I was almost a Jake.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for a failed hard drive, I might be making Disney YouTube videos instead of building websites for clients.

I was so close to being a Jake.

What is a Jake?

Jake is the standard name used when identifying a middle-aged white male, covering Disney topics on YouTube.

Jake on Black Background
Credit: Bright Sun Films

I hear you asking the obvious questions. 

Why Jake?

Let’s talk about Disney YouTubers.

Disney YouTubers

YouTube is a popular place for the Disney community. There are hundreds of YouTubers covering Disney Theme Parks, films, history, 

Merchandise, television shows, and everything from the Mouse House. Did I say Hundreds, I meant thousands.

For those who think YouTube is still the home of short viral videos, not quite. YouTube has been creeping up in popularity for years. The event of Roku TVs and Apple Televisions make it just as easy to stream your favorite YouTube series as it is a new Netflix series.

Mobile phones and apps make it even easier to create and edit videos. Uploading to YouTube takes very little effort or skill. Millions of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. 

For this reason, YouTube is the go to place for niche content – including the best Disney commentary and coverage.

A general look at some Disney YouTubers….and Bobby Casserole.

Disney History 

Fans of the History Channel from the early 2000s – Listen up! Your people are on YouTube. 

I loved watching old History Channel and TLC docu-series back before they all became reality shows. I loved the Ken Burns style storytelling. Of course, this all disappeared and it’s harder and harder to find – even on streaming services.

You will find these win YouTube. Nerds like me watch (and create) amazing documentaries. Actually, most of the old TV specials are also on YouTube. It’s absolutely the greatest streaming channel for niche documentaries.

Granted, not all are created equal. You will find some someone with an annoying voice or someone stretching the hell out of a photo as an overlay. But every now and then, you find a hidden masterpiece.

Meet Jake.

What is up guys! My name is Jake.

The first Disney Theme Park rabbit hole I fell in was researching River Country.

River Country was an abandoned water park overtaken by nature. 

Back in 2014, I was bitten by the Disney bug and fell in love with Walt Disney World and was fascinated by the history. While doing some trip planning, I ran into some interesting articles. One tackled the topic of abandoned Disney attractions. 

Finally, I landed on a YouTube video by Bright Sun Films.

This was Jake. 

Jake started a series called Abandoned. Over the next few months, I found myself following all of his videos. I subscribed. 

This isn’t the first video, but the better River Country video.

More Jakes 

Watch one Jake and the algorithm will do the rest. Next thing you know, I’m not just watching documentaries, I’m finding Vloggers. 

Who needs original content? I’m watching old TV specials of grand openings and anniversary’s. 

  • Wanna watch old restored home videos? Of someone else’s family? Yes – I sure do.
  • How about point-of-view walk around videos of foreign theme parks? Yep. Give me all of it.
  • Disney news and commentary from random guys on the internet? You know the answer. 

My suggested video feed was filling up with Disney content…well, before Disney+.

Every night I would turn the YouTube app on my Apple TV and watch a new Disney video. My wife would walk in and tolerate. She ended up tolerating an awful lot. Enough to actually remember and repeat the phrase….

What is up guys! My name is Jake.

She would soon walk into the room and ask what I’m watching and before I could answer, she would say Jake. 

Soon, every new video would be Jake with a number. 

Jake 78. Jake 12. Jake 54.

If you were a dude talking about Disney on YouTube, you were a Jake.

Becoming a Jake – Almost

Once I realized that Jakes were all over the internet, I wanted to be a Jake. I could make videos.

For the last 10 years, I spent time making silly videos with friends. I would turn around videos in 24-hours just to amuse my buddies on social media. Imagine if I could make something that people would actually watch (and maybe enjoy)?

One day, I opened a blank Word document and started to write ideas for my Disney Theme Park documentary series. 

At the time, there wasn’t really any parody style documentaries covering Disney topics. I thought it would be fun to take the common docuseries types and make shows.

For example:

I went on Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime watching various documentary shows to see what genre I could adopt a Disney topic to. I had ideas.

Ideas for My Disney YouTube Series

I never had a good name for the channel of series. I toyed with the idea of something like EPCOD – Experimental Prototype Community Of Disney, but as my wife said – “sounds too much like a fish”.

I did want to recreate the famous Walt Disney EPCOT video opening. This is where he stood in front of a giant map of the future Walt Disney World and explain his ideas for the future. It wasn’t months later that Seth Rogan did this for some project. 

Regardless, I had six solid ideas and started writing the actual scripts. 

Unsolved Mysteries featuring Figment and Dreamfinder

The pilot episode would feature my favorite extinct ride and character – The Dreamfinder.

For those who have visited modern Epcot, you might not understand the greatness of the Imagination Pavilion in the 80s. The Dreamfinder was removed and we haven’t really seen him since.

The episode would feature the history of how the attraction was made and soon changed. I absolutely loved the idea that I could use a short video of The Dreamfinder at D23 as an “update”.

MonsterQuest: Expedition Everest Yeti

I loved (loved) MonsterQuest on History Channel. I knew it was all bogus and I would never “see” the creatures, but it was fun to hear about the origins of the famous creatures.

We would be traveling to Anadapour in search of the Yeti. We would interview locals and talk about the famous photos of the yeti from the infamous camp that was attacked. 

There was a ton to unpack about the history of this fictional city and backstory. Maybe we would even see the Yeti.

Anthony Bourdain Monorail Loop

Before I even knew what influencer marketing was, I was thinking about getting Disney YouTubers and Podcasters to participate. 

It would be fun to have a Anthony Bourdain type to travel around the monorail loop and meet fellow Disney foodies and try favorite snacks and restaurants. At the time, Lou Mongello seemed like an obvious choice.

Ken Burn’s Disney’s America 

The story of Disney’s America was quite fascinating to me. Telling it in the style of Ken Burns would be easy and a great idea. Thankfully my idea wasn’t that original and Defunctland made this exact video years later.

Expedition Unknown: River Country 

The topic, in my opinion, that started it all had to be included. The concept or parody was still a bit unknown – but I figured it would be some type of travel to a mysterious land show. I thought Adam the Woo would be a perfect interview or inclusion in this video.


Making a Murderer: Winnie the Pooh

At the time, the series Making a Murderer was released and was a pretty big hit on Netflix. I wanted to send the “season” with a cliffhanger talking about the beloved Mr. Toads Wild Ride attraction. 

We would document about how Winnie the Pooh took over the attraction and review the other Pooh attractions across the country. Did we mention the severed heads of a moose, buck, and bison in Disneyland?

The Crashing

In order to make these episodes a reality, I had to actually research the history and write compelling stories. I listened to hundreds of podcasts, watched countless videos, and read dozens of books. I took notes and references for each episode.

Each episode was 22 minutes – like your traditional half hour tv show. This was about 22 pages for each script.

I finished most episodes. One day, I went to my computer and tried to open my files. 

Double click. Nothing.

Right click, open. Nothing.

The disc drive was making a weird sound. Almost as if it was trying to spin. A click.

For those who’ve been in this situation, you feel my pain. That hard drive crashed. 

Eric Hersey's Crashed External Harddrive

Unless I wanted to pay a few thousand dollars to send it to a sterile facility to manually repair, my work was gone. Sadly, this also contained all of my home videos from 2010 to 2015 and all of my photos. 

I had it my mind that I would just rewrite these episodes but time passed and i found new shiny objects. 

Also, a brilliant YouTube Channel launched and filled that void. Yes – Defunctland did it first. 

A creation from documentarian Kevin Perjerer – Defunctland has become a favorite in the Disney Fan community. He started with short episodes about attractions and moved to epic full length documentaries- including the amazing film talking about fast passes.

Will I Ever Be A Jake?

Eric Hersey may never be a Jake. I feel like I would need more free-time and would have to hustle extremely hard to catch up with the great Disney YouTube Channels that exist. 

If I created documentaries, I would have to be as good as Defunctland or Bright Sun Films. That’s a tall ask for someone working 40+ at his digital agency. 

Vlogs and news should be done by locals – those who can dedicate time to make a few videos per week.

Could I make opinion videos? Possibly. But would it be creative enough for me to keep going. Would I be able to gain an audience to keep the fuel burning?

But then again, maybe I have $1,000 in my rainy day fund. 

It would be nice to get those home videos back.

If I stumbled across a few completed scripts, just maybe….