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July 17, 2012

On a message board I frequent the topic of tipping in restaurants comes up every once in awhile. It usually turns into some huge debate and goes completely out of control. Here’s my thoughts on tipping.

I always tip in at least the 18 – 20% range. If the service was poor enough for me to tip less then that, I would be looking for a manager to complain to. I’m not a complainer. I’m pretty easy to please in restaurants. There have only be two times in my dozen or so trips to Disney that I have had what I consider bad service; once was at Cape May Cafe, and I had issues before and after being seated, though the before part I can’t blame on my server, but she was non-existent after her initial greeting, and the other was at 1900 Park Fare, when I had a server who was not only extremely incompetent, but also had a smart mouth and great attitude to go along with his speed. Service in Disney is generally good, those are the two rare instances where it wasn’t at least adequate. I’ve also had many memorable servers, with Jiko, Yachtsman Steakhouse, California Grill, Tusker House, Citricos, and even Hollywood and Vine, coming to mind.

Like I said, I always tip at least 18 – 20%, it doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and it doesn’t matter if it’s signature or not, or a traditional table service meal or buffet. I think buffet servers do just as much work as those at regular table service restaurants, and though the servers at the signature restaurants may do slightly more work then those at the non-signature restaurants, the prices are always higher there, so the tip automatically goes up as well.

I will also always tip at least $5, regardless of the bill. If I’m having a nice breakfast at someplace like Kona Cafe at the Polynesian or Kouzzina at the Boardwalk, my bill is usually around $15, equating about a $3 for a 20% tip. I don’t know why I do, but I always leave at least $5. The one exception to that is when I’m just getting a drink from one of the walk up bars, I still tip there, but only the 20%, not my personal $5 minimum.

There was an uproar a few years ago when a dining discount program, Tables in Wonderland, (formerly Disney Dining Experience,) was changed to automatically add an 18% tip. It was a moo point to me, (and yes I know the expression is moot point, not moo, but it’s like a cow’s opinion, it doesn’t matter, fellow fans of Friends will know where that comes from,) since I always tipped at least that much anyway, and it was actually made things a bit easier for me since I wouldn’t have to do math at the end of the meal anymore. (I think this was before Disney did the math for you.) But people were pissed about it. I have two theories, some people just wanted something to complain about, or, and I think the more likely, the people who were upset about the automatic gratuity, never tipped that much before, and now knew they’d be stuck paying it.

There’s also excuses made by foreign travelers, who say it’s not custom to tip the same amount, or tip at all in their country, and so don’t do so in Disney. I’ve got news for you. You’re not at home, you’re in Disney, and it leaves a bad impression not only of you, but from whatever country you’re from as well.

I also don’t like people who use they can’t “afford” the tip excuse. If you can’t afford the tip, then you can’t afford the meal. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t mean to offend anyone with my views, but that’s just how I feel. I’ve worked in many restaurants, and I don’t think people who haven’t realize how much work servers do.


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