Celebrating a Birthday at the Disneyland Resort

by Megan Walker, contributing writer

Disneyland is the "Happiest Place on Earth" every day of the year, but especially on a birthday. As someone who has spent my last four birthdays at Disneyland, let me tell you, it’s a great way to spend the day. While how you celebrate at Disneyland depends on what you personally like to do, here are just a few of my favorites.

The Birthday Button

By now everyone probably already knows about the birthday buttons from Disneyland, and they still remain a great way to celebrate a birthday in the park. You can pick up the (newly redesigned) buttons pretty much anywhere these days, including: Guest Services, City Hall, the ticket booths, and any of the shops or restaurants. Simply ask a cast member for a birthday button and they will write your name on it for you to proudly wear around the park. When you wear your button, be prepared to be greeted with a “Happy Birthday” by just about everyone, cast members and guests alike.

Disneyland Resort Birthday Button. Photo by Megan Walker.

The Free Desserts

Now is time for the FREE desserts. That’s right folks, I said free—at Disneyland. This is not a trick. If you let the restaurant you’re dining at know—either when making the reservation or when you check in (or both to be safe)—that you’re celebrating a birthday, your server will bring you over a delicious free birthday dessert at the end of your meal, complete with the classic birthday candle. I’ve had different desserts served at different restaurants, but definitely see the “birthday brownie” as the most popular. Every single one I’ve had has been tasty, and it’s free so that makes it even better. Don’t be shy, take advantage of this awesome amenity that Disney offers and indulge.

The Cake

Of course, no birthday would be complete without some kind of cake, right? Well you’re in luck, because Disneyland actually offers a few different choices of birthday cake. Now, there are lots of individual desserts around the resort, including many slices of cake from places such as Jolly Holiday Bakery or The Plaza Inn, but I’m focusing specifically on “birthday” cakes.

Pirate Treasure Chest Birthday Cake. Photo by Megan Walker.

The first option is to choose from the Pirate Treasure Chest cake or the Princess Treasure Box cake, otherwise known as “The Magical Celebration Treasure” cakes.

Princess Treasure Box Birthday Cake. Photo by Megan Walker.

These are small pieces of cake (can probably serve two “lightly hungry” people) that are served in fun plastic boxes that are modeled after either a treasure chest, or a trinket box, and you get to keep the box. You can choose either chocolate or vanilla cake, and can purchase these either directly from the counter at Plaza Inn or order them ahead of time through Disney Dining to be “delivered” to your table during one of your dinner reservations.

The second option is to order an actual pretty decent-sized birthday cake from Disney to be delivered to one of the restaurants after your dinner. The Disney baking team can create a number of designs—my personal favorite is the classic Mickey Mouse-shaped birthday cake. They also have a variety of flavors and sizes for you to pick. This option is a little more expensive, but definitely worth it if you are celebrating with multiple people, not to mention these cakes are actually pretty delicious, as well as adorable.

Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake. Photo by Megan Walker.

The Birthday Dinner

If you’re celebrating a birthday, make sure you make a special reservation at the birthday guy or gal's favorite restaurant. Not only is it nice to take a break from the park for an hour or two and sit down and relax, but enjoying a nice meal at a nice restaurant is always special no matter where you are, but especially at Disneyland. My favorite place to celebrate is at Carthay Circle in Disney California Adventure Park. I love the atmosphere of the restaurant and the food is some of the best in the entire resort. Having a dinner reservation also helps if you are ordering a birthday cake as mentioned above, or just want to cash in on that free dessert.

Unique Gifts

It’s no secret that there is plenty of merchandise to go around at Disneyland, but if you’re celebrating a birthday this can come in handy. However, there are a few unique gifts that you can find at the Disneyland Resort. You can find special “It’s My Birthday!” Mickey Mouse ears in quite a few shops throughout the park that you can have embroidered with the birthday person’s name. Additionally, there are a tradeable birthday pins featuring different Disney characters that can be a fun gift and/or souvenir.

Happy Birthday Pin. Photo by Megan Walker.

Make It Your Own

Maybe your loved one would enjoy a birthday churro instead of a birthday cake, maybe the one thing they’d love most is a trip to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, so do whatever feels right for you. One tip I will give you is to decorate your hotel room. It’s a small gesture but it assures that every time you’re in the room, you’re celebrating. Just a few decorations can make a world of difference!

Disney In-Room Celebrations

A small note here that yes, Disney does offer their “In-Room Celebrations” where they come and decorate the room and leave various gifts or treats, etc. but the hotels in which they’ll do this in are limited and I find the cost of them a little high for most people. You can achieve the same effect, with an even more loving touch, by doing it yourself, and save money at the same time.

Bonus: Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel

I recently went to the Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel and had an absolute blast. The atmosphere in Steakhouse 55 was a perfect setting for a classic afternoon tea, the tea selection was vast, and the food they served was absolutely delicious. I had such a good time and I think that it would be a perfect way to celebrate a birthday. On your next trip, birthday celebration of not, I definitely recommend you consider the Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel, you won’t regret it.

Afternoon Tea at the Disneyland Hotel Food Tray. Photo by Megan Walker.

Every birthday is, of course, special, and if you’re celebrating at Disneyland there are so many opportunities for you to make it even more special with Disney magic. Hopefully you can take some of these tips and suggestions to mind and use them to have the happiest birthday celebration you can, and remember: Above all else—have fun!