Celebrating a birthday at Disney World? What more could you possibly wish for when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake? There's no place more magical to celebrate another year than Walt Disney World, especially for the little tadpoles. It's certainly not something we can afford or arrange every year, but we've celebrated at least one birthday each for Lily and Tad at Disney World, and it's been a major hit.
A birthday bash at the Most Magical Place on Earth can make things extra special, and Disney has lots of additional pixie dust available for parents and friends to consider. If you're planning a Disney World vacation around a birthday, here are some ideas that are icing on the cake.
Tips for Celebrating a Birthday at Disney World
Make Reservations Early
If you want to surprise your prince or princess with a character dining experience, a specialty cruise or a dinner show on the big day, make your reservations early. Most reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. "What should I make those reservations for, Mommy Frog?" I'm glad you asked. We've got a ton of ideas below our tips. Read on!
Shout It Out Loud
When you make your Disney hotel reservation and Advance Dining Reservations, be sure to tell the cast member that you're celebrating a birthday. (It never hurts to remind them when you check in, either.) Your birthday boy or girl may receive extra-special treatment in the form of celebrity-level attention, confetti, a cupcake or a personalized note. We once even had balloons and a signed card from Mickey Mouse delivered to our room for Leap! That said, there's no guarantee anything will happen, but you've got nothing to lose and only a dose of Disney magic to gain.
Surprise Them with a Special Disney Hotel Room Celebration
If you are staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you can have a surprise waiting for your little one! Disney offers a wide variety of gift baskets and packages you can have sent to your room before you even arrive. When you enter your hotel room for the first time, your tadpole could walk in to see that the celebration has already begun! This would just be an added bonus to an already wonderful trip. Don't froget, adults can be celebrating their birthday, too! They also have packages to surprise the king or queen in your life.
Let Them Eat Cake
No birthday is complete without a cake and candles! Order a cake and have it delivered to your table at any of the Walt Disney World table-service restaurants. You can find a full list of participating restaurants on Disney World's website. Cakes can be ordered with just 72 hours' notice, but Advanced Dining Reservations must have already been made. The cake hotline is 407-827-2253.
If a cake is needed sooner than those 72 hours, don't fret! Disney offers six-inch Celebrate Today! cakes (both chocolate and vanilla) that feed four to six people. These cakes need no advance notice. Simply order one upon arriving at most of Disney's table-service restaurants. However, due to limited quantity, it's usually best to order the cake at the time of your reservation to ensure availability.
You can also order a cake delivery to your hotel room. Press "Dining Options" on your in-room phone, or call (407) 827-2253 at least 72 hours in advance. Another option is visiting Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs. You can pick up an adorable Mickey character cake (like the one pictured above!), or pre-order a specialty cake at least 72 hours in advance.
This tip is actually my favorite, as it lasts the longest and costs the least. As soon as you enter the park, head to Guest Relations and pick up a free "Happy Birthday!" celebration button. Write your little one's name on it. Cast members (and speaking characters) will make a point to wish him or her a happy birthday. (It doesn't have to be his or her actual birthday, and the buttons can be worn for the duration of your vacation.) This added attention will make your tadpole feel even more special on his or her big day. Don't froget to have the remainder of your party grab complimentary "I'm Celebrating!" buttons to join in on the extra attention, as well. (Did you know you can get temporary tattoos of these at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach?!)
If you want to call even more attention to the birthday guy or gal, a birthday Mickey Mouse ear hat is sure to do the trick. There's at least one store in each Disney park where you can find Mickey Mouse ears. The Chapeau at Magic Kingdom and MouseGear at Epcot both have large selections. Leap's mom sent one to him once. The photos are precious.
Oh, and for my next birthday, you already know I have to rock the new sequined birthday ear headband, complete with a cupcake "bow." How adorbs!
Think Outside the Box
One great suggestion we've seen is taking an oversized birthday card for signatures instead of an autograph book. Another one is picking-and-pulling balloons, decorations and goodies from Disney Florists to create your own customized in-room celebration at a fraction of the price.
Ideas for a Most Spectacular Birthday at Disney World
- Make a reservation at The Pirates League at Magic Kingdom, where the birthday boy — or girl — will be transformed into a themed pirate, Captain Hook, the Pirate Redd or mermaid. There are quite a few packages that include various pirate accessories (bandana, eye patch, earring, sword and sheath) and even a place in the Adventureland Area Pirate Parade. Savvy attitude is optional.
- Disney's Pirate Adventure is a fun, "kids-only" activity where your young swashbuckler sets sail on a 2-hour voyage aboard a pirate ship (pontoon boat) staffed with an experienced pirate crew (cast members). The adventure takes the tadpoles around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, where they collect a different "treasure" at each port of call. Disney's Pirate Adventure is rated very highly and the vacation highlight for many tadpoles. Yo-ho, yo-ho ...
- For an unforgettable birthday celebration (that also includes the rest of the family) Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage is the way to go. The evening begins at Disney's Contemporary Resort where you're presented with a spread of beverages and snacks. Next, you'll head to the docks, where Captain Hook and Mr. Smee give you a proper send-off, complete with photo opportunities. Then, it's time to set sail on the Seven Seas Lagoon for a voyage packed with singing, high-energy Disney trivia and storytelling led by your comical host, Patch. The highlight of Pirates and Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage is the FIREWORKS! You'll love watching the Happily Ever After fireworks show from the vantage of the water and away from the crowds. As your evening comes to an end, there will be a special guest waiting at the docks to welcome you back.
- If being a Jedi is more your tadpoles' speed, be sure to check out Disney's Hollywood Studios! Young Padawans can be a part of Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple! Participants get suited up just like a Jedi and learn the ways of the Force to defend against the dark side.
- It's the beauty session that your little one probably dreams of — Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is where your daughter will be transformed into a proper Disney Princess, complete with hair, makeup, nails and the all-important glitter. (Boys can also be transformed into Prince Charming!) There are three Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques — one in Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, one at Disney Springs and one at The Grand Floridian. We have a full post about this experience for you to read, as well.
- Now that they're all dressed up, they need somewhere to go! Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot and Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic Kingdom are both perfect options. She'll be surrounded by all of her favorites … Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White and Aurora, to name a few.
- For older princesses or those who are "over" Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, visiting one of four salons on Walt Disney World property for a Character Couture package is an awesome choice. A professional stylist will beautify hair, makeup and nails inspired by the character of your choice. This is a more mature, high-end experience and perfect for teens still wishing to feel like royalty (or even adults!).
- Disney Perfectly Princess Tea Party is the ultimate royal experience, and one that Lily begs me to do. Hosted by Rose Petal in the Garden View Tea Room at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, this tea party is 90 minutes of living like a true princess. You and your little one will be sprinkled with rose petals, served apple "tea" in china cups, showered with gifts like a beautiful doll and scrapbooking kit, and entertained with stories and song by Princess Aurora. Click here for reservation information. Note: This one is on the pricey side. She will love you forever if you take her. And you should remind her of that when she's in middle school ;)
- When planning dinner for your little princess, I might suggest Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom. Here you will have the opportunity to have dinner in the Beast's Castle! You have three different rooms you can eat in: The West Wing, The Library and, of course, The Ballroom. Your little princess will feel just like Belle among the storybook castle! Don't froget to try the gray stuff — it's delicious!
- Another great option is the Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno on Disney's Boardwalk. Dine with Ariel, Eric, Rapunzel and Flynn as you feast on some scrumptious food. (The Shipwreck Breakfast Calzone is highly recommended by every member of the Frog Family.)
- Can't get enough sweets and treats? Attend a dessert party! Usually the dessert parties at Disney World take place in coordination with the nighttime spectaculars. Magic Kingdom offers several options before, during and after Happily Ever After. Disney's Animal Kingdom hosts a Rivers of Light: We Are One Dessert Party. Star Wars fans should consider A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party over at Disney's Hollywood Studios, while Frozen fans can't miss the Frozen Ever After Dessert Party at Epcot!
We're sure you're hoppin' with ideas for celebrating a birthday at Disney World. Do you have any ideas to add? I'd love to hear how you celebrated a birthday Disney-style. Let me know in the comments below!