Frequently Asked Questions About Tipping At Walt Disney World

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One of the most frequent areas of confusion for Disney guests is the topic of tipping. International guests may be unfamiliar with American tipping in general. There are some Disney travel situations where guests tip differently than at other travel destinations. And some folks are just plain miffed that they have to tip at all.

With an aim at reducing anxiety, here are some frequently asked questions about tipping at Walt Disney World.

TRANSPORTATION

I’ve arrived at Orlando International airport, do I have to tip anyone here?

At the airport, and throughout your trip, you should tip anyone who handles your luggage for you in your presence. The rule of thumb is that you tip about a dollar per bag, or two dollars if the bag is extra heavy. If you’re claiming your bags yourself and taking them to a cab, rental car agency, limo service, or Magical Express bus on you own, then you won’t need to tip anyone while you’re in the airport. If you use a porter to assist you with moving your bags from the luggage carousel to ground transportation, then you tip the porter.

No need to tip your inter-park bus driver.

I’m taking Magical Express to my Disney resort, do I have to tip the driver?

You’ll see a sign at the front of the bus telling you that driver will accept tips. If you’re just hopping off and on the bus, you shouldn’t feel obligated. However, if the driver is helping your store luggage under the bus, go by the dollar per bag rule.

Did you notice that I said you should tip anyone who handles your bags “in your presence”? If you’ve used the yellow Magical Express luggage tags and had Disney take your bags directly to the hotel for you, then you won’t see the person who’s doing your luggage transport. In this situation, you’re off the hook for tipping.

I’m taking a shuttle to an off-site hotel. Do I tip the driver?

It’s the same situation as Magical Express. If the driver helps with your bags, offer about a dollar a bag.

What do you mean “about” a dollar a bag?

Assuming that you have normal weight bags, aim to tip a dollar a bag. However, it’s good manners to round up, and poor form to ask a bellman or porter for change. This means that if your family has three or four suitcases and all you have a five dollar bill in your wallet, give the porter the fiver.

I’m renting a car. Do I have to tip anyone?

Not at the airport, but maybe later.

I’m taking a limo service or town car to my hotel. Do I tip the driver?

Depending on the agency you’re using, the tip may be included in the price. Be sure to ask this when you set up your booking. In general, plan to tip about 15% of the fare. If the driver has done something extraordinary for you, such as making an extra stop or assisting with car seats or colossal amounts of luggage, tip more.

I’m taking a taxi to my hotel. Do I tip the driver?

Yes. Taxi drivers also get about 15% of the fare. Again, if the cabbie does something above-and-beyond, tip more.

Does the taxi tip level remain the same for shorter trips?

Generally, yes. For shorter trips on WDW property you may end up with a ride that costs seven or eight dollars. In a situation like this, it’s often easier for both you and the driver if you round up to ten dollars. It’s considered poor form to tip the driver in coins. Always round to the next higher dollar in your tip.

Taxis are one situation where asking for change for the tip is OK. For example, if your cab ride is $11 and you have a twenty in your wallet, it’s perfectly acceptable to say to the driver, “Here’s a twenty, can I have six back, please.” This tells the driver that you’re paying the fare and giving him a $3.00 tip.

What was that “maybe later” you said earlier with the rental car tipping?

All the Disney resorts have self-parking which is free for guests. No need to tip anyone if all you’re doing is self-parking your own car or a rental car.

The deluxe resorts also have valet parking available for a fee. If you use the valet parking service, in addition to paying the daily rate (currently $14), you’ll need to tip the attendant each time you get your car. A dollar or two will suffice.

Do I have to tip the bus/boat/monorail driver who takes me from my Disney hotel to the theme parks?

Nope. This is a no-tip situation, but a smile and a cheery “thank you” would be nice.

Is there anyone special I need to tip when I’m leaving Walt Disney World?

If you use the Resort Airline Check-In service at your Disney resort, you should tip the agent who tags your bags. These folks are not Disney employees. Consider them in the same way you would porters at the airport and give them about a dollar a bag. Remember, Resort Airline Check-In is responsible for getting your luggage onto your plane. It’s better if they’re happy.

You do tip the folks at Resort Airline Check-In.

AT THE HOTEL

Ta da! I’m at the hotel. Who needs a tip first?

Much of the tipping at your hotel is centered around luggage assistance. Yet again, if someone touches your bag, they should be tipped about a dollar a bag. If a bellman not only takes your bags to your room for you, but also provides additional information about the hotel or the workings of your room, then a bit more may be in order.

You’ll also give a dollar a bag to the bellman who helps you with luggage when you’re leaving the hotel.

All this tipping for moving my bags is really adding up. How can I economize?

You can avoid a lot of tipping if you transport your bags yourself. This may not be feasible for guests with medical challenges, copious amounts of luggage, more small children than adults, or owners of non-wheeled luggage. However, if you’re able-bodied and each member of your party can handle their own rolling bag, then by all means deal with your own luggage and circumvent the tip stream.

What’s this I hear about tipping mousekeeper housekeepers?

Yes, this is a thing.

It’s polite to leave about a dollar per day, per person in your party, as a tip for the cast members that make up your room. If you’re a family of five, this means a five dollar tip for your housekeeper each day. You’re supposed to leave the tip separately each day, rather than at the end of your stay, because there likely will be different cast cleaning your room over the course of your visit. You’re also supposed to leave the tip in an envelope with a nice note that says “thank you.” This makes it clear to the housekeeper that the tip is indeed for her, and not just a bit of cash that you forgot you left on the dresser.

Many guests make fun projects for their kids based around decorating the housekeeper tip envelopes. A quick Google of “Mousekeeping Tip Envelopes” will give you lots of links to people who are more creative and patient than I am.

Now it’s time for Erin’s true confessions: I rarely tip the housekeepers. If the housekeeper does something special like make towel animals or arrange my kids’ stuffed animals in a Mickey-centric Last Supper tableau, then yes, I’ll leave a few bucks in appreciation. Also, if my kids have been super messy (um, the sand was supposed to be wiped off your feet before you got to the room), I’ll leave some cash to assuage my guilt. But otherwise, I usually don’t.

Clearly this is some glitch in my programming because I go absolutely insane with rage when people undertip at restaurants. A housekeeper is clearly working just as hard in a service job as a waiter. Do as I say, people, not as I do.

Even if your Jungle Cruise driver is so good he makes you cry, he still doesn’t get a tip.

Do I tip those random helpful people at the hotel?

Generally not. Disney has greeters and random helpful, cheerful souls all over the place. They don’t expect to be tipped for answering simple questions, opening doors, or pointing you in the right direction.

Are there exceptions to this?

If someone actually does something for you, offer a tip. For example, if you call down to housekeeping for more pillows or towels, give the person who brings them a few dollars. If a bell desk cast member calls a taxi for you, give them a dollar or two.

What about the concierge?

Every Walt Disney World hotel has a concierge desk where you can ask directions, pick up tickets, get assistance with dining reservations, etc. For basic requests, there’s no need to tip. If you find a concierge particularly helpful or if they make multiple meal or recreation reservations or solve a thorny problem for you, offer a tip of $5-10. Most likely this will be firmly, but politely, declined, but it’s kind to offer.

If you’re staying at an off site hotel and a concierge there provides you with assistance, you should tip $5-10 for simple requests, and $20 or more for complicated requests. This most assuredly will not be declined.

DINING

Is there anyone I’m supposed to tip at a counter service restaurant?

No. There’s no need for tipping at counter service venues.

Restaurant tipping information is provided in several languages.

How much am I supposed to tip at table service restaurants?

I’m just going to say it: You should be tipping 18-20% at table service restaurants, possibly more if you’ve had truly exceptional service or have lingered at a signature restaurant.

Eighteen to twenty percent? Really? I though I was being generous by tipping fifteen percent.

Yes, really. The 15% thing is just so 1990s. No flames, please.

I super-double-plus promise you that I’m not making this up. 18-20% is now the tipping norm in U.S. metro areas (of which Orlando is one).

To keep everyone on the same page, Disney restaurants often place a little card about tipping in the bill presentation folder. The card says: “We are often asked about gratuities. No gratuity has been added to your bill. Quality service is customarily acknowledged by a gratuity of 18% to 20%. Thank you.”

Many of the questions we receive on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel are related to tipping. To keep myself educated on the topic I’ve been collecting articles about tipping for the past four years. I have sources ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the most recent edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette that will back me up: you really should be tipping at least 18% at table service restaurants.

In all cases, remember that you’re tipping on the bill, not the bill plus tax.

OK, that’s what I should do, but is it what I absolutely have to do?

Of course it’s really up to you to decide how much you want to tip. If you’ve taken root in the land of 15% tippers, then it’s up to you to decide if that’s where you want to stay.

There are, however, a few situations where the 18% tip is mandated. These are:

  • Parties of six or more. The 18% gratuity will be assessed regardless of the age of the guests (babies are included) and regardless of whether the bill is broken up into separate sub-checks.
  • Guests dining at prepaid restaurants and dinner shows including: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop Dee Doo Review, Spirit of Aloha Luau, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.
  • Guests using the Tables in Wonderland discount card or Cast Member discount.

If you fall into one of these categories, take extra care to look over your bill. You’re certainly welcome to add more to your tip if you received exceptional service, but you don’t want to inadvertently double tip.

I’m eating a buffet. Do I have to tip the same amount as at a regular table service restaurant?

In my experience, the servers at Disney’s buffets work just as hard, if not harder, than those at traditional table service restaurants. There’s a lot more clearing and refilling than at other meals. However, if you feel that buffets are in a different category of dining, then it’s up to you to decide your tip level. But remember, if you’re a party of six or more, an 18% gratuity will be automatically added to your bill.

Most Disney restaurant bills include suggested tip amounts.

Do I have to tip if I’m using the Disney Dining Plan?

Yes, you do. Many years ago, the tip was included with the Dining Plan. It’s not any more.

If I’m paying with Dining Plan credits, how do I know how much to tip?

If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, your bill will include a notation about how much you would have paid had you been paying cash. Tip based on that amount.

If you’re a big eater on the Dining Plan, your tips over the course of a vacation can end up being quite substantial. Be sure to factor this into your budget.

Do I have to pay my restaurant tip in cash?

No. You can use any acceptable form of payment at Disney World to pay your tip. Cash, credit card, debit card, room charge and Disney gift cards all work well.

What happens if I have really bad service? Can I stiff the waiter?

Personally, I have never had truly horrendous service at Walt Disney World and have only had semi-bad service a handful of times in upwards of a thousand dining experiences. The likelihood of you having a horrible server is minimal.

However, if you do encounter service that’s sub-standard, the best thing to do is speak to a manager at the restaurant. They can work with you to rectify any negative issues. It’s better to get the problem fixed than to walk away angry.

Also, remember that your tip is related to your service, not to the food. If you’re unsatisfied with your food, speak to the manager, don’t take it out on the waiter.

Only a few dining experiences have the tip included in the price of the meal.

I’m having a night-cap. What do I tip the bartender?

If you’re just having drinks, one to two dollars per drink is the right amount. If you’re also getting food, go with 18-20%.

I’ve had looong day in the parks. We’ve decided to get room service. What do I tip?

The In-Room Dining menus state, “A $3.00 delivery charge, applicable sales tax, and an 18% service charge will be added to all orders.”

It’s not obligatory, but if the server who brings your food to your room is extra nice or helpful, you could hand him $3-5 to be extra nice back.

IN THE PARKS

I’m a mover and a shaker. Can I tip the cast member at Soarin’ a sawbuck to sneak me into the FastPass line?

Um, no. But you get points for creativity. Cast members doing their regular job in the parks are not allowed to accept tips/bribes/grift/etc. If they are seen accepting tips, this is grounds for dismissal.

A cast member has completely made my day. She (pick one or more) helped my child find her favorite character, got me a new ice cream cone after I dropped mine, let me drive the Jungle Cruise boat, told me about the high-value Toy Story Mania targets. Can I tip her as a thank you?

You’ve got your heart in the right place, but still, no tipping for regular parks cast.

But I reeeeaaally want to thank them properly.

Some super sweet guests carry a small bag of thank you cards or tiny treats from their home town when they go to the parks. They’ll offer these to cast members who have shown them a special courtesy. Cast are allow to accept these de minimus tokens.

While giving a kind cast member a Statue of Liberty pencil sharpener is nice, what’s even better is giving the cast member some documented props. Guest comments weigh heavily in cast member performance evaluations. Your positive remarks can help good cast members get promoted into better jobs. To make an official comment, pick up a comment card at the Guest Services office at the parks. If you’d rather wait until you get home, you can send comments to:

Walt Disney World Guest Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

The e-mail address for Guest Communications is: wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com.

Be sure to include the cast member’s name and hometown (both noted on their name tag), as well as a description of the cast member’s good deed and approximately where/when it happened.

Is there really no one at the parks to tip?

There are a few small exceptions to the “no tipping in the parks” rule.

You can tip cast involved in your personal beautification at the Harmony Barber Shop, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, or Pirates League. For the Barber Shop, tip about 15% of your bill. At one point tipping at the BBB had been prohibited, but in recent years this rule seems to have been relaxed. If you feel so inclined, you may offer a 15% tip to the Fairy Godmothers in Training or the Pirate tutors.

What about tour guides? Do I tip them?

Not the Walt Disney World tour guides. They’re not allowed to take your tip. If you’re with a private tour group, a tip very well may be expected. Speak with your tour carrier for guidelines.

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD BE THINKING OF?

Outside of the parks there are plenty of relaxation and recreation opportunities. These activities are often outsourced to contractors. For example, Nikki Bryan Spas runs the spa services at the Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs resorts and Sammy Duvall runs the water sports centers. Contractors generally are allowed to accept tips.

We’re treating ourselves to a massage. Do I tip the masseusse

Plan on tipping 15-20% of the bill for any personal care or grooming service. Massages, manicures, haircuts, facials, and those poolside hair wraps all merit a tip of at least 15%.

I’m taking my beloved out on the town and we’re leaving the kids behind. Do I tip the sitter?

The cast at the Disney childcare centers (Neverland Club, etc.) will not be expecting a tip. If you’re using Disney’s in-room sitting subcontractors such as Kids Nite Out, then a tip should be offered. This could range from rounding up the bill by a few dollars to an extra $100 or more if the real-world version of Mary Poppins has tamed your unruly mob. For a normal, competent sitter, a tip of $10-20 is a nice gesture.

I’m going water skiing at the Contemporary. Do I tip the boat driver?

Offer a tip of at least 15% for any specialty recreation. This includes boat drivers, waterski instructors, parasailing guides, tennis instructors, and the like. For golf instructors and caddies, use standard golf club etiquette on tipping.

Tips for your water sports guide are welcome.

I’m still lost, what do I do?

When in doubt, ask other guests, or ask at the Guest Services offices in the parks. They’ll give you the scoop on tipping norms.

If you had one piece of advice to give me overall, what would it be?

Carry a lot of singles.

That’s it?

When in doubt about tipping, remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words if you, or your parent, or child, or best friend were in a service role, how would you want them to be treated. Tip accordingly.

And at the risk of getting all soapboxy here for a sec, if you’re traveling with kids, think about the example that you’re setting for them. Do you want to teach your kids that it’s OK to stiff the waiter?

With that in mind, you heard it here first, I vow that from now on I will leave a tip for the housekeepers and will teach my kids to do the same.

I’m bizarrely intrigued by all this. What were some of those resources you mentioned about tipping?

Ask and ye shall receive. Here are some places to learn more about tipping:

So fellow travelers, what are your thoughts on tipping? Do international guests think we Americans are crazy? Have you made any tipping gaffes that are keeping you up at night? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted on March 21, 2012

169 Responses to “Frequently Asked Questions About Tipping At Walt Disney World”

  • My philosophy on tipping doesn’t jive with “etiquette” in this country. If a person’s income is based on tipping (ie, most wait staff) I tip a minimum of 15% unless service is dreadful, in which case, I speak with a manager about why I leave no tip. I leave 18-20%, or more, for better service. If a person gets a regular wage or salary for their job, I will tip if pleased with their service, if they do more than expected, etc. Housekeeping doing their normal cleaning, no I am not going to tip. Housekeeping doing something special to contribute to the Disney theme, or if we are messy guests, yes I will tip. I don’t see the point of the crazy tipping culture we have. It is getting to be too much in my opinion.

    • I can agree with you to a point, but how do you actually know how the person is paid (regular wage vs counting on the tip for their survival)? We know servers count on their tip money, but you don’t know for certain about the other jobs.

  • by Jenny-Lee Williams on July 23, 2013, at 2:31 pm EDT

    It already costs me 10x more to get to WDW because of exchange rates and I’m paying for a 20 hour flight. Tipping like this is just not plausible for me. Its a US social construct, granted. But an 18% tip actually costs me 180% of my bill when I work it back. As a foreign visitor I just cant afford that for each service engagement!

    • If you can’t afford the customs of the United States, then stick to vacations you can afford. Please and thank you.

      • Jenny-Lee – please keep-in-mind Jess does not reflect all (and hopefully most) of the people here. The United States does not have many monolithic “customs” as regions vary greatly. Coming from the Midwest and going to places like Miami, LA, etc is almost like going to a different country, culturally. WDW has prided themselves on being open to all and intentionally positions itself to transcend cultures. (You aren’t eating at a Kissimmee mom-and-pop eatery) If there are problems that are caused, from people insufficient tips rec’d, I am sure they can figure out ways to address… Personally, I tip a base amt of 10-12% pre-tax on restaurants, and go over that only for excellent service (maybe 20% of the time?) Round up for taxis; insist on carrying my own bags, that’s about it. Only hotel I’ve ever tipped for maid service is WDW (and quite well), when they helped clean up an “accident” by my two-year-old. Cheap? probably yes when compared to Miami, NYC, etc – but we live in a vastly different economies! I’ll get off my soapbox, but I think when you can make it to WDW, enjoy yourself and tip what comes naturally

        • I agree with jess, I factor in tips when budgeting a trip. 10-12% is just disrespectful. Especially after you saying you have a toddler, it’s just way too low.

          • A report on tipping from our visit 24/8/13 to 6/8/13
            Taxi Driver: tipped 15%
            Buffet meals:
            Crystal Palace, Boma, Hollywood and Vine and Chef Mickeys No tips
            Artist Point 19% for exceptional service
            Le Celler 10% food excellent, new server being trained.
            Mythos 10%
            Captain Jacks no tip
            T-Rex no tip
            Be our guest 10%
            Chefs de France no tip.

            I never felt pressured and the server never shot me a filthy look.

            Do not feel pressurised not tipping

          • Yvonne – and it looks like I am generous compared to Mark Turner (below). i guess that is the point I was making is that it is all relative … you shouldn’t feel unwelcome at WDW as Jess was implying because your culture is different – that is just being a rude host.

          • In no way should you feel unwelcome. But you know the custom, why act as if you don’t, as an excuse?

          • And why even question it? Read the bottom of your receipt at EVERY SINGLE table service establishment. Disney clearly expects you to tip the customary 18%. They do the math for you!

          • If it was an expectation, it would be included in the bill. It is a suggestion; I would classify it as suggestive selling. In any event, I’ve never seen it, as I’ve never been to WDW table-service as an adult – really pushes the cost up – Much rather fix a meal in Ft Wilderness Cabins. There are 10,000 different ways for people to enjoy a WDW vacation…adjusting to some peoples’ specific tipping norms shouldn’t be a litmus test, whether you believe one is “acting as an excuse” or not.

        • Servers have to tip out a large percentage of their tips to other workers. Is it a bad system. Probably, but there it is. Servers depend on tips to make a livable wage. If you cannot afford to tip, you cannot afford to eat at a table service restaurant at Disney or the United States. Be prepared for your trip, and if you can’t afford it, plan a different trip.

          • We go to Disney a couple times a year, and use the Disney Dinning Plan. Disney has jacked the price on this plan over the last few years. What has really tickes me off going to sit down dinning is these servers are more interested in telling you about the tip than what is on the menu.

            I haven’t gotten nowhere near a 3% raise in the last ten years, and they base their tips on the inflated prices of the food. I think as a patron of their park that I should not have to subsidize their employee payroll.

    • I totally understand! I am quite shocked at the percentage for tipping as well! We are from Canada, so tipping is done here, but more like 15%. We don’t eat out much because to factor in all those costs (and our taxes are 13% of every meal as well) is outrageous. We never order fountain drinks as each one factors in an additional $3.50 to the price tag, and the money we make on the farm is less than that of a waitress/waiter in our area. I don’t know the salaries of the wait staff in the USA, but I’ve always assumed it is similar to here. We do tip… but only at full service establishments (not buffets, fast food, etc) and only if we’ve received good service. I can tell you that at least 1/4 of the time we go out (which is not very often, we eat out at sit down restaurants maybe once a month or less) we get very poor service… no refills on drinks unless we flag someone down after they’ve been empty for awhile, food coming out cold, no asking how our meal is… and they expect tips. It is almost as though they look at us, figure ‘they won’t tip cause they ordered waters’ and then give us poor service. It is shameful. Sorry, I’ve started ranting a little. I don’t know how the table service is in WDW as we only went to counter service restaurants the one time we went, but from what I’ve heard, the service is excellent and would definitely warrant us tipping the staff! Even though the end cost is quite high. That was one of the reasons we stuck to counter service. The food was still great, it was faster so we were able to take more in at the parks, and we didn’t have to worry about our toddlers needing to sit and wait. I’d take a look at the counter service options and perhaps stick to only one or two table service for the trip. We only did one (and that, a buffet) on our trip, and the price of the one meal after tip cost more than a whole day’s worth of food on the other days… and the food wasn’t that much better, the wait was so long (even with reservation), and we didn’t really find that it was ‘our thing’. That’s just us, though. :)

  • by Mark turner on August 5, 2013, at 1:33 pm EDT

    The need to tip is a myth. I am here now and have hardly tipped in 14 days except for exceptional service. Don’t be pressurised. There is no need to tip.

    • You are a very rude person to deny a hardworking server the tip they work so hard for. Servers RARELY take home a paycheck. They rely on those tips. You should be ashamed of yourself for so brazenly broadcasting to others to follow in your cheapskate shoes. When I was a server for many years (during college and medical school) it was people like you who could really spoil a great night. Let me assure you, servers work their asses off and deserve the 18% that is customary in America. Factor it into your budget, don’t be a jerk.

      • I tip for excellent service. I do not reward mediocrity. If I spoilt an employee’s night then tough. I am there for my benefit, not that of the server.

        Nobody forces people to take the job. If people need to rely on tips then they mst take the rough with the smooth.

        If their service is mediocre I will not tip. If I have to fetch my own food (buffet) I will not tip.

        Do I care about the server? They have a job. So many do not. Do it well get paid.

        • Jess – it’s no use trying to reason with ignorance, why bother. This man obviously thinks he’s entitled to make his own rules in regard to this matter. I always tip at least 18%, and if service is wonderful then even more. Mark should realize there are many factors that contribute to a nice experience at any eatig establishment, many of which are completely out of the server’s control.

          • Thanks Jake! Hahaha! Reading this guy’s last post, I’m in total agreement. He thinks he’s quite entitled disney he? Lucky they have a job when so many do not? Is he for real?

          • by Mark turner on August 8, 2013, at 8:56 pm EDT

            Yes, I do make my own rules in ths matter. Tipping is not a legal requirement and is a matter of individual judgement.

            I am reliably informed the USA is a free country. You are free to tip or not.

            All I am doing is pointing out to those of similar opinion to myself that they do not have to tip.

            Please do not call me ignorant. It is not ignorance, it is exercising my right to make a free, independent choice in a free, independent country.

          • Then Mark, tell that server BEFORE service begins about your rules. That’s fair, right? Lets see how good your service would be then. Get my point? Servers are only legally obligated to take your order and bring it to you but they go out of there way to make your experience enjoyable. Why? Because its customary that they will expect a TIP FOR IT.
            YOU KNOW THEY EXPECT IT, and play along, the while time knowing you aren’t going to compensate. You ARE IGNORANT and a cheap jerk.

        • Jake- following your words: “they go out of there way to make your experience enjoyable. Why? Because its customary that they will expect a TIP FOR IT.” Mark said he tips for excellent service and not mediocrity. I’ll make a (not) large leap and say Mediocrity is apparently not enjoyable for Mark. If so, and server doesn’t recognize this and provides mediocre service that is not enjoyable for Mark, why should he tip, according to your rules?

          • That is a great point Jake! Tell the server you don’t tip, before service. Scott, I can assure you by looking at Mark’s tip report that he in fact is an unfair cheap bastard. Mediocrity at nearly every single dining establishment? What kind of service is this jack hole expecting? is he freaking royalty? Honest to God, you people who refuse to tip and make poor hair splitting arguments to justify it are simply ridiculous. Thank sweet baby Jesus that you are the MINORITY of patrons. Read some Emily Post. Learn some manners. Hope karma comes and bites you both in the ass. Wonder if Mark has the nerve to actually be a REPEAT customer anywhere? Doubt it. Uncouth, and classless. Glad I married someone who tips generously, we enjoy being regulars at a few of our hometown Boston restaurants. And I also tip well on vacation. If I couldn’t afford to tip, I’d stick with counter service.

          • Jess – to follow the line of arguement, Mark shouldn’t say that he doesn’t tip, rather to test he should say he tips for only excellent service; I would imagine the service level improves, and some of those restaurants would have received tips, and that would be a “fair” thing to do. But that still puts the priorities wrong – at least in how the vast majority of consumer culture, it is the establishments responsibility to find/meet customers’ needs: In your world, would you pay auto-dealer salesmen, who primarily work on commission (tips), for his best attempt to find a car for you, but for whatever reason hasn’t? Because some people have higher expectations, should they be culturally forced to pay for expectations not met? Seems ridiculous when applied to most industries. What about restaurants should cause them to be different? I don’t find ‘not meeting expectations’ as “hair-splitting” – I find that the core of the argument. That said, I also married someone who tips generously – I usually err higher when I’m with her… bending to social pressure :)

          • Jess and Jake – It’s pointless to respond to these unintelligent boys. Clearly they’re ignorant and will seemingly stay that way.
            To compare a car salesperson (higher pay rate and a commission, that is not a tip, by the way) to a server (that makes less than 3$/hour before tips and is SERVING YOU) clearly shows how ignorant that one is.

          • At the risk of flaring the back up, Yvonne says commission for car sales are nothing like tipping at restaurants. Most car salesmen I know work solely on commission (though are guaranteed a minimum wage, as FL wait staff is – see She’s post below), and they receive a set % for standard service. Under your’s and others’ assertion that tipping should be a standard % for standard service, it seems very much like how other pure commission jobs work. If the contention that myself and some others support is true, that tipping is up to how well a specific customer’s expectations are met and are truly at the discretion of that customer, then I would agree tipping is not like normal commissioned roles. Which way is it?

        • That is another one of my pet peeves at DW. At the buffet dinners such as Chief Mickey’s or the Grand Floridian, you serve yourself and then when you receive your check they want a 18 to 20% tip. For just bringing you drinks and taking away the dishes, unreal.

        • Wow. While it is true that tipping in the USA is not a law, it is a custom in this country. Like it or not (and for the record, I do NOT either), servers are NOT paid by the establishment, but rather by tip. I think it is silly myself, but THAT’S HOW IT IS.

          You certainly have the right to punish TERRIBLE service with a limited tip, but standard or exception service warrants a proper tip in this country. Period.

          I travel extensively, and always do my research in order to adhere to local customs. To ignore these customs is not only impolite, but rude and shameful.

      • Jess you must obviously work for Disney. I am a Disney Vacation Club Member and go to Disney a couple of times a year. My wife and teen-age kids argue on what a tip should be and it does come down to the service.

        My beef is this it might be customary for a 18-20% tip, but Disney is basing that tip on inflated prices, and as you know this plan has been increasing every year. Don’t give the bull if you go to Disney you should have to follow the suggestive tip. We usually give the suggestive tip, but an interesting thing happened when we just returned from our Christmas trip.

        We received our bill from Disney e-mail, and their was a 27 dollar charge at the Prime-time. We charged our appetizers to the room. When my wife inquired about the charge they said it was a tip. I always pay my tips in cash, they did give us credit for the charge. This made me really mad about the situation of their suggestive tips and the spot to write them in even more on debate with my family.

        Point is the economy is bad Disney should be glad people are showing up at the parks. I have been a Disney Vacation Club member since 97, and the prices have increased faster than the rate of inflation. Get your act together DISNEY!!!

    • It’s very easy to justify being cheap and rude. I hope you don’t have children who can learn from your actions.

    • Servers make between $2.13 and $4.95 an hour, depending on the state’s minimum wage. The expectation is that all guests will tip them so that they can make at least a minimum wage. Most servers do not even get a paycheck as the taxes on their rate of pay plus tips usually are equal to what they get paid. You should tip your server something. When I was a server the rule of thumb I used is that you should be tipped $1 per person dining for decent service.

  • Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, such as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some percent to pressure the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

    • If you add a tip to the bill at WDW who does the money go to? – does it all go to the waiter ie the person who takes the order or is it shared with the person who shows you to your table and the people who bring your food out – who usually seem to be all different at WDW restaurants. Does anyone know what WDW actually pays it’s waiters as an hourly rate and does that vary between restaurants? Thanks Steve

      • It depends on what the state minimum wage is. All servers make a percentage of minimum wage. In Illinois minimum wage is $8.25 and servers make $4.95. Most restaurants make servers tip out the bus person and sometimes servers assistants. The people who bring you your food if it is not the server. Some also require tipping out the bartender. This means that the server has to give a percentage of their tips to these other positions.

  • Jenny I can assure you I speak for EVERY SINGLE WAITSTAFF person you encounter. Ever. Tipping 10-12% is NOT acceptable in the Untited States. Ever.

  • Also, %19 percent at Artist Point? Are you kidding me ? E couldn’t cough up another %1 to make it an even %20? Bet he one of those tools who takes a calculated and mulls over the check for three hours too….. What a tool.

    • If the bill was $84, leaving a $16 tip makes an even $100, and an after-the-fact calculation of 19% Not sure why that makes him a tool, or even why you’re resorting to name calling to make your argument.

  • I am at WDW now and the service at all the resturants has been fantastic. My first job was a bus help, then a hostess, and finally a waitress. I always tip over 20 % for great service. My hubby also worked as a bus boy and waiter for his first job. When you are young you have to get job experience and I think the service field was great. My hubby and I used the tips to pay for education to get better jobs. Now we make great money and spend money which boosts the economy. Thanks to people who cared to leave tips for our hard work!

  • Ok…the idea of waitstaff taking home nothing intrigued me and ASTOUNDINGLY enough it is a myth/lie/falsehood.

    I for one, won’t be tipping much next time around at Disney. The founder himself, did NOT want tipping in the parks. As long as they are guaranteed minimum wage, there is no reason to tip. When was the last time you tipped your retail cashier?

    see below:

    The Florida minimum wage for tipped employees is $4.65 per hour, higher then the federal minimum wage for tipped employees of $2.13 per hour. The Florida tipped wage applies to employees like waitresses, waiters, bartenders, valets, and other service employees who earn more then $30 in tips a month.
    Including tips and cash wages, all tipped employees must still earn at least the Florida Minimum Wage of $7.79 per hour. If a Florida employee does not earn at least $7.79 including tips in any given hour of work, their employer must make up the difference in cash.

    • The employers do not like paying minimum wage differential which is what it is called when they have to pay the difference. They do not believe that a server would not get tipped. As a restaurant manager I have been told by my bosses to “get our money back.”

      • And you highlight, Hilary, the insanity of the issues. It is not the owners’ money at that time. It is the customer’s money first, to decide how they want to use, next it should be the employee’s money they earned, w/ owners having what is left at the end. But w/ owner’s having to guess/factor how much staff “should” make from tips – there is all kinds of room for abuse, as noted in your other posts about splitting w/ other people involved in the restaurant.

        Through all of these posts, still haven’t seen a reason why restaurant staff shouldn’t be paid like most other staff that deals w/ the public: a straight wage possibly with commissions and/or bonuses for a consistently good job, negative consequences for not doing a good job. That would give price certainty for consumers, more predictable base wage for the employees, more predictable expenses for management, and take out most friction mentioned in these posts.

  • Tipping is an American custom. I leave a dollar per person at table, unless there is extremely good service – otherwise that’s it. Dont like it, find a job that pays better. Disney is a bit of a rip anyway, and adding in the tipping part is just ridiculous. Disney can pay its people better (most of which are here on a visa anyway!)

  • I usually budget $20 per table servicewhen I go and I factor that into my budget. I leave $3-$5 on the nightstand for mousekeeping. I do the same tips regardless of where I am because my fiancĂ© is a big eater and we usually make a huge mess with our clothing. If people don’t want to tip that is fine. I’m sure that there are enough people tipping generously to make up the difference.

  • I usually budget $20 per table service when I go and I factor that into my budget. I leave $3-$5 on the nightstand for mousekeeping. I do the same tips regardless of where I am because my fiancĂ© is a big eater and we usually make a huge mess with our clothing. If people don’t want to tip that is fine. I’m sure that there are enough people tipping generously to make up the difference.

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  • I really hate the tipping culture in USA. It’s a hassle that doesn’t make any sense to me. If it’s expected for every one to pay 18% in tips, and those who don’t pay it are terribly frowned upon, then just add it to the prices. If a hotel expects us to pay tips for, let’s say, 5 people per day, than add 5~10 dollars to the daily rate. I’m not against the charging of a service fee, but I’m totally against the “you don’t have to do it, but everybody will hate you if you don’t” and the “the prices are already high, but somehow we can’t pay a decent salary to our workers and you’ll have to do it for us, and if you don’t, they’ll hate you” attitude of the tipping culture.

    I also don’t like this idea of making tips be based on the price of stuff. If they bring me a plate with a hamburguer or a plate of the finest foie gras, the waiter made the exact same effort to bring it to my table, so why should I pay 2 dollars for him bringing me one but 20 dollars for bringing me the other?

    But I’ve never been to USA, and I never experienced this tipping culture, since the other countries I visited didn’t have one, so maybe I get used to it when I get there.

    • From the perspective of a long-time restaurant chef:

      To all those not from the US: We have a “tipping” culture here. Like it or not…that’s how it is here. If you don’t like it…don’t follow it. Just remember that it’s usually Americans that are viewed by the rest of the world as the rude foreigners who have no respect for the culture they’ve come to visit (and I will generally agree with this!). Also, I know that in many other countries (of course, not all) hospitality workers usually have higher wages than we have here. Also, in some countries, being a good server in a quality restaurant can actually be an esteemed job. One which commands respect and a high wage. That’s not really the case here. Sure, some servers can make a LOT of money here…but they really do work their ass off for it. Those high end server jobs are also quite hard to come by…and you only get them if you’ve paid your dues working in the trenches for peanuts beforehand. Also…these are people who, at virtually every moment, are dealing with children. Some are well behaved…some are complete nightmares. I would guess that there are more of the latter.

      In restaurants…I tip on the high side: 20%. Unless something goes really wrong…20% every time. This isn’t bragging or putting myself on the high ground. It’s just what I do. I saw above that Florida’s minimum wage is $7.79. The poster said that since they got minimum wage, that no tip was necessary. I can see the absolute logic in this…but let’s be honest here. $7.79 x 40hrs x 52wks = $16.2K/yr. No, of course it’s not our duty to support these people who have taken these jobs voluntarily. Not our duty…but wouldn’t it just be nice to help someone out whose working to “make all our fantasies come true!”

      Seriously…we’re talking about taking vacations that cost thousands of dollars to go see someone dressed in a mouse costume. Wouldn’t it just be a good thing to do a human being to leave behind a few extra bucks?

      As far as the hamburger vs. the foie gras…try that logic with anyone who works for any type of commission.

      • …an also…I’m pretty sure that any character in any Disney movie who doesn’t tip wold most certainly turn out to be the “bad guy”.

        …and ANOTHER THING!!! Virtually NO U.S. restaurant servers are offered ANY type of medical benefits, paid time off, or retirement benefits. We say the French are rude?? Most of their servers get all that plus a respectable salary.

        …ok…I feel better now. thanks.

      • I just want to agree in on this as a foreigner (Australian, in this case). Look, for those of us on the outside, we can all see the tipping culture is messed up. (And the US has known it now for over a century; the first anti-tipping laws were created back in the early 1900s! And overturned in 1920 or so.) There’s ugly sides to it on all fronts.

        But that’s what the wait-staff have to work with right now. You want to change it? By all means, write Disney an email. Implore them to change their policies and raise their staff’s wages, and impose no-tipping rules. Heck, I’m going to do that myself now that I think about it. But until such a time comes? When in the Italy Pavilion, do as the Romans do.

      • I didn’t say anywhere that I’ll not tip. I just said that I hate the concept. But I guess it won’t bother me too much, since almost all my meals will be done in counter service restaurants. I’ll have to deal with it mainly with taxidrivers. And housekeepers. And bellmen. And bartenders. And the Magical Express driver. Did I miss anyone?

        • Don’t forget that waiters work all holidays and weekends and it is tough to even try to get time off for your own vacations, birthdays, etc.

        • Like I mentioned before I go to Disney a few times a year. You mentioned tipping other people in Disney. One area where you see if people tip or not is on the Disney Magical Express, these have to be the most abused people working for Disney. You see these drivers lifting heavy bags onto and off the bus at the resort or airport and some people do not give them a cent. These are the guys that should get 18-20% tip.

  • Wow, this article really helped clear up the confusion for me, that is, until I started reading the comments!!

    I am from Scotland, and I have worked in hospitality in my younger years, and as such, I do tip here in restaurants as standard, but yeah the percentage is much higher in America, however, the pound is stronger than the dollar, so I am currently getting just over 1.5 dollars to my pound.. through this, I can justify the added extra percentage because although I am paying more in %, its not that different in terms of how much cash I am parting with, because of the exchange rate, at least thats the way I look at it.

    Its not the tipping I have a problem with, its just trying t understand *when* to tip! It seems like some of the situations where I would are not considered the norm and when I wouldn’t they are! But like I said, this page helped overcome that to a degree!

    I understand that some people who are doing disney on a budget would think ‘why should I have to tip’ but I think that anyone who has ever had to work long hours in a service environment would be hard pressed *not* to tip. As a waitress and a bar person, I was always grateful for any tip I received but in the more expensive eateries when you have fell over yourself backwards to assist a table and they leave a measley tip, it does leave you thinking that they need to get their head out of their bottoms and realise how arrogant that makes them look.

    I have factored in my tips, all divvied into enveloped ready for my vactaion as I don’t want to worry about it whilst I am there!

  • 18%? You’re ridiculous. It doesn’t take any more effort to bring me a 10 dollar burger than it does a 35 dollar porterhouse. If the server has been good and kept my glass full, he gets a 5 at the end of a meal.
    Buffet waiters get a dollar per person, at the most, since their not even bringing me my food. 15% is the standard for generous people, and anyone saying 18-20% are the types of folks only useful as a pair of hands and a pulse. Deal with it or make yourself more valuable.

  • Tipping 20% is absurd and should only be done when the service surpassed all expectations. We tip 15% when the service is good and 10% when we’re not please with what we receive be it food or service.

    We tip housekeepers once every three days, 5 bucks.

    I don’t understand tipping taxi drivers either, aren’t they already making money from the ride?

  • People who have worked in industries where tipping is prevalent are often pro-tipping because of the self-interest in doing so.

    While the tip is generally goes directly to the paycheck of the servers who worked with you (though sometimes it goes to others who did not), this is an arrangement between the server and the restaurant. I am not a party to their agreement and no none of the terms except that my server is making at least minimum wage for their time. Often they accept the position at risk of making additional money because they expect tips.

    But the real winner is the restaurant owners. They get to increase consumption by advertising lower prices on food while minimizing their pay by having their workers take the tip risk.

    As a consumer, having a wait and kitchen staff is the value proposition that is driving me to eat at the restaurant in the first place. Even with part of the costs hidden, food at a restaurant costs more than eating it myself or going with a lower level of service. I’ve already paid for your service by giving you business. Expecting more money beyond the advertised price for the agreed service is unreasonable.

    That said, I will tip at places I plan to eat more than once, since I don’t like the taste of spit.

  • I say tip what you think is appropriate. I hate when the tip is automatically included. Yes if I’m out with my kids and they make a mess I tip more if service is bad less. Just dont be insulting. If your bill is over 100 and your server treated you like you were their only guests dont leave a 5. And dont just complain to management if your service was excellent let them know that too.

  • Servers have to claim their tips for tax purposes. Often your entire “paycheck” disappears in the face of paying the government, so yes servers (everywhere, not just WDW) often only get what is in their pocket at the end of the night.

  • I am disgusted at so many people’s comments on this thread. This article, as far as I know, was meant to serve as a tipping policy for foreigners visiting our country as well as to give hints to people who don’t travel often what to tip the bellhop etc. It quickly turned into a forum about how to pull one over on the wait staff at WDW. They don’t care, they still smile when I leave…OH REALLY??? You think that your waitress can come and tell you what a cheapskate you are to your face? You know you are cheapskates regardless of how you all break it down (inflation, hamburger vs. porterhouse, buffet vs sit down, its not my job to pay their salary) If your family ate at sit down restaurants and you treated them like this all week, I can gaurentee you’ve made someone cry. You’ll never know because they could be fired from the job they’re apparently so lucky to have if you ever see anything but a smile on their face.
    But lets break it down-

    Inflation- You can afford a trip to disney world, so you are educated enough to make a decent salary to pay for this extravagant vacation…so you probably can also figure out that it wasn’t your server’s idea to raise prices…but you’re going to make her pay for something you knew going in…you knew when someone came to take your order while you sat on your butt that this was a tipping kind of meal and not a mcdonalds kind of meal…so you decided to take up your problems with the CEO of a bazillion dollar company with a single mom? probably a good choice…let me know when the prices go back to normal and i’ll thank you for your stinginess

    HAMBURGER VS. PORTERHOUSE- really…if you can’t tell the difference between a place that sells hamburgers and a place that sells porterhouses, than you should save the money and just dine at the hamburger place because you won’t be able to taste the difference either. But if you opt not to, here’s a general hint: if the dress code requires more than a tank top, fanny pack, shorts and sneakers, you don’t belong here bc your wallet can’t afford your waitress…

    BUFFET VS. SIT DOWN- remember, you choose where you dine. Your waitress at the buffet brings you drinks clears your plates and makes a big deal about your kids bday just like any other restaurant would.

    My personal favorite- ITS NOT MY JOB TO PAY THEIR SALARY- then don’t! But don’t make them serve you. Go to a counter service dinner. Or don’t be a coward. Tell them upfront your political views and that you do not believe in tipping. You’ll eventuatlly eat, because it is their job to feed you, but she will make sure she puts the majority of her time into people who will pay her salary…wouldn’t you? Then, go home, write to congress, and lets make the restaurants pay servers a decent salary…of course, this would completely ruin the inflation bit because the cost of food in restaurants will sky rocket as restaurants would have to now pay their employees a decent salary. But this is what you wanted, remember!?:)

  • Mmmmmm tipping
    I tip 10% when eating a sit down meal, this is the UK norm. I have saved up for almost three years to go to WDW. I will tip what I think is right but I simply cannot afford 20%.
    I am not a cheapskate, I have saved, worked extra shifts at work to get this once in a lift time holiday. I have 6 people in my party and I will not be pay the automatic 20%, I cannot afford it. I appreciate the service and time but it will be a balance of tip 20% or feed my family.

    Sorry but that is just the way it is.

    • I obtained the disney dining plan for free as part of my booking, to use my credits I obtain 1 counter and one sit down meal per day.

      • So you along with 5 people will be dining for free and still will not be tipping properly according to us cultures? You should probably tell your server that when she comes to take your order so she is aware to give 10% service to you. I can sympathize with you picking up extra shifts to pay for vacation. I once was a waitress in the wdw area during the uk’s holiday and had to pick up extra shifts to afford my rent for the month because we only got paid $3.17 per hour. I was not able to get free dining for my family for our upcoming trip, but did get the dining plan. I’m not thrilled to be spending extra money on our meals for tipping, especially since the food is so highly priced, but this is how they pay their bills. Not vacation bills…actual bills.

    • If you can’t afford the 20%, do not punish the waiter. Go to a quick service restaurant where you do not have to pay a tip.

  • It will be added to your bill if you like it or not you will have to pay it unfortunately. I say do two tables and tip what you want. It cost us 400 dollars in tips for two weeks holiday thats just for restaurants. In crystal palace the server gave us our bill before we had even finished our main meal. When I go back in august I will tip what I want. Hope you have a great time.

  • Tipping is a very personal experience. If you recieve good service, leave a good tip. If the service is great, provide a great tip. Finally, if the service is exceptional, offer an exceptional one. The converse applies as well!

  • I am absolutely AMAZED at how many people think it is actually acceptable to not tip at a restaurant! I was raised with the mindset that if “you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat.” Like stated above, servers generally make FAR less than minimum wage, so they are depending on OUR tips for their wages. I understand that a vacation to Disney is insanely expensive. But, even if you are on the dining plan, be a RESPONSIBLE adult and add tipping into your budget prior to your trip. If I were to go visit France or Poland or China, I would be a respectful tourist and learn how they treat their waitstaff, and then I would follow that custom. This also needs to be done by visitors of the US. If your service is bad, as the author of this article stated, tell the manager! I will admit, I have left 15% for exceptionally TERRIBLE service, but that is the bare minimum on a rare occasion. 99% of the time I leave at least 20%, and sometimes even more if service was great. I will say it again, if you can’t afford to tip, DO NOT GO OUT TO EAT. Go to a quick service restaurant in the parks then.

  • http://qz.com/189458/the-united-states-of-tipping/

    I stumbled on this and thought it would be good to get some tipping amount facts, at least as far as Square sees it (with some caveats: data is across all kinds of tipping – not just restaurants; Square merchants may not be representative of restaurants on the whole – I have to believe square merchant food establishments are a higher proportion of roadside/temp booth-style where tipping isn’t customary; cash tips not incl ).

  • Thanks, Erin, for such an informative discussion. Just recently came to my attention that quite a # of people never even heard of tipping housekeepers. Actually another extreme I just heard was mandatory 5. per day, regardless of how many guests or what level hotel.

    All this conflicting info has made me realize I am not such a terrible person. Always tipped generously @restaurants, and where I live we tip at takeout as well (1. or so-no big deal).

    But I always waited til end of stay and tipped 1. per day per person, so thanks for relieving my guilt ,after I heard about this 5. night thing. And I will do the every day tipping f now on, never thought about that b4. thanks.