Every day is a special day at the Disney theme parks. But, what happens when your birthday (or the birthday of one of your children or other loved one) coincides with a visit to the happiest places on earth, Disney World or Disneyland?
Just being at the parks is a great way to celebrate the occasion. But there are a number of ways to mark the event and make it extra special. Let's review some of the things you could do, ranging from fairly simple to more elaborate options, to add some Disney magic to a birthday.
Before we run down some fun things to consider, let's point out one thing that, unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to do. Back in 2009, Disney parks helped parents deliver birthday wishes by offering free admission to kids on their birthdays. That promotion, which the company introduced as a way to drum up business during the Great Recession, lasted for just one year and is no longer available. But you could still help make special Disney birthday memories with the following suggestion and tips.
Disney Birthday Buttons and Other Wearables
One of the easiest (and free!) ways to make it a Disney birthday is to head to City Hall on Main Street at either Disneyland in California or the Magic Kingdom in Florida and ask for a complimentary birthday button. At all of the other parks, including Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, or Disney California Adventure Park, swing by Guest Services to get one.
In addition to the free buttons, you could really let everyone at the parks know it's your special day by purchasing birthday-themed ear hats, headbands, shirts, and other items to wear at shops throughout the resorts.
Disney cast members and costumed characters deliver enthusiastic "Happy Birthday!" wishes and extra attention whenever they spot a birthday button or other wearable birthday gear.
Carry an autograph book so your child could take home personalized birthday messages from all of his or her favorite characters.
Celebrate Your Birthday at a Disney Restaurant
Your button may (with the emphasis on may) lead to on-the-house desserts such as a cupcake with a candle and other freebies at on-property restaurants. When you make dining reservations at eateries throughout the resorts, be sure to indicate if you would be celebrating a birthday (or another special occasion). That way the restaurant could plan ahead and help make your meal special.
Turn a birthday meal into a real party with appearances by your child's favorite Disney pals at a character meal. For example, Minnie Mouse and her buddies could send birthday wishes at the Plaza Inn at Disneyland, or Chef Goofy could whip up something sweet for the big day at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. At the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella and other princesses could make a birthday mealtime memorable at Cinderella's Royal Table inside Cinderella Castle. At Epcot, Chip 'n' Dale join other Disney classic characters at the Garden Grill. You should make dining reservations for the popular character meals.
Disney Birthday Cakes
Whether or not it’s a character meal, consider capping off your birthday celebration with a cake.
Most Walt Disney World Resort table-service restaurants as well as Disneyland table-service restaurants serve birthday cakes on request. The pre-made cakes come in a standard size that feeds four to six people. The restaurants generally have the cakes on hand, and no special arrangements need to be made in advance. If you let your server know, the pastry chefs may be able to personalize your cake with the celebrant’s name.
You could also order custom birthday cakes. At Disney World, a Mickey’s Celebration Cake is available in chocolate and vanilla and can be ordered online. It can be delivered to restaurants and other locations throughout the resort. The Celebration Cake is in the shape of a Mickey Mouse ear hat, and “Happy Birthday” is imprinted on one of the ears. Disney World also offers Mickey's Happy Surprise Cake, which is actually an assortment of candy bars and swirl pops arranged in the shape of a cake and topped with an actual Mickey Mouse birthday ear hat.
Disneyland also offers the candy-filled surprise cake, which it can deliver to restaurants at one of its three on-property hotels.
Have a Birthday Party in Your Room
The cakes, along with a huge array of other customizable treats, flowers, and gifts can be delivered directly to guests' hotel rooms at the Disney resorts in Florida and California and at select hotels near both of the resorts. Among the items offered is Mickey and Minnie's Birthday Celebration, which includes a cake, serving utensils, a birthday ear hat for the celebrant, a personalized Mickey poster, and baskets filled with goodies. The room is decorated as if Mickey and Minnie planned a surprise party.
Other available items include birthday sashes to hang on guests' hotel doors, plush Disney characters, towels, jewelry, and balloons. To order these and other birthday items (or items for any special occasion) and to custom-build gifts, go online to Disney Floral & Gifts at Walt Disney World or, on the other side of the country, to Disney Floral & Gifts at Disneyland.
Throw a Custom Birthday Celebration
Perhaps you have a milestone birthday that you would like to celebrate at the Disney parks and you want to invite your friends and family to a Disney World or Disneyland destination bash. Or maybe you want to plan a surprise birthday party for someone special. Both of the resorts have event planners that can help arrange virtually any kind of celebration.
You could plan birthday parties at the ballrooms in the hotels, at restaurants, or even inside the parks. Disney could help plan food and beverage, music, visits from the characters, special entertainment, and magical moments to mark the occasion.