Who to tip at Disney World is a common question. I've put together this little guide which will make you a pro-tipper in no time.
The tipping culture in the USA is much different than it is here in the UK. If you've not been to the USA, or have been, but think you've not been tipping correctly, read ahead.
At Disney World, there are some cast members you should be tipping, and others who cannot accept tips. If you're staying outside of Disney World, things are a little different. The general rule of thumb is any member of staff who does something for you or touches your property, you should tip accordingly.
In Disney World, you do not need to tip:
General Cast members/characters in the theme parks
Cast members at the resort concierge and check-in desks
Disney resort transportation. Including bus drivers, monorail pilots and boat captains
Servers at quick-service restaurants
The cast members who show you to your table at table-service restaurants
Cast members can sometimes go above and beyond, and as much as you'd like to tip them, they'll most likely decline. To show your appreciation to a cast member who has gone above and beyond for you, tell the on-duty manager, go to Guest Relations, or tweet @WDWTODAY using the hashtag #CastCompliment. Cast members are praised for positive feedback based on the service they give to guests.
In Disney World, you should be tipping:
Servers at table-service restaurants
Servers at bars
Transportation to Disney World (taxi driver, coach driver, limo driver, Disney’s Magical Express driver)
Private taxies around property (including Minnie-Van drivers)
Resort porters (anyone who carries your luggage)
Resort luggage assistance (where you can leave your luggage for free)
Resort spas & recreation (boat hire, etc)
Mousekeeping (house keeping)
Table-Service Restaurants Tipping
You are only required to tip at table service (including buffets), not quick service restaurants. (If you're unsure which is which, click here for a guide.)
The norm for tipping at a Disney World table service restaurant is 18%-20%. Parties of 6 or more have this 18% tip automatically applied to the bill. However, you can argue this with management if you believe the service to be subpar. You cannot split the bill to get around this policy, either.
We Brits aren't accustomed to tipping like they are in America, and some people choose not to tip at all when they go to Disney World. This is wrong.
If you do not like to tip, or if you don't plan to tip, do not eat at Table Service restaurants. These people make the rest of us look bad, hence why when they hear are smooth accents, servers always tend to point out and make clear the tipping policies.
Table service restaurants is a huge part of our Disney World holidays, and we do eat in one most nights of our stays. We budget in the cost for tips just like everything else. It is more money you have to spend on an already expensive holiday, but if you don't want to tip, stick to quick service restaurants. Quick service has improved over the years and there's a lot more choice now.
A common argument is "Disney should just pay them better" – but that's not the way the industry works over there. The servers know what they're going into when they take the job. It's lower pay with the potential of unlimited tips. To be honest, I sort of like that system. You always have to keep in mind that if it were the other way around and they were paid more and there was no tipping, that cost is still there and would be incorporated into the price you pay for the meal regardless. At least this way, you get to choose how you want to tip based on the service you have received rather than them getting paid regardless.
Keep in mind you are not obligated to tip the suggested 18-20%. Although, in my experience it has been rare that I'd ever need to tip lower than that.
When it comes to tipping, everyone has their own rules and tolerances when it comes to their service/tip ratio. This is what I tend to live by:
10% subpar service (+ complaint to manager)
15% Does a adequate job and is polite enough
18% Good service
20%+ Went the extra mile
At Disney World I've yet to have any experience where I needed to tip less than 10%. I've had a few occasions where the service wasn't acceptable enough and I complained to the manager, but haven't had bad enough service where I feel they do not deserve a penny.
Remember, don't blame your server if the food is bad - that's not their fault. If you have an issue with your food, tell you server and they will sort it for you. They may do a really good job and go the extra mile to make it right for you. You shouldn't punish the server for someone else's fault, especially if they're doing a great job. There is also some bitterness about tipping servers at buffets. The same tipping analogy applies to buffet servers. Even though you get your own food, they work just as hard clearing your tables and bringing your drinks.
If you've been to Disney World before, you'd have noticed the receipts tell you what you should be tipping. This is only a suggestion, and is only actually added to your bill if your party has 6 or more guests.
If you have an iPhone, there is a Siri shortcut you can add to your home screen to quickly calculate the tip. Click here to download it. Then you can add it to you far left widget screen, add the siri shortcut widget to your active ones and swipe left to use it.
Remember the percentage tip is based off the value of the meal before tax. Enter the pre-tax amount, hit calculate and there's your number.
Tips don't have to paid by the same method you used to pay the bill. However, if you are using the Disney Dining Plan, you'll have to pay the tip a different way anyway – and that can be cash, card or charged to your room.
Disney's official policy on tipping bar staff is the same 18-20% policy as the restaurants. Although most of the USA generally expects $1-2 per drink, I would start with that and work your way up to the 18% mark depending on how good the service is. Remember, this applies to take-away drinks, too.
Transportation To Disney World
Whether you're traveling in a taxi, limo or coach – tipping is expected. This includes Disney's Magical Express, as the drivers are not Disney employees.
You should tip taxi/limo drivers 10-20%
You should tip coach drivers based on how many bags you have. Around $1/$2 per bag.
Taxi Around Property
You do not need to tip any of the cast members who drive the Disney buses, boats or monorails. You only need to tip if you get your own taxi, Uber, Lyft or Minnie Van. 10%-20% is again expected.
The general rule of thumb for anyone handling your luggage should be tipped about $1/$2 per bag.
Resort Luggage Assistance
Disney World resort hotels have luggage assistance facilites where you can leave your bags for free. However, make sure you tip when picking your bags up at the rate of about $1/$2 per bag.
I know a lot of people don't, but you should be leaving the Mousekeeping staff a little tip. Some are guilty of leaving a tip for their whole stay on the last day, which should be avoided, because it may not be the same person who has been servicing your room during your stay. It's expected to leave around $1/2 per person each morning before you head to the parks. Make sure your clearly mark this money is for Mousekeeping, as they won't just take money if its laying around the room.
Resort Spas and any other beauty service should be tipped at 10-20%, this includes recreation activities that include boat rentals etc.
Tipping is part of the Disney World holiday. You are the paying customer, but you have to adhere to the culture. It adds to the cost of the holiday, but it is something you have to budget for.
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