I cannot imagine a more exciting place to celebrate your birthday as a child than Walt Disney World. Where everything is larger than life, you can live out your fantasies and dreams really do come true! I always say that just visiting the parks at Walt Disney World is magical and special—you really don’t have to add anything to it for a special occasion, but there are some ways to “plus” your child’s birthday celebration at Disney.
10. Dine with your favorite character
This one is pretty simple, but can produce many smiles and memorable moments. If your child is celebrating his or her birthday at Walt Disney World schedule a character meal for them. There are so many options to choose from whether they want to dine with Royalty, or hang out with the classic gang of Mickey & Friends. You could visit a resort or a park to enjoy the meal. You have a few different options with the princesses and some element of the “Fab 5,” and you can also dine with Winnie the Pooh & the Gang, Disney Junior favorites, Lilo & Stitch, and Mary Poppins, Alice and the Mad Hatter. Not only does your child get to feel special meeting their favorite friends, but the food is pretty good too. Want to add another fun element? You can call ahead to many locations and order a special cake with your meal, or at most you can request a more generic cake at the podium (all are an additional charge). And be sure to note their birthday celebration when you make the reservation.
9. All the toys!!
Do you remember those commercials of kids at Toys ‘R Us on a shopping spree getting every toy their imagination desired? Picture that, but in a gigantic store filled with Disney toys and merchandise. How fun would it be to visit World of Disney at Disney Springs for a birthday shopping spree? (I have to admit, even as an adult this would be pretty awesome). You can definitely set a budget but then turn your child loose to pick out their own birthday gifts at this amazing store that is as fun to visit and look around at all of the décor as it is to shop.
8. Spend time together
Yes, you will be together during your entire Walt Disney World vacation, but let’s face it, the parks can be a little distracting. Disney offers some really fun activities that can help you slow down, get back to nature and spending time together. Do you have a child who loves horses or dreams of being a cowboy like Woody? Over at Fort Wilderness you can go on a Horseback Trail Ride, or maybe for smaller children one of the pony rides. If you choose the trail ride be sure to register in advance. Is fishing more your family’s speed? Disney offers chartered fishing excursions from several resort locations including the Magic Kingdom Resorts around Bay Lake, or the Yacht Club on Crescent Lake. These trips (where you are almost guaranteed to catch a big one) are great ways to connect and make birthday memories.
7. A friendly competition
Think about all of those birthday party activities that you would do if you were at home, and multiply the fun level by 10 at Walt Disney World. At Disney Springs your family can go bowling at Splitsville, a super fun bowling alley that features not only bowling but some tasty eats as well. Be sure to call or ask about discount specials for bowling at non-peak times of day. Walt Disney World is also home to 2 Miniature Golf Courses. Winter Summerland near Blizzard Beach features two very fun themed courses to try (Santa has taken off to Florida theme), it is my favorite for light hearted family fun. Over near the Boardwalk you will find Fantasia Gardens miniature golf. One course here is your typical mini golf course, but the other course, Fantasia Fairways is for the serious golfer. The Fairways side is more like an actual golf course with now stoppers or borders to the course, and complete with some hazards. If you are really a competitive family you’ve got to give this one a try.
6. The Family Fun Tour
At the Magic Kingdom they host a tour called the Family Fun Tour where you embark on a scavenger hunt through the Magic Kingdom. Guided by an official Disney guide, you will solve riddles and find clues all over the park. Parents & kids work together and even find themselves in some humorous situations. It all ends with a big surprise. A very fun way to celebrate a birthday kid! Pre-registration is required at 407-WDW-TOUR and a fee is charged in addition to park admission. If you are looking for a more custom experience for just your family you can work with a company called Gifts of a Lifetime (not affiliated with Disney) to create a personalized scavenger hunt just for you.
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5. ALL The Thrills!
Do you have a big kid who loves thrill rides? Why not add the park hopper option to your tickets & try to hit every thrill ride in one day? This will take some planning and strategy to know the Extra Magic Hours parks, the regular park hours, and the best options and timing for FastPasses, but how fun would this be?? Maybe you hit at least 2 thrill rides in each park: Expedition Everest and Dinosaur or Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom; Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Test Track and Soarin’ at Epcot (or sub in Mission:Space); and then you have lots of choices at Magic Kingdom. To make an even bigger challenge throw in a visit to Disney Springs to experience the Characters in Flight balloon.
4. Party Like a Pirate
Walt Disney World offers an amazing adventure for kids at several of their resorts, Pirate Adventure Cruises. Children ages 4-12 embark on the cruise without parents under the watchful eye of their Cast Member first mates. They receive pirate bandanas and search for clues to discover their booty at the end of the 2 hour experience. A snack is also included. My boys did this experience twice and loved it. You can schedule their cruise (advance registration required) for a departure from the Yacht Club, Grand Floridian, Port Orleans, or Caribbean Beach Club resorts. Parents have to find their own fun to have while their kids are looking for treasure. I liked the Yacht Club option because you can walk right over to Epcot if you wanted. Other resorts you might consider a breakfast option, or maybe even a quick spa appointment at Grand Floridian.
3. A Makeover
Kids, just like adults, love to be pampered. Walt Disney World has some great options for both boys and girls to have a makeover for their birthday. You can choose the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom or Disney Springs for a princess beauty session. You can choose from several different options (& price points) with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You can even bring your own dress if you prefer. Don’t forget about photo ops after they become a princess. At Pirate’s League the transformation is even more elaborate than the princess makeover. Makeup is used to turn your child into a scurvy pirate ready to join the leagues of Jack Sparrow. It is a lot of fun for the kids and for the adults to watch. And how much fun to walk around the parks made up like one of your favorite characters for the day!
2. A Place in the Shade
Kids love waterparks. I think this is just one of the rules of nature. Not that I don’t like a fun waterpark like the two at Walt Disney World, but kids can spend the entire day there and still not be ready to leave. You can add the Water Park Fun & More option to your tickets to have multiple entries to Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach (& it is only slightly more than the single day ticket), or you can just buy a ticket to the park for the day. But, if you are going to be at a waterpark all day why not add a little bonus and rent a cabana for the day? Then you have reserved seats, a shady spot and some privacy. The cabana will make the kids feel like VIPs and it gives the adults a place to relax after sliding down Summit Plummet for the 10th time.
1. Out with a Bang!
I really can’t think of a better way to celebrate anyone’s birthday than to end it with an amazing fireworks show. And you can’t beat Disney for amazing fireworks. You have an option of parks to see fireworks, and a variety of “special” ways to plus the experience. You could reserve a private fireworks cruise to watch either Wishes at Magic Kingdom or Illuminations at Epcot (complete with drinks and snacks). At Magic Kingdom there is a group fireworks cruise, Pirates & Pals, that offers some fun kid-oriented activities, an amazing view of Wishes, and a special surprise at the end. If you prefer to stay on dry land reserving one of the fireworks dessert parties might be the best way to celebrate—watch your fireworks & eat cake too!
What do you recommend for a special child’s birthday celebration?