Money Matters

Ask It Results: How Much Do You Tip Your Servers?

by on November 1, 2017

Tipping is one of those topics where everyone has an opinion, and in almost every case, it is an opinion that can be justified. Historically, tipping has always been about providing a little something extra for someone who goes above and beyond. In restaurants, it’s harder to define what is above and beyond and what is expected of a server to provide for good service. Where it gets tricky is that servers depend on tips to make up for below “normal” minimum wage rates. I don’t think anyone could argue that you can have a comfortable living working 40 hours/week at the standard minimum wage. According to the Department of Labor, for servers in tipped positions in Florida, the minimum wage is $5.08/hour, which is considerably less than the still-unlivable $8.10/hour standard minimum wage. In short, servers depend on tips to be able to try and make a livable wage.

In the past, 15% was often seen as a standard tip amount for restaurants. According to Emily Post, the suggested tipping amounts are 15-20% pre-tax for sit-down restaurants and 10% pre-tax for buffets. Recently, TouringPlans’ own Len Testa was at a restaurant in New York where the suggested tipping amounts began at 20% and went up to 30%. And so, with all of these thoughts in mind, we asked you:

On average, how much do you tip your servers at a Disney table service restaurant?

Here are your results with 2,158 votes cast.

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Ask It: How Much Do You Tip Your Servers?

by on October 25, 2017

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another Ask It. This week’s question was spurred into creation after our very own Len Testa shared a picture of suggested tip amounts for a restaurant in Brooklyn at 20%, 25%, and 30%. This got many of us thinking–how much do people tip their servers at Walt Disney World these days. Here’s this week’s Ask It:

On average, how much do you tip your servers at a Disney table service restaurant?

  • 20% (69%, 585 Votes)
  • 10-18% (25%, 213 Votes)
  • 25%+ (4%, 35 Votes)
  • Flat amount (1%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 843

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The poll is live here and on Twitter, and we’ll have your results next week.

Disney Vacation Club: Pros and Cons of Renting Points

by on October 10, 2017

Looking to save money on your next Disney vacation? One suggestion growing in popularity is to consider renting Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points. However, like any ‘easy’ money-saving solution, there are some aspects of the rental process that you should be aware of before you decide whether this approach is right for you. To help with that, we’re taking a look at some of the pros and cons of renting DVC points.

For those that aren’t familiar with Disney Vacation Club or point rentals, Disney Vacation Club is Disney’s version of a timeshare program. Members purchase a long-term contract for a certain number of points each year. They can then exchange those points for stays at the following Disney resorts:

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TouringPlans and MouseSavers Discounts

by on July 1, 2017

We are so happy to announce today that MouseSavers, a site that’s been saving Disney visitors money since 2001, is now the exclusive source for third party discounts on TouringPlans subscriptions. TouringPlans and MouseSavers share a common goal – helping you make the smartest decisions on how to spend your vacation time and money. Partnering with MouseSavers gives TouringPlans more time to focus on creating tools, like our Dining Reservation Finder and Room View Finder, to help you plan great trips in less time.

Readers will find links on MouseSavers and in their newsletters to special purchase pages for the discounted subscriptions.

The fine print:

  • If you’re renewing, you’ll receive the renewal price or the discounted price, whichever is lowest.
  • There is still a discount if you own a current edition of the Unofficial Guide. Again, you’ll get the lowest price.
  • If you’re looking for even better than discounted, how about free? Some travel agents offer free subscriptions to TouringPlans with qualified bookings. If yours doesn’t, why not ask about it?

Do you have more questions about how to save money on your trips? Ask in the comments – we’re always looking for new topics to cover.

Ask It: How Much Do You Spend on Souvenirs?

by on May 24, 2017

How much do you spend on souvenirs at Walt Disney World?

When planning a budget for a Disney vacation, it is fairly easy to get a good ballpark estimate for hotel costs, transportation, meals, and tickets. But when it comes to souvenirs, it can be tricky to know exactly how much to budget. Some people stick to a firm idea of how much they plan to spend, and others are a bit more fast and loose with the purse-strings, depending on what they see that they like. So this week, we’re curious about your spending habits when it comes to the souvenirs that we love to fill our suitcases with.

How much per person, per week do you spend on souvenirs for a Disney vacation?

  • $51-$100 (33%, 276 Votes)
  • $0-$50 (31%, 262 Votes)
  • $101-$200 (19%, 161 Votes)
  • More than $201 (17%, 146 Votes)

Total Voters: 845

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Voting is open here and on Twitter, and we’ll have the results next week. Feel free to share your souvenir budgeting tips in the comments. Have you ever bought something that you regretted later on? Ever skipped buying a souvenir and wishing you could go back in time to get it? Let us know!

Pro Tips – Things You Shouldn’t Pay For at Walt Disney World

by on March 15, 2017

save money at Disney by avoiding these common purchases

A few days ago Tammy Whiting wrote a great article about Things You Shouldn’t Pay for on a Disney Cruise. Today I take that idea and apply it to Walt Disney World! Here are some purchases to avoid to save money at Disney.

Some of you might think, “Hey Claire, everything is expensive at the Disney parks! You just have to deal with it!” I agree with your statement, but there are always things that are just a little too ridiculous, or a little too much like a nickel-and-dime scheme, or WAY too expensive to warrant even being put on the shelf or promoted by the company!

So if you’re trying to afford that great Disney vacation and are thinking of ways to reduce the overall budget, here are some things you can definitely ignore:

Save Money at Disney – Don’t Fall for Preferred Parking

Walt Disney World’s parking is huge and sprawling. They have always accomodated the early riser and the late arriver by shuttling people with their tram system to roughly the spot where their vehicle is located. If you are close enough to the entrance, you can just hoof it to the security checkpoint.

save money at Disney - don't pay for preferred parking

A rental car minus a Disney resort = extra cash for parking. Photo – Claire Nat

Disney’s commuting guests have grown accustomed to this arrangement. However, one year ago Disney decided to provide an up charge by giving guests really, really great parking spaces for just $20 more!

I need to remind you that parking for a Disney park in Florida is already $20, so if you want the best spot in the Mouse House you have to double your parking payment. $40 paid for the day and you haven’t even made it to the entrance yet!

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Pro Tips – 10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For on a Disney Cruise

by on March 10, 2017

10 things you shouldn't pay for on a Disney Cruise

How about a blog post on saving money?  Everyone likes to save money right?  I mean, you’ve spent a lot of money on your Disney cruise, do you need to spend a lot more onboard?  You don’t!  I always say once you are onboard, assuming you’ve prepaid your gratuities, you don’t have to spend another penny to have a great time.  You could spend another penny!  You could spend a lot of pennies in fact, see my post on plussing your Disney cruise for examples of how.  But you don’t have to!  So here are 10 things you can skip.

1. Soda/Coke/Pop – Don’t pay for soda! Don’t you know that Disney is just about the only line out there with free soda, day and night? Well it is!  There is always free soda in the drink machines on the pool deck, and in all of the dining rooms.  I just spent $70 for a week’s worth of unlimited soda on Royal Caribbean and it pained me greatly!  So don’t buy it anywhere!  That’s just silly.  Not from a bar, not outside the movie theater, not from room service.  Don’t do it.  Wouldn’t be prudent.

2. Room Service – Let’s be clear, the vast majority of room service is 100% free. There are some packaged snacks like M&M’s, nuts and popcorn that will cost a few dollars. There are also some soda (see number 1) and alcohol options that cost money.  But why?  Why would you spend money on food from room service when there are great free options right there!  Good free options!  Cheese platter, buffalo wings, French fries, steak sandwich, cake of the day!  Mickey bars!  You really don’t ever need to leave your room if you think about it. Don’t forget to tip the person that brings it to you though!

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Flying Frontier Airlines to Walt Disney World

by on February 23, 2017

Flying Frontier to Walt Disney World

As I live a considerable distance from Walt Disney World, flying is my preferred method of travel in order to maximize my vacation time. But as many of you fellow travelers may know, flying can be almost as expensive as your actual vacation!

A few years ago, I looked into economy airlines in order to work more flexibility into my Disney World Vacation budget; and after my first roundtrip flight to Orlando International Airport with Frontier Airlines, I’ve flown with them pretty much ever since. Here’s what to expect when flying with Frontier Airlines and why I fly with them to Walt Disney World!


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A Guide to Souvenir Mugs at Disney

by on February 15, 2017

In recent years it has become an unwritten rule that whenever a new restaurant opens at Walt Disney World a souvenir mug must be created for purchase. This also seems to go for new shows and attractions. The amount of souvenirs all throughout Walt Disney World is staggering. Disney souvenir mugs are a great way to have a practical souvenir that you’re sure to use once you are back home.

Let’s take a look at all the different souvenir mugs available through Walt Disney World. You can decide which ones you must have and plan room in your budget for these little treasures, and make sure to fit obtaining them into your schedule.

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Ask It: Inexpensive Activities at Walt Disney World

by on February 8, 2017

Ask It. Best Inexpensive activity at Walt Disney World

It’s Wednesday, and time for another Ask It!

Last week, we asked you:

Which inexpensive activity is worth the time and money during your vacation?

This poll was our closest one yet!  With more than 600 votes cast, the final results were (in order from least to greatest):

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