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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Tipping at Walt Disney World

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday.

This week, I decided to deal with tips. No, not the bits of advice I've been giving for about six months now, rather an extra bit of money guests give to castmembers to express their appreciation for the castmember's good service. I have my own thoughts about tipping, and how much to tip, but I wanted to get a second opinion, so I sought the advice of Beci Mahnken, president of MEI and Mousefan Travel, a leading Disney travel agency.

There are all kinds of tips that are customary when visiting Walt Disney World, though tipping is NOT required in any way.

Mousekeeping (known as housekeeping in normal hotels), comes into your resort room each day to freshen the bedding, replace towels and other items as needed. An especially good Mousekeeping member might just leave a little bit of artwork behind in the form of a towel decoration or scene. I've seen Mickey icon-shaped pieces, another where stuffed animals my children have purchased were "watching" TV, or riding in a towel canoe.

But how much to tip each night? Well that can vary. I've generally given a $4-$5 tip per night with a larger tip on the final night of our stay (though I didn't do this the last trip because I realized that the same mousekeeping person might not be working the entire length of my stay).

Beci suggests a $2-$5 per night tip, more if mousekeeping does some of the extra things I mentioned above. I also suggest a little bit of a higher tip for deluxe resorts as opposed to moderates and values.

Mousekeeping tips are best placed in an envelope marked "Mousekeeping" and placed in a highly visible area, such as on the bed or nightstand. For the last couple of WDW trips, I've started using the kids' stuffed animals to "present" the mousekeeping envelope. I think of this as our way to bring a little magic to mousekeeping.

Another useful tip (suggestion, actually) is to prepare your mousekeeping tip envelopes ahead of time. I go so far as printing each envelope with "Mousekeeping" and the date that envelope is to be placed. I don't seal them, though, I case I feel the tip needs to be changed. This, sadly, has happened when I felt mousekeeping at the Grand Floridian (of all places!) didn't live up to the standard I expected (but that's another story).

Bell Services
At many Disney resorts (especially deluxe resorts), bell services castmembers take your bags to your room. Depending on the number of bags, a tip of $1-$2 per bag is considered appropriate. If you have a very heavy bag, you might consider a $3 tip for that bag.

Ahh, there's nothing like a great meal while at Walt Disney World, especially if it's at Le Cellier, California Grill, or any one of dozens of other table-service restaurants on property. But how much should you tip your server? And what do you do if you're using the Disney Dining Plan?

Not to worry.

First, how much to tip: these days, I generally leave a 15% tip (based on the final cost of the bill). If, however, the server has gone above and beyond, as often happens at Walt Disney World, I'm not opposed to leaving as much as a 20% tip, which is on the generous side. Beci says the standard tipping range is 15-20%. One thing to check, before leaving a tip, though is to make sure a tip hasn't been included on your bill. This is especially true for larger parties and guests using Tables in Wonderland.

What about the Disney Dining Plan? A few years ago, the Disney Dining Plan included tips, so all guests had to do was enjoy their meal, present their Key to the World card and everything was taken care of. Sadly, this changed in 2008. Now tips are no longer included in any of the dining plans. Does this mean you need to have a bunch of cash on-hand for tips? Not at all. Disney has developed an option for guests to put tips only on their Key to the World card or standard credit card. The standard suggested tip usually is 18%. If you want to increase or decrease this amount, you'll have to write that amount in yourself.

Magical Express
Given that this is included in the cost of an on-property resort stay, I generally give a fairly small tip for Magical Express drivers ($1-$2 at most). If you have a very large group, you might consider a little bit of a larger tip.

There are several other services offered at Walt Disney World where tipping might be something to consider. The most important thing to remember about tipping is that a tip is an expression of YOUR satisfaction of the service. If you felt the service was not up to standard, then you should consider a lower tip or no tip at all. If you do feel the service was so bad you were not inclined to leave a tip, I would suggest you speak to a manager about the problem so other guests don't experience the same poor service.

For some other thoughts about tipping at Walt Disney World, see the tipping page on


Anonymous said...

Nice tips!! :)
Mary Jo Collins

Jim said...

Thanks for bringing up the topic. I need the reminder. I think I've been overtipping the bell hops and severely undertipping mousekeeping. They are consistently the best staff of any of the places we've been.

jpinmagcreek said...

We put our mousekeeping tip in the card that you typically find in the bathroom that says the room is cleaned by....

Anonymous said...

I leave $ 1.00 per head, or $ 2.00 if its excellent.

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