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Mom Sends Kids To Universal Studios Everyday Because It's Cheaper Than After School Program

Photo: TikTok/V_E/Shutterstock
Mom Sends Kids To Universal Studios Everyday Because It's Cheaper Than After School Program

A woman on TikTok recalled her mother’s unique alternative to after-school programs during her youth. 

Liv Vasquez, a chef who's active on on TikTok, explained her mom's hack for saving money while ensuring her kids were not alone after school. Rather than going to an after-school program like most kids her age, Vasquez and her brother went to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida each day after school.

Her mother realized an annual pass for Universal Studios was cheaper than an after-school program.

Vasquez explaine that as a child, her school bus made a stop “right in front” of the theme park, meaning that she and her brother didn’t even have to worry about transportation.



She added that they visited Universal so much that her brother tried out for one of the park’s shows. 

“So we would just go to Universal Studios every day after school, and my brother applied to be on ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple,’" she said

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The pass Vasquez showed in the video had an expiration date of August 10, 1998. While the exact cost of an annual pass in 1998 is lost to time, an earlier report allows for a ballpark estimate. An Orlando Sentinel article from 1992 reveals that annual passes cost $85 for adults and $67.50 for children in that year.

Vasquez’s mother’s strategy may still be financially sound. 

Today, the cost of a Universal annual pass varies depending on the package purchased. The cheapest option, which includes access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, starts at $325 for Florida residents. Passes for non-Florida residents start at $425. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that the cost of childcare "are untenable for families," with costs accounting for "between 8% and 19.3% of median family income per child."

Other kinds of after-school programs carry an even greater cost. For-profit nurseries and childcare centers cost between $150 and $600 per month. After-school programs at private schools cost even more, between $300 and $800 per month depending on various circumstances. 

Many after-school programs can also charge additional costs. Most programs end around 6 p.m. and often charge late fees if a child is not picked up before the listed end time. Some programs also charge cancellation fees if not given enough notice.

The high cost of after-school programs is an ongoing debate among advocacy groups.

Jennifer Rinehart, senior vice president of strategy and programs for the Afterschool Alliance, made note of a lack of affordable options in Florida in a 2007 Orlando Sentinel article. In fact, the cost of child care has increased 220% in the last three decades alone, leaving parents with few options other than to leave their jobs in order to take care of the kids and threatening children's ability to succeed in life.

While parents living in Orlando, Florida, may have the option to send their kids to Universal, those living elsewhere don't have that luxury. 

“United States is one of two countries in the entire world that doesn’t offer paid family and medical leave. That’s time paid time to care for loved ones when they need us. And that means that people are struggling,”Julie Kashen, senior fellow and director for women’s economic justice at The Century Foundation, told PBS. “This is an all hands on deck problem.”

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Jonathan Alfano is a writer who focuses on news and entertainment topics. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his content.