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  • [Question] Gratuities on the Dining Plan

    Hi, all! This is my first post here.

    My family traveled to WDW in Dec. of 2009. We received the "free" dining plan as a part of our package. While we certainly enjoyed the food and the dining options that came with the plan, we were a bit taken aback by the fact that at each full service meal, the server reminded us that the gratuity was not included in the meal plan. I understood this before we entered the restaurant, but I was rather offended that in each of the six restaurants we visited we were reminded to tip before we even ordered drinks. On top of that, the suggested tip for our meals was always around the $30 mark for four of us. Of course, when the bills were delievered to our tables, we were again reminded that gratuities were not included. I must say that at none of the restaurants we visited was a $30 tip warranted. The servers visited our table once for the initial order, once to bring the food, once to refill our drinks, and then once for the check. That's it. We did enjoy entertaining service at the 50's Prime Time Cafe, but the waitress still only visted our table three times.

    So my questions are as follows:

    1) Do WDW servers get to keep their gratuities, or does Disney get a cut?

    2) Do you, as fellow Disney afficionados, believe that a tip of that size is warranted or am I just being too cheap?

    I appreciate the input. My wife and I are returning to WDW in Oct. and will receive the dining plan for "free" again. I want to avoid any issues and hard feelings, so I'm hoping for a few unbiased opinions.

    Have a great evening!

  • #2
    Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

    The reason they say it is because

    1) it used to be included - so some people may have old information
    2) when people aren't expecting to pay for a meal - they aren't expecting to pay for anything. (when you hear 'free' you think FREE!). So people need to be reminded that there are exclusions.

    I wouldn't take it as being rude or forceful - just trying to avoid what could be an undesirable situation at the end. Just like I would expect the server to tell you the drinks aren't covered by DDP if you start ordering from the bar.

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    • #3
      Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

      What would your bill have come to if you had had to pay for it versus using the Dining Plan? That'd help me determine whether that tip is overly large or a fairly normal tip.

      Otherwise, having worked a restaurant job where people paid and got their food before they even realized they had a waiter, I can't fault the servers for wanting to make it painfully clear that tips were not coverd by the program, especially because servers typically depend on tips to make anything close to a liveable wage. I don't know what Florida laws are like, but in Oklahoma, servers get paid quite a bit below minimum wage, so tips are really the only hope.

      Now, whether or not that justifies a tip THAT high really depends on the size of the overall bill, but it sounds like the servers should visit the tables more often. Although that depends on a table to table basis, though. I mean, I go through soft drinks pretty fast, so a minimal number of refills would be somewhat upsetting, but some groups only ever need one refill in the first place.

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      • #4
        Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

        florida requires servers get paid at least the minimum.. and they get more then that at Disney.

        To the idea 'is $30 tip too much' well that question is the same for all resturants. When you go to a steak house - people don't roll their tip window back to 10% instead of 15%.

        It's kind of built in... higher priced meals doesn't mean lower tip expectations. But hey, you are free to tip as you please. If not they should add it to the bill

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        • #5
          Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

          I can understand the need to remind people, but doing so before drinks are even ordered strikes me as a bit tacky.

          The amount to tip, percentage-wise raises an interesing question. Since food prices at WDW can generally be acknowledged as being inflated, is it reasonable to tip a bit less?

          I mean, why should I tip 15 percent on a $30 meal that would generally be priced at $20 just about anywhere else?

          I honestly don't really think about it from that perspective too much when I'm there, but I suppose I'd lean towards a 15% tip, rather than 18-20%, even for really good service.

          As long as a waiter keeps my drink refilled, I'm generally happy in any case.
          My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:http://micechat.com/14795-disney-wonder/

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          • #6
            Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

            I just got back from Disney. We had the Deluxe Dinning Plan. We also had 6 people in our party most of the time and the tip is automatically added in at 18% of what ever the bill would have been. At no place would I have given that much, and the 15% I normally give for good service would have only been given at Sanaa, and this was only because the Chef came to our table due to one of our party having allergies. He was exceptional and covered the other wise mediocre service.

            I have had better service in a Chillies or Fridays. I understand the wait staff looking for a tip, but the continual reminders are more like begging than a solicitation/reminder. If they want a good tip, they should earn it like anyone else. I HAD to pay 18% just because they brought 2 extra plates to our table and had to fill a couple extra glasses of water.

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            • #7
              Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

              Originally posted by maddogjoe View Post
              I just got back from Disney. We had the Deluxe Dinning Plan. We also had 6 people in our party most of the time and the tip is automatically added in at 18% of what ever the bill would have been. At no place would I have given that much, and the 15% I normally give for good service would have only been given at Sanaa, and this was only because the Chef came to our table due to one of our party having allergies. He was exceptional and covered the other wise mediocre service.

              I have had better service in a Chillies or Fridays. I understand the wait staff looking for a tip, but the continual reminders are more like begging than a solicitation/reminder. If they want a good tip, they should earn it like anyone else. I HAD to pay 18% just because they brought 2 extra plates to our table and had to fill a couple extra glasses of water.
              18% tip for a group fo six is almost standard practice across the board of a lot of restaurant chains. Some only tack this on at a group of 8, but I've seen a lot that will do it at 6 people or more.

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              • #8
                Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

                Thanks for the input. I would point out that I waited on tables when I was in high school, so I know that it's hard work. Plus, dealing with a difficult-to-please public is stressful as well.

                Here's the crux of my argument: Disney's full-service menus are, in my opinion, price-inflated. We all pay a premium to eat at a Disney restaurant. But look at it this way: If we conservatively assume that a server has four tables at any given time and that each table takes on average one hour to eat, then think of the per hour rate that the server is earning. At $20 per table on average, that's $80/hour. That seems very extravagent for a serving position. This is why I asked in my original post whether the servers kept their tips or if Disney took a cut of the gratuity.

                I certainly appreciate the service I receive while on Disney properties, but I have to say that the restaurant service has been "average" at best. Yet the gratuity I am expected to leave (as indicated on the check) is the most I have ever paid.

                I guess I'm just venting. I apologize to any cast member who may read this and feel that I am disparaging them in any way. I'm simply trying to find a happy medium where I can pay a fair price for the level of service that I receive.

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                • #9
                  Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

                  The only place(s) it really bothered me was the Buffets --- I've never heard of an 18% tip at a buffet! The waitress is basically a busboy! I'm getting my own food and drink.

                  I did tip at Akershus, because the waitress earned it. She came often, made sure the princesses were making it to our table, and offered to play photographer so I could be in the pictures. She even played with my daughter for a while after the meal, escorting her around the restaurant, explaining to an interested 5 year old the significance of the decorations and the paintings on the wall. (we were part of the last seating and this was between breakfast and lunch).
                  I gladly left her a substantial tip.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

                    It's funny that guest experiences are so varied. I've done the free dining twice since they dropped the tip & appetizer and was never reminded once that I had to pay it on the side. Maybe the servers just got the vibe from me that I already knew? LOL no clue, but have never had to feel awkward like that.

                    As far as tip amount, always go with what they deserve, not what a customary tradition tells you. At WDW I'll tip anywhere from 10-20% depending on service. There are so many people that blindly tip 18% even when treated like crap which baffles me - then again, conversely there are extremely rude people who tip nothing or 5% for exemplary service, so maybe it becomes a wash...
                    Please consider the environment before printing useless emails

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                    • #11
                      Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

                      Originally posted by SpectroMan View Post
                      There are so many people that blindly tip 18% even when treated like crap which baffles me
                      Yet there are servers who think they should get tipped 15%+ regardless of the inflated price of a meal or service.. as if its just part of bill.

                      So YMMV

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                      • #12
                        Re: Gratuities on the Dining Plan

                        Originally posted by flynnibus View Post
                        florida requires servers get paid at least the minimum.. and they get more then that at Disney.
                        Well, kinda. Server minimum wage in Florida is shy of $4.50 an hour. If tips don't get them to that amount, the employer has to make up the difference to push them to min wage.

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