Separate Vacations: Wealthy Parents Are Paying Perfect Strangers Thousands to Take Their Kids to Disney World

A large crowd of people walking along a pathway in a park reminiscent of Disney World. Many, including families and couples, are dressed in casual summer clothing like shorts and tank tops. With some pushing strollers, the scene feels vibrant, almost akin to having theme park nannies watching over cheerful visitors.
Credit: Flickr/Inside the Magic

The Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida is one of the most popular family vacation destinations on earth. Of the nearly 50 million people who visit the four theme parks every year, 83% are families with children under the age of 18.

So it largely goes without saying that if you’re planning a trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth–and you can’t stand kids–you’re going to want to rethink your summer vacation plans. Immediately.

Related: The Lines at Disney World Are Insane, and It’s All Your Fault

A bustling theme park with many visitors walking along a wide path. Colorful attractions, including futuristic structures and rides, are in the background, and people of all ages, including families, are enjoying their day in bright, sunny weather.

Credit: Christian Lambert/Unsplash

The truth is that the four theme parks at Disney World can get very crowded, especially during the holiday seasons and over the summer months when school is out. If you don’t have children–or don’t like children–those crowds can quickly become too much to handle when you consider that a majority of the individuals making up those crowds fall into that “under the age of 18” category previously mentioned.

But while childless guests can decide to scrap their Disney World plans and try instead to book during a less crowded time of the year, parents are often limited in their options when it comes to scheduling a family vacation, especially if their home states enforce strict statutes regarding school attendance. For them, the options are narrowed down to two main seasons: summer and the Christmas holiday break from school.

Related: Family Fined For Taking Kids Out of School For Disney World Trip

A large crowd of people walking along a pathway in a park reminiscent of Disney World. Many, including families and couples, are dressed in casual summer clothing like shorts and tank tops. With some pushing strollers, the scene feels vibrant, almost akin to having theme park nannies watching over cheerful visitors.

Credit: Flickr/Inside the Magic

Kids in Tow at Disney World Can Be a Tough Gig

Full disclosure: corraling your own kids at Disney World can be a chore on a good day and a feat of mammoth proportions on those not-so-good days when the little ones are tired from missing naps and out of sync with reality because their schedules have seemingly flown the proverbial coop.

And for families with multiple children, the order grows even taller because though the children may seem to multiply, the “hands on deck” do not, and, speaking from experience, once you have three little ones in tow, you’re already wildly outnumbered–especially in a magical place that serves a daily buffet of sensory overload to littles who are already pushed to their tiny limits, thus pushing Mom and Dad to their limits as well.

Four young children are in the foreground, all with expressions of excitement or surprise, mouths wide open. They are set against the backdrop of a whimsical castle with turrets at sunset, evoking a fairytale-like atmosphere reminiscent of Disney World.

Credit: Disney Dining

Now imagine the overstimulation that will begin to mount when not only your kids but everyone else’s kids are screaming, exhausted, fussy, inconsolable, cranky, and lying on the ground in protest of taking a single step further. What part of that vacation is magical?

And what is a family with children to do when they really want to visit the parks?

An Unconventional Solution Arises

If you’ve wondered this yourself, you’re not alone. In fact, at least half a dozen new entities have sprung up recently to answer that very question, and the answer they’ve arrived at is simple: hire a nanny to help navigate Disney’s theme parks during your next visit (and to have an extra set of hands to help with the kids).

A woman and a child, both wearing large 3D glasses, are smiling for a selfie at Disney World. The child is holding a small snack, and they are indoors in what appears to be a futuristic theme park setting with colorful lighting.

A theme park nanny with a child at Disney’s Hollywood Studios/Credit: X/Nannyland LLC

While it might sound unconventional to a lot of people, some parents are opting to hire nannies to accompany them on their family Disney vacations, and it’s a growing trend, especially among higher-income families with young children.

In fact, the demand for such services has increased, prompting the cropping up of several specialty agencies that exist to provide nanny services to families visiting Disney World and Disneyland, as well as to families gearing up for a Disney Cruise.

Theme Park Nannies

Dubbed “theme park nannies,” these professional caregivers are hired to ensure that family Disney vacations remain as stress-free and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.

Not exactly like the practically perfect Mary Poppins, these theme park nannies are specialized caregivers who accompany families to Disney World, offering assistance in looking after the children while parents enjoy the attractions, rides, and shows at their leisure.

These nannies are well-versed in managing the high-energy environment of theme parks, ensuring the kids are entertained, safe, and happy throughout the visit, and the list of services they offer is vast–but varies from agency to agency.

A person wearing Minnie Mouse ears and a red shirt with text about being a nanny pushes a stroller at Disney World. The shirt says, "I'm a Working Nanny! Ask Me How You Can Have a Nanny On Your Disney Vaca!” Other visitors are walking around in the background.

Credit: Nannyland, LLC

The responsibilities of a theme park nanny extend beyond those of a traditional nanny and often include the following:

  • Entertainment and Engagement: Keeping children entertained with activities and games while waiting in lines or during quieter moments.
  • Safety: Ensuring the children’s safety at all times, particularly in crowded areas and during rides.
  • Logistics: Managing schedules, including ride times, showtimes, and meal breaks, to maintain a smooth and enjoyable experience.
  • Health and Comfort: Attending to the children’s needs, such as applying sunscreen, ensuring hydration, handling bathroom breaks, and addressing any discomforts.
  • Communication: Keeping parents informed about the day’s progress and any potential issues that arise.
  • Photography: Capturing magical moments with photos so parents can relax and enjoy the day without worrying about documenting every memory.
cinderella castle save money walt disney world

Credit: Becky Burkett

And while all of this may sound like a little piece of Heaven for weary traveling parents, it’s important to note that these kinds of services don’t come cheap–not by a long shot.

Convenience Like This Comes With a Hefty Price Tag

The payment for theme park nannies varies depending on their experience, the duration of the trip, and the specific requirements of the job. On average, parents can expect to pay $25 per hour and higher–and usually with a minimum of three hours per booking. Some higher-end services charge premium rates, with nannies earning as much as $100 per hour for their expertise and dedication.

Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach Water Park/Credit: Disney Parks

Some theme park nanny agencies charge an extra fee if parents want nannies to swim or go to Disney’s water parks with the kids. Other agencies employ special nannies dedicated to showing up at the crack of dawn to your Disney World Resort hotel room to take the kids off your hands so you can get a few extra hours of rest.

Yes, parents have the freedom to choose from a myriad of available nannying services–and every single one of them only adds to the total price per booking.

spaceship earth

Credit: Becky Burkett

But the costs don’t stop there, as nannies may receive tips and bonuses for delivering exceptional service. But considering the demanding nature of the job, these rates reflect the value and peace of mind they provide to families. Tips paid to a nanny for services rendered during your Disney vacation are not only at your discretion, but they’re also your responsibility. Agencies are not responsible for such payments.

Growing Demand: Why Are Families Opting For Theme Park Nannies?

The trend of hiring theme park nannies has significantly increased in recent years. According to industry reports, several factors contribute to this growing demand:

  • Busy Parents: With many parents juggling demanding careers, the ability to enjoy a stress-free vacation is highly appealing. Theme park nannies allow parents to relax and recharge while ensuring their children have a memorable experience.
  • Special Occasions: Families visiting Disney World for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or reunions often prefer to have a nanny manage the children, enabling the adults to participate fully in celebrations.
  • Large Families: Families with multiple children find it especially beneficial to have extra hands to manage different age groups and interests.
  • International Visitors: For families traveling from abroad, having a nanny familiar with the park and fluent in multiple languages can be invaluable.
cinderella castle

Credit: Becky Burkett/Canva

Several agencies and independent caregivers report a steady increase in inquiries and bookings for theme park nannies. Some larger agencies manage dozens of bookings per month, indicating that this service is becoming a staple for many Disney-bound families.

What Else Do Parents Gain From Hiring a Theme Park Nanny?

For many families, the decision to hire a theme park nanny comes down to maximizing the enjoyment and minimizing the stress of their Disney World vacation, and the fact that the nannies are professional caregivers can give parents an added measure of peace of mind. But there are other perks that come from hiring a nanny to accompany you on your next family Disney vacation, including, but not limited to:

  • Expertise: Theme park nannies are often well-acquainted with Disney World’s layout, peak times, and hidden gems, making them excellent guides for an optimized experience.
  • Flexibility: Parents can enjoy some adult time, whether it’s a romantic dinner or a thrilling ride that’s not suitable for young children.
  • Enhanced Experience for Kids: Nannies can focus entirely on the children’s needs and interests, ensuring they get to meet their favorite characters, participate in age-appropriate activities, and avoid long waits for rides.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is dedicated to the children’s welfare allows parents to relax and fully immerse themselves in the magical atmosphere.
disney's hollywood studios

Disney’s Hollywood Studios/Credit: Disney

Other Options

For families who aren’t interested in hiring a nanny during their Disney World trips but would like to have a few kid-free hours during vacation, the planDisney panel has a few suggestions.

The Walt Disney World Resort doesn’t offer childcare or babysitting services, but there are options available to parents who relish the idea of stepping out for dinner at their favorite Disney World restaurant–perhaps dinner that doesn’t come with character meet-and-greets.

One option, depending on the age of the children in the traveling party, is the Children’s Activity Center—Camp Dolphin. At this fun club, located inside the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, kids can enjoy supervised activities, video games, crafts, snacks, movies, and more between 4:oo p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Advanced reservations are required for Camp Dolphin and can be made by contacting Guest Services at the Dolphin Hotel.

A colorful classroom set up for arts and crafts with a blue table surrounded by black chairs. The walls are yellow with various decorations, reminiscent of a theme park, including art projects and framed pictures. There are shelves with supplies, a globe, and a Connect 4 game on a small table.

Camp Dolphin/Credit: Disney

Additional options are also available, per planDisney:

Another option is Kid’s Nite Out. This childcare provider offers in-room sitter options direct to your resort for children ages 6 months to 18 years. Doing their best Mary Poppins impression, a Kids Nite Out team member will appear at your hotel door with their bag full of age-appropriate toys, books and games that will keep your child entertained all evening. Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made up to three months in advance.

Whether parents need an extra set of hands to help keep the kids together, happy, and entertained in the parks or someone to take the reins while they step out for dinner together one evening during their visit, there are options tailor-made to fit those needs.

Animal Kingdom Expansion

Credit: Disney

And though it might seem unconventional to some–the thought of taking a family vacation, only to separate the family during the vacation–the fact is that such services are quickly becoming the new trend among families at Disney World that are comprised of young children.

Maybe it’s not for everyone, but for those looking for these services during their visit, it’s nice to know they’re available, albeit at a hefty price.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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