Editor’s Note:Welcome back to the WDW Radio Exchange, where a panel of Disney experts answer Disney vacation planning questions from a variety of unique perspectives. Today, our awesome panel takes on a popular question–what to do about a birthday celebration in The World.
Any Disney fan likely thinks about the joy of celebrating a birthday in the most magical place on Earth. But besides picking up the requisite birthday button and ordering a birthday cake, how can one add even MORE magic to a Disney birthday celebration for a grown-up kid? Check out how the members of our roundtable answered this note from Lou’s mailbag, and please add YOUR ideas in the comments below!
“Hi, Lou! I hope this email finds you well. I’ve been hovering around ‘in The Box’ for a month or so and it’s getting very near to a departure date for the ‘world’ 69 days to go and I still haven’t planned anything for my fiancé’s 27th birthday!! I seem to remember something similar being discussed in a podcast but cannot remember which one. Any ideas? We are staying at the Beach Club Resort for 14 nights travelling from the UK. We have 2 kids aged 5 (girl) and 3 (boy) and I really wanted them to share the evening with us. Any ideas for something different and special would be greatly received. —James”
Jim (The Chairman): Ahhhh -14 nights at the Beach Club, now that is what I call a vacation! A great dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse is one of our favorites but perhaps not for a 5 and 3 year old. More “family oriented” might be Beaches and Cream and what family fun sharing a Kitchen Sink would be. Follow that up with an Illuminations cruise. If you want a bit more of a formal dinner kids always seem to enjoy the chefs cooking table side at Teppan Edo. To capture the memories maybe check out a private photo session. We did that once at the Beach Club. Really nice shots in the gardens by the Beach Club and on the beach.
Tonya (Super Mom): It is so nice that you are planning something special for your fiancé’s birthday, James. If your soon-to-be wife is anything like me, what she will enjoy most is what will make the kids the happiest. With your kids’ ages in mind, I have a few suggestions. The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage is a wonderful way to spend the evening. Your family will meet Pirate Patch at Disney’s Contemporary Resort where you will receive your official pirate bandana. Then you’ll join others in a room where you will be entertained (corny jokes abound) and have picture opportunities with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee – all while being able to snack on fun food (cotton candy, pretzels, soda, etc.). Then head off to your boat where you will set sail for the Seven Seas Lagoon and watch the fireworks over Cinderella Castle from the water. Even if you’ve seen them before, it is amazing to see them with both the castle and the train station below them. If you plan your cruise on a day that the Electrical Water Pageant is scheduled, your boat will pull you right alongside the barges to watch! Always finishing with a surprise, a very special mystery guest will be awaiting your return to shore. Don’t forget to tell them it’s your birthday! I have to say that you will love it as much as the kids. It’s a little pricey ($54 for adults and $31 for children) but well worth it.
If some family alone time is more your style, head to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for a carriage ride. For $45.00 you will enjoy a relaxing horse drawn carriage ride through the grounds of Fort Wilderness. While you are there, don’t miss the Tri-Circle-D Ranch where you can see the horses that pull trolleys down Main Street, USA relaxing. Schedule your carriage ride for late in the day and you can join in the Campfire Sing-A-Long hosted by Chip ‘n Dale. The campfire is free but you can purchase a S’mores kit if you’d like to make them. Head over to the Campfire Cinema after the bonfire to watch a classic Disney movie under the stars.
Of course, birthday ideas are plentiful on Walt Disney World property and whatever you choose will be greatly appreciated. These are just two ideas that will take you out of the parks but still “in the world” to see things that you may not otherwise experience! Enjoy your vacation!
Happy (Fitness / Health): How about a family round of Miniature Golf at either Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens??? I love the theming of all of the courses and a good time may be had at each of them. Your kids are just on the boundary of being able to enjoy playing but, even if they don’t actually “play”, they will be on sensory overload from all of the scenery and animated effects on many of the holes.
Alyssa (The Newlywed):I think my answer would depend on what your fiancé is interested in–is she someone who would like to spend an evening with characters and possibly be made the center of attention? Or does she prefer something quiet? If she is interested in the fun evening, maybe with some interesting “characters,” then I might suggest a place like Chef Mickey’s or somewhere even more crazy–Whispering Canyon Cafe (ask for the ketchup). We went to Chef Mickey’s for dinner on our first wedding anniversary and it was perfect. Most people would want a romantic venue, but we wanted something fun and different. On the plus side, your kids will think you planned this dinner for them!
If you are looking for a quiet dinner, try a place like ‘Ohana at the Polynesian. The food is one of my favorites at the World and it is a perfect place to celebrate (with all the meat and bread pudding that you could eat). If you want something really special, make sure to book a later dinner and then watch the fireworks from the beach.
Richard (Grandparent): I have to confess I have never done what I am about to suggest so I may be spending your money in a way that I still haven’t yet done myself! It seems to me that a glorious activity would be to do an Illuminations Cruise! Imagine how they would enjoy being amidst (or near at least) the color, sound, and music of Illuminations!
Brian (Timekeeper): Wow! 14 nights is a lot of time to soak in the magic! I always suggest renting a magical pontoon boat that provides Illuminations cruises at EPCOT. For birthdays, they decorate the boat accordingly and you get a private 1.5 hour cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Illuminations fireworks show, and are truly treated like a VIP. Food can be catered on board as well. The boat seats up to 10 and departs from the Yacht and Beach Club Marina or the Boardwalk Marina. Enjoy your trip!
JJ (Teenager): Celebrating a birthday in Walt Disney World is such a fond family memory, so the decision to bring the kids along is great! As Lou would probably suggest himself, dining is absolutely necessary. And admittedly, sometimes we teens can be somewhat on the picky side of things when it comes to food. So, putting a teen in this scenario of a birthday celebration with the family, I’d suggest Crystal Palace, a character dining experience with a buffet. It offers a wide variety and has something for everyone to enjoy. Put that together with a ride on the birthday boy/girl’s favorite attraction (That would be Haunted Mansion for me) and a viewing of Wishes, and you’ve got one special night! Another favorite combination is Teppan Edo in Japan at Epcot coupled with IllumiNations afterwards. Celebrating a family member or friend’s birthday in WDW can be so special. Make it THEIR day, letting him/her be “king” or “queen” and choose where to go, what attractions to go on, etc. Of course, all is dependent on personal preference, but I hope these suggestions help out!
Darby (Disneyland): Birthdays are always so hard. Honestly, it’s hard to plan for a birthday but what I would recommend since you do want the kids involved, is of course to make sure your fiance (congratulations by the way!) gets her Celebrate my Birthday pin at the entrance so that way everyone knows to wish her a happy birthday all day. I would also recommend going to Ariel’s Grotto for dinner and then get reserved seating for World of Color. Ariel’s Grotto has a package that allows you to eat there with a set menu, you get to meet some of the Disney princesses throughout the meal, then get special reserved seating for World of Color so you won’t have to hassle around trying to get seats. I don’t know the exact prices but I do know it’s worth it. I strongly believe both your kids and your fiance will thank you for this afterwards!
How have YOU celebrated a birthday for an adult in Walt Disney World? Post your thoughts in the comments below!