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Cyan Nardiello has a magical dream job — and she created it herself.
The Florida-based college student began working as a nanny about two years ago. At the time, she got permission to take one of her clients to Disney World for an afternoon, and their one-time trip later turned into a weekly visit.
Nardiello has since turned her babysitting job into a childcare company called Once Upon a Nanny, which helps local residents and vacationing families find care for their kids at Disney World, Universal Orlando, and other theme-park resorts.
Here’s how Nardiello combined two things she loves — babysitting and theme parks — to become what she describes as a paid “fairy god nanny.”
Cyan Nardiello turned her love for theme parks into a babysitting business
Nardiello, who grew up in New Jersey, began visiting Disney World and Universal Orlando with her family when she was 13. She told Insider that Disney World in particular became her “favorite place ever,” and she knew she wanted to live closer to the destination when she got older.
“When I was applying to colleges, I typed in ‘closest college to Disney’ and the University of Central Florida popped up,” she said. “I never looked at or applied to another school. I love it.”
During her first year at college, she became a nanny for a child who was 7 years old at the time. On the child’s last day of school, Nardiello asked if she could take them to Disney World in celebration, and a tradition was born. The two started visiting Disney World together after school, and Nardiello later started sharing videos of their trips on TikTok.
Once clips of their adventures gained millions of likes and views on the app, Nardiello knew she had created something special.
“I decided to make a business out of it before someone stole my idea,” she told Insider. “I wasn’t really planning on making Once Upon a Nanny what it is, but I realized that there’s a demand for it.”
A typical day in her life includes riding theme-park attractions, swimming in resort pools, and more
Nardiello works with a few local families approximately once or twice per month.
Most of her customers, however, are families on vacation at one of the Florida resorts. They’ll sometimes hire Nardiello as a nanny for a single day, or they’ll book her services for the entirety of their trips.
“If the family I’m working for wants an extra set of hands, I’ll stay with them through the park,” she said. “I can also take the children to do age-appropriate activities while parents go on bigger rides or drink around the world at Epcot.”
If parents want to have a date night during their vacation, Nardiello can help with that, too. She told Insider that she offers in-hotel services that include taking kids to the pool or playing board games in their room.
“These vacations are expensive, and I believe parents should be able to have just as much fun as their children,” Nardiello said.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her nannying job.
Nardiello says she and her employees — who she hired to help her keep up with recent demand — adhere to theme-park safety guidelines. She also says they explain to the children they’re watching that it’s important to wear masks.
To ensure general safety while on the job, Nardiello also has parents fill out informational sheets so that she’s aware of their allergies, temperaments, and more.
Nardiello visits Disney World every week — and she makes good money doing so
Between her job and her personal passion for Disney World, Nardiello says she visits the theme park between two and four times per week.
“I’m there a lot,” she said. “It’s always as much fun as the first time I went.”
Nardiello says she doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of visiting, but in order to differentiate her trips to the resort, she sometimes creates activities to do in the theme parks.
“I took the 9-year-old I nanny to Magic Kingdom last week, and we did a ‘mountain challenge,'” she said. “We rode Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain, and then as a bonus, we did the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.”
Of course, riding classic attractions in Magic Kingdom sounds fun in and of itself, but Nardiello also gets paid to do so. She charges $25 per hour, and specific time slots can be booked on her website.
She added that she’s hoping to expand Once Upon a Nanny to have a branch of the babysitting service at every Disney park.
The college student says anyone can pursue a job like hers if they have the proper skills
Nardiello said she thinks that prospective theme-park nannies need “good childcare experience” and the right certifications, such as from babysitting and child-care courses offered through the American Red Cross.
In addition to getting to spend so much time in the places she loves, Nardiello said one of the best parts of her job is connecting with families.
“Parents will reach out and say: ‘Our kids can’t stop talking about the time they got to go to Disney with a fairy god nanny,'” she said.
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