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Yesterday was Sarah’s birthday and, like most men, in preparing for this momentous occasion, I found myself struggling for ideas. Of course, there some fool-proof options, like a check from our joint bank account or a CD of John Tesh’s greatest hits, but instead of opting for these sure-fire successes, I began pondering what we might do to celebrate were we at a Disney theme park. I thought I’d share my list of the top options for Birthdays at Disney with you all.
The “Birthday Button” – Most of you probably don’t need to read a blog to tell you this, but the “Birthday Buttons” that you can obtain in a multitude of places on property (your hotel’s front desk, City Hall, guest relations, etc.) can get you a bit of extra attention on your birthday. The thing I want to stress here is not to get the birthday button if you: A) don’t like extra attention, as Cast Members will approach you to say Happy Birthday and perhaps more, or B) if you’re only doing it because you expect extra attention. Don’t get a birthday button because you’re hopeful that it might get you some freebie. While it very well might, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if it doesn’t.
Drinking or Snacking Around the World – We actually drank around the World Showcase for Sarah’s 21st birthday, and again on our honeymoon, and both times it was a rousing success. Snacking around the World Showcase is a great alternative, or a great supplement to the drinking. The key to drinking around the World Showcase is proper planning and moderation. You don’t want to be that idiot stumbling around and screaming obscenities at pigeons, so make sure you appropriately pace yourself, split drinks as necessary, and eat plenty of food and drink plenty of water on your voyage around ‘World. While we don’t have any Epcot Touring Plans for the best strategies to tackle the World Showcase food & beverage kiosks (yet!), I’ve assembled some tips for drinking around the World Showcase.
Another reason why planning is important is because it enables you, if you’d like, to create something tangible to present to the person who is celebrating their birthday. For example, prior to Sarah celebrating her 21st birthday, without indicating that we’d be “drinking around the world” (I don’t think she even knew such a deviant thing existed at Disney!) we looked at the drink menus at the World Showcase pavilions and I casually inquired as to what looked most appealing at each pavilion. I made a mental note of which drinks she thought she might prefer, then created the map pictured here to give to her for her birthday as a tangible representation of what we’d be doing. You could do the same, or create t-shirts, hats, or even fanny packs celebrating your birthday trip around the world!
An Evening Involving Dinner at a Signature Restaurant – Okay, this basically amounts to “dinner at a nice restaurant,” which is about as insightful of a tip for celebrating a birthday as offering the astute wisdom of carrying an umbrella when it’s raining. However, the “dinner” portion of the evening isn’t the most integral aspect. Of course, it’s important, but what really makes it special is making an event out of it. If you dine at one of the monorail resorts, book at 8:30 pm ADR so you can catch Wishes from your restaurant (and make sure to request a window seat!). If you’re dining at Flying Fish or Yachtsman Steakhouse, round out the evening with a stroll on the BoardWalk (maybe even making a rare stop in the ESPN Club if that’s what the birthday-person wants!). There are a lot of options, so get creative. Taking someone out to dinner is a nice birthday gift, but if you go that extra mile and plan a little more, it will really show.
Private Event or Illuminations Cruise – Admittedly, we haven’t partaken in either of these options, but they are high on our list right now. While the private events can be pricey and might be better suited for a wedding party, some, like the Tower of Terror dinner would make for a fun birthday event. I think the better option here for a birthday is the Illuminations Cruise. I mean, what better way to celebrate your birthday than by watching things explode?! Some people may think of these cruises as more romantic and less “birthday-like,” but I disagree. We honor the birth of America with a weekend full of fireworks, why not honor the person celebrating a birthday with an evening of fireworks?! My motto: if it’s good enough for America, it’s good enough for you.
Pick the Plan – To balance out the expensive end of the spectrum, here’s one that won’t add any expense to your day. Let the person celebrating their birthday picking the Touring Plan or the schedule in general for the day. This one may be difficult to accomplish if you have a herd of small children, but for couples it wouldn’t be too difficult. Given the many compromises involved in touring the parks, this can be a wonderful gesture and a great birthday gift. (Just don’t do it with me or you might get stuck riding the TTA all day and sitting through multiple showings of Carousel of Progress and Country Bear Jamboree!)
Fun for the Kids – There are a lot of special offerings for children, including the Pirate Cruise at the Grand Floridian and the Wonderland Tea Party, among other things. These can be great options for birthday gifts for the kids (and they double as time for the parents to escape the kids and relax!) If these somewhat pricey (for what they are) options don’t sound appealing, try a visit to the Pirates League or the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. For an even cheaper option, try a pixie dust sprinkled hair cut on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. (You know, if you kid really likes getting their hair cut!)
Let Your Husband Have 10 Minutes Alone in The Art of Disney With the Credit Card – Sarah, I really hope you’re reading this…
How have you celebrated a birthday at Disney? Have you tried any of these ideas? What do you think is the best way to celebrate at Disney? Let us know in the comments!