You Can Earn Money Visiting Theme Parks as a Disney Nanny. Here’s How
Love Disney? This cool side gig lets you turn your passion into profit at the most magical place on Earth.
Disney nannies help vacationing families navigate theme parks and babysit kids while their parents play.
If you love theme parks and have prior child care experience, it’s a fun and unique way to pick up some extra cash.
We’ll break down everything you need to know about this quirky side hustle, including job responsibilities and average pay rates.
There’s a Surprisingly Huge Demand for Disney Nannies
Disney nannies are an increasingly popular niche within child care.
Trained babysitters can accompany families to theme parks to lend a helping hand. Or, if parents need a break, a nanny can come over and provide in-room care at a nearby hotel or resort.
Some nannies will even take your kids to Disney World for you.
It may seem like a strange service. After all, aren’t you supposed to spend time with your family on vacation?
But according to two Disney nanny agencies we spoke to, business is always booming.
“Parents need an extra pair of hands or a night off sometimes,” said Alison FitzGibbon, CEO and Founder of Theme Park Nannies in Orlando, Florida.
FitzGibbon, a mother of three who started her business four years ago, had prior experience screening and training nannies for her own children. After her family visited Disney World (and ultimately moved to Orlando), FitzGibbon said she noticed a gap in the child care market.
“I realized all sorts of people could use a Disney nanny,” FitzGibbon said.
It wasn’t long before requests started pouring in — from grandmothers who need extra help keeping an eye on their grandkids at Animal Kingdom and couples who want to tour the Epcot Food & Wine Festival without little ones in tow.
“We’re a very small company and I space out the bookings, but I still receive about three to four inquiries each day,” said FitzGibbon, whose agency employs between two and seven nannies.
Cyan Nardiello stumbled into her Disney nanny job last year.
A full-time college student at the University of Central Florida, Nardiello began nannying for a local family in 2018 to earn some extra money.
Nardiello, 22, is a lifelong Disney fan and annual pass holder. One day, she got permission from her nanny family to take their daughter to Magic Kingdom as a treat.
Nardiello posted a video of their adventure on Tik-Tok under the username themeparknanny.
“It was the very first video I ever posted on Tik-Tok,” Nardiello said. “It absolutely blew up.”
She’s not exaggerating — the September 2020 video has more than 2.6 million views.
Soon, parents from across the country were flooding Nardiello’s inbox to request her hourly rate.
The UCF student launched Once Upon A Nanny LLC in October 2020 and worked solo the first four months.
But after gaining national media exposure, Nardiello realized she needed to expand fast to keep up with demand.
She now employs eight other women, with ambitious plans to expand to every Disney park around the world.
“We’ve probably nannied and helped 200 kids at this point,” she said.
There are other companies out there, too — Nanny-Land and Sunshine Babysitters also employ people in Central Florida.
Other women have taken up the entrepreneurial spirit, such as Nanny in The Kingdom and Mouse House Nanny, both catering to the Disneyland California market.
It’s not just Disney parks, either. Nannies can accompany families to Universal Studios, SeaWorld and other major attractions.
How to Land a Disney Nanny Job
So what exactly does it take to be a Disney nanny?
FitzGibbon and Nardiello both said this dreamy-sounding gig isn’t for everyone — or even most people. It’s a lot of hard work.
Before you grab your fairy godmother dress and tiara, here’s what you need to know.
1. You Need to Live Near a Theme Park — and Probably Buy an Annual Pass
If you’ve ever planned a family vacation to a theme park, you know tickets are expensive.
Both FitzGibbon and Nardiello already had annual passes to Disney World before starting their businesses — and you’ll probably need a Disney annual pass too if you want to take kids to the parks.
Just keep in mind these passes are expensive — really expensive.
The only annual Disney World pass available to non-Florida residents runs $1,300 for the year. You can spread it out over 12 months, but you’ll still need to make a $205 down payment.
Cheaper annual passes exist for Florida residents, running from $400 to $900 a year — but these options come with blockout dates and other restrictions.
Parents need nannies for other theme parks too, so you could explore annual passes at Universal Studios, which are more affordable at $400 to $600 a year.
However, not every Disney nanny has an annual theme park pass.
Child care professionals without a pass stick to what’s known as “resort work,” where they babysit one or more child at a hotel while their parents enjoy a date night out.
“Not all of our nannies do in-park child care,” FitzGibbon told The Penny Hoarder. “So for those only doing hotels…it is not needed.”
Regardless of your pass-holder status, you must live near a major theme park to make the gig work. Theme Park Nanny requires employees to live 60 miles or less from Orlando parks.
But theme parks operate around the world, so you don’t necessarily need to live in Central Florida to be a Disney nanny.
A virtual agency called Nanny-Land says it caters to families at all Disney locations worldwide.
2. Create Magic Even When It’s 95 Degrees Out
Being a Disney nanny is very physically demanding.
Princess dresses and fairy dust aside, you’ll be walking multiple miles at Walt Disney World during hot Florida summers.
Add in humidity, and The Happiest Place on Earth can feel like a sweltering swamp during the busy season, typically March through early September.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” FitzGibbon said. “It can reach 113 degrees sometimes with the heat index.”
Both FitzGibbon and Nardiello said they mostly look for college-age women to perform Walt Disney World park work.
“I prefer to hire younger people because Disney is very taxing,” Nardiello said. “I need people who can keep up with the kids.”
Older career nannies can still explore this side gig, but FitzGibbon said she personally prefers to assign these caregivers to watch kids at the resorts instead of theme parks.
You’ll also need comfortable walking shoes and plenty of water throughout the day — no matter how old you are.
3. Be Fun, Innovative — and Extremely Responsible
You’ll need a special mix of agility, creativity and most of all diligence to be a Disney nanny.
Watching other people’s children is a huge responsibility and things get hectic at theme parks. Keeping track of toddlers, diaper bags, strollers and everything else is hard enough — add in thousands of tourists spread across 100+ acres and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
FitzGibbon and Nardiello train all their nannies — even ones with prior experience.
As business owners, the onus of keeping kids safe falls on their shoulders, so they take safety seriously.
Neither owner reported having any issues, but constant diligence is always top of mind.
“A kid can get lost or out of your vision so quickly at Disney,” Nardiello explained. “You have to be extra careful.”
Conducting constant headcounts and keeping families on schedule at the parks means you need to be organized and conscientious as well as responsible.
FitzGibbon takes new hires on a full walk-through training day at the park, usually with her own three children in attendance.
She also bought a life-sized baby doll to make sure nannies know how to properly change a diaper and burp an infant.
When it comes to babysitting at resorts, nannies need to come prepared.
“Don’t go there empty-handed,” FitzGibbon advised.
Bring some diapers, snacks, board games, coloring books and age-appropriate toys to keep little ones entertained during your visit.
With Covid-19 safety precautions still in place at most parks and resorts, it’s wise to pack extra face masks and disinfectant wipes, too.
“Families on vacation forget to bring basic things with them sometimes,” FitzGibbon said. “The more prepared you are going in, the better your experience will be.”
4. Have Some Prior Childcare Experience and Recommendations
You’ll need some child care experience on your resume to land a theme park nanny job.
Both FitzGibbon and Nardiello said they look for candidates who love working with kids and have done so in a professional setting.
Experience can include babysitting, working at a church nursery or daycare, lifeguarding, nannying, teaching, completing an early education internship or working as a camp counselor.
Prior work in the hospitality industry — and navigating theme parks — is a nice plus.
Keep in mind some Disney nanny agencies may have stricter requirements than others. For example, you may need at least three years of professional child care work after the age of 18 to get a call back.
If most of your child care experience is babysitting siblings or watching your friend’s kids, an agency may still hire you if your references are good. But be prepared to undergo more extensive hands-on training in that case.
Most agencies (and individual families) are looking for at least two good recommendations from prior employers or families you’ve worked with in the past.
As with any childcare job, you’ll undergo a criminal background and driving record check. You’ll also need to be CPR/First Aid certified.
Finally, theme park nannies must follow theme park mask policies and they’re encouraged to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
5. Understand This Probably Won’t Be a Full-Time Gig
Many theme park nannies do this work on the side while holding down other child care jobs. Others are full-time college students looking to pick up some extra cash.
The pay is OK — but if you work for an agency, you won’t receive the full $25-$35 hourly rate families pay. The agency always takes a cut.
FitzGibbon and Nardiello were reluctant to share the exact pay their nannies receive.
“Our staff is paid a fixed rate that goes along with the current rates in our area,” Nardiello said, adding that each nanny usually works three to seven hours a week on average.
You’ll make at least minimum wage, which is currently $10 an hour in Florida. According to Indeed, the average hourly rate for a childcare professional in Florida was $11.46 in 2021.
Some agencies, like Sunshine Babysitting, offer 24-hour and short-notice child care. Nannies willing to pick up unusual shifts, along with holidays and/or weekends, may boost their take home pay.
Of course, you could always launch your own babysitting service the way FitzGibbon and Nardiello did.
But starting a business involves significant risk — especially in the child care industry.
“It’s a lot to handle — from managing other people to incorporating your business,” Nardiello said. “You need to be honest with yourself, and figure out if the risk is worth the reward.”
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.