Throw a Magical Disney Birthday Party in 4 Steps

arielGrowing up, I was a huge fan of the themed birthday party. Hawaiian luaus, 50’s sock hops, even a pirate party for my sweet 16. A themed party adds that extra element of fantasy and fun that kids of all ages like to be a part of. Why just be a birthday boy or girl, when you could be a Space Ranger or a carpet-riding princess? Throwing a magical themed party is easier than you think. Besides the much needed faith, trust, and pixie dust, a great theme will lend itself to a great party. To show you what I mean, I’ll use the movie that inspired the name of my blog, The Little Mermaid, and my Disney World vacation planning expertise to plan the perfect Under the Sea birthday party.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

If you have ever been to Disney World or Disneyland, you will know that having a game plan ahead of time will save you from hours in line, potential arguments, unnecessary mileage, and money. Just like a vacation is a big event, so is your child’s birthday, and so taking time to plan out details will help in the long run.

For my Under the Sea themed birthday party, I have planned some activities to do so kids don’t get bored, but also keep with the theme of the party. I planned a Thingamabob scavenger hunt where kids will look for items seen in Ariel’s undersea cave like silverware, wine corks, buttons, bottles, frames, and books. And the total cost of all this scavenger hunting fun for your bundles of joy: $0. You already have the kind of junk that Ariel collects sitting around in your attics and junk drawers.

I also planned a “find your voice sing-a-long” to the songs of the Little Mermaid. Youtube is full of karaoke style videos or sing-a-long videos with the words included.

little mermaid party image boardStep 2: Detail the Disney Way

Part of what makes Disney World more magical than other theme parks is their incredible attention to detail. They take a theme and run with it, from the queue lines, to the ride vehicles, to the gift shops after. Your child’s birthday party will be extra special if you can create an immersive theme from beginning to end.

I love snacks and goodies, so my Under Sea birthday party has a table full of themed foods, complete with nautical decorations like pearls, clam shells, netting, and sand. For the birthday cake, I wanted to go with something that resembled the scales of a mermaids tail, using teals, greens, and some purple to pull off the mermaid vibe.  Curious how to make your dining room or living room feel like an ocean? Buy some light blue or teal plastic table cloths (They’re a dollar each at Walmart)  and cover the room (ceiling too).

Also, to save some money, there’s nothing wrong with sending out an email to your friends, family, and coworkers. Why buy a bag of seashells when one of your relatives just got back from Cape Cod with 300 shells that he’ll willingly lend you for the day? Does collecting all this stuff ahead of time feel like too much hard work? Include your child in the entire process. Now the party is also teaching your kid to plan ahead, and use the resources around her.

Step 3: Flexibility

As much as planning ahead is necessary to have a good time at Disney World, being flexible with those plans will make sure no one’s day is ruined because things didn’t go their way. Long wait times, missing the parade, or deciding to take some extra breaks are all things you might encounter at Disney, so it’s best to go with the flow.

A birthday party is no different. Just because I planned some activities and had a tentative agenda of when gifts would be opened and cake would be served, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be flexible if everyone would rather watch a movie or play with sidewalk chalk outside. Plans can change and that doesn’t means your guests will have any less fun.

MV5BNTAxMzY0MjI1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTU2NTYxMTE@__V1_SX214_AL_Step 4: Enjoying the Moment

I have talked about this in one of my blogs, knowing when is a good time to take a picture and when is a good time to put the iphone down and just look up at the fireworks instead of finding the firework setting on your camera. The thing is everyone thinks they are going to look at these pictures but to be honest, pictures with people matter more than any beautiful landscape or castle you will ever snap.

I believe the same rules apply to your kids birthday party. Take a picture of them dressed up, with their cake, maybe opening a few gifts or with their friends, but then put the camera down and just experience the wonderful day with them, being totally present in the moment. The memories you will have from this day will last forever.

So now you can be the envy of all your child’s friend’s parents. They will ask you how you put on such a fabulous themed party. The first things you can tell them is you purchased beautiful Disney inspired invitations from Paperless Post or any of their other wonderful invitations. Then you simply had to get a little creative with details, decorations, and food. Lastly, you can tell them that seeing your child so happy, surrounded by family and friends will be something you will never forget.

Sundae Dreamin’ on a Snowy Sunday

It’s the end of March and we just got pounded with snow last night. It’s times like these I like to look to my favorite snowman, Olaf and do what he does, “sometimes I like to close my eyes, and imagine what it’d be like when summer does come.” Although I secretly think it’s never coming, a girl can dream. My summers are not complete without weekly ice cream stops (sometimes multiple times per week.) I just can’t get enough of the delicious creamy cold stuff. When I’m eating ice cream, the world slows down and I’m happy (true signs of an emotional eater.) Luckily when you are at Disney World, you can have your favorite flavor all year round. These are my 5 top spots in Disney World to get ice cream.

Beaches and Cream ice cream with sprinkles

Beaches and Cream ice cream with sprinkles

Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club

Beaches and Cream serves up some serious ice cream. Located at the Beach Club resort, you can eat your ice cream inside the 50’s style soda shop, sit by the Stormalong Bay pool (with valid magic band), or venture out by the lake and sit on a hammock or walk the path. They also have a to-go walk up counter if you are just interested in ice cream. I am a sucker for

kitchen sink

kitchen sink

sprinkles and think that all ice cream shops should give you unlimited sprinkle refills but regardless, the amount of ice cream in my giant waffle cone was able to satisfy my sprinkle need. If you are feeling courageous, or are traveling with a giant group, consider splitting the “kitchen sink.” They are definitely enormous, and for almost $30, they should be. Beaches and Cream also offers other soda shop classics like banana splits, sundaes, and milkshakes.

plaza ice creamPlaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom

This is by far the best smelling ice cream parlor on my list. I’m assuming they pump scents into the air to get your tongue salivating faster. This is my go to ice cream spot when I’m at the Magic Kingdom. Sometimes I’ll get it to eat during the parades or fireworks. Sometimes I get it and like to pop a squat on a bench and do some serious people watching. At the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, they have hard ice cream and specialize in sundaes. You also get some additional options for the guest that is trying to watch their waistline with sugar free and fat free options. Sugar and fat free ice cream just sounds like an oxymoron to me but whatever floats your boat.

Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Mickey Sprinkles!!

Mickey Sprinkles!!

Everytime I get ice cream here I’m blown away by how much ice cream they give me that’s technically 1 scoop. Hollywood Scoops is located directly across from the Beauty and the Beast Show on Sunset Boulevard. It’s become somewhat of a pre show ritual to get a scoop and head to the show. On super hot days, you will be thankful for your frozen treat. Once upon a time, when I asked for sprinkles, they gave me ones in the shape of Mickey heads. There was something about tiny little Mickey’s all over my ice cream that made it even more delicious. I’m not sure if they still have these magical sprinkles, but it’s worth asking. Hollywood Scoops is also in a great waiting spot if you’ve opted out of doing Tower of Terror and/or Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The time will fly by with your ice cream in hand and piercing screams in the background. They also have sundae options available.

Italian Gelato Kiosk at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot



If you are at Epcot and walking around World Showcase, chances are you might be feeling an urge to suddenly become more cultured. Look no further than the Gelato Kiosk at the Italian Pavilion. The best part is you won’t have to feel guilty about eating it or giving it to your kids because you can rationalize it as cultural experience.Get a single flavor or opt for one of the Gelato Creations. This super creamy ice cream will keep you satisfied on your worldly travels around the lagoon. Delizioso!

Seashore Sweets at the Boardwalk

Enjoy the Boardwalk

Enjoy the Boardwalk

Boardwalks and ice cream seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly…it just works. Seashore Sweets is in the perfect spot to get your ice cream to go and take in the sights and sounds of the Mid Atlantic inspired Boardwalk. Last time I was there I ordered the smallest size kiddie cone (with sprinkles) and it was just enough to satisfy my craving and leave me with the option of second dessert. It can get a bit crowded in there at times, but in my experience, ice cream is worth the wait.

You can never have too much of this stuff.

When a Mickey ice cream bar just won’t do the trick, head to one of these delicious spots to cleanse the pallet, kick back, and enjoy. When you are surrounded by good people at the best location with yummy ice cream, life can’t be beat. Perhaps time will slow down for you as well.