A woman on TikTok recalled her mother’s unique alternative to after-school programs during her youth.
Liv Vasquez, a chef with over 57,000 followers 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. It seems like a strange choice, but she gave a simple explanation for it.
Her mother realized an annual pass for Universal Studios was cheaper than an after-school program.
Vasquez said 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.’”
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’ mother’s claim may still be true.
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.
According to Vocational Training HQ, many public schools offer after-school programs for anywhere between $100 and $500 per month. Therefore, parents spend between $1000 and $5000 on after-school programs during a 10-month school year.
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.
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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.
“They need to make sure they are not strapping families by what they charge,” Rinehart said.
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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.