When you were little, did you ever dream of having a Disney birthday? Dressing up in your Disney Princess outfit, meeting your favourite characters, and trying all the rides and shows of Disney World until you’re tired and happy? I certainly did, but I never got the chance as a child. Even though I had my princess dress all ready to go! (It was Esmeralda, in case you were wondering.)
Then, two years ago, the opportunity to have my Disney birthday came along after all. I was in Orlando to visit a friend who, as luck had it, was working for Disney World! And my stay coincided with my 27th birthday. Perfect! I might not fit into my princess dress anymore, but I was nevertheless not going to let my chance pass to finally celebrate my birthday at Walt Disney World.
Entering the magic
Lynda had been my housemate when I lived in Sydney. Back then we had quickly bonded through our shared love of all things Disney and musical theatre. Lynda was now working at Disney World as part of their international work experience program. She took a few days off when I came, so we had enough time to roam the parks together. I had been to the Magic Kingdom as a kid (just never on my birthday), but the other parks were new for me.
Coming back to Magic Kingdom after almost twenty years was magical. There were things I remembered, and others that were completely new. My favourite ride as a kid had been Splash Mountain, and that was one of the first we rode on now. The misty weather couldn’t stop us from getting ourselves wet.
Exploring Disney World with an employee at your side makes the whole experience extra special. Lynda knew exactly which rides were worth the wait, which shows were must-sees, or where to get the best food. Like the Thanksgiving waffle at Epcot (yes, that`s a thing). In between, she entertained me with little behind-the-scenes stories.
Getting an insider’s insights
The Disney characters we went to take photos with were often friends of hers. This always caused some slightly surreal conversations. It’s like she’s talking to her friend on one level, and at the same time talking to the character they embody on another. The subtext was heavy in those conversations. They even kept it up when no guests but us were around.
Did you know that Disney employees are not allowed to say they are playing a character? They always have to keep up the illusion that it’s all real. That’s why all you’ll ever hear a Disney employee say is something like: “Today I’ll hang out with Mickey”. They go a long way to keep the magic alive.
Character Dining at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort
My birthday was on the last day of my stay, and by then we had been to all the parks at least once (plus one visit at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios). Now we could afford to take it slow and start the day with a Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at the 1900 Park Fair, a restaurant located in the Disney Grand Floridian Resort. It was a breakfast buffet full of the most delicious food. While indulging in the many delicious choices on offer, Disney characters came to visit us at the table so we could take pictures.
As it was my birthday I got some special treats. Our waiter brought me a muffin with a candle. Lynda refused to let me blow it out until we had secured the help of Winnie the Pooh for that.
I also got a birthday badge. Because they had run out of English ones they gave me one in Spanish. I added an English one later when we got to the park, which caused everyone to ask why I have two. Run around with a birthday badge at Disney World and you never have to worry about a conversation starter. I’ve never gotten so many random people congratulating me. Not only the employees, for whom of course it’s part of the job, and all the characters we went to meet. Other guests who happened to wait in line next to us or just walked past also wished me a happy birthday whenever they saw the badge.
Exploring the Disney Resorts
When we finally couldn’t eat any more, we passed some time by visiting the different Disney Resorts and checking out their Christmas decorations. I was very lucky that my birthday is at this time of the year because it made everything look so spectacular. The Grand Floridian itself featured a giant gingerbread house and an even bigger Christmas Tree.
After looking at the Contemporary Resort next, we eventually got to the Polynesian Village. There we enjoyed some down time at their beach. As a German who was born at the end of November, I’m not used to having warm weather on my birthday, let alone being able to spend it at the beach. But in Florida, the weather got continually better every day since my arrival. The most glorious sunshine had been saved for my birthday. I could really get used to this!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
As luck had it, on the day of my birthday there was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party happening at the Magic Kingdom. This was too good an opportunity to miss, so we had gotten tickets early on and now made our way to the park in the afternoon. The party didn’t start until 7 pm, but we could enter from 4 pm onwards. We got ourselves into the mood by doing some of our favourite rides.
Eventually, the normal visitors left and the Christmas fun began. There was a special Parade featuring Santa Claus among all the Disney characters. Elsa and Anna from Frozen turned the Disney castle into an amazing ice palace. At night there were fireworks. Throughout the whole evening, they gave out hot cocoa and cookies for free, which was enough food to sustain us through the evening as we’d had such a big breakfast.
Making friends with all my favourite Disney characters
Moreover, during the party you got the chance to meet a lot of Disney characters that aren’t there on usual days. All the princesses were accompanied by their princes. The seven dwarves had all appeared together. And, most exciting for me, we got to take pictures with Captain Jack Sparrow himself. It might not really have been Johnny Depp, but our Jack certainly came close. From the look, to the movement, to the voice, he had it all down. I loved him.
So this is how my very own Disney birthday passed, with some Christmas magic sprinkled on top. It was just as much fun as I always thought it would be. And although we didn’t dress up as princesses, we colour-coordinated our outfits and wore necklaces of blinking Christmas lights. Quite a few people commented we look like Christmas trees. But what better way is there to celebrate a birthday than by looking festive, eating delicious food, and meeting your heroes? After all, the spirit of Disney is to make people happy and bring a smile to their faces. What else could I wish for on my birthday?
Have you ever spend a birthday at Walt Disney World? Or been there during Christmas season? Would you like to? Share in the comments!