We started the tradition of celebrating Disneyland Birthdays when our two oldest were 1 & 3. It was our way of escaping with them for one last day before they graduated onto their next year in life. One last time to soak them up without all the fuss & chaos of party guests.
Over the years our Disneyland Birthdays expanded to include Disney World, Aulani and Disney Cruise Line. But, one thing remained the same. We made time STOP, we poured out tons of love on our babes and we created a tradition and memories that I hold close to my heart. With all of our experience, we have also learned a thing or two about making the most out of your Disneyland Birthdays so below are some tips to help you make your day EXTRA magical!!!
1. Dress Up
When your kids are little the idea of dressing up at the parks is super fun… especially with girls (in my case anyway). With my daughters who have fall birthdays I planned their Halloween costumes around a Disney character to save a bit of money on costumes. You can also order Disney themed costumes online at Amazon and save that way too. Or Target and H&M usually have some great options when it comes to Disney Themed Shirts like the outfit I found above at Target.
For my boys we went a different route. We purchased a Disneyland Birthday Cake Hat at the Mad Hatter’s Store in Fantasyland and they would wear that on their big day with a character shirt. One year I purchased personalized ones from the Disney Store Online and they really loved them because no missed wishing them a “Happy Birthday” with the big label on the back- ha!
2. Character Dining
Of course there is no better place to dine with little ones than at a restaurant with their favorite characters. I will never forget my daughters 2nd birthday (above) when she locked eyes with her role model for the first time- PRICELESS!!!
When it comes to Character Dining at the Disneyland Parks there are some great options including:
Goofy’s Kitchen | Breakfast or Dinner with Goofy & Friends
Goofy’s Kitchen is an American style restaurant served buffet style so there are a ton of options for even the pickiest eaters. If you are there for breakfast you have to try their famous Mickey Waffles or if you want to eat healthy made to order omelettes are available too. You can usually catch Goofy himself + Pluto, Minnie, Chip & Dale there too!
Princess Breakfast Adventures at the Grand Californian
Disneyland birthdays are super special so if you want to go all out on a breakfast, this is the place. You don’t need to stay at the Grand Californian to experience this incredible breakfast. However this is by far the most extravagant character breakfast you will ever go to. You will see a wide variety of princesses including Jasmine, Aurora, Pocahontas and more. There is a special gift the children will receive along with an autograph book. It is a one of a kind event. Check out my full review for more details.
Plaza Inn | Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park (Park Admission Required)
This is actually our FAVORITE place to dine… especially if you are looking to find characters that you wouldn’t normally see walking around the parks. Plaza Inn is another breakfast buffet like Goofy’s Kitchen but I think the food here is a little bit better. My kids love that they find unique characters and can score awesome autographs from people like: The Fairy Godmother, Suzy, Captain Hook, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Max Goof, Rafiki, Geppeto & Pinocchio.
*Pro Tip- book the earliest reservation as you are let into the park to dine prior to opening. By the time you are done you will still be one of the first people at Disneyland that day!!!
Storyteller’s Cafe | Chip & Dale’s Critter Breakfast
This restaurant has fantastic food options and I wish they would extend their character experience to include dinner. But, currently they only have a character option at breakfast. Still better food than the other options available in my opinion but the character line up is a little ho hum (or great if you like those hard to find characters). Here you will most likely find woodland & jungle animals like: Brer Bear, Brer Fox, Kenai, Koda, Meeko and Turk.
Disney’s PCH Grill | Surf’s Up Mickey & Friends Breakfast
This one is a bit off the beaten path and usually a tad easier to get a reservation at because it is located at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Here you will find a California inspired menu including omelettes, frittatas, beef chilaquiles and not to miss banana fosters french toast!!! The characters are dressed in their finest beach attire and you can usually catch: Daisy, Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, Pluto & Stitch here.
*Pro Tip- this is the ONLY breakfast where you can dine with BOTH Mickey & Minnie!
Of course, if you happen to be visiting Walt Disney World they have a bunch of options too. But, our personal favorite is the Chef Mickey’s Restaurant!!!
3. Birthday Themed Rides
You definitly won’t want to miss riding on the three birthday themed rides in Disneyland including: Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and The Haunted Mansion!
4. Disneyland Birthday Hotel Stay
Not your cheapest option but the hotels are definitely a way to extend the magic and if you contact them at the time of booking they usually will through in something a little extra for your birthday boy & girl like an autographed birthday card from their favorite character (pictured above) for FREE.
We like to pack additional birthday decorations and one of us (parents) sneaks off and decorates the room before the kids come in. Their excitement level is off the charts when they walk in… I highly recommend it!
5. New Orleans Band
Did you know that the band in New Orleans Square will sing you a special Happy Birthday Song upon request when you show them your Birthday Button? Pretty cool right!!
6. TREATS!!! (Even Free Ones)
In our house birthdays = sweet treats and LOTS of them! So, we make our rounds. Ghiradelli’s is a great place to start. They hand out FREE samples and usually on your birthday you score a few extra. Of course there are tons of cupcakes, ice creams, chocolate and candy all over the park. But, a few of them we think are a little extra special like character caramel apples (ask for a knife to make them easier to eat).
A Cotton Candy Lemonade is sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces… probably mine too!
And, a hand-dipped chocolate ice cream bar from Clarabelle’s is sure to dazzle them… Ella likes her’s rolled in sprinkles and pop rocks 😉
We also save balloon buying specifically for birthday celebrations because nothing screams birthday than a bright shiny balloon hanging over your head. Also, if for some reason the balloon gets lost or flies away, simply reach out to guest services and they will happily replace it for you.
8. Autograph Book
With all the character meet and greets you are likely to hit on your child’s special visit make sure to pack an autograph book and a few pens. When characters notice your kiddo’s birthday pin they may even write them a special note 😉
9. Custom Cakes & Treats
Besides grabbing a cupcake or candy at one of the stores you can also order a custom cake and have it delivered to one of the select table service dining spots around the parks or the Disneyland hotel. For more info on that see the Disneyland website here.
10. Birthday Button
And, of course… you HAVE to get your BIRTHDAY BUTTON. Disney Cast Members all over the parks will greet Birthday Button wearers and wish them a “Happy Birthday”. I also have noticed some special treatment like being picked for shows, announced over the loud speaker on certain rides and a little extra love from the characters. And, if you grab front row for the parade you will grab some extra attention there as well.
Buttons are available inside at City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland Park or at Guest Services in Disney California Adventure Park. Park Admission is required.
*Pro Tip- if you wear a tiara + a birthday button you will be addressed as a “Birthday Princess” which your little girls will eat up!
Kick off the first seconds of their birthday by staying up til midnight and singing them Happy Birthday on Main St. as you ride down the trolley. We did this last year with our son Owen and he loved it. (Dad had to run alongside the trolley as the baby was asleep in the stroller. Check out the video!
Celebrating in this way has created some incredible memories for our family. As our number of littles grew we also added a new element to save money and that is taking each child alone. Our kids LOVE the special time they get with mom and dad all to themselves and we soak up every second!
Disneyland Birthday Myth Busters:
Front of Line Birthday Passes are sadly not real: We have never seen this in all the years, so as far as we know, this one is a Myth!
FREE Ice Cream: At Disney World, we heard about this and asked a cast member at an Ice Cream Cart, he said, “Do you mean a Magical Moment” and he offered an Ice Cream to my son who just turned six. Other times we have asked the cast members seemed confused. Our kids have received the ice cream about 50% of the time. So this one is neither myth, nor true. I say give it a shot.
If you wear your birthday button, you’ll get lots of greetings. People might even sing to you while standing in line, but your special day won’t get you to the front of it.
Have you visited Disneyland to celebrate a birthday??
If you need help planning and booking your magical Disneyland vacation, contact our friends at Tink’s Magical Vacations. They are truly Disney Experts, and not only are their services FREE, but they will save you both time and money. Plus, they will definitely have some great Disneyland Birthday Ideas.
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