Disney Testing New Resort Mug Technology

| July 11, 2011

Disney has always looked for ways to control the resort refillable mug program at its resorts across property.  They may have decided it’s time to stop the abuse of guests who continually bring their mugs back to Disney resorts every visit.  There is currently a new resort mug test taking place at the All Star Sport Resort End Zone Food Court.  This test incorporates new software technology at the drink dispensers.

When you buy a new resort mug at the End-Zone Food Court it will have an RFID chip in it.  When you use your mug at the soft drink dispenser it will read your mug’s RFID chip and dispense liquid into your mug.  Soft drinks will only be dispensed provided your mug is valid.  Your mug will remain valid for the length of your stay at the resort.  Once your mug expires it will no longer be able to dispense soft drinks from the soft drink dispensers at the food court.

The new mugs at the All Star Sports Resort have the same “Let the Memories Begin” slogan on them, but are different colors than the current resort mugs at other resorts.  If you purchase a regular soft drink cup it will be valid for a short length of time while you enjoy your meal.  Additionally, if you just want a cup of ice or water any cup will work for those items.

Mug photo courtesy of validfill.com

There is no word how long this test will last or if it will spread across other Disney resorts.  There appears to be a lot of questions swirling about how this technology works in certain drink dispensing situations like combining drinks, or if you spill some of your drink during dispensing.  Apparently, there is a certain amount of time you have to wait after you’ve dispensed a drink with your refillable mug.  Like any test period there will be adjustments made to make the program as fluent as possible.

How do you feel about this test?  Do you feel it will work?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.  For more information about this drink dispensing technology visit validfill.com.


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  • EKW

    Okay, so they read your April Fools joke and thought it was a great idea? Either make the damned thing refillable or not. For the price they charge vs. the cost of soda they should be ashamed to even think of this. I bet the chip and that technology costs more than a vacation’s worth of soda. I don’t do the mug because I’m too lazy to hike a half mile for a soda…we are in park from rope-drop to closing so it’s not like we’re sitting there all day drinking. They need to just do away with the program and charge a fair price for the sodas. This sort of nickle and diming makes them look bad!

  • cmwade77

    Anything that prevents fraud is a good idea, maybe they can reduce the prices of drinks with less theft.

  • Rasberri13

    I use to bring my mug back from yr to yr, cause the soda’s are so exspensive. Maybe lower those prices and people wouldn’t do it. After getting a dining plan you really don’t need the mug, you get a drink with your meal. So we rally used the mugs for the past several yrs. But charging the prices they do it crazy!!!

  • LisaB08

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe Disney would even entertain such penny pinching measures. RFID chips REALLY?. That is ludicrous. These soda companies practically give their product to theme parks. They don’t pay enough for soda to justify this. It isn’t like you can refill your mug in the parks. I agree with EKW. We leave early in the morning and don’t arrive back at our hotel until evening. I might fill up once maybe twice a day if I’m lucky. This is really a punch in the gut to every guest at Disney. They raise ticket prices every year, room prices, mug prices, food prices and everything else in the park and they are worried about soft drinks. I’m terribly disappointed as a Disney fan who goes at least twice a year. Really cmwade77 Fraud. That is a little extreme. Get a life.

  • Tinkerbelle_325

    How exactly are they going to know how long your resort stay is? Does the CM you purchase the mug from ask for your KTTW card?

    I must admit, I think that this is a bit of an outrageous use of RFID technology. From what I recall, WDW is provided with their soda syrup for FREE from CocaCola as Coke is a WDW sponsor.

    We buy new mugs every stay, so it won’t really affect us, but it does seem a bit of an extreme measure. Are they going to put RFID chips in the regular drinks too? My thought it that it would then increase the cost of an average drink.

  • Mickey_guy

    I think it is about time Disney did this. Just because you bought a mug 10 years ago it does not entitle you to free beverages forever. If you an issue the cost of a Disney vacation don’t go every year and they will adjust the prices to bring people back!

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  • Kathy Werling

    The new mugs are behind the counter at the checkouts. The mug design is the same but the colors are different, there is orange, green, purple.

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  • jimmiej

    I like this idea. Stealing soda is wrong. It’s too bad Disney has to resort to this type of measure.

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  • disneygirl22

    great idea..fed up of people just thinking they can take take take because they paid for a mug some years ago!! while the rest of us pay for them to do so…

  • langley23

    The idea is interesting. Since RFID is relatively cheap and they would have to include this in the disposable cups too, I would assume the “green” factor has already been contemplated too.
    My thought is this is the expansion of the bar code they use at the water parks. Ideally, if this works out, why not expand it further – example; $10 for unlimited drinks at your resort stay or $20 for unlimited refills at any resort and/or park. Think of Universal’s refill mug + resort refillability….resort cup park hopper if you will. Less waste that way too if you have to take your cup with you to the park.

  • gallicdenis

    Prior to 2001 the refillable mugs where the “Forever Mug’ which, as the name implies, could be used from year to year. We still have a couple of those from our early trips to WDW. I wonder what, if any allowances would be made for those. If the RFID chip could be reactivated for each visit, for a nominal fee, it would make things much more convenient for those of us that make multiple visits to the World each year.

  • http://tsukata.org tsukata

    I agree with gallicdenis on the concept of re-activating mugs and langley23 on different levels of mug purchase. If this new technology will provide that kind of customization, I’m all for it. I admit that I’m a “soda thief”, but if Disney gave me a reasonable way to pay for a mug renewal with an existing mug, I would definitely do that. If they allowed re-fills in the parks and/or other resorts as a perk, that’d be even better.

    As is, they force me to buy a new plastic cup on each trip, which is ridiculous and wasteful.

  • DisneyGirlinNJ

    Honestly? Everyone that is complaining about this has to be the ones that are ‘stealing’ the soda year after year. I still see people at the resorts using the resort-specific mugs that haven’t been for sale in what…a decade? Come on guys. Every other re-useable mug plan at other resorts and theme parks use this same concept. It’s NOT about nickle and diming guests. It’s about getting rid of the people that cheat the system. RFID technology is so cheap now that this isn’t ‘wasting’ any sort of Disney money. All of resort stay info is on the RFID (most likely linked to the mug when the CM swipes your KTTW card at the register). Very simple and basic technology.

    Luckily I only get water using my mugs so I can still use my old ones without problem. :) Bravo, Disney!

  • JenniKwea

    I am a former CM, having been a lifeguard at Typhoon and an attractions host / trainer at Soarin’. I live in Florida and have annual passes to WDW and Universal Studios. For those people who saved up and come to WDW every 5 years or so, it can be expensive to keep buying soda, so they have used the mugs they bought the last time they were in the parks. (The average family of 4 spends about $10,000 US for a week long trip – if staying at the resorts.) If the option was offered to pay a nominal fee to reuse those mugs, they might do that instead.

    At Universal, we bring our refillable mugs back every trip… and pay a a fraction of what it cost to buy the mugs/drinks in the first place. So it isn’t actually the same concept as DisneyGirlinNJ says. It is the reason that I buy water bottles and bring them in my back pack or cooler when I visit the parks – it is too expensive to buy soda (or most foods) at Disney’s prices (and also because the Orlando water from the fountains tastes horrific and you can taste it in the fountain sodas too!). Heck, I usually pack a lunch and snacks for each day and then we hack off an arm and a leg, to pay for a nice dinner! Disney doesn’t go down on their prices much either, so the thought that they might lower their prices if people stopped stealing soda isn’t something most CM’s happening any time in the near future.

  • Boilerdisneyfan

    Right off the bat I have a few concerns.
    A, its technology that will not always work right, how easy will it be to get a mug chip “fixed”
    B, what happens when you get a drink by mistake or when you fill your mug full of soda water as the syrup is out will I have to wait 20 min for a new refill
    C, Many of my trips now involve more than one hotel stay, each of the last few years we have had to move hotels for a day or two due to availability, so will my mug work for my entire trip or be hotel specific.

    I don’t mind WDW trying to limit the abuse, I just hope they are smart about how they apply any new policy

  • biloxiboi

    I think this is a great idea not just for Disney, but for those of us who abide by the rules and don’t steal. Sure, everyone knows it only costs about 10 cents to fill that mug, but why should I absorb the cost of others’ stealing?

    Would you walk into a restaurant with your own cup and fill it up without paying?

    $13.99 for a mug that lasts the entire length of your stay… c’mon!

  • gallicdenis

    I guess we won’t be reheating our coffee or making tea in the microwave using the new mugs. “According to an RSA laboratories FAQ, RFID tags can be destroyed by a standard microwave oven; however some types of RFID tags, particularly those constructed to radiate using large metallic antennas (in particular RF tags and EPC tags), may catch fire if subjected to this process for too long (as would any metallic item inside a microwave oven). This simple method cannot safely be used to deactivate RFID features in electronic devices, or those implanted in living tissue, because of the risk of damage to the “host”. However the time required is extremely short (a second or two of radiation) and the method works in many other non-electronic and inanimate items, long before thermal buildup (fire) problems become of concern.”

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  • focalpoint

    Typically the wholesale cost of a soft drink is about a five cents.

    So, let’s assume our family of 4 brings their mugs back for a week-long stay and they fill up three times a day. That just cost Disney $4.20.

    Now, let’s assume All-Star Sports is full to capacity (1920 rooms, 4 people each room) and they’re ALL taking advantage of their old mugs (unlikely, but this in junk science). $8,064 for Disney to cover everyone’s free soda for a week.

    This is just another ridiculous attempt by Disney to gouge as much cash out of tourists as possible… and, again, they aim their attack at budget conscious repeat visitors.

    Seems to me like the chip and dispensing equipment may cost too much and somehow “justify” Disney raising the price of mugs again.

  • focalpoint

    …oh, and I’ve never purchased a mug. Never plan to. We don’t drink enough soda to justify the cost. Therefore, I am not the “soda-thief” that so many have already convicted us RFID skeptics of being.

  • ckae

    Yes this technology seems to leave a bad taste in many peoples mouths, but think of what this is going to do, deter people away from drinking soda. They even said its not going to be read for water and ice. If you are getting a re-fillable mug, how many times a day are you going to refil it with soda? Honestly that stuff is horrible for you to be drinking on a hot day, it dehydrates your body even more. Yes I know that Disney make look at this in a different way, but as student majoring in nutrition, I look at this in a positive light.

  • bpesch

    I think what amazes me most about the posts here are the number of people that don’t think there is anything wrong with bringing a mug back for years and getting free drinks. The mug was meant for one stay, how can you not consider it stealing to bring it back for years and use it? I don’t care how you justify it, it’s stealing.

  • KathyZ

    We got the mugs last December because we purchased a deluxe dining plan. The only thing we used the mugs for was water. So I’m happy to hear that we can still serve ourselves ice and water using any mug or cup. The mugs are so convenient to carry back up to our room and the water from the dispenser tastes better than that which comes out of the faucets in the bathroom sink.

  • crazyangel

    Why buy a mug,thats what courtesy cups are for!! *__*

  • Disney3

    In my opinion Disney would not be doing this if the need was not there to do so. If people would sit back and look at the cost associated in running Disney versus all they have to offer I think it is a bargain of a vacation. We always go when they offer the free dining plan. My daughter and I are going in September from the 17th – 25 and we get one sit down dinner, 1 counter service and 1 snack/per person/per day!! Our total cost per person is only $861!!!! Where else can you go that offers free transportation with room included and park hopper???? NOWHERE!! If people are going to complain about it they need to research first. When you visit look around at the cost associated with each and every part of the property…it is mind boggling that they can offer packages for the prices they do with the cost they incur to keep the property running. I love disney and I am a middle aged mom who loves every single part of what disney has to offer. My first visit was in 2004 and I have been visiting once a year since then. They even pick me up at the Orlando airport for FREE. Enough said!

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  • racyn5

    I still can’t believe they would do this. Being allowed to reuse the mug should be like reward points for people who make repeat visits to the resorts. Soda costs nothing to make so why are they penalizing loyal customers? We all know how expensive it is to stay at a Disney resort. For some of us it costs thousands dollars just to get there. If they can afford to offer free dining plans, they can afford a cup of soda. Its not like people are standing at the soda fountain all day. I don’t even drink soda, will I eventually have to pay for my water??? I’ve been going to WDW since it first opened, and the progression of cuts, nickel and diming, poor service and ridiculous meal prices over the years makes trips less and less “happy”. I only come because I have kids.

  • Mindy5767

    I think if they’re going to do this, they need to do something, like maybe a discount, for people who come back several times a year. I do not need 3 or 4 of the same mug times 3 trips, that’s 9 to 12 of the same mugs! Maybe we could pay 1/2 price and reactivate older “new” mugs. Its very wasteful and not green, this new policy. And they aren’t trying to save soda. Its all about the mug sales. They feel that people who are refilling old mugs are lost sales of new mugs. But if they think I’m going to keep buying the mug 3 times a year, they’re mistaken. I’d just skip it. I usually only buy it if I’m staying at the Pop anyway. When I’m staying DVC, I rarely go into the cafe where the refills are. Although, I can refill it at the pool during the open hours of the pool bar.

  • Cap.Steamboat Willie

    I have always bought new cups, however, the very first mugs were sold without the express declaration from Disney that they would be only good for the “length of stay” ONLY.

    Maybe, I’m wrong but I think those cups are still “valid”. But I’m not a lawyer so I cannot say that someone is a “thief”. I agree with previous posts that this just makes Disney look bad. Have some class Disney.

  • Jeff

    When we first stayed at the All-Star Sports Resort back in the late 90′s, we were told that our mugs were good for life. It was a bargain, even though we kind of wanted to get new mugs whenever there were new mugs. Going twice a year, it was a no brainer; use our original mugs at breakfast and then when we get back late at night to take some soda back to the room with us(carrying them around in a backpack all day designated just for them hehe). We ask every time, just to make sure, but we also bought one or two new mugs, letting other family in our travel party use to cut costs, and everytime they said it was okay. It didn’t matter what resort. Then about 5 years ago we were told resort mugs only(didn’t matter the year/design) and the very next time after that, were told it had to be the current mug. But they never told us not to use our mugs, only that we weren’t supposed to use them anymore(basically a smile and wink – knowledge for future vacations). We’ve always liked collecting them anyway and our entire top drink cabinet shelves are lined with them stacked one on another. It was never an issue, but it goes to show how policy changes.

    This is the enforcement, but now, you can’t even use it when ever you want? That seems to be a bit harsh of a step. If you fill up on sprite and it’s just carbonated water, because as we know the syrup constantly has to be changed during the breakfast rush, are they saying you can’t go dump it out and get another cup of something else?

    I don’t mind it only being able to be used for the length of stay. I actually say KUDOS to that. They are making sure that Aunt Effie and Cousin Joe aren’t borrowing your mugs for their trip. That’s feasible. But the limiting of how much and when you can drink it is a bit chincey don’t ya think?

    I think one of the little draws to selling a Disney Cruise to skeptical clients has been the free soda on board. I’ve always heard that as a gripe with other cruise lines(who are following suit). It’s the little things that a MegaCorporation does that sets itself apart from the norm. Let’s charge for daily resort parking like Universal, pay a bus fare to and from, double the price for admission and pay extra to enter each attraction, all the while having a mandatory gratuity charged to your “Key to the World” every time a Cast Member has to interact with you. Dollar to use the restroom stall, quarter per square of toilet paper, five dollars to throw away your trash or 10 dollar fine for taking your trash with you. OH, and talk Mark Zuckerberg into to charging for Facebook.

    A bit over the edge, lol, but the key is to have people WANT to stay on property, not do things that sound like you’re being taken advantage of thus forcing people to rethink staying on property.

  • DisneyDoc

    Penny pinching on the part of WDW? Yeah! Cheating on the part of those who reuse the mug every time? Yeah! But who cares, we buy the mugs so that we can take them home as a souvenir. My kids are eating lunch right now with their mugs (they asked for them). I have one at work that I keep in my office for hot chocolate or just water. They are great reminder of how much we love WDW and look forward to our next trip.

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  • Mary

    We just returned from our stay at Old Key West. It was horrible! We had to wait 2 minutes to get a refill. The sprite tasted like it had to much carbonation so I decided to get coke instead but I had to wait for 2 minutes! We were on the dining plan and had lunch at the Contempo Cafe inside the Contemporary. We have never carried our plastic mugs around with us during our stay because it’s too cumbersome. So we were told at the counter we should have brought our refillable mugs with us. The cashier then handed me paper cups that were only good for 4 refills because it has the chip in it. It was very inconvenient. I heard other patrons complaining about the system as well. We have been staying on disney property for years and I must say that I really don’t like this new system.

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