Full disclosure – yes, we’re addicted to the DIS Unplugged, especially the Connecting with Walt podcasts. Craig Williams and Michael Bowling (and his partner in research, Carol Bowling) are masters at research and storytelling. They have captivated the attention of our family, and we thoroughly enjoy listening to each show.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Carol Bowling. Her research and dedication to sharing the historical and magical details of Walt Disney World have provided a treasure trove of interesting details in the early podcasts. Her memory will live on through the Connecting with Walt podcast series, and will forever be etched in our family’s experiences at Walt Disney World.
Like most of the DIS audience, we are regular guests at Walt Disney World. And, while we enjoy the rides and the ongoing upgrades and changes, Michael Bowling and Craig Williams have sparked a new burst of magic through their show, Connecting With Walt.
Visits to the Magic Kingdom have taken on a whole new interest as a result of several Connecting with Walt podcasts that provided extensive details regarding the theming and history of the Magic Kingdom.
Liberty Square has forever changed since Michael Bowling took us for a walk around Liberty Square in Episode 35. I think of how many times our family has raced through Liberty Square on our way to ride the Haunted Mansion, or catch the Liberty Square River Boat, and, while we recognized the changes in theming from Adventureland to Liberty Square, for example, we missed an incredible amount of the exceptional theming and details. Now our family takes the time to appreciate these small, but very well-executed, details.
Now we can’t pass through the brown stained streets of Liberty Square without looking for the shutters on the windows that are slightly askew! (Spoiler alert: “This is because during the revolutionary war, the colonists needed every scrap of metal to make bullets and this included replacing the metal hinges on their shutters with leather hinges. Time and weather caused the leather hinges to stretch, resulting in the shutters hanging slightly off-kilter.” Michael Bowling, Episode 35). Just another example of the attention to detail by the Disney Imagineers.
Similarly, thanks to Michael Bowling’s account, we now scan the Walt Disney World Liberty Tree searching for the thirteen lanterns that represent the 13 original American colonies. From there, we look for the building next to The Hall of Presidents which has two lanterns in the window – a nod to the warnings of the British Army’s movements for Paul Revere. And we too debate whether the ornamental stone pieces along the roof line of the Haunted Mansion were designed by Disney Imagineer Claude Coats to resemble chess pieces. The jury is still out for us on this one!
Columbia Harbour House has always been a family favorite for lunch or supper. On every prior visit, we sat in the upstairs seating section, enjoyed our meal, then raced out to our next ride. However, Connecting with Walt has impacted our Columbia Harbour House experience forever. Now we take a leisurely meal break. We look for the maps of ships lost at sea, and we take Craig Williams’ advice to “spend time checking out the artifacts in this heavily themed restaurant.” We also use the windows to peer out at other subtle hidden treasures.
Connecting with Walt has connected with us on so many occasions. It has thoroughly enhanced our Walt Disney World experience. We see who can remember details from the podcast, and who can spot them first. In Episode 35, Craig Williams suggests only “10% of the people even notice details like the shutters askew and probably 1% of that takes the time to learn why.” Prior to our obsession with the Connecting with Walt podcast, we were part of that 1%. So glad we’ve made the connection.
In this article, I’ve focused on merely one podcast and how it has helped us truly appreciate the theming and intricate details the Disney Imagineers added to each nook and cranny in Walt Disney World. Now there are over 100 of these amazing podcasts to savor! Gone are the days of rushing from attraction to attraction, inhaling meals, and running to catch the fireworks and bus at the end of the night.
We’ve found the true magic of Walt Disney World, and it involves a balanced mix of attractions, food, and subtle details woven in around every corner. We are so delighted that the Connecting with Walt series is a regular podcast on the DIS Unplugged. Can’t wait to enjoy the next 100!