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Top 10 Questions about Tipping at Walt Disney World

Top 10 Questions about Tipping at Walt Disney World

If you are like me, you like to have your ballpark budget figured out before you travel to Walt Disney World.  And one of those expenses that can sneak up on us is gratuities.  You may even find that you need to plan ahead for this by bringing extra cash in small bills with you.  As I have learned, tipping is very different in other parts of the world, so our friends visiting Walt Disney World from across the pond and elsewhere may not be accustomed to the tipping practices here in the U.S.  Here I will attempt to answer the ten most asked questions about tipping in Walt Disney World:

 

10.  Do I tip Mousekeeping?

For those of you wondering, “what is mousekeeping,” that is what we call the housekeeping staff at Walt Disney World Resorts.  Cute, right?  The answer here is yes.  While it is not required, people generally do tip their mousekeeper.  A general rule of thumb is $1 per person staying in the room.   If you are staying in a 1, 2 or 3 bedroom villa you may want to leave more since more work is involved (they’ve always washed and put away my dishes when I’ve stayed in a villa).  And remember you are tipping for their service cleaning your room and replenishing supplies like towels and toiletries, you should not be tipping just to get towel animals (though they are fun to come back to).

9.  How much should I tip at a restaurant?

It is customary to leave a tip for your server at a table service restaurant—this includes the buffets.  Their salaries reflect the fact that part of their income is expected to be earned though gratuities.  The amount is really dependent on your service (unless you have special circumstances where the tip is included automatically).  If your service is acceptable the minimum should be 15% of your bill.  Disney offers suggested tips at the bottom of your receipt, and 18% seems to be their default number.  Exceptional service should be rewarded with a higher percentage.  If you are using a Tables in Wonderland discount card 18% gratuity is automatically included.  Some restaurants have an automatic gratuity included:  all of the dinner shows (Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ and the Spirit of Aloha Luau) along with Cinderella’s Royal Table.

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 8.  How much do I tip the bell services staff or a valet?

Utilizing bell services or a valet is probably not something most of us do on a regular basis, but don’t forget that they do expect a small tip.  Standard tip for a valet is $2-$5, and you need to tip the person who takes your car to park it, and the person who brings it back.  For bell services you will want to tip $1 for each bag, and $2 if you have a really heavy bag (guilty!).  If you are taking Disney’s Magical Express to and from the airport and the driver is handling your bags you will want to tip him.  This means he takes your bags out from under the bus.  If you see someone handling your bags you should tip them – use the same amount you would bell services.

7.  How do I pay the tip?

At a restaurant you have several options.  If you are an onsite guest you can charge it back to your room using your handy-dandy Magic Band.  You may also leave cash or charge it to your credit card.  For Mousekeeping you will want to leave cash in an obvious location and make sure that it is marked as being for Mousekeeping so they will know it is okay to take it.  Many families will create and decorate envelopes to leave the money thanking them for their service.  Magical Express Drivers, Bell services and valet should be tipped with cash.  You can do the smooth thing of handing to them as you shake their hand.

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 6.  I’m using the Disney Dining Plan.  Do I need to tip, or is it included?

Yes, you need to tip and no it is not included in the Dining Plan.  Disney will still have the suggested tip at the bottom of your receipt even though you aren’t paying for your meal with “real money.” You can charge this back to your room, leave cash or charge it to a credit card.  If you prefer to figure your own tip, the total value of your meal will be shown.

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 5.  I’m staying Club Level—can I tip the concierge staff?

You can’t tip them with cash – they are not allowed to accept it.  They can take gifts and they seem to really appreciate food items and items that reflect your hometown or state.

4.  My family is going on a specialty cruise, do I tip the Captain?

Yes, you should tip your captain if you are going on a fireworks cruise or a fishing excursion.  20% is usually customary in this situation.

 3.  What about room service?

Gratuity is included in your in-room dining charge (including pizza delivery from Disney), but you may want to give your delivery person $1-$2 for their effort.

 2.  We are a large party, is our gratuity included?

Parties of 6 or more seated at the same table are automatically charged 18% gratuity.  Of course, if you feel that your service falls well beyond this mark you could ask to speak to a manager to have it adjusted.  On the other side of the coin, you can always add to that to reward great service.

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 1.  Can I tip other cast members who help me out?

Usually no.    In the parks you may be lost and ask directions from a cast member, or you may have an accident (spilled popcorn) that is turned into a magical moment (full bucket of popcorn reappears), or you may even be chosen as Family of the Day to open the park.  Unfortunately, you can’t tip these cast members (and you definitely can’t tip them to make the last one happen).  One thing I’ve done in the past is bring business size “Cast Member Appreciation Cards” to give to cast members who helped make our visit more special.  Ours had Crush and Squirt and said “You So Totally Rock Dude!” with a thank you, our family name and hometown.  These were a big hit and were appreciated.  The ultimate compliment or tip you could pay to these cast members who go out of their way is to go to guest services and ask if you can write it up for their supervisor.  This gets them recognition and helps them on their career path.

Tipping can be tricky and we all want to do the right thing when it comes to the service we are given.  Are there other gratuity scenarios you have encountered on your Walt Disney World vacation?

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).