Our family loves to go to Walt Disney World in October. The weather is great. The crowds are low. We can enjoy Epcot's Food and Wine Festival and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. October is also my son's and my husband's birthdays. We've celebrated 3 of my son's last 4 birthdays in Disney World. (We skipped 2012 because we had a big Christmas trip planned.) Every trip to Disney World is magical, but celebrating a birthday (or wedding, anniversary, personal milestone, etc.) can be extra special.
The most essential part of any celebration is the Birthday button. If you're staying onsite, when you book, let the Cast Member know that you are are celebrating and the button(s) will be waiting for you when you check in. You can also pick up buttons at your resort or at Guest Services in any park. Disney also has Celebration buttons for “1st Visit”, “Happily Ever After”, “Happy Anniversary”, “Family Reunion” and a general, “I'm Celebrating”, but the “Happy Birthday” button is extra special because it has room to write the birthday boy or girl's name on it.
I alway get a lot of questions about who can wear the Birthday button, and the answer is – anyone who is celebrating a birthday. Buttons are available for kids and adults and it doesn't matter if your birthday is the day you're in the park, a week before or 6 months away. If you're celebrating, that's all that matters. Our three October trips have all been right around my son's birthday – a few days before, on his birthday and a week after. On these trips he wore his Birthday button for the entire trip. My husband's birthday is in early October and I convinced him to wear it on one of those trips. (Note: If you really don't want the personal attention, the Birthday button may not be for you.)
What happens when you wear your Birthday button? In short, Cast Members and characters everywhere will go out of their way to call you by name and wish you a happy birthday. Once we were even watching the afternoon parade in Magic Kingdom, and Alice called out my son's name from the top of a parade float. It's great fun for kids and adults alike, but it's especially exciting for young children when everyone in Disney World knows your name. Sometimes you'll also get extra pixie dust – a balloon, a sticker, a Mickey lollipop, an extra kindness. At Epcot's Kidcot stations the Cast Members will often write special birthday messages in your passport, for example.
And once in a shop, a Cast Member told my son that Goofy had been trying to reach him all day and handed him the phone to hear Goofy's birthday message.
I've since learned that you can request these phone calls in your Disney resort room. Just dial the operator and ask for the character birthday message. I'm thinking about doing this for my husband on our next October trip. You're never too old for pixie dust surprises.
The Birthday button may also increase your chance of getting selected for special activities like Captain Jack's Pirate Tutorial.
Keep in mind, the pixie dust is generally small things, and there are no guarantees, but it's the unexpectedness of these little gestures that makes the pixie dust so magical.
Decorating Your Resort Room
If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that making our own pixie dust is a big part of my trip planning. Birthday celebrations are a great excuse to make extra pixie dust. In 2011 our October trip fell on my son's actual 9th birth day, so I decided to plan a surprise party. His birthday fell on our last full day, and we had already given him a Kindle before the trip, so he really wasn't expecting anything. On that morning I took him down to breakfast while the rest of the family got ready. When we came back there was a sign and door hanger on the door.
Inside the room was a banner and, of course, a pile of presents.
If you're staying onsite you will often see decorated doors in your resort, especially at Halloween or Christmas time. Rules can vary from resort to resort but I have two recommendations that should keep you in the clear
- Keep external (i.e., door, window, balcony) displays tasteful and understated.
- Don't use tape or adhesive that will damage the paint or leave a sticky residue.
Window clings or vinyl decorations are a great no-stick solution. Suction cups, string and 3M Command Hooks are also great solutions for hanging signs, banners and lights. Some of the Value resorts, and also cruise ships, have metal doors, so magnets work well for hanging door decorations. Also, the Disney World resorts (except Animal Kingdom Lodge) often have balloons in the lobby. Stop by the front desk and ask for a few. For more decorating ideas checking out Episode 68: Ideas for Pixie Dusting Your Vacations.
I got my printables from the wonderful DISigners at DISboards.com. But here at Capturing Magic, our own wonderful designer, Krisi, has been hard at work making printables for your own magical celebration.
The set includes a 9-piece “Celebrate” and a door sign. Download the Birthday Printable Set 1 HERE.
Of course, it wouldn't be a birthday celebration without cake, and Disney gives you lots of options for birthday cakes. First, if you're pre-booking a table-service restaurant, tell them that you're celebrating a birthday. All of the table-service restaurant will provide a complimentary dessert for the birthday boy or girl.
At some of the character meals, you'll also get a personalized birthday card signed by the characters. At The Crystal Palace we arrived to find our table sprinkled with pixie dust (i.e., Mickey sequins) and my son received this wonderful card.
If you want a larger cake for the whole family to share or a customized cake, you can order one for delivery to your table-service restaurant or pickup at the Boardwalk Bakery. If you're staying at a resort that offers Private Dining, you can also get it delivered to your room. Customized cakes require at least 72 hours, but not more than 3 weeks, advance notice. Non-customized cakes may be available on short notice. For more information, call the Cake Hotline at (407) 827-2253.
I've never ordered a cake (we always have more than enough sweet desserts on our trip), but I did order a very special dessert as a surprise for my mother – Cinderella's “Glass” Slipper.
This special dessert can also be ordered via the Cake Hotline at (407) 827-2253, but is only available at Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom or at any of the Grand Floridian's table-service restaurants, Citricos, 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Cafe, Narcoossee's or Victoria and Albert's. When I visited Disney World last year with my parents, I planned lunch at 1900 Park Fare, so this was the perfect opportunity to indulge in this decadent treat. And, yes, it was totally worth it!
So far we've covered the Birthday button, room decorations and yummy birthday treats, but, of course, there's so much more to a birthday celebration. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Magical Birthday Celebrations where we'll talk about cards, presents, photos and, of course, more pixie dust. In the mean time, please share with us your birthday celebration ideas and experiences.