Celebrating a Child’s Birthday at Walt Disney World
Celebrating a child’s birthday at Walt Disney World can be as simple or as elaborate as the family chooses, but in every case, you can count on cast members making the day special!
Start the party before leaving home by encouraging your child to plan his or her special day at Walt Disney World. Kids can create customized maps of Walt Disney World parks online and then have them mailed to their homes to take on vacation.
Once you arrive on Disney property, be sure to get a free, personalized birthday button for your child from Guest Relations at any of the theme parks or your Disney World resort front desk. This lets everyone know you are celebrating, and cast members often find ways to add some pixie dust to birthdays.
When you check in at each restaurant that day, tell the host or hostess about the birthday (if he or she doesn’t notice the button). All the Disney table-service restaurants will provide special, complimentary desserts for the birthday child. At character meals, some Disney pals will even write a personalized birthday message in autograph books.
Upon returning to the hotel, dial the operator on your Disney resort phone and ask for the character birthday message — a fourth freebie!
If your budget allows for birthday “extras” at Disney World, here are some ideas to consider:
- Stay in a room fit for royalty at Port Orleans Riverside resort or a pirate-themed room at Disney’s Caribbean Beach hotel.
- Take your little princess for a makeover at The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and she will receive the birthday sash instead of a standard one.
- Make a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant and request the Her Royal Highness Package. It adds a princess balloon to your table prior to arriving, a tiara adorned with crystals and a princess-themed cake.
- Take girls and boys ages 3 and older for a pirate transformation at The Pirate’s League. Adults are welcome, too!
- Set sail on an Epcot IllumiNations fireworks cruise or the Magic Kingdom Pirates and Pals Fireworks Cruise.
- Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party.
- Travel the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake on Disney’s Pirate Adventure, a two-hour voyage for kids ages 4 to 12 and cast members.
- Plan a Pixie Event with Gifts of a Lifetime.
- Have high tea at the Grand Floridian’s My Disney Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party, where Princess Aurora joins the festivities. Each girl receives an 18-inch doll and each boy a Duffy the Disney Bear, among other gifts.
- Purchase birthday ear hats at The Chapeau in Magic Kingdom or other stores on Disney property.
- If your child enjoys pin trading, give him or her a selection of birthday pins that are for sale in the parks.
- Order in-room celebrations, which include everything from flowers and decorations to toys, from the Disney Florist.
- 6-inch round “celebration” cakes are available for purchase at most Disney table-service restaurants and do not have to be ordered in advance. Simply request one when you check in at the podium. The price is $21 (as of March 2013).
- Amazing custom cakes of various sizes, flavors and Disney designs also are available but must be ordered and paid for 48 hours in advance by calling 407-827-2253.
Walt Disney World currently offers one location for pre-planned birthday celebrations for children ages 3 to 12 — Goofy’s Party Central at Downtown Disney Marketplace. (Parties at The Neverland Club have been discontinued as of March 2013. No word if or when they will resume.) Parties here are organized and run by cast members, so it’s a hassle-free experience for the parents. And anyone who has planned a child’s birthday party at home knows that’s priceless.
Goofy’s Candy Company hosts birthday parties with two themes: Goofy’s Scien-Terrific Birthday Bash and the Perfectly Princess Party. Both include two party hosts, a treat to decorate, Goofy Glacier build-a-cup and glacier, glow accessories, autographed photos of characters, games, party balloon, invitations and thank-you notes. The birthday child receives a Goofy gumball machine and a mylar balloon for the Goofy party or crown, sash, a boxed glass slipper and mylar balloon for the princess party.
The parties are an hour and a half long for up to 12 guests, ages 3 to 12, and the cost is $367.38. The room will accommodate up to 15 children, so three more may be added for $25 each. Parents can attend and are free.
Additional food can be ordered through Disney World. However, Goofy’s Candy Company does not allow guests to bring their own food. Also, these party packages do not include birthday cakes, so those would need to be ordered through the Disney cake hotline at 407-827-2253.
Birthdays at Goofy’s Party Central can be scheduled for 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. daily. Call 407-WDW-BDAY.
For other birthday party ideas, AllEars.Net team member Kristin Ford has written about some of the events she has created at Walt Disney World over the years for her two children. You can read about her experiences at Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course, Chef Mickey’s and Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground in this AllEars.Net newsletter article.
Pamela in Illinois: Our son has had both his birthdays (he is 2) at Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary. This is a wonderful place for a small child! It is noisy and busy which keeps their attention and they can meet the characters that a small child is most likely to know in a less hurried setting. (For children under 2, the quick meets in the park can be difficult since they are just getting used to the large character when their turn is over.) It is a place you can sort of relax with a small child – it is already so noisy you don’t worry about disturbing the other guests.
If you ask your server, they will bring a decorated cupcake to the table with a candle in it during one of the “Celebration” periods so your little one can still get to blow out their own candle.
Julie Tomas: For my son’s 4th birthday we arranged to have a small Party at the Grand Floridian Cafe around lunch. It was very convenient and we could just hop on the Monorail from the MK to get there. I called a couple weeks in advance of our arrival and ordered two small cakes– one with Capt. Hook and one with Peter Pan. They turned out wonderfully.
When we arrived our table was decorated with balloons and my son was treated like a king. The cast member in charge of arranging the event even went so far as to have his presents to be sent back to our Disney resort room.
Also as a little side note: I had collected Disney-themed birthday cards for a few months prior to his birthday and signed them as the characters that were on the card. (The Toy Story card I found was signed by “Buzz and Woody.”) All in all it was a wonderful memory for him and for me as well. In addition to his special party, we told the characters at the Castle breakfast and they gave him a special certificate that they all signed for his birthday.
Prinbeebe: We had a great idea for our upcoming vacation for my 4-year-old granddaughter’s birthday. The night before her birthday we would stop in at the Tinker Bell Gift Shop in Fantasyland so she could pick out her favorite Princess outfit for herself. The next day we would have her party at Cinderella’s Royal Table with breakfast with the Princesses with her in costume! A terrific photo op. for us to get our Princess Summer with the other Princesses!
Ages 5 to 11
Debi: For my son’s 7th birthday last year, my brother and sister-in-law treated us to three days at Coronado Springs for a pre-beach vacation trip. Since my brother lives out of town, just spending time with him was the best birthday present. They spent time in the great pool at Coronado and we did three parks in one day. Sometimes just being able to spend time together is the best birthday. He has already been in three parades and we were the Met-Life family of the day, but he still talks about riding Tower of Terror with Uncle Bobby and Aunt Luci. Simple is best!
Todd, Michelle and Alyssa Von Almen: I read how the birthday person can get a special button at Town Hall and thought that wasn’t enough for our little Disney fanatic. I spent a few often painful hours with a needle, thread and fabric paint to put together my masterpiece: the birthday shirt. Included on the shirt was my daughter’s name, the date, her age and lots of other decorations. My creation was a HUGE hit with guests and cast members alike. My daughter was amazed at the amount of people who not only knew her name but also wished her a happy birthday. I hope this at least gave someone an idea or two for a special birthday at the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Crystal Johnson: Our last visit to Disney coincided with our son Dylan’s 7th birthday. While getting haircuts for all the kids at the barber shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, the hair stylist discovered it was his birthday. She spiked his hair with green gel (he chose the color) and sprinkled confetti. Then one of the Dapper Dan’s happened by and he rounded up the rest of the group to sing “Happy Birthday.” They also told us about a pin you can get from the City Hall stating that it is the wearer’s birthday. Cast members are on the lookout for those pins and they all wished him a “Happy Birthday” whenever they noticed it. With all the salutations, not to mention the attention and comments he received from his “cool” hair, Dylan was floating on air. It was almost as if Tinker Bell had sprinkled him with pixie dust.
Another birthday was spent at Epcot. My oldest child had turned 10 and he requested a passport that you take around to the countries of Epcot and have stamped. At each country I made sure the cast member knew that it was his birthday. Now he has “Happy Birthday” written in many different languages in his passport. Many cast members also sang “Happy Birthday” to him in their native languages.
JonNC: We spent my son’s 6th birthday camping at Fort Wilderness. We had the usual assortment of craft supplies available in our camper, so the night before his big day, I took a paper dinner plate and glued letters on it made out of felt saying “Be Nice to Me, I am 6 Today!!” This was hung around his neck on a cord braided out of some left over wool. All in all not a terribly attractive thing, but he thought it was really neat.
And, during our day at the Magic Kingdom we had dozens and dozens of people wish him a Happy Birthday. We had a cast member give him an ice cream bar, and we had another take us to the front of the line for Splash Mountain. Many magical things happened because of that silly sign.
Roxanne Stritt: Our 7-year-old is a veteran when it comes to celebrating his birthday at Walt Disney World. We stayed at a Boardwalk Villa with a view of the waterway and the Swan and Dolphin. We told the cast members at the front desk it was his birthday when we checked in.
The highlight of the day was the Pirate Cruise at the Grand Floridian. The kids get to go out without the parents and with only cast members. The numbers are small and the attention from the great cast members is wonderful. These programs have some of the best CMs outside of the parks. They may not have the “character” of a park adventure, but they treat the kids with respect and make lasting friendships.
The day had started with Mickey calling and waking him up. Then, cast members brought balloons, photos and a white chocolate Mickey in an ebony shadow box to our room.
The day ended on a bang with a view of the fireworks at the Studios, plus special GRAND fireworks at the Swan and Dolphin that night. (The front desk told him to look off his balcony that night for special fireworks for his birthday.) We told him that he could never beat that birthday his entire life.
Gail Solomita: This past October, we celebrated our daughter’s 12th birthday while we were at WDW. It was her first trip to WDW,and since we had adopted her earlier in the year, we wanted to make her first birthday with us as special as we possibly could.
As soon as we made our trip reservations (months in advance), we booked the Hoop Dee Doo Revue for the evening of her birthday. We then asked her which park she wanted to spend her birthday in, and she picked Magic Kingdom (no surprise there)! So, we were staying at the CBR, and we headed on over to Fort Wilderness in the morning, and had breakfast at Trail’s End. We then took the boat to MK. We had lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table, complete with decorations and a special dessert. (She loved this!) We had made a reservation, of course, so they knew our names when we arrived, etc., and made it so special for her. In the afternoon, we were in the right place at the right time (must have been some pixie dust) when Minnie and Mickey came out of nowhere right where we were standing. Got a great shot of our daughter with Minnie, and ON her birthday! So, after the day at MK, we headed back to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, which she loved and wants to do again when we go back. That’s how you celebrate a children’s birthday at WDW! The three of us were so stuffed by the end of the day with all that eating! But what a way to go!
Debbie Jeffers: For my daughter’s 16th birthday at WDW, we used Jane from Gifts of a Lifetime who was absolutely wonderful. My daughter is a big Tinker Bell freak and Jane made sure everything was Tinker Bell themed. We also celebrated at Hollywood & Vine and she got to swing dance with Goofy. She loves to dance! The cast and characters sang happy birthday and that is also one of the only places I know of that gives you a balloon along with a very large cupcake and a little Winnie the Pooh statue that she still has, two years later.
Kelley Olley: Don’t even tell the birthday child that they are going. This is tough when all other family members know, but the surprise is worth it. When you get to the airport, tell them right before you get on the plane. Even in today’s tight security, the flight attendants will even help you with an on the plane surprise! Tell everyone else along the way. When you make your reservation, let them know. We have returned to a decorated room. Let the child pick the park for the day, and the plan of attack. Plan a character meal, and tell the restaurant! We’ve asked that the “favorite” character bring out the gift. We have a May surprise planned, and my little guy has no clue. His sisters know, and are beside themselves helping plan, because they have the memories of how great their WDW birthdays were.
Jennifer Abdrabbo: The following birthday ideas would be more suited for families who are traveling and not so much for families who may live in the area and be taking a group for the day:
— Have a special pair of Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse Ears with the inscription “Birthday Girl/Boy” and date made up in advance for the birthday girl/boy to wake up to. (You could either take care of this in advance with the help from one of the guest service attendants or sneak away while the kids are on a ride with a long line). I would also have a special shirt made up that makes it obvious who’s birthday it is… they’ll love the constant attention they get.
— Allow the birthday girl or boy to choose the location for lunch. Have in your backpack the birthday hats and some candles to sneak to one of the hostesses. (You can have a couple small birthday presents hidden in your back pack.) When making reservations, let them know that a member in your party will be celebrating a birthday.
— Let the parade attendants at the parks know about his/her special day. They are very good about including kids in the parades and I don’t think they could turn down the request for such a special person.
— Order a birthday Pooh, Mickey or Tigger and have it delivered to the room for the special birthday girl/boy to come back to. I guarantee they will go to bed grinning ear to ear.
Patty Thorpe: Be sure the birthday boy or girl wears a Guest of Honor badge. If his or her name is not available on the rack, there are blanks and the name can be engraved. It’s fun to have a name badge on and be called by name. I was even mistaken once by another guest who wanted to know why I was just sitting on a bench instead of working! Don’t be shy about spreading the news that somebody’s having a birthday! You never know what might happen!
DeAnna in New Jersey: We are planning a trip to Disney this April and will be there for my daughter’s birthday. To make the day special for her, we have allowed her to plan the entire day. She is making the itinerary for the day, including what theme park to visit, where to eat lunch and dinner, and what shows to see. It is totally up to her and she is having a blast planning the day exactly as she sees fit. This planning process is an added excitement for her, even before the trip actually takes place.
Doreen Wallen: Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is always a lot of fun, with a special cupcake for the birthday person and extra attention from the characters. Then it’s off to the Magic Kingdom to get a birthday button from City Hall and a special birthday call from a character. The rest of the day is theirs to call the shots. We almost always end up at Beaches and Cream for a Kitchen Sink. Ask the server for bowls so you can take the pictures and then scoop out what you like before everything melts together! We love our WDW birthday memories!
Kay Holt: We celebrated a birthday by renting a party barge from the Grand Floridian. The food and cake were provided by their catering department. We left the dock in time to see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom (we had a perfect, unobstructed view). Then we enjoyed the light parade they have on the lake every evening. You couldn’t have a more perfect birthday.
Stephen Grubb: If you ride Space Mountain, make sure an operator sees your button for a possible extra special surprise!
Marsha Emch: Find a hat that your kid likes and buy two of them and personalize them for this specific birthday. Then go find Mickey and have both your kid and Mickey don the same birthday hats and snap a picture — your own private memory of Mickey and your birthday. Depending on the type if hat, you may want to tie extra long string onto Mickey’s hat so that it fits on his head.
If Mickey is real busy and doesn’t want to deal with both hats, then just have Mickey hold the hat over your kid’s head so it looks like Mickey is putting on your kid’s birthday hat. Of course, make sure Mickey signs the hat.
Jim Sosinski: The very best way to celebrate a birthday at WDW, either as an adult or child, is a Birthday Celebration IllumiNations Cruise. On a recent trip, I had two children’s and one adult (The Big 5-0) birthdays. I booked two boats for the IllumiNations cruise, one from the BoardWalk and one from the Yacht & Beach Club. They were moored together under the bridge inside of Epcot from UK to France. Both boats were decked out with balloons, streamers, birthday signs. Cake and refreshments were provided. It was hard to tell who had more fun, the adults or kids. This was a birthday event that will be remembered for years to come.
Janice Dion: We spent Oct. 9-18 at WDW celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday. Per your wonderful website, we told everyone that it was her birthday. She had birthday pins from all the parks on her lanyard so no one could miss her. Many cast members stopped to say, “Happy Birthday, Princess!” all week long. They didn’t care if her birthday had been a day or two before. At our resort, she received a citation from the front desk, a card from Minnie, and balloons! At a character breakfast at the Crystal Palace she received a card signed by all the Pooh characters and a cupcake. The table was decorated with streamers and confetti. At the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot, the cast member on duty took her by the hand as we came out of the show. He asked if it was her birthday then took her next door to the restaurant where he got everyone’s attention and announced that it was Laura from Rhode Island’s birthday. He then had everyone do a Hip, Hip, Hooray. He also took her up to the counter and got her a red, white, and blue jello and one for her sister who looked so disappointed. We celebrated all week long. We couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable and memorable experience.
Ray Meany: Obviously not all of us can celebrate our birthdays at WDW, but when you do have a chance to visit, take the opportunity to Celebrate Your “Unbirthday”. Remember the tea party in ‘Alice in Wonderland’? That’s when I first learned that there are 364 “Unbirthdays” in a year. When we went to the character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian) which featured the Mad Hatter, he got all the characters that day to sing “A Very Merry Unbirthday” song to my princess — my wife, Gayle. Obviously she is not a child, but she certainly felt very young again and her face shone from all the attention — or was it just from being embarrassed?!
Mary Ann Wolfe: We’ve been to WDW with our boys now 7 and 3 six times in the last four years. Two times have been for their birthdays. When making reservations for our meals, I always have them note that we’ll be celebrating a child’s birthday. When we arrived for our lunch at the Crystal Palace they announced that we were celebrating Grant’s second birthday. They decorated the table with Mickey Ear confetti before we were seated. Then after eating our lunch, Piglet delivered a cupcake & candle along with a card signed by Mickey & friends while Tigger and Eeyore came cheering & clapping and the cast members & guests sang Happy birthday. It was very nice. We also did that for Craig’s 6th birthday. The villains delivered a cupcake & card at the 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. The cast members sang & made the birthday extra special. It’s worth it to mention that you’re celebrating a child’s birthday when you check in at the restaurant. They really make it a special time!
Kelly Banks: We were in WDW last December to celebrate both of our children’s birthdays. We let them each choose a restaurant for their special birthday dinner. Of course, my daughter (age 6) chose to spend her birthday at Cinderella Castle. We made dinner reservations there for 6:30 p.m. on the Wednesday evening. It was perfect because we watched the fireworks just before entering the castle, and while we were waiting for our table Cinderella appeared in the lobby. My daughter was thrilled and we took pictures of her and Cinderella sitting on the huge throne in the lobby area. The restaurant staff brought both our kids a special birthday dessert with a small chocolate crown on the top, and sprinkled the kids with Mickey Mouse confetti while the whole restaurant sang Happy Birthday. My daughter felt like a princess and this is her most special memory of our whole vacation.
We were staying at the Caribbean Beach resort, and one day we returned to our room to find birthday cards and gifts from Mickey Mouse on the kids beds. Our thoughtful chambermaid had seen the kids birthday cards in the room, and decided to spread a little Disney magic. The kids thought that Cinderella had told Mickey not to forget about their birthdays. We will all remember the ‘Disney Birthdays’ as truly special events.