Celebrating A First Birthday at Disney World

In April my family was lucky enough to celebrate my daughter’s first birthday at Disney World. We spent a lot of time focusing on what she would want this trip, including a lot of pool time! We did manage to spend some time in the parks though. Here are some ways that we celebrated while we were there.

  1. Get a birthday button! This applies for any birthday being celebrated at Disney World, but it’s also the first step to celebrating your baby’s first birthday. You can also get a special “It’s My Birthday!” ear hat at the Chapeau in the Magic Kingdom.
  2. Book a character meal. Your milage may vary on this one but my baby loves characters! Over the course of our most recent trip we did Tusker House, Crystal Palace and Garden Grill. She loved them all. Make sure to note on the reservation you’re celebrating a birthday. My daughter recieved special birthday treats at each of our meals, which she kindly shared with her parents 😉 IMG_0277
  3. Consider booking a first haircut at Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street USA in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Your one year old is too young for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirate’s League, but the Harmony Barber Shop makes a big deal out of first haircuts! The My First Haircut package is $25 and includes a set of Mickey Ears commemorating the event.
  4. Pick out a special toy or keepsake to bring home. For my daughter we picked a Shellie May doll. Hopefully she’ll keep this doll for a long time and we’ll be able to tell her the story of how she got it as she gets bigger!
  5. Don’t forget to take photos. We had Memory Maker for this trip and made sure to take advantage of it. It’s true that the baby won’t remember this family vacation so it’s important to have pictures to show them how they celebrated in style!

Tusker House Lunch Review


Quick Facts

Location: The Africa area of Animal Kingdom park

Hours: Lunch is 11:30am-3:30pm, but the restaurant is also open for breakfast (8-10:55am) and dinner (4-6:30pm)

Characters: Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Mickey Mouse (subject to change)

Dining Plan: 1 credit


  • Tusker House is a buffet meal with an extensive menu. To see the full list check out the official website here, but some highlights include Kenyan Coffee BBQ Pork Loin, Spit-roasted chicken, toasted couscous salad, seafood stew, plantains and so much more! If you’re worried about your children, or the more picky eaters in your family there are several more mainstream choices for lunch including corn dog nuggets, macaroni and cheese, deli meats and cheese and vegetables. Dessert at Tusker House does also not disappoint, with many choices also served buffet style. My personal favorite was the chocolate turtle brownie!


Character interaction at Tusker House was great. We were seated in a small room off the main buffet area which really made our meal feel intimate, even though all the tables were full. It wasn’t loud or crowded at all. We saw Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey himself with each character taking the time to fully engage with my daughter at our table. As you can see in the second photo she really didn’t want Mickey to leave! Tusker House lunch was a great break from the hustle and bustle of Animal Kingdom, and a fantastic meal to boot. We here at Dole Whipped often mention Tusker House when we’re talking about underrated dining reservations, so think about giving Tusker House a try on your next (or first!) Walt Disney World vacation.

Review of Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

For my family’s trip to Walt Disney World early this November I was lucky enough to snag a reservation at the new Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood Studio’s Hollywood & Vine restaurant. I am SO glad I did! This meal was the perfect thing to get me in to the holiday season, and a great accompaniment to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

This meal was very popular! We checked in at Hollywood & Vine 5 minutes before our reservation time and had a wait of about 15 minutes before we were called in. First up was meeting Goofy!


Once we were seated at our table we were given tiny cups of the most delicious hot chocolate we’ve ever tasted. Yum! Great way to start the meal. We ordered our drinks and were instructed to the buffet to get the rest of our dinner.

The food from the buffet was amazing. Much better than you’d expect from a typical buffet meal. Some of the offerings were:

Shrimp & Lobster Mac and Cheese, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Asiago Ranch Chicken Breast, Pumpkin Ravioli (that looked more like pumpkin gnocci to me!), Barbequed Meatballs (a personal favorite), Marinated Flank Steak, Sweet Potato Casserole, Fish and Chips, Corn Bread Stuffing, Apricot Roasted Pork, Green Bean Casserole, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Salads, Rolls (including Pretzel bread!) and lots more.

While we ate we enjoyed visits from Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Mickey himself. The character interaction at this meal didn’t feel rushed at all! They took time to play with my little princess and make her smile. One small note, there were no autographs. A card with all the characters autographs was left on the table, but they did not sign autograph books.

After the characters came around we went back up to the buffet for the biggest selection of desserts I’ve ever seen. You’d better believe I had a small bite of each one!

Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine was an incredible meal! I’m so glad Disney started a seasonal Holiday meal for guests to enjoy like this. I look forward to see what they’re going to do with it in the other seasons.

Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast: Dinner at the Garden Grill Restaurant

Quick Facts
Location: Epcot inside of The Land Pavillion
Hours: 4:00-8:00 p.m. 
Characters: Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto  (characters are always subject to change)
Dining Plan: 1 credit

This character meal is served family-style. The restaurant rotates extremely slowly and you rotate through different scenes of the Living with the Land ride. The four characters here were a lot of fun and they visited us more than once!

  • Basket of Warm Bread with Orange Blossom Honey Butter
  • “Living with the Land” Harvest-inspired Farmer’s Salad
  • Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
  • Char-grilled Filet of Beef with Demi-Glace Steak Butter
  • Garden Fresh Vegetables
  • Roasted All-Natural Turkey Breast with Stuffing and a House-made Gravy
  • Sustainable Fish of the Day with Tomato Jam

Kids’ Meals

  • Roasted All-Natural Turkey Breast served with Whole-Grain Rice Pilaf, Steamed Broccoli, and Fruit Cup.
  • Chicken Drumstick served with Baked Macaroni & Cheese, Broccoli, Crispy Sweet Potato Sticks


  • Seasonal Skillet Dessert with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

We truly enjoyed our meal here. The food is basic and simple, but well executed. We will definitely be back.

Gluten-free options:
The chef sent out some warmed bread and I got to enjoy that delicious orange blossom butter. Most of the items were actually gluten free, with the exception of the stuffing, which was brought out on a separate plate. The gluten-free dessert was from frozen pre-made cookies. There was nothing wrong with the cookies, but I always appreciate how some restaurants go above and beyond for Celiac customers.

The characters here are pretty laid back and have always spent a lot time with my son.

In Conclusion
I highly recommend this meal for kids because the characters are great and the kids can revel in the fact that they ate inside of a ride!