A Tipping Guide

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By Carol Garcia

Bell services, wait staff and valets, oh my!  These are just some of the people travelers encounter on a vacation who just might need a tip.  But, how much do I tip?  And even more basic, who do I tip??  Well fear not!  This handy tipping guide will show you the way.

The first thing to remember is that a tip is discretionary.  So there are no exact rules to which you should adhere.  There are guidelines, which we will discuss here.  Exceptional service can always be rewarded with more.  Your displeasure with service can be made known with a little less.

Also of note is that most positions that are tipped have lower salaries, as employers know that the tips will make up the difference.  This may be different for foreign travelers.

Wait Staff This is probably the position most Americans are familiar with tipping.  A typical tip is 15-20% of the bill, before discounts.  So, if you are using the Disney Dining Experience card (or any other sort of discount off property), remember to base your tip on the total bill before the discount.  Also, an 18% gratuity has already been added to the bill for Disney Dining Plan participants and parties of eight or more.  Some guests report leaving a few dollars on the table for exceptional service in addition to the tip that Disney has included, but it is by no means the norm.

Room Service Usually gratuity is added to the bill on this, so be sure to look before you add an additional tip.  If there is already gratuity added, there is no need to tip more.

Bartender/Cocktail Servers If you are planning some adult time at Pleasure Island or at the adult establishment at your hotel, servers here, too, are tipped. An appropriate gratuity would be $1-$2 each time a round of drinks is server.

Bell Services When arriving to the hotel, typically the amount is $1 per bag, more if they are heavy or awkward.  You do not have to tip the person who takes your bags from the car, although it is appreciated, but do need to tip the person who delivers them to your room.  This may often be the same person.  Also, the person picking the bags up from your room to take them down to your transportation should be tipped.  Generally, it is inappropriate to ask to borrow a cart from bell services to do it yourself.  The Disney exception to this rule is the value resorts, which do not have bell services, but do have carts that can be borrowed.

Valet The usual amount is $1-$3 per car.  While you can tip when you drop off your car, it is not always done.  A tip should always be given when you are retrieving your car.

Housekeeping This can be a source of debate.  Officially Disney “mousekeepers” are not in a tipping position.  But, many guests do it anyway.  Make sure any amount you leave is left on the pillow or marked as a tip in some way.  They won’t take money just left out on the table as it isn’t clearly theirs.  A customary tip for this position is $1 per person per day.  More can be left if the room is particularly untidy.  It should be left daily as it is possible to have different staff each day.

Turn-down service, from housekeeping is available at some deluxe hotels and many nicer hotels.  The tip should be in addition to anything left for cleaning the room, about $2-3 per night.

Magical Express Officially, gratuities are covered on the inbound luggage (hence the luggage is delivered directly to your room), they are not on the departure flight. So if you utilize the airline check in service for your bags bear this in mind.

Towncar Service (also applies to taxi) Tip 15% of the total fare. Up to 20% if the driver helps with the bags or makes extra stops. On a taxi ride under $10, $1-$2 tip is appreciated.

Courtesy Shuttle driver (for rental car) $1-$2 per bag or per person if he provides help with bags.

Skycap at the airport Tip $1-$2 per bag.  More if the bags are heavy or extra effort is necessary to check in.

One final “tip” from our readers is this: When planning a budget for a Disney vacation (or any vacation for that matter), don’t forget this item. Some even create envelopes with tips already prepared so that this doesn’t have to be a consideration while you are enjoying your destination. We have a sample of Mousekeeping envelopes on our website.

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