Tipping is a sensitive subject in modern-day society. Are we tipping enough? Should we tip at all? Does poor service still equate to a tip, even when customary? Often times this comes up for guests visiting Walt Disney World for the first time. You pay a lot of money for an incredible room, dining, and service when you book but, does what you have paid cover the tip?
While some folks are frustrated that they have to tip at all, gratuities are a part of life when you travel in the United States. This is no different at Disney. Take a look at an overview of all the situations where you have to tip, and where you don’t have to tip, on your Disney vacation.
Situations where you should leave a gratuity:
- Bag Handling: Whether you are at the airport, your hotel, or anywhere throughout your trip, you should tip anyone who handles your bags for you. Generally, the norm is to tip about $2-3 dollars per bag.
- Magical Express Drivers: Drivers of the Magical Express will accept tips. You should not feel obligated if you are just stepping on and off the bus. However, if you are having assistance with your luggage in any way, it is customary to tip $2-3.
- Lyft, Uber, Taxis: It’s customary to tip drivers about 15-20% of the fare. Most of the time your app will give you an estimate of what is acceptable. Keep in mind that if you forgo a tip, the next driver can see that you aren’t a tipper and decide to cancel your ride. This may make it difficult to get where you are going quickly.
- Minnie Vans: Minnie Van service is somewhat confusing because although it is run through a ride-share app, it is staffed and serviced by Disney Cast Members. You are not required to tip them. You are permitted to tip if you feel you have had an exceptional experience with them in any way, but that is 100% personal preference.
- Valet parking: If you are staying at a deluxe level resorts or off-site property you may have the option for valet parking available for a fee. It is suggested that you tip $2-5 to the attendant that has retrieved your vehicle for you.
- Mousekeeping/Maid Service at Your Hotel: For whatever reason, tipping Mousekeeping seems to be a controversial subject among Disney visitors. While it is not required at all, it is suggested to leave them a gratuity. If you do decide to tip, here is a good rule of thumb: tip $1 per person plus an extra $1 per day. So, if there are 4 of you in your party, you are tipping $5 each night of our stay. Again, this is suggested but not required.
- Concierge Suite Service: Club Level room have dedicated concierge service, you’ll want to tip according to your usage of the service, the length of your stay, and the number of people in your party. Fifty or 100 dollars, or much more, is not unheard of if you’ve made extensive use of their personal attention.
- Table Service Dining: This is often a hot button topic for guests dining at Disney. It is customary that you should be tipping 18-20% at table service restaurants, possibly more if you’ve had truly exceptional service or dined at a signature restaurant. 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.” ***There are a few situations where the 18% tip is required:
- Parties of six or more. An 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.One tiny bit of cost saving news here: Your tip should be calculated on the pre-tax cost of your meal. There’s no need to tip for the sales tax.
- Buffet Service Dining: The norm is to tip buffet server staff the same as traditional table service staff. However, if you feel that buffets are in a different category of dining, then it’s up to you to decide your tip level. **If you’re a party of six or more, an 18% gratuity will be automatically added to your bill.
- Disney Dining Plan Users: Tips are NOT included with meals paid for with Disney Dining Plan credits. You will have a place on your bill to add in a gratuity or leave cash at the table.
- Bars/Lounges: It is suggested to leave $2-3 dollars per drink or 18-20% if you’re also getting food.
- Room service (in-room dining): 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 is not necessary to add an additional tip.
- Harmony Barber Shop, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Pirates League, or Salon/Spa Services: Cast members involved in your (or your children’s) personal beautification at the Harmony Barber Shop, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Pirates League, or salon/spa service will accept gratuities if you feel your service warrants it. It is customary to tip about 15% of your bill, more if you feel your service was over and above standard service.
- Recreation: Boat drivers, waterski instructors, parasailing guides, tennis instructors, and the like: offer a tip of at least 15%.
Situations not to leave a tip:
- Disney transportation on property: The bus/boat/monorail drivers should not be tipped.
- Counter service restaurants: No tipping needed
In-park Cast Members are not permitted to accept tips from guests. A way to show your appreciation to them without breaking this rule: Bring thank you cards, Cast Compliment cards, treats, or customized buttons.
Better yet, call them out to get recognized by Disney directly with a “Cast Compliment” via the following methods:
- Call them out on Twitter @WDWToday with the #castcompliment with the name, location, and exceptional services received.
- Pick up a comment card at the Guest Services office at the parks
- Send comments to: Walt Disney World Guest Communications, PO Box 10040, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040
- e-mail address for Guest Communications is: email@example.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. Your Cast Compliment often leads to the Cast Member being rewarded for their service which can lead to promotions, professional acknowledgment, or some type of personal reward.
For all your travel needs and information, you can ask your Key to the World Travel Advisor! If you don’t have one planning your next trip to Disney, contact them today to have one of their qualified Travel Advisor contact you.