Celebrating a birthday at Disney World? 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 special experience such as dining with their favorite character or building a lightsaber on the big day, make your reservations early. Most reservations can be made up to 60 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! And don't froget that you will need to make a Disney Park Pass reservation for each day of your visit. If you know there's a park the guest of honor will prefer, try to book it ASAP, as spots can and do fill up!
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. And of course, 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.
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
- If you have a young swashbuckler, tell them to grab their eyepatch and sword — make sure to make a stop near Pirates of the Caribbean, where Captain Jack Sparrow is usually out to say hello! For even more pirate garb, check out the retail just after you step off of the iconic attraction.
- If being a Jedi is more your tadpoles' speed, be sure to check out Disney's Hollywood Studios! Young Padawans can build either a lightsaber or a droid during their adventure in Black Spire Outpost. Reservations are available 60 days in advance.
- Disney Villains are trying to take over Magic Kingdom! Does your birthday hero have what it takes to defeat them? Embark on a free, interactive scavenger hunt around Magic Kingdom to see. Stop by the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. to sign up and receive your Sorcerer Key Card, Merlin’s mystical map and spell cards.
- While at Disney's Animal Kingdom, you can also set out on a series of fun, nature-themed challenges to become an official Wilderness Explorer. It's self-guided, and you'll collect over 25 badges around the park. Pick up a Wilderness Explorer handbook from headquarters —located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island — or drop by Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader locations in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A. and Pandora – The World of Avatar. This experience is toadally free too!
- 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!
- Other modified character dining experiences currently available include Minnie's Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios, Chip 'n' Dale's Harvest Feast at Garden Grill in EPCOT, Breakfast a la Art at Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort and Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort.
- Be sure to capture those hoppy birthday memories with some photos! PhotoPass photographers around the resort will be happy to take some group and solo shots to commemorate the occasion.
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!