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Tipping in Disney World

Tipping in Disney World




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Tipping culture in America is very different to the tipping culture here in the UK. In the UK everyone gets a 'decent' minimum wage and you only ever tip if you've had exceptional service, or at a really expensive restaurant where it is expected. In America the minimum wage is lower, and their salary is made up from tips.

You might argue that you've paid for the food, it's up to Disney to pay their staff sufficiently. While that attitude is correct back home, it comes back to it being a culture difference. Food is generally cheaper over there, and in return you tip to make up the waiter or waitress' salary. I personally much prefer it that way. Knowing the staff have to earn their tip, gives better service, rather than most restaurants over here where it doesn't matter what service quality is, they get paid the same.

But saying that, the cast members at Disney almost always earn it. Things like making sure you never having an empty glass on the table, quickly clearing plates, which makes the service stand out from back home.

The silver lining is that the majority of (non restaurant) Disney staff are not allowed to accept tips. The only tipping you'll do actually in the parks is at restaurants and bars. A cast member may go out of their way to do something special for you, and although I would always offer a tip, they do have to decline it, but they appreciate the gesture.

A general rule of thumb is anybody who feeds you or touches your property, you tip them. For example, you can tip the driver of the Magic Express (who is hired by an external company) but you cannot tip the bus drivers of the Disney Transport Buses. The Disney employed bus drivers cannot accept tips, just a smile and a thank you is enough! From the airport to the hotel it's recommended to tip on average $1 per bag/suitcase. If you have 4 bags and only have $5 on you, don't be that guy, give the driver the $5.

Restaurants


You only tip for sit down/table service meals including buffets, not the quick service meals and snack locations.

If you're on the Disney Dining plan, you still need to tip. You should budget tipping for your meals into the cost of the holiday and keep the tipping money separate to spending money.

On the bottom of the food bill it will give you a tip suggestion, so you wont need to get your calculator out and do a load of math when your belly is full of delicious food. This usually tells you how much 18% and 20% works out to be - remember this is worked out on the amount without the tax, 18% is usually average and 20% is for exceptional service.

Unfortunately, a group of 6 or more people will have a 18% gratuity automatically added onto the bill. If you feel the meal was not up to your standard, you must talk with the manager and work out a solution with them.

You can technically avoid this by having 2 parties of 3 but there's no guarantee you'll be sat together. (I imagine this compulsory gratuity is because if a waiter or waitress is given a big table, they lose out on other potential tips if that group doesn't leave a tip, and a lot of people may not have tipped in the past).

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. If the problem was with your server again take this up with the manager to try and rectify the issues. Gratuities can be paid in any of the ways accepted in WDW, cash, card, gift cards etc.

How much should you tip? As I've said, Disney do the calculation for you at the bottom of the receipt. You should be looking at tip in at least the 15-25% range, depending on the quality of service. Disney push towards the 20% mark for their staff. Remember, the percentage should be worked out from the pre-tax amount.

Drinks


If you're just having drinks at a bar - be it at a pool bar, or a bar inside a hotel, it's best to tip $1-$2 per drink. We tend to wait until we've finished if we are sat at the bar having a few drinks, but if you're taking the drinks away it's best to tip as and when you're buying them. Little point here, keep plenty of singles on you as there's usually a glass on the bar for gratuities, and remember it's considered bad etiquette to tip with coins.

Hotel


Mouse keeping! Disney hotels house keeping is a touchy subject. Some people wait until the last day to tip but personally I prefer leaving some each day as it could be a different person and it wouldn't seem fair the last cleaner getting all the tip if it was someone else tidying your rooms and making origami out of your towels all week.

It's recommended to leave about $1 per person in the room, when it's the two of us staying we tend to leave $3 a day. (One time when we needed to ask for a lot of towels after an incident with the shower head we left a little more to amend our guilt...) Some people buy/make little envelopes to put the money in so the cleaners know it's for them as they won't just take money laying around, but we tend to just use the little notepad by the phone and just write a little thank you or a note on there and leave it somewhere obvious for them.

Hotel Extras - If you choose to have someone take your bag to your room it's usually $1 per bag, however we have always taken our suitcases to the room ourselves so you don't have to do this.

In every Disney hotel there is a concierge desk at reception you can visit if you ever need help, this is a service that does not need tipping.
If you need a taxi you can ask at the entrance of the hotel (usually just by the door and you can normally see the taxis around the corner) and they'll call the taxi over - this act doesn't require tipping however the taxi journey does.

Transport


If you take any taxis within Florida/Disney World it's similar to over here and usually round up to the next round $10. If the total was something like $48-49 It would be best to round it up to $55. With anything single digit it's safe assumption to just round to $10.

I know it's a lot to think about and it does add up over a 2 week vacation but it's just because the American culture is different to our own and we should try and respect that when we are there. It's something we've learned to budget for when planning and it's just part of a magical Disney World Holiday.



This article was posted on 21-Feb-2017
Last edited on 03-Mar-2017
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