What could be more magical than celebrating a birthday in Disney World? We’ll admit, the Walt Disney World Resort might not be the most realistic or fiscally responsible location for an annual birthday celebration (those tickets are expensive, ya’ll). However, every once in a while, there’s no better place to toast another year around the sun than the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Commemorating someone’s birthday with Mickey Mouse and the gang makes the day undeniably special. And while simply walking through those turnstiles is a pretty great start, there are plenty of other things you can do to take a birthday celebration from ordinary to extraordinary. So, put on your party hat, grab a noisemaker and read on for everything you need to know about throwing a Disney birthday bash.
FAQs About Celebrating a Birthday at Disney World
Before we blow out the candles and cut the cake, let’s first dig into some commonly asked questions (and dispel some rumors—sorry, free admission to the parks is definitely not a thing).
Does Disney do anything for birthdays?
Yes! As long as Disney World cast members know that you’re celebrating your birthday (as well go over in a bit, this is where having a birthday button comes in handy), they’ll typically go above and beyond to make sure you have a magical celebration. This extra sprinkle of pixie dust could include everything from a free dessert at your dining reservation or a complimentary amenity in your hotel room to birthday wishes when they see you or a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” led by Mickey Mouse or one of his pals during a character meal or meet-and-greet.
Naturally, none of this is guaranteed, so don’t go in expecting to be showered with freebies, or you might end up disappointed. As we’ll get into in a bit, if you’d rather not leave your celebrating to chance, you can also arrange your own birthday extras (for a price, of course), such as cakes, in-room celebrations or even a full-on Disney World birthday party planned by the resort’s events team.
Is Disney still free on your birthday?
Sorry, but no. While Disney did previously offer a promotion that gave you free admission on your birthday, sadly, complimentary entry is no longer provided.
Does Disney check if it’s your birthday?
Nope! Celebrating a birthday at Disney World is completely on the honor system. So, if you’re worried that you’ll need to go around flashing your driver’s license or pack your kiddo’s birth certificate to help prove the special day, don’t be. Walt Disney World cast members will never ask you for proof that it’s your birthday, whether you’re dining at one of the restaurants, checking in at the hotels or posing for a picture with the big cheese.
Can I celebrate my birthday early at Walt Disney World?
Yup! As we just mentioned, cast members at Disney World will never ask you to confirm that it’s someone’s birthday. So, if you’re planning to party a few weeks early or a month late, that’s totally ok!
How do you let Walt Disney World cast members know you are celebrating?
As we’ll get to in a second, the easiest way to tell Disney cast members—and other guests, too— that you’re celebrating is by donning a birthday button. Bright and colorful, this (free!) piece of Disney birthday flair makes it easy for all to see whose special day it is. In the same vein, you can also wear other birthday-themed items like t-shirts, hats or Mickey Ears.
Lastly, if you’re staying at one of the Disney World hotels, dining at one of the restaurants or taking part in an activity like a backstage tour or a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, you should note the birthday celebration both when making your reservation and during check-in.
Does Disney give free stuff on your birthday?
Possibly, although it isn’t guaranteed. Disney World cast members love to help guests celebrate special occasions, and that includes birthdays. So, if you’re lucky, you may be treated to free birthday perks like a complimentary treat during dinner or a sprinkle of confetti and a signed card from Mickey Mouse in your hotel room.
How to Have a Happy Birthday in Disney World
As someone who once celebrated her 5th birthday at Disney World (way) back in the day, I speak from experience when I say that there’s nowhere more magical for an unforgettable celebration, especially for a child’s birthday. I can still remember fangirling over the Teenage Mutant Turtles at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when it was called Disney-MGM Studios, posing for a photo with Figment and Dreamfinder at Epcot (I told you it was a long time ago) and eating at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
All these years later, that Disney vacation is still filed away into my Rolodex of fond memories. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t magical about the entire experience was being too short to ride Space Mountain. (They wouldn’t make an exception for the birthday girl?) See? Like I said, unforgettable.
Needless to say, if you’re hoping to have or host the best birthday ever, then the Walt Disney World Resort is the place to be. Whether you’re the birthday person or it’s someone else’s special day, there are plenty of ways to make the visit extra magical. Here are some Disney World birthday ideas to make sure the celebration is a success.
A Disney Birthday Button Is Key (and Free!)
If you only do one thing when you visit Disney World for a birthday, let it be this. As soon as you arrive, pick up a free birthday button, which can be claimed at many places across Disney property, including Guest Relations at both the theme parks and Disney Springs, the front desk of your hotel and virtually any merchandise location resort-wide.
Permanent markers are available to customize the button with the name and age, if desired, of the birthday boy or girl. Then, simply pin it to your shirt and let the well-wishes and, if you’re lucky, freebies roll in. This simple piece of swag turns you into an instant VIP and can earn you everything from a free treat at dinnertime to shouts of “Happy Birthday!” from the likes of cast members, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses and even your fellow guests.
While you’re there, you may also want to consider grabbing some complimentary (and complementary) “I’m Celebrating!” buttons for everyone else in your party, too, to help draw some extra attention your way. We’re all for anything that helps to up the chances of getting free stuff and other special treatment.
Don’t Forget the Birthday Cake
Even at Walt Disney World, you can’t celebrate a birthday and not have cake. Of course, you’ll find plenty of sweet stuff around the Central Florida resort, like an over-the-top ice cream sundae from Beaches & Cream Soda Shop or a decorated cupcake from one of the quick-service restaurants. However, full-sized birthday cakes that serve multiple people are also available. They just typically require a little planning ahead of time. A specialty cake can be arranged for your birthday dinner at select table-service restaurants or, if you’d rather, sent directly to your Disney World hotel room. Alternatively, you can also order a birthday cake from Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs.
Mickey Mouse Celebration Cakes make for the perfect ending to a sit-down meal. Priced at $39 (plus tax and gratuities) with enough for 4 to 6 guests, a Mickey Mouse Celebration Cake is shaped like a classic pair of Mickey Ears and comes in your choice of flavor with a “Happy Birthday” message emblazoned on the cake’s chocolate ears. Mickey-shaped birthday cakes are only available at participating table-service restaurants and, if possible, should be ordered when making your dining reservations through the Disney World website or My Disney Experience app. Same-day requests can also be made with a cast member at the restaurant, but keep in mind that quantities are limited.
For those staying at one of the hotels at Disney World, Disney birthday cakes (ok, technically. they’re cupcakes) can be ordered to your room through Disney Floral & Gifts. Finally, if you’re staying at a non-Disney hotel or would prefer a character other than Mickey Mouse to grace your dessert, you can also order a specialty cake through Amorette’s Patisserie, which is located in Disney Springs next door to the World of Disney Store. Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance.
Arrange an In-Room Birthday Celebration
For a special birthday surprise that they’re sure to remember, consider booking an in-room celebration from Disney Floral & Gifts. These Disney World birthday packages range from small gifts like balloons and door banners to Mickey Birthday Ears, floral arrangements and gift baskets filled with snacks. Though they can be on the pricey side, these amenities add a splash of Disney magic that is sure to make their birthday even more memorable.
Book a Special Birthday Dinner or a Fireworks Dessert Party
No matter where we are, one of our favorite ways to celebrate a birthday is with a special meal. Fortunately, there are tons of places around Disney World where you can treat yourself to something tasty.
Whether it’s your child’s birthday or you’re a big fan of Disney characters yourself, character dining experiences are always a fun way to go. After all, what could be more magical than having Mickey or Minnie lead your table in a round of “Happy Birthday to You” or celebrating a birthday from inside Cinderella’s castle? Some popular options include Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom.
For a more grown-up Disney birthday celebration, consider dining at one of the signature Disney World restaurants instead. As the best restaurant in all of Walt Disney World, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is an obvious choice. However, restaurants with a view like Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort, Toledo at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando are other worthy picks. Disney Springs also dishes up some appropriately celebratory options, like Jaleo by José Andrés, Morimoto Asia, The Boathouse and STK Orlando.
Looking for something a little bit different? The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, a Wild West-themed dinner show at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, is also a great choice for celebrating a birthday and is fun for guests of all ages. Or, for dinner and a show of a different kind, book a dining package for Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios or the Epcot fireworks and enjoy a delicious meal at a participating Disney restaurant and VIP seats for the show without a long wait.
Does the person celebrating a birthday have sweet tooth? Similar to the dining packages, Magic Kingdom dessert parties secure you a great view of the park’s nighttime spectacular while also dishing up a tempting array of treats. There’s even a selection of alcoholic drinks for any guests 21 and up. For an especially sweet end to your birthday at Disney World, take to the Seven Seas Lagoon during Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise, which features stunning views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, a spread of desserts and boozy, bubbly beverages. For the kids onboard, there’s even a blacklight-powered scavenger hunt to enjoy. Sadly, the Pirates & Pals Fireworks voyage isn’t currently available.
Set Sail on a Private Fireworks Cruise
For the ultimate Disney birthday experience, charter a boat for a fireworks-viewing experience unlike anything else at Disney World. Priced at $399 plus tax for a 25-foot boat and assorted snacks and soft drinks for up to 10 people (a surprisingly reasonable price considering everything you get), as well as fully synchronized audio, this exclusive cruise gives you on-the-water views of the fireworks at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot. You can even request that the boat be decorated with festive balloons and banners at no additional cost. Talk about birthday magic!
Throw an Elaborate Birthday Party
While Disney Meetings & Events typically plans corporate get-togethers like retreats, awards ceremonies and conferences, they also plan birthday parties, too. So, if you’ve ever wished you could party in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park or have a sophisticated soiree at the Italy Pavilion in Epcot after a day spent drinking around the world, Disney Meetings & Events can make it happen. That said, these Disney World birthday packages are definitely going to cost you—a lot.
Tips for Celebrating a Birthday at Disney World
It’s your birthday (or your kiddo’s or friend’s), and you’ve decided it’s the perfect time to visit Disney World. Whether it’s your little one’s first birthday or you’re returning for yet another celebration, a birthday at the Most Magical Place on Earth is sure to be special. To make sure it’s a birthday party they’ll never forget, proper planning is essential. Here are some tips to ensure your special birthday celebration is as magical as Disney World.
Remember Your Birthday Button
We’ve said it before, but we’re going to say it again because it’s so darn important. Whatever you do, don’t forget to pick up your free birthday button. Stop by City Hall at Magic Kingdom or guest services at any other Disney park, or visit the front desk at your Disney resort to get it, then wear it with pride. It is key to having a happy birthday at Disney World. Thank you for coming to our TED Talk.
Wear Birthday-Themed Items
Your birthday button isn’t the only piece of swag that lets everyone know you’re celebrating. You can also deck yourself out in all sorts of birthday-themed apparel, such as t-shirts and Mickey Mouse Birthday Ears. To make sure everyone around you knows who you’re celebrating, consider getting personalized group t-shirts from places like Etsy. #squadgoals
Shout It from the Rooftops
Although your birthday button certainly comes in handy in this department, you’ll also want to be proactive by adding your celebration to any activity, Disney resort or dinner reservations. When booking these experiences either online or through the app, you will be asked if you are celebrating anything special. So, now’s the time to pass that info along. You’ll also want to follow it up by letting a cast member know (again) during check-in that you’re there for a birthday. Can this feel like overkill? Possibly, but it’s well worth it if it results in free stuff.
Make Dining Reservations and Reserve Activities in Advance
As you can probably imagine, Disney World restaurants like Chef Mickey’s and Cinderella’s Royal Table are incredibly popular. So, if you want to secure a table at the birthday person’s eatery of choice, you’ll want to make your dining reservations early or risk missing out. Similarly, experiences like lightsaber building and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeovers are also highly in-demand. Make your reservations as early as possible so you can secure a spot for the special day. Most reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance.
Take Lots of Pictures
There’s no better way to commemorate a birthday at Disney World than by taking as many photos as possible. That way, you can always look back on the magical memories. The easiest way to do this is by taking advantage of the many Disney PhotoPass photographers located around the theme parks and Disney Springs. If you like, you can even splurge on a Capture Your Moment photo session at the Disney park of your choosing. Priced at $99, each session lasts 20 minutes and comes with your own private photographer. Then, make sure you have access to all the photos you take, and share your shots with all your family and friends, with Disney Memory Maker.
Things to Do at Walt Disney World for a Birthday
Not sure what else you can do for a birthday at the Most Magical Place on Earth? Whether you’re at a theme park, the water parks or Disney Springs, these Disney World birthday suggestions are the icing on the cake.
Magic Kingdom Birthday Ideas
Enjoy Sweet VIP Treatment at the Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties
Snack on a spread of treats at the Tomorrowland Terrace, then take in take in the glittering fireworks display from the reserved viewing section.
Take the Birthday Child for Their First Haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop
Located on Main Street, U.S.A., the Harmony Barber Shop offers a special package for a child’s first-ever haircut. Starting at $28, this celebratory trim is the perfect way to celebrate a first birthday and comes with a milestone certificate, a keepsake lock of hair and commemorative Mickey Ears.
Give Your Little Prince or Princess the Royal Treatment with a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Makeover
Located in Cinderella’s castle, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique offers regal makeovers inspired by Disney Princesses, as well as more knightly transformations. Each metamorphosis is completed by a skilled cast member designated as a Fairy Godmother’s Apprentice. To participate, guests must be between the ages of 3 and 12, making this an excellent choice if you’re celebrating your son’s or daughter’s birthday.
Dine Like Royalty at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest Restaurant
Whether it’s a princess party you’re after or a more princely soiree, these regal restaurants are an enchanting choice for a Magic Kingdom birthday dinner. Each features decadent dishes, while Cinderella’s Royal Table also includes appearances by select Disney Princesses. Since Be Our Guest Restaurant is located in his castle, the Beast has also been known to stop by and pose for a picture or two.
Epcot Birthday Ideas
Do Some Eating and Drinking Around the World (Showcase)
For all the adults out there, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday at this foodie theme park than by gorging yourself on a smorgasbord of global goodies from around World Showcase. Start in either the Canada or Mexico Pavilion, then eat and drink your way to the other side.
Take to The Seas
This one is for all the animal lovers and aspiring mermaids out there. For a birthday celebration you won’t soon forget, try one of the backstage tours at The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion, like swimming with dolphins to scuba diving in the massive saltwater aquarium.
Treat Yourself to a Memorable Meal
Epcot is known for its veritable buffet of incredible restaurants. For character dining, dine with Mickey Mouse at Garden Grill Restaurant or mingle with princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. For a more upscale experience, signature sit-down restaurants like Le Cellier Steakhouse, Space 220 Restaurant, Takumei-Tei and Monsieur Paul are not to be missed.
Looking for something more casual but still ideal for a birthday? Try Biergarten Restaurant or the culinary showmanship of Teppan Edo. Not to mention, there are also the fireworks dining packages (and waterfront views) at Spice Road Table and the Rose & Crown Dining Room.
Hollywood Studios Birthday Ideas
Enjoy a Birthday Dinner and VIP seating with a Fantasmic! Dining Package
If there’s one Disney nighttime spectacular you absolutely shouldn’t miss, it’s Fantasmic. To secure a great view and enjoy a delectable birthday meal in the process, consider booking a dining package. While Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater are all excellent choices, upgrade your dining experience at The Hollywood Brown Derby, the only signature restaurant at Hollywood Studios, or with a character meal at Hollywood & Vine instead.
Build Your Own Birthday Lightsaber or Droid
Is the birthday boy or girl in your party a Star Wars fan? Then book them an out-of-this-world experience at Savi’s Workshop or the Droid Depot. By the end of it, they’ll come away with the perfect birthday souvenir: a custom lightsaber or droid of their very own.
Animal Kingdom Birthday Ideas
Go Where the Wild Things Are
For the animal lover in your life, the best way to say “happy birthday” is with a backstage tour at Animal Kingdom Theme Park. With wild experiences like safaris and up-close encounters with rhinos and elephants, they’re sure to remember their special day for years to come.
Eat with Donald Duck and the Gang at Tusker House Restaurant
We love character dining for a Disney birthday celebration, making Tusker House Restaurant a must-do for an Animal Kingdom birthday. Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy all stop by to say “hello” (characters are subject to change) in the safari best, making for some undeniably fun birthday photos.
Disney Springs Birthday Ideas
Indulge in One of the Delicious Disney Springs Restaurants
Disney Springs is known for its impeccable dining options. So, consider one of the eateries here for your birthday meal. Jaleo by José Andrés, Morimoto Asia, The Boathouse, The Edison, Wine Bar George, STK Orlando and Raglan Road Irish Pub are all delicious in their own way.
Go for a Ride in a Vintage Amphicar from The Boathouse
After your meal, take in the views of Disney Springs from a vintage amphicar. Setting sail from The Boathouse, these aquatic automobiles are a ton of fun. Plus, if you like a lot of attention on your birthday, you’re sure to get it here, as a crowd always gathers when the amphicars launch into the water.
See Drawn to Life by Cirque du Soleil
For a more relaxing end to your birthday in the theme parks, make your way to Disney Springs for a showing of the new Cirque du Soleil stage show, Drawn to Life. Designed in partnership with Disney Animation, it’s an acrobatic spectacular that pays tribute to some of Disney’s most beloved films.
Challenge Your Crew to a Round of Bowling at Splitsville
If the birthday person has a competitive side, then you’ll definitely want to check out Splitsville Luxury Lanes. This upscale bowling alley also offers an impressive menu of food and drinks, as well as live music.
Disney Water Parks Birthday Ideas
Hang Ten During a Private Surfing Session at Typhoon Lagoon
Spend Your Birthday in Luxury with a Private Cabana
If you’re spending your birthday at Disney’s water parks, don’t fight for a spot in the shade. Just book a Polar Patio at Blizzard Beach or a Beachcomber Shack at Typhoon Lagoon instead. Each comes with towels, comfy chairs, refillable drink mugs and a cooler stocked with ice water.
Well, that wraps up our guide to celebrating a birthday at Disney World. What is your favorite way to spend a Disney birthday? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can save on your special day with discount Disney world tickets.