. There is only one host, Shannon Albert, and she is by no means a professional on air personality. The show has changed a lot over the years. Most notably, Shannon has gotten infinitely better behind the microphone. Sadly it is now a bit more erratic with its release schedule. Prep to Go has possibly exhausted its topics, but found a new niche in doing special “Trip Report” episodes where Shannon will interview someone before and after their trip to see how their plans held up after first contact with the mouse. This fits in nicely in between Disney doing or changing something that can provide our host with new topic fodder.
Shannon is obviously pretty organized to be able to break down Disney in such a way that is consumable and understandable; therefore I will make a pros and cons list for WDW Prep to Go. I think Shannon would be proud of that.
PRO: The Host
CON: The Host
When I first started listening Shannon of course came off clunky and unpolished. That improved quite a bit over the years, and it’s NO WAY easy to host a solo podcast. That being said, she does dance the line between awkward and charmingly quirky. I do give her some thumbs up for her objectivity during her interviews when a traveler is planning something that is obviously a mistake. On the other hand I wish she challenged these guests a bit more which would make better podcast listening.
PRO: The Format
CON: The Format
A standard episode will feature some quick housekeeping, a brief dive on the topic, maybe a plug, then a quick tip at the end. That’s it. I love the fact that quite often the show gets to the point. There’s only one host so there’s no banter and it doesn’t beat around the bush. When I hit play I know what I’m going to get. I really enjoy that the show is so focused on trip planning. So many other Disney podcasts do a little of that but then get into movie review, news, stocks, and TV. Conversely, the topic well is getting dry. We recently heard about the individual Starbucks locations in the parks. We can only hear about core trip planning principles so many times before we need something fresh.
PRO: The Purpose
CON: The Purpose
I believe, after years of listening, that the core purpose of this podcast is help people have the best family vacations to Disney possible. That being said, what seemingly started as a passion or a hobby has evolved into a money-making venture. There is no doubt that many aspects of the Prep School brand are designed to make money. Most notably many features of the site have now ducked behind a paywall and the endorsement of a travel agency has been replaced with Prep School Travel. All of that is completely fine, but we lose some of the altruistic nature the podcast had its early days.
So what are we to make of all this? Are you as confused as me? I think at the end of the day the pros outweigh the cons. This podcast is innocent, it’s certainly G rated and one of the few I can listen to with the kids in the car, and it’s absolutely quirky. The host cares and is willing to interact with her community. She is prevalent and active on all social media platforms. Above all else, if you listen to it and pay attention, it achieves its goal. You will learn things that will make your trip more successful. I’m not sure there’s a better complement I can give than that. I’ve used many things I’ve learned from this podcast, not only for my trips to Orlando, but to give advice friends and colleagues making their plans.
Therefore WDW Prep to Go is worthy of your ear buds. You may want to unsubscribe after or between your trips, but leading up to any Disney Vacation, this writer feels it is required listening.