Tipping Information for Disney Dining (Updated for 2024)

I have a question, one that may have been asked a million times. We are on the Deluxe Dining Plan. I know we tip, but do we use a Disney Gift Card to tip, can cash be used or is it preferred to place money at the hotel when you check in. I'd prefer that my credit card/debit card not have a hold on it. I usually leave money at the hotel, also my son wants to go to Star Wars Galaxy and build a light saber and it cost $200. Does he pay cash or is it the same as tipping, just swipe the magic band and it's charged to the room? It's been eleven years since we've been to Disney. Thank you for any suggestions.
Just a thought/suggestion for those who wish to limit cash: while it is easy to use a credit or gift card for restaurant tipping, gift cards won't work in every situation where you might wish to tip an employee who provides a service.

It is easy to forget all the parts of the vacation that aren't on WDW property, like: airport services, airport meals, transportation services, and hotel services.
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Just a thought/suggestion for those who wish to limit cash: while it is easy to use a credit or gift card for restaurant tipping, gift cards won't work in every situation where you might wish to tip an employee.

I always seem to slightly underestimate this aspect of a vacation.

What restaurant does not allow this? (As the restaurant board, that is the focus of all posts here)
What restaurant does not allow this? (As the restaurant board, that is the focus of all posts here)
Hopefully my edit clarified, without breaking any rules.

When it comes specifically to dining, If we have a meal at the airport or offsite...we could put the tip on our credit card, but not a Disney gift card.

I have also mindlessly handed Disney gift cards to Universal Studios employees just out of habit, even though I know US doesn't take Disney gift cards. They usually smile and tell me it happens all the time!
Ok, I've got a tipping mechanics questions I've wondered for some time now.

So, when you finish your TS meal and you're on the dining plan, your server brings the receipt to the table, with your total zeroed out, a suggested tip amount (18-20%) and then a line for you to write the tip.

This is where things get interesting.

In most "real world" restaurants, when you fill out the tip line, you can leave the receipt and go (they always have a duplicate so you can check your bank statement to make sure they entered the tip right).

Now, I'm a notorious over-tipper (no additional commentary on that) but there are absolutely times where I reduce my tip amount because of poor service...on a VERY rare occasion when a server almost goes out of their way to ruin our meal, I'll leave no tip. This, however, generally makes my wife uncomfortable, as she's very non-confrontational. But when you're in a regular restaurant, you can leave whatever tip you want and not have to interact with the server again.

But at WDW TS restaurants, it has universally been my experience that the server wants me to wait around after I sign the tip line so he can get me a "final" receipt that includes the tip charge to my Magic Band.

This puts me in an uncomfortable position, in which I feel obligated to tip well, no matter the service level. It's also annoying to have to wait around a whole other cycle for the waiter to come back, gather the check, make it back to her/his station, print out a new receipt, make it back to our table, etc. Sometimes it can add 10-15 min to the end of the meal.

So am I doing something wrong? Do I really need to stick around after I fill out the tip line?
I have eaten at a ton of Disney sit-downs over the last 15 years, and depending on what their policy is, and it does fluctuate and has changed over the years, once I have signed everything I need to sign, filled out every tip section, and had anything I needed back, like magic bands (sometimes they don't work on the mobile device so they need to take it to the back), I leave.

In some cases, they give me the guidance and all-clear to do so and for some places that means leaving the receipt you just filled out the tip on, but it seems in most of the Disney establishments, these days, (I dined as recently as last December), more and more you are filling out stuff like the tip early on in the process.

Anyway, I know I don't need to stick around once I have signed and filled the tip portion, so I leave. I am also always on the dining plan and have my magic band run and in the past always (for the most part), charged incidentals like the tip and meal extras back to my room.

Now, this upcoming trip I have in December, my process may be a bit longer, because I am not putting a card on file with Disney because I don't want to deal with the potential pit-falls of all those extra charges every $100, or whatever it is that Disney now does, so my tips will be paid for with a Disney Gift card that I will need back from the server after they run it for the the tip/meal incidentals (I usually get extra drinks/apps). So, going foreward I could very well have to wait a little longer and have some more paperwork to fill out before I can jet out of there, but I don't mind waiting as I crave the peace of mind of not worrying about extra bank charge problems that having a card on file could give me.
For meals that we pre=pay in advance, are gratuities included, or should I plan to have cash on hand for those? We have both HDDR and CRT ADR and I would like to make sure I plan accordingly. Thank you!
If you want to charge on your magic band, the resort will place a $100 hold on your file (credit card). And each time you reach or use $100, another $100 hold. While holds are not charges, it does take up to several days for your credit card to remove hold. Thus, less amount on your available credit.

When you are done eating, whether on dining plan or not, you will receive a receipt. The receipt will have dollar amount (If on dining plan, cost of what meal would have been) showing credit used. There is a line for tips, simply fill in the amount you would like to leave, place it with the gift card into "folder". Sit back and wait, receipt along with gift card will be brought back to you. You will then receive a gift card receipt showing your transaction, with remaining balance.
I was wondering if on the DDP if you still got a "bill" that showed how much your bill would have been so this is good to know. This is our first time on the plan so I would like to keep up with what we would have paid for the same meals, etc.
The server would probably prefer the cash!
I've always believed that.
Servers do appreciate the cash. Just so you know, if you go with cash take the time and on the receipt draw a line in the "tip" line or write the word "cash". This is a tip an honest server suggested to me!!
Yes, I was going to suggest that very thing. It assures you that the server isn't going to write in a tip after you're gone.
(At WDW, if you have a party of 6 or more, an 18% gratuity is automatically added to your bill.)
On our next trip we'll be a group of five adults + a one-year old. Will they add an automatic gratuity to our bill?
I imagine we might sometimes order him a meal of his own ... sometimes he might eat from the adult's plates ... and occasionally he might eat snacks his mom has packed.
My best guess is that this is a border-line situation and it's probably "server's choice". I suspect they'd lean towards the automatic gratuity /a sure thing. Do you think I'm right?
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Thanks for the explanation! In 2017, I saw a man in a restaurant, instead of a tip, ordered the waiter to take 5 dishes of his choice with him home. It was both strange and cool))


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