Happy Birthday to You!

by Jenna Kahl, contributing writer

Who doesn't want to spend one of their happiest days at the Happiest Place on Earth?

Celebrating your birthday or the birthday of someone you love at the Disneyland Resort can truly be a magical experience. Here are some ways to get the most out of your special day—with some extra special attention to birthdays for little ones.

Let It Be Known

If it is your birthday, let people know by picking up your free birthday button at City Hall, Guest Relations, the wait time kiosks, or the front desk at any of the Disneyland Resort hotels. My girls and I have learned that this button, while fun all on its own, usually comes with other benefits, such as extra attention from cast members, stickers, and special surprises around the park. If it's your little one's birthday your stroller is a great way to showcase some birthday spirit. We picked up battery-operated lights that spell out "Happy Birthday," hung up some streamers and took our party on the road.

Sweet Times

The Disneyland Resort offers lots of opportunities to make a birthday even more special and, if you are OK with putting a little more money behind it, you can capitalize on lots of "sweet" opportunities. If you contact Disney Dining at least three days in advance, you can arrange for a personalized cake at many of the table service restaurants. If you partake in any of the character dining experiences, let them know you are celebrating and the birthday boy or girl will get a yummy cupcake and a song (this treat is free!). My family and I celebrated a few birthdays at Goofy's Kitchen, for both young and not so young, at the Disneyland Hotel and it's a really great way to become another year older.

A Tisket, A Tasket

If "go big or go home" is your motto for this birthday celebration, and you are also staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel, or select Good Neighbor Hotels, look into the birthday gift baskets and in-room celebration packages to really amp up the party. Note: baskets are not delivered Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or New Year's Day.

A Birthday Look

As an adult, being at the Disneyland Resort anytime around my birthday is celebration enough for me, but as a parent, I find myself determined to make it extra special for my helping a little ones. For our girls we accomplished this with a trip to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Make sure you make a reservation and reach out well in advance to get a coveted morning appointment; you will want to have your little one fresh, well fed and able to get the most time out of their magical make-over. You know your kids best, so chose a package that works for them, whether that just be hair and makeup, a new outfit or the whole shebang. Despite what you may know or see the Boutique is open to both boys and girls ages 3-12. While my oldest can sit through a full hairstyling session, my youngest did much better with just some makeup and a new dress. If you already own a dress or other Disney outfit that your little one would wear, you can save yourself some cash and have them change after their makeover to still have the same overall experience. Keep in mind no matter how comfortable your kids claim to be, bring extra clothes, good shoes and a small tank top or camisole to wear under a new dress if needed.

If you want to celebrate your birthday with a makeover experience in a different environment or maybe one of your "older" little ones wants to partake you can check out Anna and Elsa's Boutique in the Downtown Disney District, which serves kids ages 3-15. Being that it is located outside Disneyland park, you can make a reservation for a new look even without park admission and top it off with the restaurants and experiences around Downtown Disney.

Grown-Up Time

I never want to forget about Mom and Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or your crazy Aunt Bev, so if it their turn to celebrate, and they want more than the free button, try checking out some of my favorite celebration spots. Order the Buffalo wings at The Cove bar at Disney California Adventure Park, grab a glass of wine at Mendocino Terrace, eat lots of sweets at really any place that sells them, enjoy the parade, sit in the shade, have a caricature drawn, and ride something that makes you smile.

Ride something that you love. Photo by Jenna Kahl.

A DIY Celebration

If you have read any of my past articles, you will know that I am a rather price-conscious Disney traveler and I tend to DIY my way through the park and our special experiences. While the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, character dining experiences, and special in-room surprises are great, a birthday at the Disneyland Resort is always special, so celebrate in a way that makes sense for you and your family. For example, you can put the birthday boy or girl in charge and let them lay out the plan for what your family will do and see, pack small presents in your bag and spread them out throughout the day, and order a gigantic sundae at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop—everything that can make it a unique, grand, and magical day.