Celebrating Birthdays at Walt Disney World with FREEbies: A Cheapskate Princess Guide!

how to get free stuff at Disney World

Updated  for 2016!

Happy Birthday to you! Or your child, or your friend, or grandma. Did you know that you can “celebrate” a birthday at Disney World six months before your actual birthday and up to six months after your actual birthday? Using my math, that gives you about 365 days a year to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World. Why would you celebrate a birthday on vacation? Because Disney makes it WAY more fun than celebrating at home!

There are tons of great birthday activities that you can spend a lot of money on while you vacation in Orlando, but can you score anything FREE for your birthday? There is always Internet chatter about how Disney Cast Members go out of their way to make you feel completely special on vacation. So if you want to give it a shot, use some of the ideas from our Cheapskate Princess Guide to Birthday FREEbies.

A Disney World Vacation: Can You Put A Price On Buying Memories?

1) Tell Someone Pre-Travel

Before you leave for Disney, let someone know you are celebrating a birthday. Tell the Cast Member when you make your travel reservations, or just tell your Travel agent to let them know. Give the birthday person’s name and age.

2) Tell Someone at Arrival

If you are staying at a Disney Resort, let a Disney employee know when you check in that you are celebrating a birthday. Our readers have submitted  stories about Cast Members doing special things for kids upon check-in, from delivering balloons or character autographs to special towel decorations in the room. There is no guarantee anything will happen, but you have potential free fun to gain by mentioning there’s a birthday in your party.

(So these tips might get you one small balloon, not a whole bunch like this. This bunch pictured below will cost you a fortune…)

When Should You Tell the Kids About A Disney Vacation?

how to celebrate a birthday at Disney World

3) Set up a Phone Call

Tell the front desk Cast Member that you or someone in your party are celebrating a birthday, and ask them to set up a special birthday phone call from a Disney Character. While this would be really fun for kids, it would actually be fun for adults as well, especially if they are not expecting it. Unless your info gets dropped from the computer, this FREEbie should be easy to get.

4) Tell Someone at Dinner

Headed for a table service meal? Be sure to tell the Cast Member at the desk when you arrive, and tell the Cast Member serving your table about the birthday. You can even have this noted if you make an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation.) Go as far as mentioning it to any Disney employees you talk with. Several of our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans told us they received a cupcake or a sweet treat with a candle.  Maybe some pixie dust will be sprinkled or a birthday certificate presented?  There is no guarantee you will get this kind of treatment, but you have nothing to lose by mentioning it.

We celebrated my two son’s birthdays at Chef Mickeys two months after their birthday, and we received special colored napkins that indicated “birthday.” Lots of people stopped by to say Happy Birthday, and our server brought two cupcakes for my sons with candles.

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15 princess Disney World Happy Birthday

5) Drop Hints at Every Meal

In fact, make sure you mention the birthday at every meal you eat on Disney property, sit down or counter service. Again, it can’t hurt. Maybe they’ll sing you a song, and songs are certainly free!

6) Get a Button

You’ll definitely want a FREE Birthday button. Where can you pick these up?

  • Magic Kingdom – City Hall on Main Street
  • Epcot – Guest Services
  • Hollywood Studios – Guest Services
  • Animal Kingdom – Guest Services
  • Downtown Disney  – Guest Relations

What will that button get you? Lots of special attention and greetings, not just from Cast Members who are actively looking for those buttons, but also from park visitors. Complete strangers wished my sons Happy Birthday when they noticed their buttons. No guarantees the button will get you a part in a parade or show, but what can it hurt? And what a great surprise if it works!

Special attention and greetings are certainly free, plus you can wear the button you take home next year at birthday time.

Avoid Kid’s Tantrums in Walt Disney World? Teach Them This Important Life Skill

what can you get for free on your birthday at Disney World

7) Drop Hints at Character Meet and Greets

So with your child (or you!)(or your husband!) wearing the “It’s My Birthday” button, make sure Cast Members notice this when you get character autographs. They may give you an extra special birthday greeting from the characters.

8) Fill Out a Passport

Headed to Epcot? If you buy a passport to have stamped in the countries, be sure to mention the birthday to the Cast Member. Cheapskate Princess fans report you can receive a birthday greeting in different languages.

9) PhotoPass Magic

So purchasing Disney’s PhotoPass is certainly not free, but if you are using it already, simply tell the Cast Member taking the pictures that someone is celebrating a birthday. Your photo may later contain some birthday magic.

And if free isn’t cutting it for your little Disney Princess, then you can always book a party here:

Tips for Keeping a Good Disney Character Meal From Going All Wrong

get a free button on your birthday at Disney World

What will birthday buttons NOT get you for free at Disney?

Celebrating a birthday will probably not get you whisked away to the front of a roller coaster line. Birthday buttons probably won’t get you any sort of merchandise, meals, or accommodation discounts. You never know, but it’s doubtful.

Speaking of free, anyone can get a birthday button. Cast Members are not checking I.Ds for a birth date when you arrive at Guest Services, so you don’t have to fear celebrating before or after your actual birth date.

For years, my own children skipped having a birthday party with their friends so they could celebrate their birthday at Disney. They had no trouble announcing to Cast members they were at Disney World to celebrate their birthday, even if their birthdays were actually months before. Our family started planning “birthday meals” at Disney. We cook a meal at home on their actual birthday and eat at a table service restaurant to celebrate the birthday while we’re in Orlando. This year we ate at T-Rex. My sons and daughter wore their birthday buttons, Cast Members made a fuss, and it was loads of fun.

There are no guarantees every Cast Members will greet you, hand you any certificates or sprinkle your child’s hair with glitter while singing Happy Birthday. But you have nothing to lose by pointing out the celebration. The least you may receive are a big smile and a Happy Birthday greeting.

Does all this sound too good to be true, this birthday celebration stuff when it’s not even your actual birthday? We asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans if they scored anything free for their birthday, and their answers can help you plan your next vacation:

Why Celebrate with a Birthday Button at Disney World? Let a Cheapskate Princess Tell You!

how to get free birthday stuff at Disney World

Brittany let us know another point to remember. “This is not just limited to birthdays but includes things like honeymoons too. My husband and I went to Disney World for our honeymoon and made sure to tell our Disney travel agent while booking, also making sure we picked up a ‘happily ever after’ button as soon as we got to Magic Kingdom. Everywhere we went, people were telling us congratulations and just about every dinner we had provided some sort of special surprise (confetti on the table, a special message made out of chocolate with dessert, at Ohana one of the Cast Members actually played the ukalalie and sang to us as we danced during dinner in the restaurant). It was wonderful! 

I will say though, the generic ‘I’m celebrating’ buttons don’t do the same thing though. I got one of those when running my first half marathon event at Disney. My mom also got one on that trip, because it was her first vacation after surviving a stroke. We didn’t get much attention for those, but then again, we were staying off resort property. Still, I think the more specific you can get with the buttons/what you are celebrating, the better.

Currently, I’m pregnant with twins and already told my husband I want to take them for their birthdays and make it a second honeymoon for us as well. Hope they still have the buttons and such when we go!

Randy had the same experience for a different type of celebration. “We went last year to celebrate my wife beating breast cancer. We told the lady at check in(port Orleans riverside) they left a signed picture of Minnie in a pink frame with two pink balloons floating off the side of it…pretty awesome after going through such a terrible ordeal.”

Disney free birthday celebration buttons

Several of our readers dropped by to leave comments on their experiences.

Melinda, “My mom went for her 75th birthday. She was taken to the front of Haunted Mansion. She also got a free hot dog, a free small book from the gift shop, and the gray stuff with a candle and a card at Be Our Guest. She felt so special.”

Jennifer, “We took a trip to WDW celebrating my daughter’s tenth birthday. She felt extremely special with practically every Cast Member we passed greeting her with ‘Happy birthday, Alyssa.’ Her brothers, who are 5 & 6 years older than her, also benefitted because when a Cast Member saw her button when they rode the Rock ‘n Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios, he let them all go around through a shortcut to ride it again with no wait! They still talk about that at 20 and 21 now. We are going back this year for her 16th birthday. She is already planning a Sweet Sixteen T-shirt to wear.

Dianne, “On my birthday, I had the button on. All the Cast Members wished me Happy Birthday, and a lot of the guests too. I got a free dessert, and at the Haunted Mansion, they chose me to be the Line Timer. They gave me a box timer on a hanger, and I had to carry it though the line and hand it to a Cast Member once I was seated on the ride.

Lacey, “My niece received a free Mickey ears hat that said Happy Birthday on it when we were entering Epcot. It was the day before her birthday, and she was so excited. I love that they go above and beyond to make the kiddos feel special.”


To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Everybody loves FREE perks on a trip, and what better way to celebrate a birthday than by going to Disney World.

Thanks for stopping by for some cheapskate tips. If you ever waited months to celebrate a birthday, just so you could have your birthday party at Disney World, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!



Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess



Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.

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Amanda Major, owner of Cheapskate PrincessAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-costal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Princess Travel Experts with Destinations in Florida travel, Julie, Elizabeth, and Erin. You can also e-mail them at cp@destinationsinflorida.com.


  1. alicia says:

    wow thank you so much I’m flying out on the day of my birthday next month I’m sssssooooo gonna get me a Free Disney Birthday Button this is very helpful thanks alot for posting this

    • Amanda says:

      Hope you have a blast! You can put a magnet on your button when you get back and voila, instant fridge magnet and cool vacation souvenir!! Thanks for reading…~A.

  2. Shelly Ford says:

    Our first trip to Disney was over my birthday. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing so nothing had been planned, however; I went to the concierge desk to see about getting a table service meal w/characters. The cast member couldn’t have been nicer, found me a great princess dinner, gave me buttons for myself and my husband to wear, then went in the back and came out with a plush Minnie Mouse doll and a special photo frame, to say I was happy does not even begin to describe it!!
    We have since spent my husbands birthday there and special treats were given to him as it was on the reservation. Disney does birthdays like no one else!!!

    • Amanda says:

      Awesome Shelly! I am so glad they came through for you. And thanks for reading! ~A.

    • Kisha says:

      It is going to be my little girl birthday in September 18 and She said that she what to go to Disney world

      • Romoruz says:

        My daughter’s birthday will be in September 12. We will arrive the day before and I have a full week planned to celebrate her birthday and her life.

  3. Kathy says:

    I am actually arriving at Disney World on my 61st birthday in May! My first trip!! I am really excited about EVERYTHING!! I told the Walt Disney World travel agent about it so I am really hoping for something special! If not, just being there will be wonderful! Can’t wait!!

    • Amanda says:

      I’m thinking if you saved your first visit for 61, you might deserve two buttons! If you have time, be sure to see the resorts along the monorail, and shop on Main Street after the park closes when the crowds exit the park. Hope you have a fabulous time, and thanks so much for reading. ~A.

  4. Colleen B says:

    We celebrated my son’s birthday at O’hana and they gave him a card signed by all of the characters made out to him! So cute! They really go out of their way to make you feel special.

  5. Tanya T, says:

    I can report that the birthday button and telling cast members goes a LONG way. My husband’s birthday is in June….we ate a Biergarten on his actual birthday and I let the waitress know and the band actually dedicated a song and sang to him! At Teppan Edo the next night they saw his button (without us asking) and sang, made him a special chef hat and the cook chef did a special show for him. Then When it was my son’s birthday we arrived back to our hotel one evening to a special autographed Mickey photo wishing him Happy Birthday!
    The same works for anniversaries and sometimes other celebrations! Never hurts to ask, and if you catch the right cast member they go out of their way to make it special!!!

  6. Shannon says:

    If you put a piece of clear tape over the name written on your button (they should have some where ever you get your button) it will stay and not rub/wear off.

  7. Robin says:

    We are going next Spring and celebrating my kids birthdays (son’s 2 days before we leave and daughter’s while we are there)! I am super excited. This is our first trip. I will turn 40 a month later, so I may have to pick a day to celebrate me too! 🙂

  8. Donna J says:

    FUN! We will celebrate my birthday there this Sept. ~ on my actual birthday! Can’t wait!

  9. Krista says:

    I just wanted to add that sometimes Disney does special things for other celebrations besides birthdays. We were in Disney on our 11th anniversary last year and let guest services know when we were checking in (they actually asked if we were celebrating anything) to Animal Kingdom Lodge. When we got back from the parks on the night of our anniversary there were some chocolate covered strawberries waiting in the room with a congratulations card from Mickey and Friends. What a great surprise! I love Disney magic!

  10. Kristi says:

    We are going a couple weeks after my bday and a couple weeks before our anniversary. Do they have anniversary buttons too? Should I get both?

  11. Julie says:

    were going next year and decided to coincide it with our wedding anniversary , while treating it as an early birthday celebration for our daughter. I mentioned it in passing when making a payment and they have already added it to our reservation paperwork!

    Just that alone made me and my hubby feel special. (our daughter doesn’t know we have booked yet! when she does we will be showing her that they are already saying happy birthday to her!)

  12. lynnette says:

    YES it takes us a long time to save to go my kids are told we are saving for disney no big b days or xmass they skimp every holiday to go the next year SO yes when they get there it is there Birthday!!!

  13. Morgan says:

    I love this website. I have been reading it for weeks.

  14. Erin says:

    my daughter is there for her birthday with my dad. Her birthday button got her immediate access to meet Elsa and Anna! There was even a 90 minute wait!

  15. Doc says:

    Celebrated #65 and I wore my button, even got my own birthday cake. Everyone sez Happy Birthday to you.
    So now when I go I always say Happy Birthday to guests wearing the badge & mention their name. It’s so much fun and they’re always surprised. I guess as a former Cast Member it just comes naturally.

  16. Sharon says:

    My husband got a lovely book-shaped clock from the staff at our resort when a family member called, and the staff took the Happy Birthday message. We never told them, they just knew by the message. It was a while ago now, but still magical! (And he still has the clock!)

  17. disney4memommy says:

    We have celebrated everyone’s birthday at least one time either the week before, week of or week after and enjoyed it immensely! Several restaurants, such as Crystal Palace, give a special signed card from Characters along with leading the parade, cupcake and lots of attention. We try to have a celebration every time we go – even if it is a few weeks off. Disney makes it magical, regardless if it is the exact day. We go in June with friends this time and one of their birthdays is in July. Thanks for this article because I am going to plan a special birthday celebration for her near the end of the trip as a surprise!

  18. Sarah Hindley says:

    Brilliant tips thanks so much, we fly out a week on Saturday and our son turns 10 half way through the holiday, we’ve made reservations for breakfast at chef Mickey’s and dinner at T-Rex so i’ll be sure to mention it and I’ll definitely get him a birthday button! We’re staying at OKW so hopefully they may do something nice for him too! I’m not sure who’s more excited me or him!

  19. esther says:

    Thanks for the tips was very nice of you

  20. Lauren says:

    I just came back from WDW on Saturday with my Mom. The vacation was a birthday gift for me, so her and I celebrated there. I decorated my window, got my birthday button, and I have to tell you every single cast member (and some park visitors!) made me feel special. At each sit down place we dined at (50’s Prime Time, Crystal Palace, Akershus) I got a cupcake and a card, and at some of the quick service spots I got a cookie! I would absolutely celebrate my birthday there again. 🙂

  21. Heather says:

    On our first trip to Disney, my boys also skipped having parties for their birthdays. they took turns wearing the “It’s my birthday” pin. On cast member gifted my older son a pin from her land yard for his pin collection. Made his day!

  22. Stephanie says:

    Going for my 30th birthday and daughters 12th in October….can’t wait!!

  23. Lindsey says:

    So glad I found this! My family is going near the end of May and my 3 kids’ birthdays are all in the summer (June, July and August) and to save money for the trip the kids won’t have a birthday party. Glad that I can get the chance to do something special and memorable for my kids that they will love and appreciate.

  24. HB says:

    Gonna be spending a week at Disney to celebrate my sweet 16 on January 3rd. I’d much rather spend my sweet 16 meeting Cinderella and blasting aliens on Buzz Lightyear’s Spaceranger Spin than getting dolled up and making small talk with relatives I barely know!

  25. Christina says:

    We were celebrating my birthday(age unknown), our anniversary and the kids’ first visit.. I was totally spoiled with my birthday button. I received greetings from cast members, cupcakes after our meals..and at 3 of our character meals I received birthday cards and signatures from them!! Super best birthday ever!!

  26. Imene says:

    So I’m surprising my son with a birthday trip to Disney/Universal/ and Kennedy Space center, I hope he has a magical moment! Your blog has been really helpful! Any tips for the other places I am taking him?

  27. Virginia says:

    We are going next month to celebrate our one year gotcha day along with my son turning 3 while we are there. Can we get a button in each of the parks cause in our family we celebrate all week.

  28. Nina says:

    Does it matter even if you don’t stay at a disney resort, will they treat you special on your birthday? will be goiing there this month..

  29. Whats up this is kinda oof off topic but I was wanting to know if blgs use WYSIWYG editors or
    if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted
    to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  30. Aimee says:

    I wore a birthday button for my whole trip and received a birthday card in my hotel room, a huge dole whip (almost double the size of the regular one, which I did pay for), a small dinosaur toy, and a cupcake at 50’s prime time cafe. I also wore a birthday button at universal for the two days that we were there but didn’t receive anything.

  31. I wore a birthday button for my whole trip and received a birthday card in my hotel room, a huge dole whip (almost double the size of the regular one, which I did pay for), a small dinosaur toy, and a cupcake at 50's prime time cafe. I also wore a birthday button at universal for the two days that we were there but didn't receive anything..

  32. I,m Disney fan for life my birthday sept 10 1970

  33. Lauren Fitzwater says:

    I got so much free stuff on my birthday! A triple chocolate cake and a song in the middle of Liberty square, free Disney trading pins, free cupcakes and “the grey stuff”, a pixie dust sprinkling on the time I was born, free cards with signatures, a free goblet cup from be our guest, and they put up decorations for free in my resort room (my mother secretly bought them before hand but, they gave us free balloons with it!) also we became the “Royal Family” at the Beauty and The Beast show at Hollywood Studios. We got a certificate, rose, and a whole row just to our selves!!!

  34. Maryanne Malo says:

    do you know if it is true that t-shirts can be autographed at city hall for special occasions? I went 65 this year and my middle grandson in going double digits. I heard that you can drop off a tee and come back later for it?
    The buttons are great fun if you hit the right staff..

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