Thursday, January 24, 2019

Ben's Disney Birthday: Part 1

All the magic for our little mouseketeer!
Ben's Disney Birthday! Another incredibly magical night complete for our adventure book and for the most special reason of all... our Ben! 

Dreaming big from the beginning
So how did this magical night come to be? We we have to start way back when we were still pregnant with Ben. PB and I would talk about what the future might hold with our little rainbow. One fun event that came up in our conversations: his 1st birthday. We hadn't even become parents yet, but we knew we'd have to dream up something extra wonderful for this special baby who wasn't even born yet! We knew even before Ben's arrival just what an impact he'd have in our lives. We just knew that Ben would be (& he truly is) our everything! This all just meant we had to celebrate his one year in the most amazing way that we could think of!
Some people save for cars, some people save for vacations... as for us? We saved for Ben's 1st birthday at Disneyland. We've had some fun Disney parties in the past, but this one would be different. This event would represent more than just a "party", this would be a celebration for our miracle, a celebration of one year of parenthood, a celebration of all the love and hearts!

All the magical reasons
So where did this leave us? We had always had Disney in mind for Ben's birthday party. Disney has always been the location for so many of our relationship and then pregnancy milestones. So there was no question as to where his 1st birthday party would be held: the happiest place on Earth!
I'll admit, we have a history of throwing crazy Disney events. But to be 100% honest, we actually never anticipated to host this many Disney festivities in these past few years, lol! It began with our Disney wedding, then PB surprising me with our 5yr anniversary in 2015. Just when we thought that would be it... as life would have it, we found ourselves with quite a blessing to celebrate in the close years following, like our rainbow baby shower at 21 Royal last year (read about that HERE) and most recently, Ben's 1st birthday party. We are definitely thankful for all of the magic we've been able to experience with our celebrations at Disney. We know that it's been quite an overload of fun, but hey, when you have a good reason to celebrate, you have to rightfully do so!

Get that birthday ball rolling...
Getting around to the actual planning aspect of Ben's 1st birthday. The #1 question I received right after our event was "Disney does birthday parties?" Yes, yes they do. Much like how they dream up fairytale weddings, they can create magic for any type of celebration or special event with their "Meetings and Events" team! We were lucky enough to have our fairy godmothers over at Disney Weddings get us in touch with the Disney Special Events team at the resort so we could get the birthday ball rolling.

If you're interested in planning your own event at the resort, check out the info below:
Image credit: www.disneymeetings.com


Want to plan your own special event at Disney? Check out the helpful tips below:


 Figure out your basic details

  • - Budget: the amount you're willing to spend. 
  • - Potential event date.
  • - Guest count. An estimate of how many people you're thinking of inviting.
  • - Do you want a hotel or "in park" venue.
  • - Any other details you may want to add in order to help get the information you may need for hosting an event at the Disneyland Resort. 
Contact or submit a request form from Disney Meetings and Special Events. You can check them out online here: https://www.disneymeetings.com/start-planning/submit-request/

Once you're in touch with an Meetings and Events representative, they can further help guide you through the planning process. A lot of Disney Special Events are custom. A Meetings and Events planner can better help guide you with any other additional pricing, entertainment, and venue options they currently offer.


Dream big
Once we were in contact with our amazing event manager, we went through all the different options of what might be possible in regards to venue and the major event options. At this point in the planning process the sky is literally the limit. Your event planning is at stage one and the blankest slate possible. This is the time to explore your options, see what might work for you vs. what won't work. 

In park vs Hotel Venues
PB and I had our lists of potential dream birthday venues.... Yes, this party was for Ben, but mama and dada definitely got a say in where/how this event would look. PB really wanted to host Ben's party within Carsland at Disney California Adventure Park. This has forever been a dream venue of his. He loves cars and had always thought that Radiator Springs would be the perfect party backdrop. Alas, the timing of the space (yes it was possible!) just didn't work out for us. We would have either had to start our event early, like 5am in January early or start late after park closing at 10pm kind of late. Neither of which made for a good kid's birthday option. We also looked into Toontown over at Disneyland as a possible venue, but the same timing also didn't work for us. Then our perfect 1st birthday venue came to be! It just so happened to be the building next door, literally the "junior" version of our wedding reception venue: The Disney Junior Theatre inside Disney California Adventure Park! Since the venue isn't in use after 5pm on most days, we were able to book it on 1) a weekend and 2) during regular park hours which was perfect for our guests! *Our event started at 7pm while the park was still open! And no, our guests didn't need to purchase their own park tickets for the event, admission is included for them for the duration of the event!

Most "in-park" party venues are only able to be booked in the off season, on a weekday and before or after the park closes. Park venues also need more time for booking since you need to go through park approval for use of the venue. This process can take anywhere from a few days to months depending on multiple factors. It's also handy to have multiple dates ready, just in case your first choice of party date is already booked or not approved. To give an example, we began out planning process in early August, we submitted pretty much every Saturday date in January as a possible party date. It then took about a week to hear back about our party date approval for January 12th! *I have to note that our park approval for our venue was super speedy. Event our event planner mentioned our approval was usually quick. I guess the Disney Gods were with us on securing our perfect birthday venue for Ben!*
The hotel venues at the Disneyland Resort on the other hand have a wider variety of party options, bookable any day/time of the week and are generally easier to utilize than an in park venue. As magical as in park venues can be, Disneyland Resort hotel options are just as, if not sometimes more magical since they're more flexible in regards to booking. Each hotel has it's own doses of magic and the possibilities are endless. A huge plus as well? Pricing is definitely cheaper at the hotels than it is for an in park venue. In the earliest planning stages, we actually were considering a possible hotel venue since we were already aware of the time/day restrictions of in park venues. If the Disney Junior option didn't work, we would have definitely had our party at one of the amazing hotel venues!

Characters, Entertainment and Food, oh my!
Once you settle on a date and venue option, a contract is generated, along with deposits being made for your event. Once this stage is completed you get assigned to a Disney Event Planner to further work out your event details like decor, food, overall entertainment. It's the time to figure out all the little details to make your event magical! Disney Events assigned us the most amazing planner, Danielle. We had known each other beforehand through Disney Weddings, so it was amazing to actually get to plan and event with her. We can definitely say she worked her magic with Ben's birthday event!

What's great about planning an event with Disney is the ease of everything. We would just send ideas over via email, even the vaguest suggestions of what we wanted and she would turn them into reality and beyond. We had one conference call with her and the entertainment team to figure out a whole decor theme. What they came up with was a whole homage to our rainbow by turning the room into a literal rainbow! To say planning was a breeze is an understatement. We fully trust Disney to create magic, and they truly did. You can always rest easy because you know they'll dream up something amazing every time!
What are some fun doses of magic Disney Events has up their sleeve? Well for starters, characters! You can add on some of your favorite Disney pals to visit your event (all pending approval), hire an artist to come and do caricatures, photo booths, fun decor, and even add on a special showing of a your favorite Disney entertainment or attraction for your guests. Again, these options can vary due to the time of the year, park approvals, refurbishment schedule, etc. For the latest entertainment and decor options available, please consult with your Events Planner! To sum it all up though, the magical possibilities are endless!

Disney food. Yes... all the Disney food. It's good, really good. When you plan an event with Disney, it's required to go through their banquet and catering services. But have no fear because Disney chefs are the best out there. They've always managed to blow us away with their creative and delicious menus! So you can always rest assured that your guests and their tummies will leave your event happy. Disney has set menus ranging from fun appetizer stations, buffet options, and plates meals. Each menu can be customized to suit your guests and party needs. For our event, we told the team that we wanted something more "casual", so no plated or formal type of sit down meal. So our planner and the chefs actually created a special birthday buffet for Ben's special night! This included a custom PB&J dish called "Mac and P". It was PB&J mac and cheese, sounds crazy but it was oh so good!

Lets not forget the cake. Any cake for your event has to be done through Disney as well, but trust me... Disney cake is GOOD. Disney's bakery team has created some of our most memorable cakes over the years. We're always left craving more, to the point where we sometimes just contemplate putting in a order for a cake... just to have Disney cake. An added bonus to working with Disney for your cake? You can choose from super unique flavors like Dole Whip cake (called pineapple whip cake) or churro cake as options. YUM,
Ben's birthday cake was a combo fo churro and dole whip flavors!
The famous Disneyland churro cake! 
Pricing
Right up there with "How?" this was the 2nd top question I received from everyone on Instagram: "How much?" Okay, so I completely understand the curiosity behind everything. When PB and I got married at Disneyland in 2010, we were bombarded by this question left and right. While PB and I aren't comfortable sharing exactly what we spent, we will mutually say that the memories made from our Disney events are priceless. We love being able to share the Disney magic surrounded by our loved ones, family and friends. That's what makes these things so special. You can't put a price tag on the memories made!

But for those inquiring minds still wanting to know? My best answer: contact Disney Events for current pricing. Pricing for special events vary significantly. There are so many factors that go into the total cost for your event and it all depends on what you end up choosing to book. It can come down to what venue you pick, what day of the week you choose, what you add on, guest list.... it goes on. We've found that pricing with Disney Events, was super custom. We could add/remove different aspects of the party to fit our budget and needs. So with such a huge range in possible pricing, your best bet would be to contact Disney Events for more information. While I can't confirm a specific price tag, I can guarantee that if you choose to work with Disney, they will always work hard to create magic for your event, no matter what type of budget you have!

Trust in the magic
The one thing that PB and I love the most about working with Disney for our events is knowing that we're always in good hands with them. Disney sure knows how to put on a good party, no matter if it's a small event at the hotels, or a giant event spanning the parks! Magic will be made for every type of event. If you're thinking of planning an event at the Disneyland resort, definitely give them a call or contact them for more information. I hope this little run down of our experience of planning Ben's Disney birthday was helpful! My best advice to anyone throwing a special event at Disney? Trust in the magic, you won't be disappointed!
I'll have Part 2 of Ben's birthday party recap up soon. Until then, thanks for reading, stay tuned for more magic soon!💜




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