10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Have we reached the end of app innovation?

With Apple having announced recently that apps have now been downloaded a total of 25 billion times on its App Store, it is clear that mobile phone applications are the current status quo. But is there still anything to innovate?

A recent trawl of the Featured page on Apple's iPhone App store - the place where they highlight innovative apps - revealed a lacklustre selection.

One app allowed you to make photo-slideshows, hardly innovative; another was an official rugby app for the 6 nations; another was a budget and finance manager (hooray another to add to the 200 already in the store); the rest consisted of games.

A key concern of mine is that many apps are simply cookie-cutter apps; developers get web pages and format them nicely for your phone - this isn't innovation. A new Rugby App for example displays scores, the latest news, player biographies - where's the interaction? Where's making use of the features which a phone has over a computer? All this information could have been obtained on a website.

Innovation at the moment seems to be coming in the form of gaming, really utilising all of the iPhone's features. There are however many spin-offs of the exact same game with different backgrounds and characters, such as some avian animals who never seem to be too happy - having made their way everywhere from Rio to Space.

Perhaps everyone is moving to create iPad Apps? Maybe, there's an innovative app that turns your iPad into a synthesiser; another is a musical interactive storybook and another allows you to "compare and explore fractions."

There are some innovations on the tablet front but despite these many of the featured apps were  just bigger versions of the iPhone app re-designed such as the Rugby app or the TED app.

Is this the end of app innovation? I hope not, but only time will tell.

You may also be interested in: The Best iPhone Apps for Londoners.

Image: Apple.

The WDW ICP Costs

In this blog post I wanted to give you an idea of how much it'll cost you to take part in the programme including any optional costs.

Basic Costs:
  • Train travel for 2 interviews - Varies, personally I spent about £60 total.
  • Hotels for 2 interviews - Varies. I spent nothing as I stayed overnight in London at home and it was just a day trip to Manchester.
  • CRB Check - £60
  • Flights - Varies between £480-600 depending where you are flying from and to where and if you upgrade to a better class of travel. The basic cost of my flight was £580 from Virgin Atlantic.
  • Program Assessment Fee - $100 or about £60
  • Visa Appointment  Fee - apparently now $160 - about £105 with today's exchange rates! - plus £14.80 for your passport to be returned.
  • Travel insurance - £50-100.
  • Compulsory Medical insurance - $210 which works out to be £138
  • Spending money to survive on first 2 weeks as you are not paid - $300 minimum recommended.
Total: £1280 assuming travel insurance is £75 and $300 spending money works out at £200.

My Extras:
  • Premium economy upgrade on way back so that I could have 2 suitcases and a more relaxing flight with more leg room. Deserved after weeks of hard work and I've never been on such a long flight - £130.
  • Changed flight to return from LA - £90 change fee with Virgin Atlantic + difference in fare of £103.
  • Hotel the night before in Gatwick due to early flight - £20 (Sharing with a friend)
  • Hotel in New York - about £165 in hostel including taxes for 3 nights
  • Hotel in Los Angeles - about £200 in hotel close to Disneyland including taxes for 6 nights (shared with a friend, splitting the cost)
  • Flight to New York - £90
  • Flight to Los Angeles - £114
  • Annual pass for Universal Orlando - $277 with tax or about £180.
  • Tickets for Disneyland Anaheim and Universal Hollywood (Citypass) - £190 (possibly free if we can get in using cast badges)
  • Spending money to survive on after the program whilst travelling - an extra £500, and hopefully will have SOME savings (however small) from working at Disney for clothes shopping etc.
Total: £1092 extra, excluding Disneyland tickets and spending money.

As you can see I have a lot of added costs mainly because I have never been to America before and therefore will be using the opportunity after to travel. None of them are needed but I thought I'd make the most of the time I am there as it could be many years before I travel back. Also, there's going to be a few like-minded people with me at Disneyland California and at Universal Orlando so I thought I'd get those in too. I've always wanted to do the Universal Hollywood studio tram tour so that's on the list too.

Overall, this is a hugely expensive program and I'm not planning on making any kind of profit from it and having done the math there is no way I'll even be able to break even, but it does include travelling in some of the most expensive cities in the world and I'm sure the entire experience will be worth it all. It's not all about money!

What happened next? Read my March update

February Update: 4 months to go

In exactly 4 months from today I'll be arriving in Florida! Time has flown by and it's incredible to think that it has been 4 months since I was told I'd be working at Disney World and now there's only a few months left.

A few updates: my CRB was sent off and has come back clean - woo hoo! I'm not a criminal. So that's another step ticked off my list.

February is when our Disney information packs are due to come, which from what I understand include an official offer letter, a Disney Look book, and information on completing our Visa.

There's been some talk online about Travel Insurance, which I will be taking out at some point ,but I'm not sure whether to do it through Yummy Jobs or whether I can find a 3rd party that will do it cheaper. I'm going to work there so need some kind of special cover. Medical cover is through Disney and comes out of our wages this year.

So the timeline for things to come is:
- February - get Disney information pack
- March - Book visa appointment towards the end of March
- Mid-April - Visa appointment at US embassy
- May - Get passport back and visa documentation, pay program assessment fee $100
- June - Off we go

I'll be doing a post straight after this one with the costs of the programme so far for reference.

The most exciting update is that I'm now going to be going to LA! After New York, I'll be flying across the country and seeing Hollywood, the Chinese theatre, some nice beaches, Universal Hollywood and the original Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure - including Cars Land and World of Color! I'm very excited!!

Next update: ICP costs