So what is it like to spend your birthday in Disneyland? Well it's not as good as it once was. We came two years ago for my son's birthday and the deal then was a free days admittance to the park. It got better if you didn't need the free entry, as they gave him a gift card for the value of the days admittance (around $67 which his sisters promptly spent for him). These days the only real perk of celebrating your birthday at Disneyland is the birthday button. If you go to City Hall, they will give you a Happy Birthday button that you can wear for the day. Cast members (the Disney term for employees) are really good at spotting the buttons (which are also available for anniversaries or first time visitors) and will greet the wearer with a "Happy Birthday" at almost every contact. It might not be much, but it can really add a little special touch to the birthday person's day. It's not limited to just cast members either, as lots of people will wish you a Happy Birthday when they see the button, especially if you forget to take it off once you leave the park. I remember strangers on the sidewalk wishing my son a Happy Birthday while we were walking back from the park, and it took us a few seconds to figure out how they knew.
With our family, the deal is that the birthday girl gets to plan the day. This creates some hardships, as the rides my youngest daughter prefers are the long line, slow loading type. Her wish list consisted of Peter Pan, Pinnochio, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and It's a Small World in Disneyland, and Toy Story, Symphony Swings, Monsters Inc., the Animation Studio and the Aladdin show in California Adventure. These are exactly the kinds of rides that we usually try and avoid in the middle of the day as the lines are at their peak then. Still with just a little planning (I kept going ahead and standing in long lines until the others caught up) we managed to get everything done. We even managed to sneak in some Tower of Terror and Space Mountain, without youngest of course. My daughter lasted much longer in the park today than she usually does, and I attribute that to a combination of it being her plans that we were following, and people making her feel special by noting that it was her birthday.
Was it a success? I think so. Getting to call all the rides for the day was a pretty big deal for youngest. Usually she might get one or two of her choices worked in while getting dragged around for the majority of the day as the rest of us work fastpasses for the bigger rides. Truth be told it was kind of fun for me too, as I can't remember the last time I rode Peter Pan, and we haven't seen the Aladdin show since 2004. I could have lived without having to ride Small World again, but these are the sacrifices we make for our children. I did notice though, that there's no need to show identification to get the button, you simply have to ask for one. I'm thinking about going back tomorrow and getting my own birthday button. The only problem is that I'm going to be in Las Vegas on my birthday. Do you think the people there will still wish me a Happy Birthday?