Celebrating Your Birthday At Disney!

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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.

Here's Wishing A Glorious Conclusion To 2010

Private Event or Illuminations CruiseAdmittedly, 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!)

Figment Art

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!

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Posted on July 29, 2011

23 Responses to “Celebrating Your Birthday At Disney!”

  • Just planned a 40th birthday trip for me and my family (late Jan./early Feb.). Hubby and I are dining at Victoria and Albert’s for birthday night while the kids play the Never Land Club. Anyone dined there for a special occasion? We’re staying at the Poly for this second trip to Disney. Any ideas for our trip are appreciated!

  • We dined at Victoria & Albert’s for our honeymoon. My full review of the experience is here: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/featured-post/victoria-alberts-dining-review/

    You can also hear me discuss it here: http://www.wdwtoday.com/article.php?story=20110703212801895

    • Thank you so much, Tom! I’m really fired up about it now! I enjoyed reading your piece. Humor is always a good way to engage the reader! I’m glad we are staying at the Poly and only have to take the monorail to the GF. No bus! I have a Disney Visa and was pleased to find out I can apply my Disney dollars toward our two meals, and we are only doing one wine pairing, so I think it will be well worth the cost and a spectacular was to turn 40!

      • If you’re getting the wine pairing, you should definitely get the Tables in Wonderland card if you don’t already have it. It’ll pay for itself with that one meal.

        • Really? I’ll do some research! We were planning on doing the (regular)dining plan to enjoy other restaurants as well. Would it make sense to just do TIW or DDP but not both? I’ll check it out!

          • Just read your blog to answer my question! We’re not Fl. residents, but I’ll look into the AP since we would need that for TIW. Thanks!

          • We did DDP plus TIW for our honeymoon. You might need to do the math to determine whether it’s worth it to get that AND an AP, though.

  • In 3 weeks I am taking my mother to WDW for her 58th (I think) bday. She is entralled by characters, attention, etc. Hopefully the CMs will do the glitter on the table stuff for her, and I know she’ll love all the bday wishes. As the “present” (aside from the hotel, air, and park ticket), we’re going to Cindy’s for dinner and then have the Wishes! dessert party. Should be fun!

  • Tom, Great post. Spent my bday in WDW last year. Was a great time. Picked the park (DHS as I love RnR & TOT), got the b-day button and ate (not at a sig as we had a big group including 4 kids) @ 50′s PT. Wife got me a great chocolate cake w/ a pic of the Genie on it (favorite character). Can’t think of many better ways to spend a birthday. If only it could be a yearly tradition…. (not gonna happen. July b-day. TOO HOT & TOO BUSY!!)

  • Nice post. We celebrated my daughter’s 4th at Cinderella’s breakfast. She loved having everyone wish her “Happy Birthday” from the button.

    I’m already planning a trip with my sister for my 40th in a couple of years. Since my birthday is at the end of November, we’re headed there right after Thanksgiving in order to take in Christmas without the crowds. YEA!

  • I’ll be taking my wife to WDW to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Her parents will also be showing up to help celebrate her birthday, which happens to coincide with the first weekend of the Food & Wine Festival, I may take the map idea and make my own custom map for the day. :) (Oh, and I have Victoria & Alberts reserved for our anniversary night out!)

  • Tom, I really enjoyed your blog, we have celebrated everyone in my house’s Birthday at least once in Disney. The attention from CM’s is always top notch. This past April we celebrated my husbands. Had breakfast at Cape May and Minnie made such a fuss with waitstaff when they bought a cupcake over to sing. Minnie stood next to him and pretended to help blow candle out. My daughter got such a kick out of this while he enjoyed all the attention. I for the 1st time will be celebrating mine in Jan. All I know I can tell people that I celebrated my birthday in Disney. I can’t wait

  • Hi Tom,

    How did you create that map for Sara’s 21st birthday?

  • Last year we celebrated my son’s 6th birthday at AK (his choice). My favorite memory is when he found the gorilla handprints that were engraved with “6 year old male”. He stuck his hands in and said “Look Mom!” with a huge smile on his face as he compared the size of the gorilla hands to his own. He loved wearing his birthday button and having people say happy birthday to him everywhere!

  • Thank you for another fantastic article. The place else could anybody get that type of info in such a perfect manner of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such info.

  • Thank you! We are going to celebrate my cousins 40th birthday and whilst she’s suggested Mad Hatters Theme and we had breakfast organised, I was struggling with what to do for the rest of the day. Drinking and eating around the World Showcase is exactly something she would love! Thank you!