I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends. Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine. After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.
On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours. Just think of the logistics. Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them. If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%. So let's say, he's name your table table number 2. He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l. You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in. 5 of you decide to order apps. He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share. Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who. You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who. More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps. I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.
Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not. I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.