Tipping in a Theme Park

Had dinner at Teppan Edo and happened to sit next to a cast member and we got chatting. He was in a ‘non-tip’ position and pointed out the servers are on the same wage as him but once tips are added they do ‘very well indeed thank-you’. Is this true?
It did occur to us that the 18-20% norm is based on non theme-park prices and throughput and so might not be valid in a Disney Environment?

Working as a server at wdw in ts restaurants is a very highly sought after job. Yes they get a very good wage with tips at wdw prices. They do have to give a small percentage to other staff in some restaurant but even 10 percent of the average bill as ALOT of money on top of their hourly rate. And yes 18-20 percent is normally accepted by many vacationers even on wdw prices However tipping is a very emotive subject on here with many who disagree on many levels and this thread may end up locked.

Tipping can be a contentious and personal subject in any case, but FWIW I’ve never heard that WDW servers make “regular” wages. As far as I’m concerned, Teppan Edo servers (and servers at any hibachi or buffet-type place, where they basically only bring you drinks and clear your plates) generally would get smaller tips simply because they’re not providing full service. At a full service place, however, I tip around 20% (unless the server was quite poor and it would go down to 15%) regardless of price inflation. I think there would be a standard amount per person rather than a standard percentage if one were expected to do otherwise otherwise

Whether or not people think that the prices are inflated does not change the standard tip percentages - this is kind of like when people don’t want to tip as much when in a big city as “things as so expensive”.

This TP Blog post covers almost every questions about tipping at WDW: http://blog.touringplans.com/2016/03/04/tips-tipping-walt-disney-world-transportation-restaurants-hotels/


Thanks Nikki, that kind of confirmed my suspicions - the ‘suggested tip’ though was still the full 18% at Teppan Edo.

I’m not sure Brklink - the usual case that is made for tipping is the servers need it to make a decent take home. The whole experience of the WDW restaurants (even the signature ones) means a much greater table turn over then you’d get at an out of park restaurant charging similar prices.

Take the Teppan Edo example. Each table sits 8, eating at a cost (conservatively) of $50, the meal takes about 90mins. Each server covers say 2 tables. If the 18-20% recommendation is followed you land at $300-$400+ a day.

At our recent trip, on DDP, we tipped the ‘recommended’ amount each time, but felt pressured to do so by the way the bill is presented. I wish now I’d written “cash” in their tip box on the ticket and then just left what I really felt was right.


Turnover rate shouldn’t matter either. Greater turnover means more work which means that they should make more money in total. Would you tip less at a restaurant at home on a night that they were very busy based on the idea that the server is making more money that night?

Can you tell that I worked in restaurants throughout college, as I have little patience for reasons to tip less? :wink:



Hadn’t thought of the busier means more work so more pay point. Think there must be some sort of houlry rate argument though?
Not sure what the answer is, but it just feels to me that a Theme Park dining environment is so fundamentally different to anything else it’s hard to generalise normal tipping guidelines into them.
Mumcalsop has warned this is contentious, it would be nice to see that reflected more in the touring plan blog tipping advice linked to above.
If I went again I would avoid getting sucked into the automatic 18-20% situation by writing “cash” in the tip box on the cheque and then leaving what I think is right. Maybe 18-20% of what the DDP credit costs rather than 18-20% of the menu cost.
I fear some flaming is on the way so think I’ll leave it at that.

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Well, the dining environment in a major city is fundamentally different from that in the suburbs, but the same tipping rules apply there. The “social contract” for tipping in restaurants is well established, and until that changes you should go along with it. Unless you have had sub-par service, what you feel is right doesn’t enter into the equation, and if you do have bad service you should address that with the manager as well as reflecting it in the tip.

I always cross off the tip line and leave cash since I usually leave more than 20%. As a former server I know they can do well, but it is hard work. It is up to you what you leave - I also add extra to my TiW checks.


With some (ok, most) of the stories I hear on this board about servers going above and beyond at Disney(like the server who continued playing along, after 2 years, being the kids’ long lost nanny or something) , I think that 20% is more than justifiable.

And not to be mean or accusatory, but I also think that if you are here justifying (or looking for vindication on) your lack of tipping, you already know you should be tipping or tipping more.


This is a really good practice, especially when you’re on the dining plan. I’ve heard a few stories around the web of people leaving a cash tip, forgetting to write anything on the tip line, and finding out later at home that the server charged them an additional tip later.

That’s not the case often, but a practice to remember is that if you party is large, they will automatically add the tip to the check (look at the check when you sign off).

If you’re going to tip with cash, write CASH on the line, and then the amount to charge on the bottom line (so if it’s a $40 check, write CASH, then $40 on the total line.

Although it’s cumbersome, SAVE ALL OF YOUR RECEIPTS. All of them… for everything. We had a small statue that we purchased from the China pavilion that was wrapped, boxed, and sent to our resort. We didn’t open it until we got home, and found it was broken (not packaged properly). Because we saved our receipt(s), we had the resort drop slip, and the purchase slip. They were able to send us a replacement statue, no cost, and followed up with a phone call to ensure we got our purchase in tact.

Save all receipts - bring a pen - ziplock bag (to put them in) so they don’t get wet and ruined with rain, sweat, or rapid rides.

Yay Disney! :tada:


Using cash or charging tip to the card/on the receipt, how does one get sucked into 18-20% automatically? You choose what to write in on that line, be it 10, 15, 20 or 50% the same way you choose how much cash to leave on the table. (I was just confused by the statement.)

I do know that many restaurants (inside and outside of WDW) have policies for automatically adding gratuity for larger parties, say 6 or more. WDW adds automatic 18% gratuity to parties of 6 or more and some character meals when you pre-pay. BUT you can always tip more - I know some people who have on accident and the server ended up with 40%!

I think the 18-20% is assumed for all servers no matter which restaurant you are at in the US. The service is usually up to par with the specific restaurant and their prices, so the tip amount is a reflection of that as well.

Yes, I was a server many years ago. I tip at least 20% unless the service was very bad – as in almost non-existent, but I still tip. I also keep in mind that things aren’t always the server’s fault if it isn’t what I asked for, etc. There are many people that work “in the back” of a restaurant. There are also restaurants that require servers to tip bartenders, food runners and table cleaners – that usually comes out of their cash tips at the end of the night. So every server isn’t necessarily pocketing 18-20% of menu prices…especially when there are individuals out there who are stuck on giving $5 tips no matter what their bill total is. :open_mouth:


wait, what? That’s nuts!

Here ya go…tip outs and tipping pools:

But these are not the only methods. When I was a server, I didn’t have to give anyone my tips, but I certainly had to pay taxes on the amount of tips the government thought I was bringing home (regardless if I actually made it or not!)

Nope, that’s pretty much industry standard. At all restaurants I worked at the servers would tip out a certain percentage of their tips to the bus boys and bartenders.

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Ehh, just cause it’s standard doesn’t detract from the lunacy. :smile: while certainly important, I feel that unless those bus boys, hosts, and bar tenders are getting a ton of Facetime with the diners(not just seating them), and directly dealing with the complex complaints/multiple requests of said diners, they shouldn’t be getting tips from the servers. Cause otherwise, why aren’t you sharing tips with the cook team? (You don’t normally, do you?)

I can see maybe the bartender, cause helping the server can take away from their own patrons, but everyone else should be making a wage that doesn’t factor in or rely on tips. Truthfully, neither should the server be making less and relying on tips either, but that ain’t going to change anytime soon.

Lunacy is when I was a server our wage was $2.13 an hour by the restaurant. Lunacy is the server wage here is still $2.13 an hour which in most areas isn’t the cost of a gallon of gas. This applies to anyone that makes $30 a month in tips. My grandmother was a server too…her wage was $2.12, so they received a whole penny raise over the years.

When I worked as one, 15% was the minimum accepted. Cost of living has gone up as well as most salaries - except the $2.13 server wage.

The reason it’s printed on receipts isn’t for pressure. It’s one of two reasons: people have forgotten math or don’t tip properly for the service they get.

I do know someone who works as a server in Disney - it’s not for “Facetime”…it’s because she lives in Orlando and that’s her job.

My thought has always been even before the server experience, if you can afford to eat in a restaurant (and be catered to, per se), then you can afford to pay all aspects of that experience which includes tipping properly.

Everyone expects their paycheck, server or not. Here, the service industry gets paid directly from patrons. I don’t know why it continues to be an argument except for justification for people who don’t want to tip but expect top notch service at the same time. It hasn’t changed in over 50 years…it is what it is - except for that 1 cent raise way before I was born.


:confused: I think you misunderstood what I was getting at. I am agreeing with you and with the added opinion that Servers shouldn’t be forced to share their tips with other staff.

I wasn’t saying people are doing this for facetime or anything? I was saying bartenders, bus boys, and hosts don’t get as much as the servers so they shouldn’t be entitled to the servers’ tips.

Can’t believe I’m jumping in on this…but here goes!

Bad service = small tip. It sends a message.

Good service = please tip well.

Restaurant work is not easy and usually not fun. That goes for everyone from the hostess/host up to the executive chef. It’s quite challenging to have to interact with all different types of customers. They never know who’s going to be seated at their table next.

My only personal experience working in a restaurant was as a hostess for about 6 weeks. It was tough. I’m a fairly extroverted person, but trying to read people in less than 10 seconds proved too much for me!

Running a restaurant is definitely a team effort. By pooling tips, front of house workers share in the collective effort to give guests great service.


Sorry I did misunderstand…I took “facetime” as that for those looking to move beyond Disney to a higher celebrity status type industry – bc I also know people who attempted that as well. (Facetime giving them the chance to move up higher by who they meet along the way)

Tipping out is to tip those who help make “your” job easier to make the customer service experience better. It also forces people (servers mainly) to work harder for the higher tip. I didn’t have to do it so I don’t know if I agree with it or not or to say what the wages are of those helping to defend it.

I do remember that when someone was given what I consider above average service and they didn’t tip well, it made me hate working in the industry. I also didn’t forget a face when that happened (nor did my co-workers). :stuck_out_tongue:

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