When you are the resident Disney expert in your social circle, you tend to be the go-to for friends and family to help plan Disney vacations. Like me, you likely get asked the same question repeatedly, is Park Hopper really worth the money, or, Is EPCOT boring? Most of those questions come with a simple yes or no answer, though sometimes, when the guests have questions about celebrating a special occasion in the parks, you might need a suggestion that’s a little more tailored to their circumstances.
I’m no stranger to enjoying our special occasions in the parks; after all, my mother was born just after Disneyland opened in 1955, so it stands to reason that we would celebrate every 5-year milestone with an additional visit all together as a family; right? Though, birthdays aren’t the only occasions being honored. Over the years, I’ve been asked how to best celebrate many different events in the parks, optimizing that feeling of magic as much as possible for things like memorial trips, anniversaries, adoptions, and cancer recovery. All of which are important milestones in our lives that we want to mark with a memorable series of festivities.
With this in mind, I wanted to look at some of the ways you can make your Disney stay extra special if you happen to be marking a special occasion during your visit.
Whether you are young or old, there is nothing quite like celebrating your birthday in the magic of Disney parks. Be sure to stop by the front desk of guest relations and ask for a birthday pin. If you wear it around the park and resorts, you will be greeted by cast members with well wishes. If you want to add a bit more fun, grab the Mickey Mouse ”Happy Birthday” Ear Hat for Adults. It’s super fun and will make you feel special.
When making reservations for a birthday celebration, let the restaurant know what the occasion is, and you may even get some special treatment or a Happy Birthday serenade. If you have teens and tweens looking for something a bit more mature? Try unique experience like the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; it is an exciting way to enjoy an unforgettable adventure and get amongst the wildlife.
Disney is a place that loves love. Take inspiration from the famous Disney couple, Mickey and Minnie, who have faced adversity and made it through the years together. Anniversaries are a great time to splurge on one of the many luxurious spa treatments available at the resorts. Organize a couples massage or a body therapy session to feel relaxed and rejuvenated together at the Grand Floridian Spa.
Make a booking at one of the romantic restaurants that you can find throughout Walt Disney World. Add a special request for a quiet table or something with a view, noting your anniversary celebration, and you might be able to enjoy a special location in the dining room.
Celebrating Your Honeymoon
It’s only the beginning of your love story, so what better than to celebrate with the charm and enchantment of a trip to Disney. Grab some props like the Bride and Groom ear headbands or custom t-shirts and create your own photoshoot. Book a session with a local photographer and memorialize the beginning of your fairytale with incredible photos that showcase your love.
Looking for a surprise? Blow your new spouse’s mind with a Horse Drawn Excursion – Carriage Ride at Port Orleans Riverside Resort, or take to the skies with a hot air balloon ride at Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight in Disney Springs.
Celebrating an Adoption
New families coming together is one of my favorite celebrations and I have heard of a few families enjoying the first of many happy memories together in the parks. Being a part of family you were born with, or the family you’ve chosen, is all about relationships; team work, the back and forth that builds trust and respect. So, why not kick things off with a team-building exercise like searching for Hidden Mickeys together that will get everyone involved? Break up into teams or embark on the mission together; it’s a great way to add a bit of camaraderie to your Disney Day in between attractions.
Grab that Photo Pass and take advantage of every photographer to get some fabulous new family photos to mark the occasion. It might be fun to add some matching shirts or accessories to your outfits as well.
I’ve been lucky enough to know many people who have survived life-threatening conditions and lived to celebrate another day. For some, the best way to honor that journey is to live life to the fullest from that point on. If you are a Disney lover, why not take on a new challenge and try your hand (or feet) at runDisney? A few friends of mine have found overcoming physical challenges to be a great way to build mental toughness and self-confidence post-treatment.
Not up to that much physical activity? Try something a bit more relaxing with a unique experience like Spanish Mosaic Art, or Colors of Coronado Painting Experience, both at Coronado Springs Resort.
Honoring in Memory
Visiting the parks in memory of someone we’ve lost can be bittersweet. You might feel close to the person you remember who once loved the the Disney spirit and also miss their presence greatly. In my years, I have used those times to enjoy extraordinary experiences that would have made the person I am missing proud. If they were a Disney history buff, try the 50th Anniversary Tour. If your loved one loved the flavors of Disney, try the Celebration at the Top: 50th Flavors & Fireworks at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Savor the Savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I like to use the time to honor their memory by sharing stories of days gone by, reliving memories and exchanging anecdotes.
If you are looking for something a little less extravagant to observe your remembrance, consider making a donation to Give Kids the World in your loved one’s name, allowing their love of the parks to be shared with kids in need.
Don’t forget that you can celebrate any occasion with a specialty cake at a Disney restaurant. Choose your size, flavor and engraving options when you place a pre-order to be enjoyed at a number of participating restaurants. For a full list, click here.
How do you like to celebrate your special occasions at the Disney parks? Let me know below and you might just inspire me for our next birthday trip for my mother.