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How much to tip the Times Square characters

Welcome to this guide from my NYC BLOG on how much to tip the characters and mascots in Times Square, New York.

I’m writing this article because this is one of the most recurring questions I get asked on Instagram.

I have already written an article about the three most common scams in Times Square and how to avoid them.

Anyone arriving for the first time in New York City as the first thing goes to Times Square. It’s a very normal thing. A great many people do it because they actually have a hotel in Times Square. Others because they have seen it in so many movies set in NYC.

As soon as in Times Square you will see so many mascots around you and the first thing you might want to do is take a picture with them. First, though, you need to know how much to tip the Mascots in Times Square if you want to take a picture with them.

Times Square mascots standing in front of the recruiting station in Times Square. Woody Toy Stoy, Minnie Mouse and many others waiting to get a tip

The Times Square Characters - Who are they?

When you get to Times Square, besides its lights, sounds, and thousands of people, one of the things you notice right away are characters or mascots.

In Times Square you can find everything from Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse or Donald Duck. Superheroes like Batman or Ironman. Cartoon characters like Elmo, Olaf from Frozen. Or even replicas of the Statue of Liberty.

Behind these masks are people who make characters in Times Square as their full-time job.

They arrive in Times Square in New York early in the morning and stay there until late at night.

Their income? These Times Square characters live only on the tips they get every time one takes a picture with them. It is therefore a normal thing, in case you take a picture with them, to wonder how much to tip the Times Square characters.

How much to Tip the Times Square characters

Tipping the characters you find in Times Square is not mandatory but highly recommended. In fact, the people behind the masks are in Times Square on business and will pose with you in exchange for a tip. So remember to bring some money (bills and coins) to tip them.

A couple of rules about how much to tip the Times Square characters:

  • If you explicitly ask to take a picture with them, tip them. They do not do this service for free as it is their full-time job. In fact, the Mascots are not under contract from Times Square or any organization
  • If you take a picture with multiple characters, you must tip each mascot. In fact, they each work individually and do not share a tip with other characters.
  • For each photo with a character budget between $3 and $5. If the Mascot proves to be extremely kind, $5 is more than appreciated

What happens if I don't tip them?

From the legal point of view, nothing happens. In fact, you are not obliged to tip the characters in Times Square at all. They are not under contract with either Times Square or any organization. Tipping them is good and right though, as they are there for work.

What happens if, when wondering how much to tip Times Square characters, you decide not tip them at all? The mascots may react differently. Some don’t say anything. Others, however, become extremely annoying. I have heard stories of people being chased around Times Square by multiple characters until the person tipped.

People taking a picture in Times Square with the character Olmo in exchange for a tip


Want to find out more about NYC? Are you preparing for your next trip to the Big Apple? Now that you know how much to tip the Times Square mascots, check out the articles in my NYC BLOG