2nd Jan 2012

US Dollar Cash Cards

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2012 – what I am calling the year of the Mouse… even if it is really the year of the Dragon… Sorry for the lack of posts recently but I have been a little busy but my new year’s resolution is for much more blogging so hopefully this will be the start of the new me.

Over the festive period I have started to think about some of the practicalities of going away for a year – After going away with the family over new year I have realised I need a new suitcase for one thing, more on that in a later post and I also realised I am going to need a way to use my UK savings without having to take over a suitcase full of cash!

When you are working as part of one of the programs you get paid on to a payroll card which is basically a prepaid visa card which you can use anywhere they accept Visa, which in the states is pretty much anywhere – even taxis take card. The only minor problem with it is that you only get one free cash withdrawal per week – I am not much of a cash guy so it is not too much of a problem but some people don’t like it very much. The big problem is spending savings in my UK account – my bank, who shall remain nameless, charge £1 per transaction and give a terrible exchange rate if you pay for something in dollars so that is not ideal. In 2009 I took a travel money card from Lloyds TSB and it worked really well, again it did not have free cash withdrawals but I could manage just paying by card when I needed to. Unfortunately they have stopped doing the card so I have had to look around again.

It would seem there are 3 main contenders – shown in the table below. I am going for FairFX since they give the best exchange rates but they do charge for ATMs – I have included the others in case any of my readers are interested and want to be able to get free ATM withdrawals. Bear in mind that the rates are not as good though.

[price_table id=1700]

That is one thing ticked of the list at least. I am off to look for luggage in the sales at some point later this week, I will blog when I have found something.

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27th Oct 2011

The Disney International Programs Reading List

Pile of Books

I discovered today that I passed my Master’s degree, which is very exciting. I have spent the last year reading a tonne of books on really not very exciting topics and frequently had a reading list to plough through so I thought it would be a nice idea to put together a Disney International Programs reading list with books that are a lot more interesting!

I have divided it into sections with links to Amazon if you are interested in checking them out yourself. Some of the books are only available in electronic Kindle format which can be read on Amazon’s Kindle reader (which I own and love) or on any of their free apps for Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android etc.

Books on the US College Program

  • Mousecatraz – a book on one person’s experiences in the US college program, they did get terminated so take their opinions with a pinch of salt! (An updated version appears to now be available on Amazon, I have not read that one but it is worth looking at)

Books on the International Programs

As far as I can tell, there are no books written by Disney CRP or Disney ICP participants – maybe I will write one when I get back…

  • Mousetrapped: A Year a Bit in Orlando, Florida – written by an Irish girl who went to work at one of the Epcot resorts as part of the Yummy Jobs hospitality program, technically she did not work directly for Disney and did not take part in the International Programs but it is still an interesting read to compare her experiences with the services provided to participants in Disney housing

Books on being a Cast Member

  • Stories from a Theme Park Insider – written by Robert Niles of the Theme Park Insider website. A fantastically written book on his experiences of a student Job at WDW. He worked on the Tom Sawyer Island (TSI) rafts which is part of the same area as Thunder Mountain so there is a great deal of this that I can personally relate to. I would say a must-read for all cast members.
  • In Service to the Mouse: My Unexpected Journey to Becoming Disneyland’s First President – written by former president of Disneyland Jack Lindquist, this is his personal memories of his journey from a new employee at Disneyland through to his days running the west coast resort. It is a brilliant book which shows much of the inner workings of the Disney company and emphasises just what a great opportunity participation in the programs is.
  • Theme Park Design: Behind the Scenes with an Engineer – a slightly odd one here, this is written by Steve Alcorn of Alcorn-McBride who are an engineering firm who design automation systems for theme parks. This book tells the story of how to design a theme park attraction but also contains fantastic anecdotes of his time working for Walt Disney Imagineering on the American Pavilion at Epcot. I would not recommend this as the first book you read but it is worth checking out if you have an interest in the design side of a theme parks career.

Books on Disney Parks

  • Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World – a WDW history lesson, pure and simple. A really interesting book which includes a lot of the details about the setting up of the Reedy Creek Improvement District which is the local government for the Walt Disney World resort area and means that Disney can effectively make laws covering its own operations.
  • Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service – The Disney Company’s guide to good customer service. A great, short book which explains the Disney theory of customer service and why it is so effective. I think all Cast Members should have to read this as required reading.
This is far from a complete list, these are simple the books I have personally read in the last couple of years. A quick search on Amazon for ‘Disney Parks’ or ‘Disney Cast Member’ will come up with quite a few more options. I hope you find this list useful, most of the books are pretty cheap and definitely worth a read if you are considering or taking part in one of the Disney programs. More updates on my own program to come as they happen, next steps will probably be sorting out Visa paperwork and getting into the nitty-gritty of what I want to take with me – stay tuned!
 PLEASE NOTE: Many of the opinions expressed in some of these books are not positive about the college or international program experience. These are the opinions of the book authors and I do not necessarily agree with them. They are included here in the interests of completeness.

Image: Exsodus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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