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Tips on Trip Tipping: Giving Gratuities at Disney

by Jennifer Marx, Author of PassPorter Travel Guides

Many Disney travelers feel unsure about how much to tip during their vacations. We find it helps to remember this adage: "only tip if you've been pleased with the service." Beyond that, there are no hard and fast rules -- only some general guidelines, which we outline below. 

Tipping is a thank-you for good service. Tipping does not need to be mandatory if you did not receive good service. If service was unsatisfactory, ask to speak to the manager and relay the problem rather than simply not tip. 

Here are some general guidelines for gratuities on your Disney vacation: 

GETTING THERE:
- Skycap (airport baggage handler): $1/bag ($2 for particularly heavy bags)
- Airport Parking Shuttle: $1/person
- Town Car/Limo Driver: Tip about 20% total. If your trip consists of two legs, tip 10% on the way there and 10% on the way back. Keep in mind that you may not have the same driver on your drive back. If your driver carries your luggage from baggage claim, consider adding $1/bag for the extra service.
- Taxi: 15% of fare, (you may want to add more if s/he helps you with your bags)
- Shuttle Van/Bus: $2/person 

LODGING:
- Valet Parking: $1-2 when your car is delivered
- Bell Services (hotel baggage handler): $1/bag ($2 for particularly heavy bags).
If your luggage is going to be stored (either before or after check-in), consider tipping twice--once for the person who receives your bags, and again for the person who delivers them from storage.
- Housekeeping: $1/day/person (left in a marked envelope). For turndown service, or if you request an item be delivered to your room, such as a hairdryer or iron, tip $1/item. Tipping housekeeping is an age-old custom, but it is not expected at Disney. If you feel it's unnecessary, don't feel obligated.
- Room Service: 15% of food bill (unless a gratuity is automatically included)
- Concierge: $5-10/visit 

DINING:
- Counter-Service Eatery and Food Courts: Nothing
- Buffet Eatery (not Food Courts): 10-15% of bill
- Full-Service Restaurant: 15-20% of bill
- Wine Steward: 15% of wine bill (if you used their services)
- Bartender/Lounge Server: 10-15% of bill (if you used their services) 

MISCELLANEOUS:
- Spa Treatment: 15-20% for a full-service treatment, 10% for a self-service treatment (such as the Surial Ritual Chamber aboard the Disney Cruise Line)
- Main Street Barber Shop or other Beauty Treatment: 15% of bill 

Note: Walt Disney had strong feelings about tipping that are still reflected in official policy at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Walt did not want guests "bribing" employees to receive preferential treatment, such as getting a table by tipping a dining room host/hostess, a better room by tipping a desk clerk, or bypassing a line by tipping a ride attendant. He wanted all guests to have the same high level of service, regardless of financial means. As a result, most Disney employees are expressly prohibited from accepting tips, and can be terminated for doing so. You can certainly express your appreciation by offering a gratuity, but expect that your offer will be very politely declined. Express your appreciation by sending a written commendation to WDW Guest Communications. These letters can do more for a cast member's career than any tip you may have given. Here's the address: Guest Communications, Walt Disney World Co., Inc., PO Box 10040, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040, or e-mail: wdw.guest.communications@disney.com 

CRUISING:
- Baggage Porters (at terminal): $1-2/bag
- Dining Room Server: $3.75/night
- Dining Room Assistant Server: $2.75/night
- Dining Room Head Server: $1/night
- Stateroom Host/Hostess: $3.60/night
(Note: Dining Room staff and your stateroom host/hostess are customarily tipped in a lump sum, at the end of the voyage. Disney Cruise Line provides tip envelopes for this purpose, and you can charge those gratuities to your room by visiting Guest Services on Deck 3.
- Palo Server: The per-person charge ($5 for dinner) is intended to cover your meal gratuity, but a 15% tip for wine and beverage service, and an additional tip for exceptional service are very much in order.
- Room Service: $2/person
- Bartender/Lounge Server: Check your bill to see if a tip was automatically added to your bill. If not, $10-15% of bill
- Shore Excursion Tour Guide: $1-2/person
- Kids Counselors and Other Crew Members: Not necessary, but a thank-you for special service is always appreciated. 


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TIPPING NOTES: - All the above suggested tip amounts are based on your bill before tax -- you do not need to include tax when you calculate your tip.
- Keep single dollar bills handy for tipping.
- In a restaurant keep in mind that you are tipping on service, not the quality of the food.
- If you're using a coupon or discount, your tip should be based on the full bill, not the discounted amount.
- Make sure to examine your bill carefully before determining your tip amount. For large groups or certain locations (such as the lounges on the Disney Cruise Line), a tip may automatically be included.
- Feel free to add a creative extra for special service, such as a pre-paid phone card or a token from your hometown or country. 

A word about tipping housekeeping, or "mousekeeping" as we like to call it at Walt Disney World. You should leave your tip in your room on a daily basis, rather than leave one tip at the end of your stay -- different housekeepers may attend your room each day. Leave your tip in an envelope marked "For Housekeeping," or your tip may not be collected. If you'd like to make fun "mousekeeping" envelopes before you go, visit this site for artwork: http://www.arwolff.com/heidi/

To learn more, visit The Original Tipping Page at: http://www.tipping.org 
 

Return to PassPorter.com | Discuss tipping on the PassPorter Message Boards


Reader Feedback:

"When I go to Disney I usually stop by the bank before hand and pick up a roll or two of Sacagawea Golden Dollar coins. This is used specifically for tipping people like bell services, cab drivers, and bartenders. It is also a good way to keep track on how much you have been tipping." -- contributed by Bill

"Just an addition to your article on tipping at WDW: don't forget to tip your guide if you go on a fishing excursion. These folks work hard and use all of their knowledge and expertise to help everyone enjoy the experience. They deserve (and appreciate) a tip!!!" -- contributed by Carole Wade

"As an International visitor (UK) to WDW we find the subject of gratuities very interesting. We have visited WDW every year for the past 12 years and have learnt the art of giving gratuities. But many of the service workers who receive tips would not do so in this country. Only restaurant staff receive gratuities here, and hairdressers and taxi drivers, but no one else -- bar workers and baggage staff at airports do not receive gratuities here nor would expect any. If my husband and I hear of anyone visiting the USA we explain the tipping system as not to cause them any embarrassment with servers or hotel employees, but I do feel that both the UK and the US travel industry should make International visitors more aware of the custom, so extra dollars can be laid aside for this purpose, UK visitors usually stay for a minimum of 14 nights and a maximum of 21, leaving gratuities every day for all the different services a hotel provides can soon mount up and this should be explained more on booking the vacation." -- contributed by Karen Ward
 
 
 

Updated 2/23/2008 



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