American restaurants do not add a service charge, so it is expected to tip. It is customary to tip at table service restaurants, those in which you are seated and served at the table, including buffets and family-style.
Tipping suggestions vary but the general guideline is to tip 15-20% of your bill before tax (food and alcohol). For good service, 15% and for exceptional service, 20%. However, at Walt Disney World and Disneyland the suggested tip is 18-20%.
The exception to this is when the gratuity is included in your bill, typically when there are a select number of guests dining together but it varies by restaurant. To see if gratuity has been added to your bill, check the bottom of the check where subtotal and tax are listed, it will state gratuity and the amount that was added to the total of your bill. Even when gratuity is added to your check you are given the option to leave additional if you feel your service was deserving of more.
Here are a list of situation in which Disney will automatically add a gratuity of 18%:
- Parties of 6 or more. This does include babies and children.
- Guests using Tables in Wonderland.
- Guests dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- Guests dining at dinner shows.
The Disney Dining Plan no longer has the gratuity included. It is expected for you to tip the recommended amount on the check before any discounts have been applied. In most cases, your server will present you with the original check before discounts were added.
Here are a list of situation in which you tip on the total amount before discounts:
- Disney Dining Plan
- Annual Passholder Discount
- Restaurant.com gift certificates
If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, whether you are paying out of pocket or receiving it for free make sure to include in your vacation budget tipping.
Check out Travel and Leisure’s article on tipping.
*Guidelines for taking a Disney Cruise Line cruise are different. USA Today has listed on their website the standards.