A SATURDAY SIX Tribute to Josh easyWDW – A look back at one of theme park’s greatest bloggers

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX pays tribute to Josh Humphrey (AKA Josh easyWDW). On March 10th, the theme park community lost one of its brightest stars with the passing of Josh Humphrey. To the general public, many would believe there was a long standing “feud” between TouringPlans and Josh’s website (easyWDW.com), but the reality was much different. While Josh would more than occasionally aim his razor sharp arrows at a TouringPlans target (oftentimes fairly, but sometimes unfairly as well), behind-the-scenes the relationship was much more complex. Some saw him as a contemporary, while some viewed him as an adversary. For readers he was a trusted voice and for many in the theme park community, a close friend. Me, well I viewed him as a mentor and the person I would base my entire writing style after. Today we are going to say Good Bye to Josh easyWDW, and look back at what he meant to the world of theme park blogging. Along the way we are going to have testimonials from some of Josh’s co-workers and closest friends, but we’re going to start off with an introduction by a person that some reading this may have thought was Josh’s mortal enemy…

Len Testa: There’s only one other person who could fully appreciate the irony of me writing the intro to an EasyWDW tribute, and that was Josh himself.  Likewise, there’s no more than a handful of people who know the full extent of our relationship. To them I offer this reminder: Eulogies are for the living.

Josh was easily one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. His work ethic was unmatched, as anyone who’s ever read one of his 2,800-word, 48-photo essays on theme park salsa would attest.  And my god, he could craft a phrase.  Even when I was on the receiving end of his insults, I had to laugh at his perfect choice of words.  Once you’ve been trolled by Josh, everyone else is second-rate.

Over the past couple of years we were working on establishing something like a friendship.  We had lunch last fall – Josh had proposed doing a podcast together, and brought me two of his favorite shirts.  It was an unexpected gift that I appreciated. Over pizza in Celebration, while we tried to figure out how a podcast might work, I mentioned that I had recently started playing electric guitar.  After lunch, Josh sent me a follow-up email with a list of music I should listen to, with incredible detail about why the music was technically interesting.  And Josh mentioned that somewhere on the internet, there’s a photo of him in a tuxedo, playing French horn with the Seattle Philharmonic.  As you can imagine, this was my immediate response:

 

Josh was at his parents’ house in Seattle a few days later, and sent back the photo below.  This photo is how I’ll choose to remember Josh.  May it bring you comfort as well.

And then we had a long discussion around the Boeing 707 doing a barrel roll in the image behind him on the wall. That’s a story for another time…

# 6 – Meeting Josh

DEREK: I first met Josh in EPCOT on April 26, 2013. At the time, I had just started writing about theme parks the previous year for the website Orlando Informer. While I didn’t know him personally, I idolized Josh as a writer and wanted to be just like him. For the most part, all theme park blogs back then were just regurgitating the exact same news, but Josh was different. Josh added humor and a level of wit and self-depreciation to his articles that I adored. I reached out to him on social media – as a fan – and he asked if I’d like to meet up the next time I was in the parks. I was over the moon. There are very few people in the theme park world that I would be “star struck” by, but Josh was one them.

We met at EPCOT and had lunch at Via Napoli. That was the very first time I saw a true professional blogger at work. I was just using my iPhone 5 to take pictures, but Josh had a camera bag and everything. He took the time to try out different lenses and took pictures from multiple angles. All we ordered was a single pizza, but he treated the photos like it was the Chef’s Table experience at Victoria & Alberts. I sat in awe, thinking that this must be what it was like to watch Picasso paint or Michaelangelo use his chisel. That meal would forever change my thoughts on theme park photography. I often joke with people by saying, “The Readers Deserve Our Very Best.” But the reality is it’s not a joke, it is a Mission Statement that I live by which was forged by watching how Josh did his job.

Yes, those are my arms and hands at the top right of this photo. Josh would use this picture years later in a review of Via Napoli. (photo by Josh easyWDW)

The pizza was – of course – awesome, and while Josh was away from the table I had paid the bill without him knowing. I think was disappointed because he wanted to pay for the meal, and he insisted on buying me something in return, so I told him I wanted an item which had debuted at EPCOT earlier that year: the Doofenslurper. The look he gave me in return was priceless, but I was 100% serious. Being the Pro’s Pro that he was, Josh agreed and knew exactly where to get this ridiculous treat. Here is the tweet he posted that night he bought the Doofenslurper…

 

The Doofensluper beaker. (photo by Josh easyWDW)
The very same Doofenslurper. (photo taken with an iPhone 5 by Your Humble Author)

Oddly enough, just a couple months later in June 2013, the owner of Orlando Informer shut down the website one morning with zero notice. When I say zero notice, I mean zero notice because I found out thanks to a post the owner put out on Twitter. An email came later that morning which was sent to all of the Orlando Informer writers. The email told the entire staff to stop everything they were doing, and that the site was going to be down until at least July. In July, we were told, the owner would decide whether or not the site would ever be brought back. To say I was in complete shock is an understatement, as the previous night I had just discussed with the owner what I had planned to be writing for the next several weeks and he mentioned absolutely nothing about the site shutting down just hours later.

Not knowing if Orlando Informer would even exist in the future, I reached out to Josh that morning to see if I could write for his site, easyWDW. However at the time, Josh’s website was on a shoestring budget and was literally a one man operation. Josh replied that he wasn’t able to take on any new writers. Fortunately, an hour later that morning Len Testa followed me on Twitter and sent a Direct Message asking if he could call me. During that call, he offered me a position with TouringPlans, a job I am still at today.

Tom Bricker – I’ve known Josh since 2011, when I was a blogger and photographer here at TouringPlans. We had exchanged a few brief emails, discussing a range of topics from Adventurers Club fans to Cosmic Ray’s infamous pizza burger. He mentioned improving his photography, and it being a passion of mine, I responded with an unsolicited email of advice and recommendations.

Josh in turn responded with a lengthy, line-by-line dissection of a TouringPlans blog post. A post about crowd calendars that was two paragraphs long and not even written by me. From that tit for tat, a friendship was formed around quarreling. We would argue about any and everything, always in good spirit and with the goal not being just to win, but also make the other laugh.

Trying to match wits with Josh was like bringing a piece of asparagus to a gunfight. Whether debating rope drop or running backs (most of our arguments were about random, odd topics unrelated to Disney), Josh would always have the smarter and funnier response. “I don’t know how to respond to this” became one of my go-to lines, an indirect concession of defeat because he had either thoroughly bested me or at least worn me down.

What I did do was continue to listen and learn from him. Josh had a distinct voice, equally personable and acerbic. Like the best writers, he had a way of feeling both larger than life and like a close friend sharing a personal story. Josh was an inimitable writer, with a “gonzo” style and wry humor, irreverence, and unparalleled insightfulness.

Josh was also a writer’s writer, and a true pioneer in the Disney space. His fingerprints are all over other sites (the good ones, at least) and their authors so clearly influenced by Josh. Among many other things, he taught us that discussions about Disney don’t need to be all sunshine, rainbows, and cupcakes. To the contrary, readers appreciate authenticity, and even a slight dash of subversiveness as an antidote to the flowery content.

When you sat down to read one of his posts, you might do so with the intention of learning about touring Animal Kingdom during mornings in mid-May. By the time you finished the sixth installment of that series, you’d be well-versed in everything from bulk food prices to unsavory business practices of ride sponsors. Many of his loyal fans continued to read easyWDW.com long after they lost interest in Walt Disney World, no doubt. He was that interesting, his words that enthralling.

Josh wasn’t much different offline. If anything, his deadpan delivery worked better in person, producing an unparalleled uncomfortable humor. Beyond that, the person behind the online persona was even better, which is a rarity. He would send private notes of encouragement, kind emails or text messages, and discreet donations to charitable causes. In private, he did so many nice things for so many people. If you spent even a single meal with him, it’s easy to understand the current outpouring of love, as there was so much warmth and heart beneath that curmudgeonly exterior.

While I’ll miss that warmth and kind words, it’s the spirited debates with Josh that I’ll miss more than anything else. For one final time, “I don’t know how to respond to this.”

# 5 – The Camera Eats First

DEREK: Readers of this fine blog series over the years have seen several articles poking fun at the art of theme park blogging. Those were inspired by how Josh treated theme park blogging in his articles and on social media. For example, during a visit to EPCOT with his friends, Josh got the opportunity at Via Napoli to take photos of many different items from the menu (as compared to the one single pizza that was ordered when we went together). When going through his roll of photos taken at the restaurant, if he saw something funny he would post it on social media in a self-depreciating manner.

Like the scientists in Jurassic Park, I just read what Josh had already done and took the next step. Instead of just having one throwaway line in an article making fun of theme park photography, I wanted to do a whole article on it, which you can READ HERE. However, as much as I really enjoyed how that article came out, I wasn’t satisfied with it overall because I felt it was missing a key comedic element. The article briefly touched on the fact that theme park photographers will travel in groups (because it helps lessen the overall cost of the food when shared) but it didn’t play with the ridiculous concept of showing a single food item shot by multiple photographers.  To accomplish this feat, I would need to have a bunch of world class theme park photographers in the same place at the same time, which is about as easy to accomplish as herding cats. I know this may sound hard to believe, but adult male theme park bloggers aren’t exactly known for their social skills.

There was a simple solution though, I reached out to Josh. Even years later, Josh was still one of the only people in the theme park blogging community I had actually met in real life and the only one I had spent any significant time with. No one was going to get together because I asked, but if Josh asked? Well, now you’re talking. Josh knew everyone, and people would move around their schedules if he asked. So, thanks to Josh, I was able to coordinate a photo-shoot at the House of Blues in Disney Springs with many of the best photographers in the history of theme park blogging. That’s the type of guy who Josh was that very few people knew. He would give you his time, no questions asked.

You can see the results of that day at House of Blues in this article: SATURDAY SIX Special Investigation: A Behind-The-Scenes-Look at Theme Park Food Photography. This summer I will be hitting 10 full years of writing about theme parks and it would be just about impossible for me to narrow down my list of favorite articles, but that one? That one is in the top three, and it wouldn’t have happened without Josh.

From L to R: Hunter Underwood, Brandon Glover, Josh easyWDW, Blog Mickey, and Tom Bricker.

Hunter Underwood: Josh was one of a kind, there’s no doubt about that. My first interactions with Josh were shared moments of laughter as his infamous “humidity just outside of MCO” viral tweet continued to be reposted time and time again without credit. Every time I saw it, I made sure to drop his twitter handle just to be sure he got the credit which he deserved.

I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the kindest interactions to date with him a few years ago. I had sent a tweet debating the pros and cons of a few potential new camera lenses and Josh, ever the photography aficionado, immediately sent me a direct message and offered to let me borrow ALL of his camera equipment. Bodies, lenses, filters, bag, everything. Thousands of dollars of equipment, simply because I was curious.  His patience in dealing with our schedules and his witty humor as we fumbled our thoughts multiple times will always be a prominent memory. Josh- you will be missed something fierce. Thank you for the impact you’ve made on this planet.

# 4 – Walt Loved Podcasting

DEREK: As a person who enjoys listening to theme park podcasts, when it was announced that Josh was going to be a part of a new show called Walt Loved Podcasting, I was thrilled. Josh is entertaining with just the written word, but hearing him speak extemporaneously is where he shines. A lot of theme park “influencers” claim to be experts, but Josh was the real deal and could not only speak intelligently on any topic you threw at him, but would have you laughing the entire time with his dry sense of humor and perfectly timed bits. Along with his co-hosts Blog Mickey and Schmoofy, Josh gave incredible insight into the current day theme parks and the banter between the three friends was wonderful. They say the brightest light burns out the fastest, and while Walt Love Podcasting wasn’t long for this world, you can still listen to the archives at iTunesGoogle Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Schmoofy (Walt Loved Podcasting co-host) – The idea for Walt Loved Podcasting started with Blog Mickey actually. He wanted to get the three of us together and record. The three of us, plus some additional company, were already doing weekly gatherings for trivia night at a local bar, so we figured another night for recording a podcast wouldn’t be a struggle. We all have a very different take on theme parks. I brought a rabid, previously internal, now external, view of working the resorts and parks. Blog Mickey brought a fast-paced news oriented view of Disney. Josh brought a methodical, year after year, detailed touring and dining strategy. His method was never being first, it was being accurate and detailed.

The three of us were able to record without a script, just an idea, and being able to spitball around the topic lead to some super interesting conversations. Whenever we started recording we would toss the topic out in the air and click record. Naturally, there’s lots that didn’t make the final cut, but what you heard was real and right off the tongue. Nothing rehearsed. That was the real Josh you heard and witnessed. I remember vividly we would record at my house, we would get Chinese takeout beforehand. Every recording you listened to was fueled by spicy chicken, fried rice, and Diet Coke. There were definitely audio issues we had to work through, including literally attaching a microphone to a ceiling fan at one point, but approaching the end of our recording spree we had things pretty well figured out.

Unfortunately the sun set on Walt Loved Podcasting due to the time needed to record, edit, and publish with personal lives getting in the way. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. We used the platform to fill a void and then (personally) a new job for me started and took away a lot of my free time. Not long after that, Galaxy’s Edge opened, and then Covid came before we were able to get started again. I’ve spent time listening to older episodes this last week and it’s been great hearing Josh’s voice again, and seeing just how well we were able to carry a conversation and even how right (or wrong) we were. Josh was an interesting and unique individual, one of the best bloggers out there for sure.

# 3 – A face made for radio and a voice made for silent films

After the brief run of Walt Loved Podcasting ended, Josh could regularly been seen on various shows from WDWNT, including one very popular segment titled “Tom vs. Josh” where WDWNT’s own Tom Corless and Josh would discuss the latest news from the theme parks as well as the world at large. Like everything he did in the theme park world, Josh excelled as a “YouTube personality.” Similar to Columbo, Josh was sharp as a tack and knew exactly what he was doing while pretending to be bad it.  His quick-on-his-feet thinking, combined with his vast knowledge of theme parks and his trademark deadpan delivery made him the perfect guest.

Tom Corless: The Disney online community is generally not a nice place. It can be competitive and toxic at times, despite its subject matter. I have easily been at odds with more people than I have gotten along with, but knowing Josh made up for all of that. Josh from EasyWDW.com was my best friend. He was the most selfless, kind, and honest person I have known in my entire life. Having dinner with him at a park was always a memorable and anticipated event, from the first time we met over a basket of onion rings at 50s Prime Time, to our last dining review at Boatwright’s. I won’t ever sit down at a theme park restaurant and not think of the thousands of times we shared a table and so many laughs.

Josh was also the funniest person I have ever known, with a dry humor the likes of which we will never see again. I took a sick joy from bringing new WDWNT staff to review outings, just waiting to see if they would get any his jokes, or even just understand that he was joking. I was never disappointed.

My fondest memories are days of endless cupcakes reviews, getting strange looks from guests as we walked a Lightning McQueen dessert up and down Sunset Boulevard, trying to find the right spot for a photo. If a random guest chose to interact with Josh, magic would unfold. I recall an instance where Josh was sitting on the planter outside the Imagination pavilion with his giant camera lens in hand. The guest next to him asked if he was planning on shooting the “super moon” that evening. Josh simply responded that he didn’t need to as he could just photoshop it at home. The guest didn’t respond.

Beyond the parks, Josh was kind enough to host myself and friends at his home for Hanukkah and some number of less formal events, and he became a part of my family. It wasn’t uncommon to find Josh at some housewarming or birthday party I was invited to, as I think most of my friends felt we were a “package deal”. Josh would also always make a point to invite my parents to a nice dinner out every time they would visit, and he always insisted on paying. That’s who he was, and there are countless more examples off his care and generosity, but far too many to list.

Josh was very open about the rough time he was having over the last few years battling depression and anxiety. Part of that was definitely watching the success of some other outlets and personalities that weren’t being very honest with their audience, or even very informative. Josh cared so much about the people who read his work and that they had a perfect park visit.

Quoting from Josh’s post explaining his recent absence from blogging: “If I disappeared tomorrow, the Disney blogosphere would take a hit, the quality of the information available would likely worsen, people would be disappointed for a moment or two, and then simply move on.”

No one, I reiterate, NO ONE is or was better at making touring plans and reviewing theme park food than Josh. I think it is important to his legacy to upkeep the quality of information, and even more importantly, honesty and transparency in the fandom. Being on a media list and profit margins may be important to some outlets and influencers, but as the audience, it is up to you to hold them accountable. These honest voices are the only defense against greedy policies from mega-corporations that we have. They are the last line of defense in a world where the fan-based media outlets are becoming less fan-based and more business. Voices like Josh’s are rare, but when we find them, we need to support them. It was something we talked about multiple times a week and I know it was important to him.

I have never lost someone I was as close with as Josh, so I find myself lost at times on some days, not sure of what to do. I am unable to simply move on, and I suspect I will never fully. We were such a big part of each other’s everyday lives that it will be a big adjustment for me to not text or call him, and especially to not pick him up from his apartment on the way to the first day of an EPCOT festival. Life in Orlando for many of us has lost a big part of its luster. He was a big reason why I stayed here, and an even bigger part of WDWNT’s growth and success.

Wherever you are Josh, I love you and I miss you. Oh, and I still haven’t seen Mr. Robot.

# 2 – easyWDW (a great site)

DEREK: One thing that was made abundantly clear after Josh passed away was the direct impact he made on so many people’s lives. People who had never met Josh felt like they knew him, because he had helped them so much over the years with his articles. As a writer, one thing I was always jealous of when reading Josh’s articles was his genius way of putting everything into context in one photo. Take the photo below that Josh took inside the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT. If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World before, planning your trip can be completely overwhelming  (now more than ever) and it’s hard to conceptualize where everything is, no matter how many articles you read. Josh had a unique way of bringing you into the park and – via the use of red arrows – would explain how the entire jigsaw puzzle fits together in a way that makes sense to a person who has never been, or an Annual Passholder who has been a thousand times.

While the information he gave you as a reader was vital to making your Disney experience better, his detailed writing style and biting sarcasm is what made many readers fans of Josh for life. There are thousands of theme park websites and almost all of them are giving you the exact same information presented in the exact same way. But Josh? Churning out Disney press releases as if they were “news?” Writing an entire article on a single cupcake? Nay Nay. In the film world, Josh was like Quentin Tarantino, it might take a while in between posts but what you end up reading would be worth your time. His readers were invested in his site, and in him personally. That bond and relationship was earned by years of selfless hard work.

easyWDW fans dressed up as Josh for a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel meeting Josh at a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary. The reason for the Cookie Monster head? It was something that allowed him to dress up for the party but also maintain the “standard uniform” at the time (striped Polo shirt and cargo shorts).
Text exchange between Josh and myself from earlier this year, as we had a discussion about his rabid fanbase.

BlogMickey – I first met Josh in DinoLand USA. No, it wasn’t riding Triceratop Spin, it was just casually walking around the park at night, hoping to get a glimpse of Rivers of Light testing. Being relatively new to the Disney blogging community, I didn’t know what to think of him, but I did notice that when he talked, those around him listened. People didn’t listen because he demanded attention from them, but because he actually had something interesting to say. I came to find out that Josh was usually either setting up a punchline that he would deliver hours later or delivering said punchline just as you were getting ready to forget the setup. He was endlessly witty and humbly smarter than everyone else, but I still tried many times to verbally dance with Josh only to find out that he was always leading. Unfortunately, I tossed out the idea to start a podcast before I learned that I would never keep up with Josh. I spent hours discussing the latest thing happening at Disney World, but it was the “off-air” conversations that I will cherish the most. Walt Loved Podcasting wouldn’t make it to 20 episodes due to the amount of time it took to edit episodes on top of daily blogging duties but watching Josh think and joke off the cuff was always a joy. Even more of a joy was driving him to the “studio” and back, about 40 minutes each way – talking about all sorts of topics from Disney to sports to life. Looking back on it, I only wished that the drives were longer, and the podcasts more frequent.

Another spot that I spent a lot of time with Josh was at EPCOT festivals. I always tried to watch him closely to pick up on a photography trick or thought about a dish. During our first festival, we traveled as a small group with other bloggers and I remember wondering why Josh wasn’t eating more of the food or taking more notes. It wasn’t until our third festival together when, a day or two before the festival, he sent all of his notes from days of research and years of experience that I realized that he didn’t care if the dish was slightly drier than normal when we visited on a random Tuesday, because he wasn’t there to tell you that the cheesecake tasted like cheesecake. Instead, his meticulous research led to him recalling a dinner at Le Cellier four years prior when he had that same exact cheesecake. He would brilliantly inform his readers that the particular dessert that they were spending $5 at a festival on was actually $11 at dinner in 2017. He didn’t stop there, though. He also recalled that this exact dessert was Le Cellier’s entry into a competition to create “Orlando’s Signature Dish”. Just like every other review, he would be honest what was on the dish in front of him, but he would always figure out a way to take his writing to the next level, and to take the reader with him. It was only after reading his review that I realized just how much of an iceberg Josh really was. What appeared to be just a guy with a camera was actually an unmatched writer with a truly authentic passion for helping his readership.

Perhaps the best part about Josh was how authentic he was. If you never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, you met him through his writing. He brought you to Walt Disney World as a friend and presented the theme parks through his own eyes – a lens far more unique than whatever Canon was offering. His posts were dripping with wit and humor, broken up from time to time by 54 photos of flowers or endless screenshots of excel spreadsheets. Whenever I got an alert that Josh had posted another “Irrelevant Visit to Adventureland” or a 12th part to “Touring Animal Kingdom in July”, I stopped what I was doing and, like many of you, settled in for a laugh and learn session.

Outside of the theme parks, a memory that will forever stick with me about Josh was the time he invited my wife and I, along with some others in the Disney community, to his apartment for Seder. From a giant inflatable Hanukkah bear to dinosaurs to a carefully and meticulously choreographed meal, Josh was generous and welcoming. While Seder was certainly more formal, trivia nights at Gator’s Dockside was no less special. Endless wings and endless conversation made Wednesday nights a highlight of our week. There is no doubt that a great many people who were lucky enough to call Josh a friend will have a trivia-sized hole in their life. Josh had an uncanny ability to know something about everything and connect with everyone around him by engaging in their interests. Josh was many things to many people, but above all he was authentic, kind, funny, and someone that I am happy to have called a friend.

# 1 – what a life

DEREK: While The Walking Dead is one of the biggest phenomenons in recent pop culture history, when the original Walking Dead comic book started back in 2003, zombies meant nothing. In fact, zombies meant less than nothing. The “rumors and innuendo” say that creator Robert Kirkman pitched the Walking Dead to Image Comics as a sci-fi series about an alien invasion, knowing that they would once again pass on the project if it was just a zombie comic. The series was green lit, with Kirkman promising the seeds for an alien invasion would be planted early on and paid off later. After the 1st issue came out, Image Comics told Kirkman they didn’t see anything related to an alien invasion and was wondering when it was coming. At that point Kirkman revealed he wasn’t intending to have aliens in the series at all, and the first issue sales had done well enough to convince Image that there just might be interest in a zombie comic book after all.

Where am I going with this? Well SPOILER ALERT, the SATURDAY SIX as a whole has been a long tribute to Josh easyWDW since the summer of 2013. I was always trying to earn his respect, make him laugh, or be half as generous giving my time to others as he was to me. Each and every single time I needed something for an article over the last decade, Josh was happy to help.

Some of you reading this may remember a gag we did a couple years ago with a Little Golden Book featuring Donald Duck.

What many of you don’t know is that the entire concept was created to make Josh laugh. Back in 2018, Josh had a very public and lively debate with Frontierland Cast Members about “filling in all the available space” in theme park queues. This moment was legendary and unforgettable to anyone who experienced it in real time.

Here is one “sounds absolutely impossible to believe but is 100% true.” One long running joke between myself and Josh is that I would always refer to him as “Josh easyWDW.” Always. ALWAYS. The original reason for that is that until a couple years ago, I didn’t even know his last name. Back in 2015, I was having a special event at the Universal Orlando Resort on behalf of a podcast I was part of at the time. Several of the podcast listeners came to the event, and Josh himself came when I personally invited him. One of the things I wanted to surprise everyone who came to the event with was a Unlimited Universal Express Pass for the day. Each Express Pass needed to have the full name of the person would be using it, so I asked Josh his last name. His reply? “Africa.” Somewhere out there, a Universal Express Pass exists with the name “Josh Africa” printed on it. That is how Josh was. He lived the gimmick. The sardonic person you saw on Twitter was the exact same person texting me in real life.

 

One lesson I learned from Josh is this: never let anything go. Readers appreciate payoffs to things they have been invested in over the course of years. For example, for my Derek Doodle series “Inside the Backpack,” I tried to load as many in-jokes as I could that Josh and his readers would appreciate. This includes his long-standing digs at Lombard’s Seafood Grille at Universal (“I’ve heard good things”), his even longer-running “feud” with La Cava del Tequila over their premixed margaritas, and his love of Canon cameras (along with his distaste of Nikons).

In a community filled with a lot of phoney-baloneys spinning whatever story Disney wants them to sell at the time, Josh always kept it real. Josh did everything he could to make sure his audience was as well informed as possible when it came to planning their Disney vacation, even if it meant he would never be invited as media to a Disney event.

Josh along with premixed margarita jugs from La Cava del Tequila and “$21 asparagus” from BOATHOUSE. (art by @SonderQuest)

For years I tried my best to get Josh to do more coverage of the Universal Orlando Resort, but as they say, be careful what you wish for…

Josh at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. “Feels crowded.”
Not many people understand the intense physical training us dedicated theme park bloggers put ourselves through for you, Dear Reader. Here we have Josh pumping iron inbetween photos at Cabana Bay. (photo by Lisa Taylor)

As a person who has no problem getting into a healthy “discussion” or two on social media, I learned very early on not to get into a public argument with Josh easyWDW. Josh is smarter than you… Josh is funnier than you…and Josh has absolutely no compunction whatsoever taking you out onto the public square to tar and feather you, embarrass you in front of everyone, and then he’ll go to work on you. We’ve had our debates and he remains undefeated against me, but I will never stop trying to impress him. Josh taught me the value in hard work, and how being true to yourself and your readers is the ultimate goal. In one of our last conversations, I feel that I finally moved away from the “Fan/Talent” relationship we previously had a decade before and I was approaching being seen as a contemporary. I still may be only Pluto in this theme park solar system where his talent level is the Sun, but I’m forever grateful for knowing him.

Kristen Flora: I’ve known Josh longer than I realized, but then again, I have zero concept of time.  That was brought up more than once in conversations with him since I usually just waived my hand and said ‘a few years ago.’  Josh would say ‘Do you really not know or just don’t care?’  Pretty sure we both knew it was both.  Through the years he has always supported charities I have raised money for, checked on me when he bore witness to my feelings being hurt, stared at me when I got nervous and talked incessantly, truly wanted to know my opinions on various things and never made me feel like I was anything less than important.  We wandered in and out of each other’s orbits through the years, but friendships do that.  I’m grateful for the times together, the joy and laughter he brought to so many through the blog, his thoughtfulness, wit, blue shirts and how deeply he cared for others he held close to him.  His friendship with one of my absolutes always made me smile.  When I would bring up how much I loved that, he would shrug and look away, smiling.

Forever ago (again, who knows how long it was) I was reading a magazine in the Wilderness Lodge lobby. I looked up and found Josh sitting across from me. I asked how he noticed me since I was sitting in a high backed chair and he came from behind that to which he said ,”What other adult would sit sideways like that, with socks that look like that? Then I peeked over and saw a Bud Light instead of water. I knew right away.” That memory still makes me giggle because he then just sat there and stared at me like I was growing a horn from the center of my head.  I believe to this day that I confused him often with my brand of nonsense.
Josh has been friends with so many through the years. He’s weaved in and out of peoples lives… friendship circles changed… and time marches along. Through it all, he was himself. He was who he was, and for so many of us, that was perfect. What a life.
Josh at Enchanted Tales with Belle.

Honorable Mention: EPCOT Gains its Tenth Dragon…

Readers of easyWDW.com and followers of Josh on social media know of his unabashed love for the Nine Dragons restaurant in World Showcase. Josh loved the value, the quality, and would not stop talking about it.

 

EPCOT, if you’re listening…

So there you have it: A Tribute to Josh easyWDW. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

Huge thanks to artist Brian Cooper for this incredible drawing of Josh outside the Italy booth at EPCOT’s Food & Wine (ground zero for one of Josh’s most famous reviews.) While Bacini and Derek are serving the food Josh loved so much, standing in line are Tom Bricker and his wife Sarah, Tom Corless, Brian Cooper and his wife Joanne.

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

REVIEW: Josh easyWDW experiences “Premium Hot Dogs” at Fairfax Fare

REVIEW: Josh easyWDW Looks at the Italy Booth at EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

REVIEW: Josh easyWDW Dines at Via Napoli

SATURDAY SIX Special Investigation: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at THEME PARK FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

Special Thanks to Josh Humphrey. 

Thank you Josh. For everything. – Derek

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43 thoughts on “A SATURDAY SIX Tribute to Josh easyWDW – A look back at one of theme park’s greatest bloggers

  • March 26, 2022 at 9:44 am
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    I miss you, Josh. R.I.P. Thank you for the wonderful tribute to Josh.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 9:55 am
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    This was such a fantastic tribute to an incomparable writer. I never had the privilege to meet Josh but I have no doubt he was just as wonderful, witty, and genuine as he seemed. Whenever I walk by Nine Dragons or an Italy festival booth, I’ll think of him.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 9:56 am
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    The red arrows were brilliant

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  • March 26, 2022 at 10:32 am
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    He was just so hilarious, smart, honest and informative all at once. What a life, and what a loss for our Disney nut community. Thank you for this fantastic tribute, Derek, and I’m sorry for your personal loss.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 10:55 am
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    Thank you for this. It helps with the hurt.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 11:07 am
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    Great tribute. Josh certainly made a huge impact on this space and will be missed.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 11:09 am
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    What a beautiful tribute. I was one of Josh’s faithful readers since about 2012 and I miss him terribly. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Such a tremendous loss.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 11:35 am
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    Thank you so much to everyone that took the time to contribute to this. My heart still hurts everytime I think of his loss and my heart has been hurting a lot lately. This is just what is needed to help us get through this tremendous loss. My condolences to his family and friends.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 12:06 pm
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    Beautiful, thoughtful tribute. Made me smile and laugh and think, just like Josh’s articles. Be kind to each other out there folks.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 12:43 pm
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    This is so perfect even if it means you made me bawl through the entire read.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 1:10 pm
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    “If I disappeared tomorrow, the Disney blogosphere would take a hit, the quality of the information available would likely worsen, people would be disappointed for a moment or two, and then simply move on.” This couldn’t be more untrue. Every trip I take to WDW and every festival I attend, I will lament his loss. While some of his advice will become dated, we can all take comfort in knowing his Italy both reviews will perpetually be accurate.

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    • April 5, 2022 at 11:00 pm
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      When I think Easywdw and Josh I think of the Italy reviews. They were always hilarious and on-point.

      Can someone explain the premade la cava margarita reference to me?

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      • April 6, 2022 at 6:34 am
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        I actually had some La Cava jug pictures in the article but ended up cutting them out, but essentially Josh – through his articles and on his social media (such as THIS POST) pointed out that La Cava was selling margaritas that were premade and stored in jugs. Several people disagreed with him, so he would post photos of the jugs in question (which you can see in the post I linked to previously along with being referenced in both the easyWDW backpack I drew and SonderQuest’s masterpiece.)
        For those that don’t know the “$21 asparagus” reference that is also included in SonderQuest’s drawing, before the BOATHOUSE opened at Disney Springs, a menu was released and there was a typo for the side of asparagus that listed its menu price of $21. Josh went all in on this and brought it up for years, including making a photo of it his main image on his Twitter account.

  • March 26, 2022 at 3:01 pm
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    Thank you for this touring plans! It is fantastic tribute to a man who had such an impact on so many…and coming from a “frenemy”. It highlights how well respected Josh was and how much class this site has!

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  • March 26, 2022 at 3:14 pm
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    My family talked about Josh so much when planning our vacations, an outsider would have assumed he was coming on the trip too. I’ll always think of him when I’m frustrated at the parks (“time to throw $1000 on the ground and leave three days early”), or in a crowd (“count the smiles”), or experiencing the magic of being the only family in a part of the park (“feels crowded”). What a loss for all of us. Thinking of his family and friends. What a life.

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    • March 30, 2022 at 10:51 pm
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      The phrase “count the smiles” is perhaps one of the most perfect and insightful comments about theme park going I’ve ever known. I think of it every single time I visit a Disney Park. I even use it as a reminder for myself on the occasions I’m frustrated or cranky at a park to remember that these are places that are supposed to be fun and to not put too much pressure on myself to have a “perfect day”.

      Reply
  • March 26, 2022 at 4:00 pm
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    Very nice compilation. Josh meant enough to our family that we dressed as him for that Halloween party. Honored that it was included in this tribute. Rest in peace, Josh and thank you.

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    • March 27, 2022 at 7:35 pm
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      Loved that! Well done, sir!

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    • March 28, 2022 at 8:16 am
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      Most clever costume award goes to…

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  • March 26, 2022 at 6:33 pm
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    Thank you for this. I followed Josh for years. He was a brilliantly funny writer. To all of his family, friends and colleagues, I am so sorry.

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  • March 26, 2022 at 9:01 pm
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    Our family will miss Josh’s wit and honesty. We would not eat at restaurant without seeking out a review from Josh. Too many bloggers reviews ensure they continue their invitations to preview events. If we are going to spend 100s or even $1,000s with the more for less trend, Josh’s reviews ensured we did not have a disappointing meal. Who thought our best meals and times would be the Eisner years. As our kids grew and our family with it. A trip to mouse exceeds a deluxe European holiday.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 7:33 am
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    What a great tribute. I never took a bite of anything at an Epcot festival without getting Josh’s input first. He will be missed.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 9:28 am
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    People I never met in person, yet I cried when they passed away: Mr. Rogers, Carrie Fisher, and Josh.
    When my kids look back on their childhood, our family vacations are always some of the best memories, and Josh touched so many of those memories. Not to mention that Disney planning was a big hobby of mine for a while, in part because Josh made it so fun.
    Thank you for a beautiful tribute to our friend Josh, who will be greatly missed. Best wishes to you as you carry the torch.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 9:36 am
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    What a lovely tribute. Your affection and respect for Josh shines through, not just in the stories you recount but in the evident care you all took putting this together. Thank you.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 10:30 am
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    Amazing article for one of the best. I’mm glad I got to tell him how big of a fan I was the few times I saw him when I did the DCP.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 10:51 am
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    Thank you for your wonderful tribute to our son. Having these remembrances from people close to him and the comments of what he and his work meant to others is helping our family deal with this tremendous loss.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 10:59 am
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    Thank you for this really beautiful tribute. It is a lovely way to honor Josh and as only a longtime fan, not a friend, I am so saddened by his death and cannot fathom how the author and guest writers feel. Thank you for being so generous and sharing your stories through your grief. Josh was truly unmatched in the Disney blog space which is why we loved him and so many other fans as well. Reading this tribute demonstrates how unmatched he was a person and friend. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thank you again for this – well done.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 11:01 am
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    Thank you for posting this beautiful tribute to Josh. He will be missed more than he ever could have imagined.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 11:17 am
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    Thank for this. We loved Josh and would always look for him on our trips. Josh was amazing and this tribute was well done.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 1:48 pm
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    My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Len, the TP Team, the Disney community at large, and to Josh’s family and friends on this profound loss.

    Josh made a difference in many lives and had the respect and admiration of his peers.

    Which is one of the greatest things one can say about someone if one really thinks about it.

    A deep bow.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 2:07 pm
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    An outstanding tribute for one of the best Disney writers. Josh’s unique voice, perspective and analysis will be missed.

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  • March 27, 2022 at 5:53 pm
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    As someone who knew Josh only through his writing, I was unprepared for how deeply I would grieve his passing. This feels so terribly unfair to him and to everyone who loved him. Sending heartfelt love and support to his family and friends, for whom the loss must be just immeasurable. I think so many of us wish there were something more concrete we could do to help. Thank you for this lovely tribute to his work and his character. It helps to hear that he was in life who he seemed to be in his writing – inimitable, irreplaceable, and resolutely himself.

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  • March 28, 2022 at 12:53 am
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    This was such a wonderful tribute. Thank you.

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  • March 28, 2022 at 2:46 pm
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    This is just beautiful. Many angles and stories and memories. I first met Josh in the beginning in 2013 for a dessert party review. He offered to join us early to hang out and ride a few rides first which was of course icing on the cake. We had a few more meet-ups over the years and I feel like his blog/writing style just took off after that. It was unique, yet oh so very appreciated. Nothing else like it and there never will be again. Cheers, Josh. You are missed terribly.

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  • March 28, 2022 at 4:07 pm
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    Thank you for a beautiful tribute. I had always used both Touring Plans and EasyWDW crowd calendars and touring plans to map out my family’s vacations. The combination made me feel like I always had the jump on everyone else at the parks. Josh’s ability to simultaneously entertain and inform is irreplaceable, but I think the inspiration of his example will live on. My deepest condolences to Josh’s family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.

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  • March 29, 2022 at 9:53 am
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    There’s no writer out there capable of a Josh-level tribute to Josh, but this came close.

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  • March 30, 2022 at 10:42 am
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    Like @Christine Never met Josh but visited regularly. Our kids often refer to him as “Dad’s mate, Josh” and if something went wrong in the park “What would Josh do, Dad?” I shed a tear when I heard of his passing and reading this wonderful piece. RIP Josh. Legend.

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  • March 31, 2022 at 3:58 pm
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    Thank you for the great tribute! Please be sure his family sees it.

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  • April 5, 2022 at 5:22 pm
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    Thank you for posting this tribute. I am still heartbroken over this news.

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  • May 7, 2022 at 4:59 pm
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    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. What a perfect tribute to an amazing blogger. His blog was my favorite of all time. His last couple of posts and tweets broke my heart. He is missed by so many.

    Reply

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