After last year’s trip to the Blue Devil’s house for E’s 4th birthday, I knew it was going to be tough to come up with a birthday party that could top that. I’m still mentally and physically exhausted from E’s big 3rd birthday pirate party at our house, so we immediately ruled out an option like that. And over the past six months, it seems we’ve already been to every good option in town for other kids’ birthday parties, and we weren’t interested in doing a rerun or even hosting a big whole-class-comes-style party.
A few months ago, we started toying with the idea of doing something special with just a couple friends. The more we thought about it, the more the idea grew on us. Obviously, going to Disney was our first choice but when we started discussing who’d we be inviting, we quickly realized most of them didn’t have Disney passes.
So we came up with the next-best option — a Disney resort.
We’ve been to nearly every character dining restaurant and none of them seemed a good choice for a birthday party. Then, I went to Disney with a friend visiting from out of town in December and she RAVED about the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. We’d never been before but thanks to her recommendation (as well as effusive praise on Twitter when I posed the question about the place), we booked it!
Since it’s pricey ($36/kid, $66/adult), we kept the invite list to her four closest friends. And thankfully for us, that list also included some of our closest friends, too.
It was the perfect sized crew for our country adventure.
I picked up some cowboy hats, sheriff badges, bandanas and tattoos at the party store for some Wild West-inspired fun. We picked all the girls up a couple hours before our dinner reservations because during our scouting trip to Fort Wilderness last month (we’re thorough Disney investigators) we discovered a fun surprise right next to the restaurant — pony rides.
Before we even got to the restaurant, the girls had a blast riding there together and demanding we play Taylor Swift on repeat (only “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Trouble,” naturally. They declared the other songs “boring.” Tough crowd).
When we arrived at Fort Wilderness, we had to park in the main lot and take a bus out to the Settlement, where the restaurant is located. The girls were SO excited to ride the bus.
Once we arrived, they immediately started exploring all the stables and horse pens.
Then, it was time for the pony rides. The way it works is you pay $5/kid, and a parent has to lead them around a loop. The girls were awesome and so patient while waiting their turns. I’m sure I’ll say it again, but the kids in this crew were angels the whole day. Seriously. Angels. There was no whining. No crying. No fighting. They all go to school together and know each well (some better than others), so they could have resorted to some of their usual bickering. But there was none of that. It made the day so much fun.
The birthday girl got to take the first ride.
As for E’s outfit, she was wearing a purple princess cowboy hat I got on major sale at the Children’s Place around Christmas time (you can’t see it in most pictures, but there’s a tiara on there!), a shirt I ordered from Etsy seller Lilac and Lime Boutique, jeggings from Old Navy, her pink cowgirl boots her Gigi got her for Christmas (I think they’re from Target) and the purple tutu is actually from her 3rd birthday party!
After all the kids got a turn on the ponies, we headed over to the playground for them to play a bit before we headed in for dinner. They immediately set out exploring and started collecting pine cones.
I can’t believe we’d never been to Fort Wilderness until a month ago, but we’ll definitely be back. You can see the beach right in the background, and throughout the property there are several swimming holes and playgrounds. There are also horse carriage rides and a nightly (I think) campfire with Chip and Dale. This is camping I could get on board with!
It was finally time to head inside for our 4 p.m. dinner reservations but I was able to get one last group shot of our cowkids.
Couldn’t you just die from the cute?
After the dinner triangle was rung, they allowed everyone to come inside. Our table was pretty near the stage.
When we arrived, cornbread and salad were waiting at the table, and our waitress quickly brought out our drinks. The cost of the dinner includes unlimited drinks for kids and adults — including booze! — so I told her to bring me a sangria asap and to keep ’em coming. Hey, I had a driver and I felt I was due for some drinks after wrangling kiddos all afternoon.
The cornbread was universally beloved. At first, our picky eater turned her nose up at it, but when she saw her friends chowing down on it, she caved to peer pressure. Hallelujah.
After a few minutes, the show got started.
The actors come out on stage throughout the two-hour dinner. They sang songs, told jokes and made the kids laugh … a lot. I think a lot of the jokes went over the kids’ heads but they still caught enough to love it — especially the birthday girl.
She’s a sucker for a good fart joke.
It was good, silly fun. With some fabulous song-and-dance numbers thrown in for good measure.
And who knew there’d even be a celebrity cameo. I’m pretty sure that guy there in the front in the lovely yellow shirt is none other than The Governor from “The Walking Dead.”
You be the judge.
I haven’t read the books but this can’t bode well for his character. He’s already moved on to dinner theater?
When I wasn’t
staring at the Governor watching the show, we were chowing down. The dinner included fried chicken, ribs, corn, mashed potatoes and beans. Mmmm, ‘Merican food. Of course, our four picky girls didn’t like any of that, so we added on a side of mac and cheese for them (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are also an option).
I don’t think it mattered what was on the menu; they were having too good of a time watching the show to worry about eating too much anyway. The birthday girl even got a special shout-out during the show.
And it was interactive during certain parts. There was stomping, clapping and handkerchief waving.
And don’t forget the washboard playing!
My favorite part of the show was the dessert announcement. New rule: all desserts should be similarly introduced. When it’s this big of an occasion, it’s impossible to say no to dessert.
Even the Governor approves. Mmmm, shortcake.
All too quickly, it was all over.
After dinner, we let the kids run off all that sugar before making the trip home.
It was the perfect way to celebrate our new 5-year-old.
Yee haw, ya’ll.
Do you like camping? Do you remember your 5th birthday? Is there any chance our girl remembers any of this fun day?