WDW Magazine Team Reflects on First 100 Issues

by | Dec 2, 2021 | Walt Disney World News, WDW Blog

We have reached an important milestone: the 100th issue of WDW Magazine! Join us as the WDW Magazine team reflects on memorable moments, favorite issues, and more during their time here at the magazine.

Our January 2022 issue of WDW Magazine is a special one for two reasons: 1) we’ll be celebrating WDW’s 50th anniversary in full form and 2) it’s our 100th issue! This is a major milestone for any magazine, and we’re excited to celebrate with you.

Not a subscriber to our magazine? Now is the perfect time to join our growing community of Disney-obsessed readers! When you sign up for an annual print subscription this month only, you’ll get a FREE copy of our 2022 Disney World wall calendar (a $24.99 value), plus your first issue will be our special edition 100th Issue Celebration. (Just use code BESTYEAR while supplies last.)

Special stories in our 100th Issue include an exclusive interview with one of the designers on the Cinderella Castle 25th anniversary birthday cake (with stunning preliminary sketches for various castle overlay designs), a look back at the Polynesian on opening day, and conversations with Imagineers about what it was like to open Walt Disney World. This is one issue you don’t want to miss!

january 2022 wdw magazine 100th issue

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In preparation for our own 100th Issue Celebration, I spoke with several members of the team to hear about their time at WDW Magazine and what it meant to them. Here is what they had to say.

Stephanie Shuster, Co-Owner and CEO

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Our dedicated CEO loves many things, but coffee and Disney World are two of her favorites. Photo by Stephanie Shuster

What was the first issue you worked on?

I actually joined the team before our first issue, back in August 2013! I was hired to write one to two pieces per month starting with Issue 1 (that was in October 2013 and featured my article on the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival, one of many to come).

How has your role evolved over time?

By the time we hit Issue 4 in January 2014, I was brought on to lay out the magazine, in addition to writing for it. We were digital only in those days and had a lot less content with simpler layouts.

I kept designing the magazine until my husband and our Creative Director, Danny, took over a few years later. By the summer of 2014, I was also the blog editor, writing several blogs per week and handling assignments and submissions for other blog writers. At that point, I started to give ideas for the topics and assignments in the magazine too.

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What you DON’T see in the photos we take. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shuster

I was still working a day job at a marketing agency at that time, so it was a lot to handle, and in August 2015, I took a leap of faith and quit my job to work full-time for the magazine. It was only two of us on the full-time team then and Issue 23 came out that month, along with a live bonus issue we published while we were attending the D23 Expo in Anaheim that month (what a way to start a new job!).

My title then was Director of Operations and Editor in Chief, but my role evolved over the next few years depending on what we needed: social content creation, marketing, proofreading, working with advertisers and affiliates, creating newsletters, and eventually taking over financial and business management tasks.

In January 2021 as we launched Issue 88, Danny and I bought the magazine, and I elevated to the position of CEO, overseeing not only WDW Magazine, but all of our brands and products.

Stephanie and Danny Shuster

Stephanie and Danny Shuster as they announce they are the new owners of WDW Magazine. Photo courtesy of the Shusters

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

Being 100 issues in, that’s a really hard question! I’m a fan of all things princessy, so our Once Upon a Time (Issue 95) is a recent favorite, and I always look forward to our annual Christmas issue. I don’t know if I have a favorite article I have written, but I really like working on the travelogue-inspired pieces comparing World Showcase Pavilions to their real-life counterparts (see a recent example in our World Showcase Issue), and a WDW vs. Disneyland series I did years ago for our digital issues.

Stephanie hard at work during a leadership planning meeting. Photo by Stephanie Shuster

In Issue 81, I wrote “A Perfect Pixar Day at WDW” in which I documented trying to do/see/eat everything Pixar in one day, which was quite fun. And in Issue 96 (a collectible Halloween issue every fan of the scary season should have!), I researched a piece on the “Scariest. Ride. EVER?” which allowed me to combine my fandom of the global Disney parks in one piece.

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

There are so many, from team parties at Splitsville to incredible media events. But this one really sticks out for me: representing the company at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening media event (which was my first solo trip too). I got to see inside of Rise of the Resistance before it opened.

Standing in the Star Destroyer looking out at the eerily lifelike Stormtroopers while Imperial Officers flanked us an an Imagineer spoke to our group about the attraction is something I’ll never forget.

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Stephanie in her Resistance outfit. Photo by Stephanie Shuster

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

It’s honestly a dream come true and not one I even thought was possible. Growing up in the ’90s, we didn’t have blogs or social media so I didn’t know there was a big Disney fan community who felt as passionately as I did about the Disney Parks—not just being there but the planning, the history, the details.

I worked on my middle school, high school, and university newspapers and loved the work but didn’t think about starting or working for a niche publication. Now, heading up a company where we all love Disney so much, and we’re making products and content for people who are massive fans just like us, is a true joy.

And our team has such an amazing attitude and charisma. They work incredibly hard, bring big beautiful ideas to the table, and inspire each other to do their best work every day. Who wouldn’t want to work somewhere like that?

Danny Shuster, Co-Owner and Creative Director

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You can always spot Danny quite easily; he’s the guy with the coolest shirts. Photo courtesy of Danny Shuster

What was the first issue you worked on?

Issue 24 (September 2015). I wrote an attraction column about Jungle Cruise (one of my all time favorite WDW rides).

How has your role evolved over time?

I began as a writer, contributing one or two articles a month for the magazine, often a shop or restaurant review with an occasional feature article in the mix. I eventually settled into the monthly restaurant column.

I took on the role of magazine designer beginning with issue Issue 32 (May 2016) in addition to writing the restaurant column. In January 2018, I took a more serious role as lead designer for WDW Magazine and began establishing the look and feel of the print edition and other products as we geared up for the print trial.

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Danny at D23 in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Shusters

In July of 2020 (Issue 82), I left my day job to join the magazine full-time as Creative Director. In January 2021 (Issue 88), I became co-owner of the magazine with my wife and CEO, Stephanie Shuster.

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

Too many to choose from, but I really enjoyed researching (eating), writing, and laying out for the Takumi-Tei restaurant review (Issue 84, September 2020). I had recently traveled to Japan and was—and still am—deeply enamored with the art, culture, and cuisine. The visit to Takumi-Tei felt like I had been magically transported back to Japan.

I have often written about the joys of traveling the world via EPCOT’s World Showcase. I dismiss anyone who brushes off the cultural experiences at EPCOT as superficial. I know the lengths Disney and the host countries go to provide an authentic and meaningful experience in the pavilions, and it is one of my favorite aspects of the whole WDW escape.

In addition to being a tremendous meal, the restaurant is beautifully decorated with original artwork in a variety of mediums that highlight different natural materials (wood, stone, etc.), plus the staff and service were top-notch. I hope my article convinced a few readers to try something outside of their comfort zone.

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WDW Magazine co-owners Danny and Steph pose for the EARidescent Balloons Magic Shot. Photo courtesy of the Shusters

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

In December of 2019, Steph and I had been traveling in China and capped off the experience with a day at Shanghai Disney. We were browsing through a gift shop inside the park when a timid voice asked, “Are you Steph and Danny … from WDW Magazine?”

To say we were shocked is an understatement, but against the odds we had been spotted by a magazine subscriber who was living in China teaching English at the time and had decided to spend the day at Shanghai Disney. We chatted for a few minutes and posed for some selfies before carrying on with our whirlwind day in the park, but the experience has always stuck out to me.

Our readers, fans, and subscribers are truly spread across the globe, but all share a common love for WDW. It is amazing to think of our magazine being a common thread connecting people across such huge physical distances.

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

Working side by side with my wife on something we are both passionate about is the most important thing to me. Beyond that, the opportunity to do creative work and produce a quality product that we are proud of, that the fans enjoy, and that also brings happiness to others is something I really value.

To foster a community that is open, welcoming, and positive and gives people a respite from a world that is too quick to skew cynical and negative makes me happy.

Tatjana Lazar, Communications Director

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Our communications director Tatjana Lazar poses in front of the Purple Wall. Photo courtesy of Tatjana Lazar

What was the first issue you worked on?

Issue 42 (March 2017) was being published when I joined! It was the “Dining at WDW,” issue which is appropriate for this Disney foodie!

How has your role evolved over time?

I first joined just to help with Pinterest, but my role quickly expanded to Marketing Manager after three months.

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

My favorite issue so far is the Day & Night Photo Collection (it’s double sided!). Flipping through those pages bring up so many beautiful memories each time I dive into it.

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Tatjana posing during her last trip to Skipper Canteen. Photo by Matt Lazar

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

My first time having dinner with previous owner Carl Trent and the current owner Steph Shuster (who was Director of Operations back then) in person! We had worked together and seen each other every day on screen for so long; it felt totally surreal to be looking at their actual faces in real life.

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

Working for WDW Magazine has truly been life-changing. Being part of a team of supportive, kind, talented, ambitious, hard-working, and just all-around GOOD people is in itself a dream.

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Tatjana and Steph reunited. Photo courtesy of the Shusters

But to also share a deep passion for Disney magic with my coworkers is the cherry on top! I’ve never before in my life been able to say that I genuinely love my coworkers, but these people are my family, and I cherish them.

Gregg Taylor, Sales Coordinator

gregg taylor sales coordinator

Gregg Taylor has a voice made for podcasts. Maybe that’s why he hosts ours!

What was the first issue you worked on?

I wrote an article on Memory Maker for the Magazine ages ago, in the digital-only days.

How has your role evolved over time?

I produce and narrate the WDW Escape podcast and write about half of the episodes (the ones that are not pulled from the magazine archives). I joined the staff of WDW Magazine full-time last fall, taking on our sales department. I have also written for the magazine and now the blog.

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

My favorite issue is always the next one!

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

My most memorable moments are the times I have been able to connect with our fabulous readers, especially when we have been able to help them feel connected to the place they love during the pandemic.

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

When you have a chance to make your joy your job, you have to jump at that! I get to spend every day working with a team that shares my love for Walt Disney World, and we help new fans to experience it with us. What could be better?

Rain Blanken, Editorial Director

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Rain Blanken ready for all the tricks and treats that Magic Kingdom can offer. Photo by Todd Turner

What was the first issue you worked on?

Issue 69 (June 2019).

How has your role evolved over time?

Tale as old as time: Freelancer turns regular writer, turns editor, turns managing editor, then evolved into my final form, editorial director.

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

Time Capsule (Issue 90). I love anything Disneyana, vintage memorabilia, and old-timey fonts.

I have trouble remembering what I’ve written after it’s off to the publishers, but one article I remember was Adulting at Disney at Typhoon Lagoon. I got to tell the tale of how the wave pool ripped the swim shirt right off my son, and research involved eating ice cream out of a bucket.

RAIN BLANKEN

Rain living the dream. Photo courtesy of Rain Blanken

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

After staring into space trying to answer this one, I can’t come up with a singular moment. It’s the many little ones that make me smile.

One time in Slack, Steph typed “No porb” instead of “No prob.” The conversation devolved into agreeing that the correct term is “No porg.” When my daughter, a freelance writer, was injured in an accident, Steph and Danny offered her extra writing work. In Zoom calls, Tatjana, Gregg, and I crack each other up over absolutely nothing (often just a look). Tim’s dog, Blooper, brings squeaky toys to all our meetings, and I love to watch Tim cringe about it. Kurdt has taken me on more than a few hour-long meeting detours to explain the nuances of Pixar music. Our freelance news writers, Kyle Johnson and Cat Hiles, fill our daily chat with puns.

It’s an onslaught of memorable moments and people, and my brain makes delicious EARidescent glitter mashed potatoes out of them all.

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Rain’s first time meeting many members of the team in person. Photo courtesy of the Shusters

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

The integrity of the work. My career in editorial and marketing leadership was a constant struggle between CEOs and keeping writers happy and engaged. The big wigs in charge often wanted flimsy content to make a quick buck—a mindset that kills creativity and leads to burnout. At WDW Magazine, we work closely with Disney Parks to deliver only credible information to our readers without sensationalism or manipulation. We don’t report on rumors, we magnify diverse voices, and we write content we’d want to read.

At WDW Magazine, our writers can do the thing they pictured when they decided on an editorial career—a creative dream job writing about magic. Here, Steph and Danny are the big wigs, and I’m only disappointed that they do not actually wear wigs. I have some ideas on cut and length, guys, hear me out.

Jessica Huff, Customer Care Supervisor

Jessica Huff

Jessica Huff delivers pixie dust to all our customers. Photo courtesy of Jessica Huff

What was the first issue you worked on?

I joined the team as a paid moderator on Star Wars Day, 2020. That’s the month we mailed out Issue 80 (Magic at Any Age).

How has your role evolved over time?

I started as a fan! I eventually volunteered to be a moderator, became a paid moderator, and became a customer service rep before being promoted to Customer Care Supervisor.

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

The Haunted Mansion attraction special from this year!

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

Mine is not a specific moment, more of a joy I get to experience routinely, I get to spread extra “pixie dust” on unexpecting customers.

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

There are so many reasons. How do I pick just a few?? I am grateful to work for a company where everyone is respected and valued, a place that provides an upbeat and positive atmosphere for our team and customers. I love that we get to surround ourselves with news, happenings, beautiful stories, and amazing pictures from our “happy place,” and we get to share that with our customers.

Timothy Moore, Managing Editor

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Managing editor Tim Moore in the wild. Photo courtesy of Timothy Moore

Yes, I interviewed myself …

What was the first issue you worked on?

When I joined as a freelance copyeditor in July 2020, the issue that delivered to my mailbox was Issue 82 (Red, White, & Blue). But because it’s a magazine, the work I did in July didn’t reach my doorstep until a couple issues later: Issue 84 (Expedition Everest).

I’d worked as an editor and writer (both full-time and freelance) for a decade previous, but this was my first time seeing my name printed in a magazine (and a global one at that). It was a feeling that you can typically only get from Mickey Bars and Mexico Pavilion margs and a short line at Tower of Terror. Pure magic.

How has your role evolved over time?

When Rain, my former boss in another life, snatched me up as a freelance copyeditor, she was already working me to see if she could get me full-time. I had a career I loved leading a content production team of editors and designers at a global consulting firm. But from my freelance role with the magazine (maybe 15-20 hours of collaboration a month), I could see how magical this place was and knew I would be fulfilled if I could be a part of it.

Exactly a year later, I joined as the full-time managing editor, reunited with Rain once again and ready to create magic with all my new coworkers.

tim-and-rain-epcot

Rain and Tim reunited at EPCOT after a couple years of not seeing each other in person. Photo by Todd Turner

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

I keep Issue 91 (Celebrate Nature) out on the coffee table all the time because I love the cover photo of Kevin so much. It makes me smile every time I see it. But I’m also partial to an issue created before my time (Issue 89, World Showcase) because EPCOT is my home at home.

That said, this month’s Christmas issue is amazing (and I quite love the feature Rain did on Hollywood Studios’ Christmas decorations, plus my own on the Halloween-to-Christmas transition). It’s too late to get this issue in print with a subscription, but if you subscribe now, you can still access it digitally.

Finally, I’m super pumped about some of the issues coming out in 2022. We’re doing a whole issue on Imagineering that will be mind-blowing, plus our “Wild Wild West” issue sheds a light on some of the less talked about parts of Walt Disney World. And in October 2022, get ready for our EPCOT issue in honor of the 40th anniversary. Ask me this question again in a year, and that’ll probably be my favorite.

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

Earlier this summer, Rain and I (who used to see each other every day and live in the same town but now live 1,000+ miles apart) met up at Disney World for a research trip. It was four wonderful days with one of my favorite people.

tim and rain at disney world

Rain’s husband caught this candid moment of two friends, reunited at the Most Magical Place on Earth, working for the world’s most magical magazine. Photo by Todd Turner

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

I’ve used my knack for content creation in a wide array of fields. While it’s always been amazing to use a passion (writing) to get paid (I like money), something was always missing. The feeling of doing something worthwhile each and every day. Knowing that this team works hard to bring joy to our readers is so fulfilling.

Yes, we’re a business. We run ads, we have marketing strategies, we’re on LinkedIn. But if we forget about business aspect for just a minute, our sole purpose is to bring magic into people’s lives every month. And I love every second of it.

Brydie Huffman, Operations Manager

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Operations manager Brydie Huffman flying her Disney flag. Photo courtesy of Brydie Huffman

What was the first issue you worked on?

Having been a recent addition to the team in November of 2021, the 100th issue will be my first. I was fortunate to see the hard work and magical planning it takes to roll out a finished edition.

How has your role evolved over time?

My role is newly created, so I have the opportunity to craft out ways I can support the growing team as WDW expands to feature Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland content in the future. I’ve been converted from an external fan of beautiful print layouts to a staff member learning how to fly that Disney fan flag!

What’s your favorite issue or article to date?

The Magic Kingdom Day & Night Photo Collection! This issue really hooked me as a WDW fan with the beauty of capturing the parks at any time of the day. It also showed me how hard the WDW Magazine team works in delivering top-quality content to their readers.

What’s your most memorable moment at the magazine?

Learning that I’ll need to escape Canadian winters to do some on-site research at Disney Parks is a pretty exciting concept. Just as Olaf said, “some people are worth melting for.”

Why do you love working for WDW Magazine?

I jumped from an entirely different industry to join the team, and it’s made me realize you can truly combine your passions and career into one focus. I went from the world of military museums to WDW, and the team has shown all the pixie dust love to welcome me as we build to share the magic of Disney’s past, present, and future.

The 100th Issue of WDW Magazine … And Beyond

Thank you for coming on this journey with us to the 100th issue of WDW Magazine, and join us on our next journey as we prep Issues 101-200! Start your subscription today to be a part of the fun.

Posts by Timothy Moore

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Timothy Moore is the editorial director of WDW Magazine, DLR Magazine, and DCL Magazine. He has 15 years of experience in storytelling across roles in content marketing, market research, SEO, and journalism. In addition to running an award-winning Disney magazine, Timothy writes travel and finance content for sites like Business Insider, USA Today, and Forbes.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Timothy Moore

Timothy Moore is the editorial director of WDW Magazine, DLR Magazine, and DCL Magazine. He has 15 years of experience in storytelling across roles in content marketing, market research, SEO, and journalism. In addition to running an award-winning Disney magazine, Timothy writes travel and finance content for sites like Business Insider, USA Today, and Forbes.
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