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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tips For Tipping--Walt Disney World Vacation

In the movies or on TV, a person providing a tip has the exact amount in their jacket pocket or in their hand ready to hand to the cab driver or bell services.  Ah, to live in the movies.  In real life, tipping may look more like fumbling in the purse, digging in the pants pocket, rifling through the wallet for the right bills or frantically using the calculator function on a mobile device to calculate the right amount for a tip and then painfully signing the receipt as the tip is added to the bill.

When planning and budgeting for a Walt Disney World vacation, be sure to include tips.  This expense, if not expected, can sneak up on you and as the husband so eloquently put it. . . bite you in the #%&!

Let’s consider some of the possible tipping situations to plan and budget for.  We’ll begin at your home airport.

Luggage handlers at your home airport when you take your bags out of your car may be your first tipping encounter.  We appreciate their helpful service.  Typically a tip of $1-$2 per bag is appreciated.  They know this, though, and will offer to take the boy’s backpack and my rolling bag.  I politely decline and thank them for handling the bigger bags as we tip accordingly.

Depending on the time you arrive at Orlando International Airport, you may have more luggage handling to do, especially, if it is after 10:00 pm when Disney’s Magical Express needs you to claim your own bags and take them with you on the bus or if you are using some other form of transportation which means claiming your bags as well.  If you employ luggage assistance at the airport by waving a porter down, be sure to tip the $1-$2 per bag as they assist you in transporting your luggage to your destination within the airport. 

Tips for Disney’s Magical Express driver are appreciated but not expected.  I would suggest tipping if the driver is also handling your luggage under the bus with the $1-$2 per bag rate.

Okay, you haven’t even arrived at the resort yet and have had possibly 1-3 instances where tipping would be expected.  Do you have those in your budget?

Once you arrive at your resort, you may ask Bell/Luggage Services to assist you to your room.  If you do this, be prepared to tip them the $1-$2 per bag.

Mousekeeping, as housekeeping is referred to at the most magical place on earth, is another area where tipping is considered with a rate of $1-$2 per person per day for keeping your resort room nice and tidy.

The area where tipping can become more weighting, no pun intended, is dining.  All table service meals, unless the tip is included in the cost of the meal, are considered tipping opportunities with a recommended percentage of 18%.  Larger parties will automatically have 18% added to their bill.  You can then decide if you tip based on the post tax amount of use the pre-tax total to calculate your tip.

When table service meal totals are typically in the $100 range, even for our family of 3, the $20 tips can add up over the duration of the trip and be a surprise if not planned for ahead of time.

You may also tip for other services while at the World, such as a trip to the Harmony Barber Shop, a session at Pirates League or Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, spa treatments, childcare, or special excursions may also be tip worthy.

When it is time to return home, tipping Bell/Luggage Services to assist you with your luggage between your room and Disney’s Magical Express pick-up is customary, as would be the Disney’s Magical Express driver if luggage handling was included with the ride.  Back at Orlando International Airport, tipping a luggage attendant to help you to the airline counter would also be considered for tipping.  And, once you arrive back at your home airport, you may need luggage assistance again at baggage claim.

Planning ahead with bills of certain denominations and having them ready can alleviate potentially embarrassing or stressful moments, and potentially over tipping if you don’t have the right amount or only bigger bills.

The service industry thrives on tips and the many helpful folks who add a bit comfort and service to your vacation certainly deserve tips.  Just be prepared for the situations and have tips be a part of your vacation budget.


  1. Do you happen to know if Mousekeeping will happen each day at Old Key West? We are saying in a 2 bedroom villa, but we paid cash (ie. Not DVC) On one website, I read that mousekeeping will come at day 4 and 8, but another site said that if you paid cash, mousekeeping comes every day just like other resorts.

    1. Not having stayed at a DVC resort, I am not sure about the frequency of Mousekeeping. It may be beneficial to contact the resort and inquire. Let me know what you find out!