My Disney Class podcast

Howie and Ryan visit with teachers, educators and administrators on how to integrate Disney ideals of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, STEM and MakerSpace into classrooms. Twice a month they share why they are passionate about Disney and how their passions has brought them together in this joint mission to help bring ideas for innovation, storytelling, creativity, and the principal foundations of what makes Disney and great choice for projects and resources in the K-12 Classroom. They also talk about the companion website ( that will spotlight incredible educators from around the globe and be packed with resources that teachers can use in their classrooms.
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My Disney Class podcast






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Now displaying: Category: Education
Feb 1, 2018

Discover one of Walt’s famous failures.  Holidayland opened on June 16th, 1957 in Disneyland for large events like corporate parties, family reunions, etc.  Holidayland closed in 1961 due to its lack of shade, nighttime lighting, lack of restrooms, and overindulgence of alcohol by guests. Learn about its history and why it failed. So how does Walt’s failure in Holidayland tie to education? Join us and find out

Jan 15, 2018

Brian shares his work on an upcoming new theme park, non-Disney related, in China.  Discover exciting and challenging stories and concepts that fit with the Chinese culture and how the theme park industry overseas is raising the bar. 


How to stay on top of the theme park industry by attending conferences like ITSEC and IAAPA.  Learn about what goes on behind the curtain of the theme park industry and what new and innovative things are just around the corner that is being showcased at these conferences.

Jan 1, 2018

Howie and Ryan are briefly reflecting back on 2017 and then looking to the future of 2018 and what we hope it brings both in education and in Disney.  Each of them will share their educational Disney resolutions and explain how they hope each will bring positive change.  

We share how reading more books, creating challenges, connecting to the circle of life and many other resolutions can help you and your school community stick to the visions you have for 2018.  

Thank you to all of our listeners, you all are truly the Magic that creates the beauty of education.  We look forward to learning more about all of you in 2018 and also look forward to all the new members of the My Disney Class community.  


Dec 15, 2017

In today’s episode, Ryan and Howie welcome to the show the wonderfully talented and energetic Dyane Smokorowski or Mrs. Smoke as she goes on Twitter.  Not only is Dyane a dynamic educator but she also has a long list of notable accomplishments.  Including 2013 KS teacher of the year, listed by NSBA in 2009 as Top 20 to watch, Google Certified, EdcampKS Organizer, Educational Speaker, ECET2KS, Instructional Tech Coach, and Skype Master Teacher.  Whew!  This educator is blowing the roof off the profession but we think you will be most impressed by her passion and energy she displays during the podcast.

We hope you enjoy listening to Mrs. Smoke’s story today as she shares with us her passion for bringing Disney Magic to her school and district and how we as educators we can impact our school community.  Topics we discuss range from developing engaging curriculum, working with staff to help foster a growth mindset community, and how incorporating technology, like Skype, can create a global classroom environment.  

We hope you enjoyed listening to another incredible educator and true Edmagineer, Dyane Smokorowski!  We really enjoyed having her on and learned a lot.  We also Disney Geeked out together, which is always fun.  Additionally, we hope all of you have a blessed and joyous holiday season and we wish you a truly Magical New Year!

Dec 1, 2017

In this episode, Ryan and Howie discuss their dreams, wishes, and hopes for gifts this holiday season.  Whether you are shopping for a kid’s teacher, an educator in your family, or just going out to bring home yourself a well-deserved gift, we’ve got lots of great ideas for you.  

While it’s true that our best gift this holiday season is the wonderful My Disney Class community that has been blessed with all the great educators, like yourself, that are creating classroom magic every day.  Howie and Ryan share some of their other wishes for both learning as a teacher or student and some that are just plain fun.  From small gifts like a set of Emoji Stamps, yes, even the poop emoji, to the larger gifts like augmented reality headsets that can be used in the classroom.   We’ve got all your educational and Disney holiday gift ideas right here, and if you didn’t already know you wanted them, you will after listening to this show.

We hope you enjoy this holiday-themed episode, but more than that we hope you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy some time off from school or work.  Thank you again for making My Disney Class such a positive learning community and we look forward to growing even more in the New Year.

Nov 15, 2017

Welcome to first time guest Nicole Mancini.  Nicole is a Reading Specialist that is currently teaching 5th grade ELA at Bedminster Township Public School in Bedminster NJ.  Nicole also is a freelance writer, literacy advocate, Flipgrid Ambassador, and a Skype education teacher.  Five minutes into today’s show and you will see that the word passionate is an understatement and that Nicole doing more than can ever be listed in an opening paragraph.

Nicole tells us her story and how she became a Disney fan and how she found her way into education.  We then learn about how she structures her ELA classroom and how she uses the reader workshop approach.  Learn how she instills a passion for reading in her students and how she gets them begging for more and more homework using a relatively new software app called Flipgrid. 

Learn how she is using Skype in the classroom and several other resources you can use to bring relevance and real-world applications to your classroom. 

Discover how she brings the Disney magic to her classroom and gives us several ideas about how she brings Disney into the classroom as well as brainstorming other new ways to incorporate the magic that she just thinks of on the spot through our conversation!

Oct 30, 2017

Discover how to be inspired by Disney’s cultural diversity through attractions like it’s A Small World, World Showcase, and the wonderful cast members.  As educators, we know that by the time our students join the workforce, they will need the skill and ability to work globally and cross-culturally.  In today’s show, we ask ourselves are educators prepared to help raise global students?  Teachers with global perspectives can help foster increased cultural understanding and support more students to think, act and live as global citizens.  All educators need to be properly trained and prepared to teach all subjects through a global lens, not just social studies and language arts.

            Just like the theme of Small World which helps us remember that the world is small and interconnected, Walt Disney World is filled with reminders and opportunities to explore this to its fullest.  Howie and Ryan will share some of their favorite global experiences and lessons from Small World to around the World Showcase.  We hope you enjoy this week’s episode and also find inspiration to bring some of these global perspectives into your classroom.  

Oct 13, 2017

Ryan and Howie welcome back Jeffery Barnes, author of Wisdom of Walt. Jeff is back and has a new book appropriately titled, Beyond the Wisdom of Walt:  Life Lessons from the Most Magical Place on Earth.  

 In Jeff’s second book, he brings us stories and life lessons from those that Walt surrounded himself with to build his magical empire and those that continue to carry on his legacy today.  We hear stories from Imagineers both active and retired, cast members, Disney historians, and many more. 

  Each chapter starts with an inspiring quote and ends with a souvenir stop and hand stamp.  The souvenir stop is a unique way to work through that chapter’s lesson by reflecting on your own personal story and the hand stamp is a hand-picked emotional story by Jeff that will help you remember that chapter’s lesson.

 Jeff will help us draw from each of these lessons in his chapters and find ways we can improve not only personally but also professionally. 

Sep 27, 2017

In today’s show, Ryan and Howie look at what we can learn from Disney and how they handle disasters.  Howie and Ryan explore what Disney does to help keep guests safe as well as still enjoying their vacations.  When planning a Disney vacation it’s hard to imagine that anything could possibly go wrong inside the “Disney Bubble,” but they do and because of Disney’s training and preparation, guests walk away with smiles on their faces even after hurricanes have blown through.

 Howie and Ryan discuss resources for how to handle a crisis that occurs at school.  While it is difficult to talk and imagine any of these horrible things happening at our schools, we definitely can agree with Disney that preparation is key to successfully being able to minimize the damage when something does occur at our schools. 

 Jerry Blumengarten provides one of the best resources we found for preparation for crisis plans and educational material involving education crises.  His website  Is a treasure trove of materials, resources and links.

 Jerry’s site is an excellent resource for all educators and does a wonderful job gathering and organizing information that covers any disaster that you could imagine.   We hope you never have to use any of these emergency action plans in real life but we do hope you find them useful in making sure you and your school building are prepared for whatever may come your way.

Sep 15, 2017

In this episode of My Disney Class, Howie and Ryan welcome Rebecca Roll.  Rebecca is a Title 1 teacher at Leon Elementary in West Virginia.  Rebecca is incredibly passionate and creative and she shares her excitement for teaching with us on today’s show.  

We were really interested to know how Title 1 work and Rebecca was kind enough to help us understand this program and how she supports her fellow teachers.  She also shares some of her strategies for working with students that come from challenging home environments.  We can definitely tell that Rebecca is a blessing to her students and we know you will enjoy hearing from her.  

We wrap the show up with sharing some of our Disney teaching strategies and Rebecca helps us mash them up with her strategies creating even better lessons that will overall plus our students’ educational experiences.  We hope you enjoy this discussion with Rebecca as much as we did, she truly is a magical teacher.




Aug 30, 2017

In today’s episode of My Disney Class Podcast, Ryan and Howie are digging deeper into the magic of Walt Disney World and the classroom.  Some of you may or may not know that beyond the traditional theme park attractions, Disney World offers many premium and Free add-on experiences that help plus your trip.  Among the many choices, Howie and Ryan share some of their favorites, like listening to the piano player at The Grand Floridian and enjoying a campfire at Fort Wilderness. 

Drawing from this inspiration, we look at how we can add-on to our classrooms and lessons to help make our schools more magical than they already are.  We hope that you learn a few new things you can do at Disney World and a whole bunch of new add-on ideas for your classroom. 

Like always, we encourage you to share your own Disney and classroom add-ons with us over on our Facebook page,

Aug 15, 2017

On today’s show Howie and Ryan welcome Faith Plunkett.  Faith is an Entertainment Technology Academy instructor at Monte Sano Elementary in Huntsville Alabama.  Say what!  This sounds like a dream job for the My Disney Class boys.  Faith not only has an incredible job title but she innovates inside her classroom to create an educational environment that allows students to explore their passions and reach new heights.  


Howie and Ryan could not wait to learn more about this unique program offered in the Huntsville school district and how Faith has helped shape it from very early on in its conception. 


The Entertainment Technology Academy (ETA) is a K-12 program that students may elect to continue on with after elementary in middle school and then high school.  All elementary  students take part in this program which means Faith sees every student in her classroom throughout the year. 


This unique opportunity also has its challenges as a kindergartener working in her room will definitely have a different educational technology path than a 5th grader,  but Faith has some great formulas for working with technology and all of her students.   


We hope you enjoy learning about Faith’s story as much as we did and are equally inspired by the way she teaches computer programming, video game design, robotics, creativity, and much much more.

Aug 1, 2017

Season 3 and D23

 Welcome to Season 3 of My Disney Class Podcast!  Ryan and Howie are thrilled to be starting their third season co-hosting the show and are incredibly grateful to all the listeners for tuning in.  In this episode, we look at the big announcements that were made at the bi-annual D23 conference.  This may have been the biggest year yet with announcements about a new Mickey Mouse themed attraction, completion of Toy Story and Star Wars Land, a Star Wars themed hotel experience, and much much more!  


Thinking about how Disney makes these big announcements and changes got us thinking about how educators do similar things as the new school year approaches.  We discuss some of these common practices that educators do over the summer and how we can make magic when we return to the new school year.  Changes are never easy but they are necessary for advancement.  Remember what Walt said, “Disneyland is something that will never be finished.  It’s something that I can keep developing.  It will be a live, breathing thing that will need change.”  

Jul 15, 2017

Reflecting back on 2 years, My Disney Class!

On today’s show, Howie and Ryan are celebrating our two year anniversary!  In honor of this momentous occasion, we are looking back and reflecting on what we have learned and our thoughts about several of the guests that have been on the show.  We couldn’t be more thankful for everyone that has come on our show and shared their story with us.  Listening and learning from all these passionate people has been a growth opportunity that has changed both of us for the better.  Throw in a little Disney magic and we have ourselves two incredible years of My Disney Class!  We hope to continue to provide our listeners with high-quality podcasts that feature more inspiring educators and continue to help create "Classroom Magic".  

Jul 1, 2017

            Join Howie and Ryan as they travel the world today.  Well, maybe not the world, but the world showcase pavilions at E.P.C.O.T.  Starting at Mexico and working all the way through to Canada, Ryan and Howie share what their thoughts are on the current offerings at each location and then share what Disney could do to improve each pavilion's child appeal.  Though both agree that there is a lot to learn and do for both adults and children at each pavilion, there are some things that could be done to increase the appeal and desire to go back to each pavilion and discover more.  For example, could Japan benefit with putting in a thrill ride like a Mount Fuji roller coaster?  Well, today Howie and Ryan will dream big and play armchair Imagineer as they redesign and plus each pavilion with what they think will bring in the crowds.  We hope you enjoy today’s World Showcase dreaming and like always, if you have a comment or suggestion about today’s topic, let us know by commenting on iTunes, Facebook, or send us an email at

Jun 12, 2017

On today’s show, Howie and Ryan welcome Kristen Echols from Oklahoma City, OK.  Kristen is a home school mother of three that adds a little Disney magic to her lessons.  We first learn a little bit about Kristen, which includes how she went to school to become an elementary teacher, but realized that she didn’t love everything that was involved with teaching at a school.  She then shares with us how she came to the decision to homeschool her kids and what home schooling actually means.

Kristen then takes us through what she does before a trip to WDW with her kids that integrates the pre-trip planning, like budgeting, into the daily lessons her kids need to learn.  She then shares with us the ways she keeps the time down at WDW educational while still having fun and not ruining that Disney magic.  This includes how she actually calculates and plans several learning opportunities that can count as classroom days for her kids.  We finish off by learning how this family keeps the dreaded not at Disney feelings away until the next trip arrives and how that includes keeping the high engaged learning going.

We had a ton of fun talking with Kristen on this episode and we learned all about home schooling.  After listening, we are sure you will agree that this home schooling mother of three is an educational rockstar with a knack and a magic flare for teaching.  

Jun 1, 2017

Like Olaf, Howie and Ryan are really big fans of summer.  So in today’s episode, we are going to talk about what to do with the kids, or yourself, during summer.  We all know that Disney is an incredibly fun place to go and play for a few days in the summer, but what if you can’t go or what if you’re going and want to plus the trip with some learning opportunities.  Well, we have got you covered for both scenarios.  

Howie shares some of his favorite learning opportunities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Ryan will cover the less fortunate ones that are staying home.  So from homemade lightsabers to encounters with wild creatures, will help you get your Disney fix this summer and possibly learn something along the way.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode and if you do, please stop by iTunes and leave us a rating and review.

May 15, 2017

On today’s show, Ryan and Howie are honored to have former Imagineer Brian Collins here to discuss his story.  Brian has been a Disney cast member since the early 1990’s and helped create magic daily as he worked both on the front line of customer service at the Contemporary front desk and as a Disney Imagineer.  Listen to his story as he shares how he started at the ground level and worked his way up to the magical dream job at WDI.  

            During his time at WDI, Brian was a show writer and worked on classic attractions like Jungle Cruise and The Great Movie Ride to name a few.  Brian shares with us some wonderful behind the scenes stories of the teamwork done to pull off the magic and how he loved what he was doing every day, so much so he says he never really worked a day in his time at Disney.

After Brian left WDI, he didn’t stop creating and spreading magic!  He founded his own company WDWithMe, whose mission is to share the knowledge he has amassed working for the mouse and helping others be more creative and innovative.  Brian also describes himself as a passionate educator and has served on several different college and university faculties.  Brian has taught courses on entrepreneurship, marketing, innovation, and product development for theme parks.

            Listening to today’s show, we know that you will hear the passion and humor that Brian brings to any task he tackles.  There are few places that equal that of Disney when it comes to creativity, innovation, storytelling, and magic, but we all know that it’s the people that really make the magic.  Brian Collins is one of those people and what’s even more magical is that he hasn’t stopped spreading the magic beyond the mouse.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode as Brian shares with us how to think like an Imagineer!

Apr 30, 2017

Summer break is fast approaching and if you are like us here at My Disney Class Podcast, you may already be daydreaming of those warm carefree days ahead.  Some of you may even be preparing for that most magical summer destination of all, Walt Disney World!  

On today’s show, Howie and Ryan discuss how you can take the weeks or months leading up to your next fairytale vacation and make them have some educational value.  I know what you might be thinking, how can there be any educational value in planning a vacation?  Well, listen as we go through the whole process from travel to checking into your hotel and we share all the questions, decisions, and real-world educational scenarios, you can work through with your kids.

 Who knew planning a Walt Disney World vacation could be such a powerful educational tool?  Ok, ok, Ryan and Howie knew and we hope you enjoy the show as we take you through our thought process on how to create these opportunities.  

Mar 28, 2017

The Disney Driven Life

With Author Jeff Dixon

 What a show do we have for you today!  Howie and Ryan are incredibly lucky to welcome Jeff Dixon on the show today.  Jeff is the author of the "Key to the Kingdom" series, which is a fictional series of four books that follows the adventures of Grayson Hawkes as he attempts to solve a complicated series of puzzles laid out by none other than the man himself, Walt Disney.  Jeff recently broke from this series and wrote a book called "The Disney Driven Life".  This book is a guidebook that not only guides you through the Magic Kingdom but also guides you through the lessons you can learn from each attraction that ultimately helps you be your best version of you.  In Jeff’s own words “ A Disney-driven life is a life where you move beyond being a person loaded with potential and become a person who lives up to that potential.”  Jeff has unique and rich experiences that he draws from to write his books.  He grew up in Florida and remembers a time before Walt Disney World existed.  He has seen it grow and change and he has even worked for the Mouse.  In his day job, Jeff serves as the Transformational Architect at The Church @ 434 in Central Florida.  

In today’s episode, we visit with Jeff and  talk about some of his favorite examples from the book and how they can impact us as educators.  We discuss what lessons we can learn from the attractions and how studying a little bit of the history of Walt, we can have a great impact on the learning and engagement of our students.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode as Jeff shares how his background at Walt Disney World and his current role as a pastor helped him develop into the wonderful storyteller he is today and how we can become the author of our own and our students own, greatest story.

Mar 28, 2017

On today’s show, it seems like Ryan has bumped his head pretty hard as he actually suggests changing the show name to My Universal Class.  Listen in as Howie tries to talk some sense into Ryan and get him back on the magical path.  As the debate continues, you will hear several points and counterpoints to which is better Universal Studios or Walt Disney World.  Hopefully, you will enjoy this light-hearted comparison of both parks and learn a few things about that other park called Universal Studios.  To end this April Fools episode, we will share information we have found on the educational programs that Universal offers.  This is no joke and the educational opportunities seem to be really engaging and very rigorous.  Some of the topics include  Your Classroom in motion, Storytelling, and Our Weather.  We hope you enjoy today’s episode, as we discuss something out of the Disney universe, but we think it has wonderful educational connections.

Mar 15, 2017

Ryan and Howie are excited to welcome, all the way from his home planet of Tatooine, Thomas Riddle to the podcast.  Ok Thomas may not be from Tatoonie but with the level of force and good that he has been bringing to education, we wouldn’t be surprised.  Thomas has been in education more than twenty years and has served as a teacher, coach, principal, adjunct college professor, educational consultant, textbook publisher, and served on the South Carolina Department of Education.  If this wasn’t enough Thomas regularly conducts professional development and instructional methodology at all levels across the country.  

            On today’s show, Thomas shares with us how he and his long-time friend Wes Dodgens were able to partner up with Lucasfilm,Ltd. to create “Adventures in Learning with Indiana Jones” ( provides teachers with interdisciplinary curriculum and lesson ideas based upon Dr. Jones aka Indiana Jones.  In 2012, Thomas and Wes launched a sequel to Indiana Jones called “Star Wars in the Classroom” (  This site provides engaging lessons in all subject areas using the power of the force found in Star Wars movies.  

            We hope you enjoy today’s show as Thomas takes us through ways to incorporate the movies that we love into our classrooms.

Mar 1, 2017

Join Ryan and Howie as they jump into the Timekeeper’s time machine and dream about what it would be like to experience some of Walt Disney’s greatest moments.  We can’t help but think that this could be something educators could build upon and make a lesson out of.  Imagine what the students could discover by pretending to go back in history to meet or observe a historical figure or event.  

             Howie and Ryan share some points on Walt’s timeline that mean something to them.  Howie talks about Walt’s failures in the beginning, Disney’s Folly- Snow White, and Walt’s trip to Orlando in 1965.  Howie does a masterful job of taking us back to these particular times and sharing some little known facts about these events.  Ryan shares some of his favorite Walt moments that include; young Walt and family moving to Marceline MO, Walt’s trip to South America, and the informational video shot about E.P.C.O.T.  

            Enjoy the 15th episode of season 2 as much as we enjoyed traveling back in time and sharing our thoughts about Walt’s life.  Walt is, after all the inspiration for both Howie and I in creating My Disney Class and of course we hope he inspires you as well to create your own classroom magic.   

Feb 15, 2017

Ryan, Jerry and Howie, discuss the NEW ONLINE Disney Class “PD Maigc: Edmagineering The Future of Professional Learning. It is offered through Buena Vista University and Educators can receive 3 Graduate Credit Hours for taking the class.

Discover the five core values in the class and how they integrate into your curriculum:

Creative Storytellers

Innovative Designers

Memorable Leaders

Blues Sky Thinkers

Empowered Learners

Knowledge Constructors

Join us and discover the layout of the class and how to bring Disney ideas and content into your classroom.

Link here for additional and registration information:

Feb 1, 2017

Join Howie and Ryan as they discuss Disney projects to use in your classroom.  Explore with us new ways to integrate, critical thinking, innovation, web literacy, storytelling, conspiracy theories, patents, research, communication, curiosity and collaboration.

​A sample project includes taking a trip to Walt Disney World.  How much does it cost, how will you get there, where will you stay, how much do tickets cost, what are the alternatives.

​Discover projects that are interdisciplinary and engaging.  We hope that you enjoy these experiences as much as we do. 

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