Seeking your advice about gratuity at Disney World Restaurants
by P Lavris
We have the signature dining plan when we go to Walt Disney World. My question is odd for me to ask. How much should I plan to tip the servers at the restaurants we visit? I normally would do 20% or above but, this trip is already expensive. Your advice would be helpful.
You have helped me once and I appreciate your advice on this matter.
Dad's don't forget to tip Answer
Welcome back to the site! It's always nice to have repeat guests visiting, and even nicer when I can offer (hopefully) useful advice! This is a great question, and I'm sure you are not alone in wondering how much of a tip is expected or appropriate when dining at Walt Disney World, especially when you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.
First off, let me be clear about when you are expected to tip. At any table service, buffet, or dinner show experience, you are expected to tip. At any quick-service location (fast food, grab and go snacks, kiosks, carts) no tip is necessary.
Lets begin with a bit of background information. Currently in Florida, minimum wage is $7.31 per hour. On January 1, 2012, that will go up to $7.67
. However, employees who receive tips only earn part of that wage - $4.65 an hour as of January 1, 2012.
Then we factor in where the tip you do leave goes to - typically servers have to split their tips with bar tenders, bussers, the hostess, etc. And then of course they are required to pay tax on the remaining amount of tip they do bring home.
Now, I can't say exactly how much Disney pays their servers or if the wage varies between restaurants (for instance, a lower wage for a server at Kona Café and a higher wage for a server at Victoria & Albert’s). But whether they pay their staff the minimum wage or something slightly higher, I hope we can agree that even including tips that’s a meager earning.
Walt Disney World has some pretty amazing restaurants. Some have outstanding food. Most have outstanding themes, décor, and entertainment. But all of them have great servers - that’'s part of the magical Disney experience when you dine at a restaurant in one of the parks or resorts.
But, in the age of the Disney Dining Plan, Dad fears that guests are forgetting how to tip. Whether you pay for the Disney Dining Plan or get it during a Free Dining promotion, your meals are paid for before you even set foot in a restaurant. You can order whatever you like and it feels like it's free.
Because of this, I think some guests forget what their meal would have actually cost, and that's the amount a server should be tipped on. Each restaurant will provide you with a bill at the end of your meal including itemized costs and a suggested tip amount. And in Dad's opinion the servers deserve to be tipped accordingly.
By no means am I suggesting that you over tip your server, or that you tip more than you are comfortable doing for the level of service you receive. 15% for standard service is acceptable, and 20% for outstanding service is great. Tipping more or less than that for extremely good or bad service is a personal choice. But it seems unfair to cut the tips of your hard working server in order to preserve your budget.
But sticking to a budget is important, and Dad has lots of ways to save on your vacation! For instance, you can curb your souvenir spending, make good use of your Disney Dining Plan snack credits for breakfasts or split particularly large meals at lunch, or take Disney's Magical Express
instead of renting a car! (I know Dad always suggests a car at Disney World
), but to save some money ...
Dad has plenty more ideas where that came from:
Dad's Bottom Line
As a Dad, I understand the importance of sticking to a budget, and believe me, Walt Disney World is an easy place to spend more money than you originally planned. There are lots of ways to cut expenses on your trip without sacrificing graciousness.