Yours truly is having a birthday next Thursday (and, I really can’t fathom how I didn’t plan to be at a Disney Park on my 30th!!), so I thought I’d share some of the fun ways to celebrate your birthday at the Disney parks and resorts. I may have missed the boat this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to!

Get Your Birthday Button

Often if you note on your reservation that you’re celebrating a birthday (or any other special event for that matter), you’ll receive a special celebration button upon check-in.  However, you can ask for this button at any resort front desk or guest services in any park or Downtown Disney.  Sport it proudly, but get ready to repeat “Thank you!,” or some variation, throughout the day (or trip, depending on how often you decide to keep the button displayed).

Special buttons from our club check-in cast member.

Get Park Wise: There is no need for proof of your birth date to get the button.  Some people choose to get one only if it’s their actual birthday and only wear it on the day.  Some choose to wear it if they’re celebrating their birthday during the trip.  Some choose to pick a day to wear it, while others stick it on every day of their trip.  Despite strongly opinionated Disney geeks on the internet, there is no right or wrong way to use the birthday button, so pick your poison and get ready for the onslaught of “Happy birthday!”

The birthday button is really your only guaranteed freebie from Disney, but cast members will often sprinkle a little extra pixie dust if you’ve got your pin in view.  Our crew has consistently received complimentary desserts from table service restaurants and even a quick-service restaurant or two, as well as special table decorations when the celebration was noted on our dining reservation (you can do this when making the reservation or add it at the restaurant).  Character dining restaurants often gift a birthday card with character autographs, too.


Celebration buttons are pretty popular at the parks, especially thanks to the recent “Celebrate Today” promotion that pretty much invited guests to celebrate everything from report cards to someone else’s birthday to spring break (we were given an “I’m Celebrating Spring Break!” without prompting that year).  However, even in the sea of pins, cast members may occasional single out a birthday celebrant for special parts in shows, a front-of-the-line gift or a complimentary Mickey bar.  These are few and far between when compared to the restaurant goodies, but keeping that button visible might possibly give you a leg up on the crowd.

Specialty Birthday Cakes

Pre-made standard cakes can be purchased at most table service restaurants (check in advance just to be sure), but did you know you could also order custom cakes at Disneyland (714-781-3463) and Walt Disney World (407-827-2253 ) and have it delivered right to your table at any table service restaurant?  You can chat with one of the specialists at the “cake hotline” and, for the right price, you can have almost any cake dream come true!

Here’s an iPhone shot of a very special Tower of Terror themed cake.

Get Cake Wise: I suggest doing this at a non-buffet dinner and/or early in your vacation.  We ordered one to be delivered at Chef Mickey’s, and we were so stuffed from the dinner that we didn’t eat much of the cake.  Hence the second tip about ordering it earlier in the trip.  The restaurant will provide you with the cake box, and you can snack on the leftover treat throughout the rest of your vacation.

Disney Room Celebrations

Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer in-room celebrations and gifts at various price points.  You can choose to go with a modest give basket or a big blow-out, depending on taste and budget.  Check out Disney Floral and Gifts for more information.

Here’s a video of Mickey surprising Dusty and Fishbulb with some Halloween decor and gifts:

Get Surprise Wise: If Disney Floral is outside your budget or you can’t quite find the right set-up, consider bringing your own surprise and setting it up while the guest of honor is out of the room.  Additionally, outside vendors often offer similar gift baskets for delivery at a lower price point.

Party On


Guests at Walt Disney World can celebrate a birthday at Goofy’s Candy Co. in Downtown Disney.  A special party room decked out for a sweet celebration would be perfect for any little Disney fan.  While you must typically be a registered guest to use a pool at a Disney resort, Disney Vacation Club members may set up pool parties at the resort where they are staying.  Contact DVC recreation for more information.  Looking for a more grown-up venue?  Drop the guys at Jellyrolls a line prior to arrival via their Facebook page or chat with the manager when you arrive at the bar to see if a little fun embarrassment can’t be arranged for the birthday boy or girl.


How do you celebrate your birthday at Disney?  What are your tips for making the special day extra magical?

  • Wagi

    Happy Birthday Jessica!

  • Mouseaphile

    My sisters and I have birthdays within a few weeks of each other and always celebrate at Disneyland. Wearing our buttons, we’re often asked if we are triplets (flattering to me, the eldest, not so to my younger sisters). On one visit the waitress at Blue Bayou brought us fabulous, Mickey shaped, chocolate mousse. We try to have our pictures taken at a different location or with a different pose each year. This last year was the best however. A cast member cashier at the Emporium decided we deserved a “Magical Moment” and led the entire compliment of the store, guests and all, in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday. Sisters and I laughed until we cried!

  • stevek

    Hey, my birthday is December 19th as well so Happy Birthday!! I will be celebrating at an LA Kings game that night with my wife and daughters but will also be celebrating at Disneyland on the 21st. Buttons are a must and I usually get some type of treat someplace i.e. a cupcake. We did my 40th at Disneyland and ate at Steakhouse 55…they were nice enough to bring out a wonderful chocolate cake with Happy 40th Steve written in chocolate.

    • Woohoo! Right back atcha, Steve! Sounds like you’ll be doing a lot of celebrating this year!

  • daveyjones

    i try to have dinner at blue bayou every year on my birthday. although this year we have friends joining us, so i think it’s going to be carthay instead (where they have never dined).

    for my 35th, my partner found a disneyland CM 35th birthday ribbon on ebay, and we affixed it to my birthday button, forming a cool badge. i looked like the mayor of frontierland from the golden horseshoe walking around wearing that thing!

    i should also mention that if you skew dapper, it’s really fun to dress up for your birthday visit; makes it all the more classier.

    • Aww! What a sweet thing to do for your 35th! I’d love to go a little dapper next time I celebrate a birthday at Disney. Bet that’s a lot of fun and makes for some great birthday pics!

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I’ve spent many a birthday at a Disney park, starting with my 15th at Disneyland back in the 80s. That one still tops as being the best birthday ever. I’ve collected various birthday buttons over the years. Did you know some of the parks had park-specific birthday buttons at one point? It’s true! I have Epcot and Downtown Disney specific buttons as well as a generic one (which is different from the one now). I’ve gotten various freebies at restaurants (desserts mostly… the best was getting a free churro with my lunch at the Cantina in Mexico at Epcot one year), but my fave little special moment was when a Jungle Cruise skipper saw I was wearing a birthday button and let me “drive” the boat!

    Next year is my 40th and I’ll most likely celebrate at WDW as usual. This should be an interesting one! 😉

  • DobbysCloset

    Happy Birthday Jessica! A Very Merry Unbirthday to All!

    I have decided that I like Jessica’s columns because they take account that there might be an eight-year-old in the mix, confirming my belief that, when it comes to Disneyland, I am eternally eight years old.

    The only birthday gift I ever asked for as an adult was to be taken to Disneyland. My husband , a total couchophile, would indulge me annually.

    I do not believe in wearing the Birthday Button for more than one day, on the Birthday or on another selected day. Getting special attention from CM’s for more than one day is being greedy and they work hard enough as it is. Asking for Birthday attention on an UnBirthday is Mad as a Hatter. But I do believe in wearing the Birthday Button all day long on one’s Birthday regardless of where one is, because it brings the Magic into the outside world!

    Dogs celebrate every day equally, so I understand that every visit to Disneyland is Cause to Celebrate. But my last trip, in 2009, was indeed a birthday trip that coincided with the Free Admission on your Birthday promotion. I went on the Footsteps with Walt tour with a private guide! I did have a special champagne meal in a very adult and highly-regarded restaurant in Downtown Disney (disappointing) and bought myself a special gold & pearl Mickey Pendant as a souvenir; I also got a tattoo to memorialize the trip.

    My perfect Disneyland Birthday Trip would be to receive a gift envelope at my birthday party at home with a surprise trip in it. If I were a kid, first thing I would want to do is go to Bibbidi or Pirates to get appropriately costumed for the day. There would definitely be a character lunch and a cake with it, and your idea of having cake to snack on throughout the visit is good although I would prefer a tiny cake.

    But, at the end of the day, as an adult, there would be a visit to Napa Rose. And fireworks.

    • Thanks so much! And I might be a little biased because there actually is an eight year old in our mix (well, at least for the last and next six months). 😉

      Looks like a great birthday scenario. Hope you get to do it one year!

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    After reading these Park Wise columns, I can’t wait to go to WDW and tour the parks “Jessica Ma’ilo-Style”. Every time I read one, I have to take notes and remind myself to do things the way Jessica does them. She is awesome!!!

  • amyuilani

    Back when I was a CM, I used to chat it up with birthday people who were visiting from afar on their birthdays. Things I used to do for them (back when we were allowed to): backdoor pass, free balloon, re-ride, drive my boat on Jungle Cruise (it’s on a track and it doesn’t hurt anything), and get the crowd to sing to them. I didn’t do it all the time, but it was fun.

    Happy birthday, Jessica!

  • ImLadyHesTheTramp

    Happy Birthday Jessica! My problem is my birthday is on December 31st…sigh. The park is so busy, that I am often just one in a very large crowd. I am going to Disneyland later this month, so maybe I should celebrate on another day, as you don’t have to show ID, so I can enjoy some of the fun!

    • I feel you on that!! With a birthday so close to Christmas, the crowds are starting to make their way to Disney. One year I’ll spend the actual birthday in the parks, but preferring to go during slower times, it’ll probably be a once in a lifetime occurrence. Haha!

      Happy early birthday!

  • WorldLover71

    My birthday is the exact middle of summer so I have NO interest in being in hot, steamy WDW for it! Fortunately I have a friend who’s birthday is the exact middle of winter so we went to DL for his birthday and had a great time. He wore a birthday button and the rest of us wore “I’m Celebrating” buttons. We didn’t get any freebies (nor did we expect any) but we were treated very well.

    • Sounds like a nice compromise. Maybe next time you celebrate your half birthday! I did that as a kid since so many people were busy during the December holidays and the weather was always iffy. It was nice to do something summery for a change and not worry about having to cancel my party because of snow and ice.