Tipping for buffets

What does everyone use as a guideline for gratuity for buffets and table service? I’m thinking a flat 10- 15 will be my guideline, and can go up from there, I don’t want to go broke and end up paying for a whole meal price with gratuity! I just can’t remember how much we did last time.

My DH falls into the 10-15% category. I fall into the 15-20% category. The philosophy is that while they aren’t bringing your food, they are hauling away plates - usually MANY more than you typically would if you were eating a standard sit down that wasn’t buffet. Since this was brought to my attention, I lean toward 20% standard across the board. And, then, decrease if necessary due to service.

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I have never understood the practice of tipping based on the percentage of meal cost. If a person is friendly and helpful, brings me a refill twice, why should they be paid more if I bought a $50 steak vs. a $5 hamburger?

I understand the buffet is the same price for everyone, but still, I would never tip a %.

The opposing argument here is that if you don’t want to or can’t afford to tip a standard 15-20%, then you should not eat at an establishment which has a customary tip. Servers make a fraction of minimum wage. Eating out is a luxury.


I am in the 18-20%, with 20% being my normal. I treat the buffets the same. On the most recent trip, with many TS including Signature, we also had some were buffets, I looked back and we tipped 20% at the buffets as well as at all but 3 locations which we only did 18% as the service wasn’t near as good as the others. For us, we tipped just as we do outside of Disney. I also have followed this rule, if I can’t afford to tip, then I don’t go out to eat. This is just in OHO.


I’m not against tipping. I was a waitress
myself for almost 10 years. There is simply no logical basis for tipping based on the cost of the food. I tip set amount and increase or decrease that dollar amount based on service. Same as those who tip a percentage up or down. But I’d love to hear the reason a percentage is ever appropriate. In my mind, there’s simply no logic behind it.

If you don’t use a %, what do you use as a set amount?

My thought of why a percentage may be appropriate is that servers who work in fine dining are more experienced than a server at a fast casual restaurant and theoretically deserve a higher salary.


We are a party of 6 with the automatic 18% added gratuity for all TS meals at WDW. No thought necessary (good or bad, 18% it is). I still don’t understand why this is the rule though----because more people sit at my table, I am “forced” to pay 18% tip whereas other tables with 2 or 4 or even 5 people “choose” what to tip?? Guess the thinking is that our table is more work, but it’s also a higher $$ amount as we have 6 diners.
So as not to stir up trouble, I will add that I usually tip 20% and round up outside the world, and I will add a few $$ to the 18% at TS restaurants if a server goes out of their way to help or do something above and beyond.

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We usually tip 20% wherever we go.

Personally, I use $5 as a baseline for most situations. Exemplary service can go up to $10. Mediocre or awful down to $2-3.

My basis for the amount of $5 is based on how many tables a server has. Normally it will range from 3-7 tables served per hour. So for example, the typical meal takes 1 hour. 5 tables per hour tipping $5 each would mean the server is making $28 ish per hour pretax. For carrying food and drink to and from a kitchen to a table, that’s a damn good salary. And if each table spent an average of $35 dollars on their meal, 20% would be $7 each for a salary of about $38 per hour.

Now if you have a server serving a party of 10 or ore people, sure put on a percentage, that’s a hell of a lot of work. But it’s the exception rather than the rule.

Now I don’t know about you, but that’s incredibly steep for a service position. And again, i find my system logical, and I find no logic in the customary practice of percentages. Shrug

I wish they would abolish the practice and pay them a set salary like any other job. If you do a good job your boss gives you a raise. If you don’t, you don’t.

It is good salary if the server works 40 hours a week and every hour is like the one you mentioned. But,every hour isn’t like you one you mention. And when was the last time you met a server who was guaranteed 40 hours a week? Meanwhile, the person you are giving a $5 tip to is wondering what they did wrong long after you left.

Which is why I said baseline. If they need more money, they can take multiple jobs. I didn’t rely to argue but simply contribute my opinion.

We may have to just agree to disagree.

I know you aren’t trying to argue and that we have to agree to disagree. You determined a baseline yourself but the servers are paid a minimum wage which I know in Florida was $3.02 as of last year and they do rely on the tips. A baseline that you set up is yours, the tip of a percentage is a guideline that was set up years ago, it may be outdated and there are places that now have started paying a server at least the state minimum wage if not higher. The fact is that at WDW, the servers there are still only making what ever the state minimum wage is and it isn’t always possible to just get another part time job or to pick up more hours. IMHO, the ones that do a great job do deserve to be tipped. Oh and just so you do know, our tips for our last trip were a little under $500 for 11 nights and we wouldn’t change that. If we didn’t want to tip, we would be going to counter service meals and the food court. Again, this is IMHO.
I also have figured out that like the Dining plan, this is another topic that will divide people and what their thoughts are and beliefs. I hope that we can all just voice our opinion and accept others that are different.

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Minimum wage is THREE DOLLARS!? (Sorry, I’m Canadian, my brain is imploding…)


I am thinking using $10 as my baseline. We are a family of four, and I am specifically talking about using the dining plan and then the tip on top of that. I don’t think I should have to tip the price of another meal, or even the price of half a buffet cost assuming it’s about $40 pp. I know everyone tips differently but I just wanted a guesstimation so I can plan for how much extra I need to bring to each meal. 18% can feel like a lot to me when I am doing the running around and loading up plates for me and my 2 children, the most work a server has is removing plates and refilling drinks. Obviously I know I need to also base it off service too, 7 nights at about $10-$15 a meal can make for and extra $100 in gratuities!

Yep, they make up the rest in tips. Normal minimum wage for non food service jobs is $7 something

“Regular” minimum wage in Florida is $8.05 (I think current US minimum is $7.25 but states can bump it up). But employees who get tips are subject to different rules where what the restaurant pays them is far lower. The presumption is they make up that difference, and hopefully more, in tips. So that’s where the $3.02 comes from - different rules for wait staff…

Every time I worked as a server I paid taxes (automatic from the state) assuming that I was being tipped at least 15% on all checks. A flat rate would have a serious impact on me. I use tables in wonderland which has an automatic 18% and then I tip extra. I do not expect everyone to do the same but I think I will always be an over tipper :grinning:. I love that the bartender at BlueZoo will make a big deal about a tip and I make a big deal that he makes very strong drinks.


“Tipped Minimum Wage” is apparently up to $5.03 now in Florida FWIW.