Every day is special at a Disney theme park. But when a birthday coincides with a visit to one of the happiest places on earth, you can make the experience even more memorable with some Disney birthday magic.
Back in 2009, Disney parks helped parents deliver birthday wishes by offering free admission for Disney World or Disneyland to kids on their birthdays. That promotion, which the company introduced to increase business during the recession, lasted for just one year. But you can still make Disney birthday memories with very special—and sometimes free—ways to commemorate the occasion.
Birthday Buttons and Other Wearables
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. You can add to the fanfare with birthday-themed hats, headbands, shirts, and other items available for purchase at shops throughout the parks.
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. Children wearing a birthday badge may also be chosen to perform or do something special during a show on one of the theme parks many stages. Carry an autograph book so your child can take home personalized birthday messages from all of his or her favorite characters.
Professional Disney PhotoPass photographers can help preserve your birthday memories with a portrait featuring a favorite character or the entire family in front of an iconic Disney landmark. Candid shots and videos from rides and attractions preserve the excitement of a Disney vacation. You can view the photos and purchase your favorites online or through the My Disney Experience mobile app.
Your birthday button may lead to a song and on-the-house desserts such as a cupcake with a candle and other freebies at on-property restaurants. When you make dining reservations throughout the resorts, be sure to indicate your special occasion so restaurant staff can plan ahead to help make your meal extra special.
Turn a birthday meal into a real party with an appearance by your child's favorite Disney character. For example, Minnie Mouse and her buddies could deliver 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 in Florida, Cinderella and other princesses make birthday mealtimes memorable at Cinderella's Royal Table inside Cinderella Castle. At Epcot, Chip 'n' Dale join other Disney classic characters at the Garden Grill. Be sure to make dining reservations well in advance for the popular character meals.
Of course, you want to cap off any birthday celebration with a cake. Most Walt Disney World Resort table-service restaurants and Disneyland table-service restaurants serve birthday cakes on request. The pre-made cakes come in a standard size to feed four to six people. The restaurants generally keep cakes on hand, so you don't need to make special arrangements in advance. Let your server know that you're celebrating at the start of your meal and the restaurant's pastry chef may be able to personalize a cake with your celebrant’s name.
You can also order custom birthday cakes. At Disney World, you can order a Mickey’s Celebration Cake online in chocolate or vanilla to be delivered to restaurants and other locations throughout the resort. The mouse ears-shaped cake includes a Happy Birthday message piped on one of the ears. Disney World also offers Mickey's Happy Surprise Cake, an assortment of candy bars and swirl pops arranged in the shape of a cake and topped with a Mickey Mouse birthday hat. Disneyland also offers the candy-filled surprise cake, available for delivery to restaurants at any of its three on-property hotels.
You can arrange to have a cake plus a huge array of other customizable treats, flowers, and gifts delivered directly to your hotel room at the Disney resorts in Florida and California and at select hotels near both. The Mickey and Minnie's Birthday Celebration package includes a cake, serving utensils, a birthday hat for the celebrant, a personalized Mickey poster, and baskets filled with other goodies. The room decor makes it look as if Mickey and Minnie planned a surprise party.
Other celebratory items available from Disney Floral & Gifts at Walt Disney World or Disney Floral & Gifts at Disneyland include birthday sashes to hang on guests' hotel doors, plush Disney characters, towels, jewelry, and balloons. Of course, Mickey and Minnie are well represented. Other characters featured among the birthday items are Tiana, Snow White, and Rapunzel.
Custom Birthday Celebrations
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. Event planners at both resorts can help you arrange any kind of celebration.
You can plan birthday parties at the ballrooms in the hotels, at restaurants, or even inside the parks. Onsite Disney staff help provide food and beverage, music, visits from the Disney characters, special entertainment, and magical moments to mark the occasion.
Children ages 3 to 12 can enjoy a birthday makeover into a princess or knight at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Cinderella Castle at Disney World or in Fantasyland at Disneyland in California. Appointments fill up so be sure to book your special occasion well in advance.
Birthdays at Disney Parks: A Glimpse into the Future
When My Disney Experience launched at Walt Disney World, the Disney folks talked about the potential of the far-reaching vacation planning and ride reservation program. For example, MagicBands, the wearable bracelets that electronically store guests' tickets, FastPass+ reservations, hotel room keys, and more, could play a role in birthday celebrations.
If guests provide the information, the MagicBands could also store guests’ birth dates. The bracelets could alert cast members (the name that Disney gives its employees) whenever guests having birthdays are approaching them. Without any other prompt (such as a birthday button), the cast members could acknowledge the birthdays.
Or rides could be programmed to know when birthday celebrants are in vehicles. Passengers could be treated to personalized birthday messages, or the attraction could be tailored in some other way to mark the birthday.
We're not sure whether we find this delightful or kinda creepy in a “Black Mirror” kind of way. For now, we’ll stick with mouse-eared birthday hats and festive cakes.