From what it sounds like, you should not be paying that $5 per person, per meal out of pocket (or is this per day, not per meal?). That should be charged up front as part of your original reservation.
As for the tip, that 18% tip is pretty much expected because they do not pay restaurant waiters the minimum wage. Their salary is very dependent on tips, unlike many places in Europe. The reason that it is enforced on large parties is that throughout the restaurant industry, it is well known that on large parties, many waiters are not tipped properly.
Also, in many restaurants, the waiters are expected to share their tips with the bus boys and kitchen staff.
I have to ask, do you have the regular dining plan with one sit down meal, one counter meal, and one snack or do you have the deluxe dining plan with three sit down meals and two snacks?
You also keep referring to a “tax” and the only tax is the 6.5% sales tax on your meal. That is covered on your entree, dessert, and beverage. If you have the deluxe dining plan, it also covers your appetizer’s sales tax.
The tip is not a tax, and it is not a penalty. The tip is a gratuity for service. [B]IF[/B] your meal and your service is [B]THAT[/B] bad, you should complain to the restaurant manager and protest the automatic 18% tip.
I would very strongly suggest that you start studying menus at All Ears (Restaurant Dining Menus from Walt Disney World) so that you become familiar with the prices.
A standard sit down meal with entree, dessert, and beverage will cost around $30 with tax. A standard burger, fries, drink, and dessert at a quick serve counter will cost around $13 with tax. A snack will cost a minimum of $2.50 (tax is often included).
As you can see, your average daily food budget per person, out of pocket and not factoring the tip at a sit down restaurant is $45.50. Multiply that by 6 and your would be paying $273 every day plus the 18% tip on that sit down meal ($32.40) and you would be paying a little more than $300 a day anyway.
During “enhanced holiday seasons” everyone pays about $4 more per person at all of the buffet meals (this means character and no character all you can eat buffet and family style service restaurants) if they are paying out of pocket. I have not heard of extra charges at the full service/ala carte menu places.