DFB Reader Questions Answered: Best Restaurants to Celebrate a Grown-Up Birthday at Walt Disney World

Today, we’re pulling another great question out the Disney Food Blog mailbag. You guys ask some great ones, and lots of times, we’ll get several emails and inquiries about the same subject.

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Spontaneous Birthday Treat at Citricos

Today, we’re going to delve into the wonderful world of birthday celebrations for grown-ups!

Celebrating Grown Up Birthdays in Walt Disney World

Our DFB reader asks:

We will be vacationing at WDW in May. My 25-year old son will have a birthday while we are there. We would like to have a special meal to celebrate, something fun but also really good!

I love this question! Disney brands itself a great place for all kinds of celebrations. And when it comes to birthdays, why should kiddos have all the fun?

When planning a special meal to celebrate a birthday at Walt Disney World, the most basic advice is probably a great starting point: what does the birthday boy or girl enjoy?

Birthday Dessert

Birthday Dessert

Does he like fine dining, or would he prefer a great night out at a sports bar? Does she like a quiet, elegant setting, or a spot with intricate themeing? Or are they a kid at heart who can Celebrate Mickey with the best of them?

Fantastic ideas abound for fun birthday celebrations at Disney World, but let’s go with my three favorite ideas. At the very least, it might lead to some good brainstorming when it comes time to plan your own special dinner party!

Signature Dining

For the Disney fan who enjoys a fine dining experience, there would be no other place to celebrate a birthday than where these two things meet — Disney’s signature dining restaurants.

If you’re looking for the pinnacle of fine dining, consider booking a table at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

Victoria and Albert's Main Dining Room

Victoria and Albert’s Main Dining Room

The ultimate in Disney fine dining, this relaxed, refined restaurant has won countless awards for its upscale take on modern American fare and its stellar wine menu. To make it an even more special experience, book the Chef’s Table!

Another great option is California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The restaurant sits atop the hotel, and boasts panoramic views. It’s a great spot for viewing Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s fireworks spectacular!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli is as Good as Ever

Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill

Food here is always fresh and inventive, celebrating the farm to table movement and the Asian fusion style that placed California on the culinary map.

For something a little off the beaten path but no less delicious, check out Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

In a relaxing atmosphere that mimics the African savanna at sunset, you’ll enjoy dishes that incorporate the rich flavors of Africa. And oenophiles love Jiko’s wine list, which boasts the largest collection of African wines outside of that continent.

And whether you’re a seafood fan or a land-lubber, my current favorite Disney restaurant — Flying Fish Cafe — has something for everyone.

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip at Flying Fish

Char Crusted Black Angus New York Strip at Flying Fish

Celebrate with knowledgable servers, a great menu, and a fun atmosphere.

Super-Themed and Casual

If fun-filled, themed dining is more your speed, why not check out one of Disney’s super-themed restaurants for your special occasion?

50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is, hands down, one of my favorites. With its retro decor and kitschy knickknacks, you’ll swear that you’ve wandered back in time to your Aunt Gladys’s formica-clad kitchen.

One of the 50s Prime Time Cafe Dining Rooms

The 50s Called. They Want Their Kitchen Back.

And the fun doesn’t end there. Your server (who will also be your cousin or some other relation) will spend the entire meal making sure that you mind your Ps and Qs, and that you eat every last vegetable. (No lying. If you don’t, they’ll feed them to you.) Comfort food is the name of the game here, and I can’t get enough of their Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese!

Fried Herb Cheese -- Sooooo Good!

Fried Herb Cheese — Sooooo Good!

Take an equally fun trip back in time at Sci-Fi Dine-In, also in Hollywood Studios. Enjoy dinner in your very own convertible as you view awesome B movies from the 50s! The Picnic Burger is daunting — but hey, if you don’t splurge on your birthday, when will you?

Dine in a Convertible at Sci-Fi

Dine in a Convertible at Sci-Fi

If you have a super sports fan in your midst and fine dining isn’t really your thing, then ESPN Club may be just the right fit. You’ll never miss a moment of the big game. No, really. There are even TVs in the bathrooms!

Here's the Room Where VIP Seats are Located

How’s This For the Sports Lover in Your Life?

Dining is hearty and…well, everything that you could dream that the ultimate sports bar could be. And more.

Character Dining: It’s Not Just For Kids!

But what about character dining? Because if you think it’s just for kids, well, think again.

Maybe you don’t want to twirl a napkin with the best of them at Chef Mickey’s (although that really does have its charms), but if you’d still like to rub shoulders with some of the Fab Five, check out breakfast or lunch at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Eating a big breakfast will fill you up -- and cost less than dining big later in the day!

Safari Mickey!

A cast of characters dressed in fun safari gear will stop by your table while you dine on food inspired by African dishes.

If you’re looking for a princess encounter, then you’ll want to book your advance dining reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table within Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.

Cinderella greets guests in her castle

Cinderella greets guests in her castle

The menu is prix fixe and reviews of the food tend to be mixed…but who are we kidding? I’m totally going here to say I’ve been in the castle!

An alternative for guests seeking dinner with the princess set is Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot’s Norway Pavilion. In addition to the beautiful setting, you’ll be greeted by princesses and will feast on dishes inspired by the cuisine of Norway.

Swedish meatballs are a specialty at Akershus

Swedish meatballs are a specialty at Akershus

Guests especially love their Koldtbord, the Norwegian-inspired cold buffet. And be sure to try the Traditional Kjøttkake — Norwegian Meatballs served with a delicious Lingonberry Sauce.

Of course, no matter where you end up celebrating, don’t forget the cake! Be sure to stop by our Disney World Cakes FAQ Page for the answers to all of your cake ordering questions!

Chip 'n Dale Cake at California Grill

Chip ‘n Dale Cake at California Grill

And remember that you’ll want to make an advance dining reservation for sure. You don’t want to leave an important occasion to chance when it comes to snagging a table.

The biggest problem that you’ll have in determining where to spend your birthday at Walt Disney World will be narrowing down all of your incredible choices to just one.

Now I’d really love to hear from all of YOU!

What’s your favorite spot to celebrate a grown-up birthday in all of Disney World? Leave a comment with your suggestions so that we give our readers PLENTY of good selection to choose from!

Comments

  1. Miranda midas says

    My husband and I have both had birthdays at WDW a few times each and we have had some lovely birthday meals on property. I think our favourite was DH’s 40th birthday at Victoria and Alberts, they made a special note on our reservation, wished him happy birthday as we arrived and then gave him a small loaf-cake at the end of the night to take home. Next best was Jiko, who gave us a table in the Wine Room and just took extra care of us all night on my birthday, giving me a candle in a piece of cheesecake at the end of our meal as a birthday treat! Narcooosees and Yachtsman Steakhouse have also given us souvenir menus before with our birthday celebration printed at the top. It made a really nice keepsake. I also recommend Crystal Palace, where the characters made a huge fuss of it being my birthday and giving me extra hugs!

    Do remember to add a note to your reservation that it’s someone in your party’s birthday so that the restaurant staff can do nice things for you! You can add the comment online or by phone, and add a note to an existing reservation if you forgot when you made the booking.

  2. Wendy Snelgrove says

    I would recommend Raglan Road for a 25 year old. Great food, interesting drinks, good music.

  3. Kristen says

    It’s not a restaurant, but last year we celebrated my 26th birthday on one of the celebration cruises that takes in Illuminations. You can order food to eat on the boat or enjoy the complimentary snacks that they provide. We ordered a cake (which was delicious!) and had one of the best nights we’ve ever had on vacation. Make sure that you note on the reservation that you are celebrating a birthday. We had ballons and Mickey confetti, and our captain (Captain Ron, who is the best! Make sure you request him if you book!) had everyone along the bridge between the UK and France sing happy birthday to me. It was embarassing, but it was my most memorable birthday and one that my entire family loved. It was something different from a meal but just as enjoyable. Plus, you are front row for Illuminations. Can’t beat that!

  4. Alan says

    I think all the fabulous places, AJ mentions above, go to show that if you are lucky enough to be at WDW for your special day, you cannot miss having a great time.

  5. ashley says

    I already made all my dining reservations but was wondering how I go about adding a note to them to inform them of a birthday. I looked and cant find any way to make changes to the reservations in the Disney experience account.

  6. Tim says

    We are going to be celebrating my wife’s 50th birthday in June at WDW. I was thinking about going to the Hoop De Doo. Some extended family may be coming so the cruise maybe a better option.

  7. Katie says

    I’m planning on going to WDW for my birthday next year; it’s a big one (30)! I want to spend the day at Magic Kingdom, go to Cinderella’s Royal Table for breakfast, Columbia Harbor House for lunch, and Be Our Guest for dinner. Hopefully I can get reservations. I might also hop on the monorail to go to the Polynesian for a Lapu Lapu, which is my favorite fruity drink. I’m not super excited about this birthday, but if I have WDW to look forward to, it should be great!

  8. CraigInPA says

    If you decide to dine at the Sci Fi or 50’s Prime Time, be prepared to be completely humiliated. In our case, the 50 year old birthday boy/girl was asked to stand up, and then everyone in the restaurant sang to him/her. At both, we were presented with a complimentary dessert. In both cases, it was the largest ice cream sundae I’ve ever seen.

    The quietest and most refined was at Narcoossee’s, where we got a special keepsake menu and a dessert. Close behind was California Grill, where we got a champagne toast and special keepsake menus.

  9. Corrina says

    You forgot the funnest place of all for a birthday – Beaches and Cream. It’s small enough that the waitstaff will get the entire place to sing Happy Birthday. And, come on, cake is nice, but nothing beats their ice cream Sundaes. 25th birthday sounds like an excellent excuse to take on the Kitchen Sink to me!

  10. Shayne says

    These are all great suggestions! To add on to the list, I enjoyed a great 40th birthday meal at Sanaa. African drummers came to our table, played African music for us, then sang happy birthday. I think I also got a special dessert, but that was secondary to being serenaded by the drummers/singers!

  11. Stefanie says

    I celebrated my birthday this past March at the Garden Grill. The characters were lots of fun, I got a yummy birthday cupcake from our server & my friend & I both thought the meal was Excellent!

  12. Galloping Gourmand says

    If you have gone to WDW before it’s nice to go back to any sentimental favorite where you have made great memories in the past. I have friends who go to the Plaza Restaurant for that reason.

    Splitsville is a fun place to party and bowl.
    A House of Blues Gospel Brunch is a great experience with wonderful food and music.

  13. Mandi says

    I could split this up into two things. The first is counter service birthday. I know it’s not exactly a celebration type place, but we were having a busy day and stopped in for lunch at Cosmic Rays. This was defiinitely my favorite birthday experience. After seeing my friend’s birthday pin, the entire staff in our bay came out and had the restaurant sing a happy birthday song with them.

    As far as table service goes, I definitely have to suggest Whispering Canyon. There’s already so many shenanigans going on, and with the special attention they paid the birthday girl, it was hilarious. Also, free cupcake. Although, it may not make it to you ;)

  14. Barbara says

    Have celebrated my birthday at Disney for the past 30 years. All were memorable but “Be My Guest” was wonderful. Sent the special secret dessert to the table. Also ate at Canada one year and received a Birthday Card signed by all of the waitresses and waiters. You always have a good memory when you celebrate your Birthday at Disney!

  15. Julie says

    I just celebrated my 35th birthday at Disney last month and I ate dinner at Les Chefs de France in Epcot. It was wonderful! The food was so delicious and the staff (or some of them) actually sang to me as they delivered my dessert, which was such a surprise! I want to spend my birthday at Disney every year :-D

  16. Amy says

    I spent my 37th birthday at Be Our Guest this year. I couldn’t be happier. My dinner was THE best meal I’ve ever had at Disney, and the Grey Stuff was delicious! ;-)

  17. ShepW says

    I’ve spent several b-days at WDW in the past. The last time I did so was Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2014. One dinner was at Teppan Edo in Japan the first night (Friday), Tusker House in Animal Kingdom for lunch (when I got to meet Mickey and he rubbed his belly, “Yum-Yum” for me) on Saturday, and Fulton Crab House for dinner at Downtown Disney (Saturday night). I’ve eaten at Yachtsmen Steakhouse in the 90s, and at that Brazilian Steakhouse (I don’t recall the name, but it’s the cuisine I remember) at Polynesian Resort in June ’97 for my big 4-0. I’ve also eaten at the German restaurant (table service before it went buffet style), and at Kringla Bakery. Returning to Teppan Edo, when the cast member serving me saw my b-day pin, all the servers in that part of the restaurant gathered around to sing Happy B-day in Japanese and give me a chef’s hat along w/a special dessert. That was probably the only time I ever ate with chopsticks (made easier to use w/a Band-Aid and rubber band). Great food, great fun, all combined by watching IlluniNations and then trudging back to the bus bays to return to home sweet home at CBR. Thanks for the memory, Disney! :-)

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