Aug 012011

Want A Disney Refillable Mug?

The Disney World refillable mugs are probably the most common souvenir among Disney fans who stay on property.  After all, you buy them to use while you’re on vacation, but they’re still perfectly functioning travel mugs- perfect for the commute to work, drinks at home, and to save the planet (banishing styrofoam  cups forever) while at work.

The Disney refillable mugs change design every year, which makes them something of a collector’s item to Disney fans since for most vacationers, the Disney refillable mug will be totally different on their next vacation.

Year of a Million Dreams Resort Refillable Mug

There are three types of Disney refillable mugs. The Walt Disney World refillable mugs sold in the Animal Kingdom (I’d have sworn that I saw them at Magic Kingdom once, but I can’t find anything to back up that memory), the Walt Disney World water park refillable mugs, and the Walt Disney World refillable mugs sold in the resorts. They are NOT interchangeable.

The Disney World Parks Refillable Mugs:

The only refillable cups at the Disney parks are at Animal Kingdom (though I swear that I’ve seen them elsewhere). These cups are very large and do not have handles, so if you purchase one, make certain that you don’t mind carrying it around all day, or going up to the front to take it out of your locker every time that you want a drink. The last that I’ve heard, the refillable cups are much cheaper than Disney’s other refillable mugs, but require an extra $1 every time you want to fill up. Quite frankly, these are more hassle than they’re worth for most families, but if you have a party member who prefers to sit out rides, or who doesn’t mind washing out the cup and stowing it in a backpack, it might be worth buying one to share as a family. The cups are very large.

The Walt Disney World Water Parks Refillable Mugs:

The Disney World water park refillable mugs are slightly cheaper than the hotel refillable mugs, but are only good for that current day. For example, the most recent price that I’ve seen is $11 for the water parks refillable mug, and $13.99 for the hotel refillable mug. The bonus here is that if you return to the water parks during your trip, you can bring the mug with you and pay $6 for a sticker to renew that mug for the new day (and you can continue to do this for the rest of your vacation, I believe). Considering that most drinks at Disney World are between $2-3 each, this isn’t a bad deal if you plan to be at the water park for more than a few hours.

The Disney World Resort Hotel Refillable Mugs:

Currently, the Disney refillable mug plan for the hotels is $13.99 for unlimited refills during your stay (please always verify price with Disney- I don’t update things like price all that often). If you book certain packages (usually the Disney Dining Plan), the refillable mug may come free with your package. However, if you’re like us and prefer to purchase everything separately (usually you can get better deals that way), the refillable mugs may or may not be worth it for you.

First of all, you’ll need to know how long you’ll be staying in a Disney owned hotel. If you’re just coming down for a long weekend- say, 3-4 days, and plan to be at the parks every waking minute, you probably don’t want to waste money on a refillable mug that never gets used. If you’re planning on a longer stay (say, 5-10 days) and having breakfast and dinner at the hotel, it’s well worth the money for a refillable mug.  My personal rule of thumb is, if I’m eating at the resort 6 times or more, it’s worth the price. Granted, I usually buy one anyway just because it’s a great souvenir- but we’re talking finances here.

Different Disney Refillable Mugs as seen from the side

Different Disney Refillable Mugs as seen from the front

Different Disney Refillable Mugs as seen from the other side

How To Use Disney World Refillable Mugs:

When you arrive at your hotel’s food court, you’ll see huge displays of refillable mugs in front of the cash registers. Pick the one you want (there are usually several colors to choose from- helpful for keeping family members’ mugs separated) and take it up to the register. Once you’ve paid for your mug, the security tag will be removed and you can take it straight to the beverage dispensers which are located outside of the food court area, in a central location to the seating. As long as you can access the seating area, you can refill your mug, even if the food court itself is closed.

Currently, all you need to do is take your mug over to the soda/water/ice dispensers and fill up. However, they’re doing a test run at the All Star Sports where the mugs have an RFID chip embedded in the mug. In this case, the dispenser has to read the chip before you can fill your mug. Since this may become standard at the resort food courts, you may want to read the section below for more information on this.

In addition to sodas and water (water is always free, even if you don’t buy a refillable mug), there is hot coffee, iced tea, and often hot chocolate (hot cocoa) as well. There is a refillable mug washing station located on each drinks island in the food court, though it just consists of warm to hot water with a motion sensor. If you want to REALLY wash your mugs, you’ll need to bring dish soap and wash it in your room (I recommend the tub because the sinks are too shallow to easily accommodate the mugs).

The New RFID System For Disney Refillable Mugs:

Disney’s policy on the refillable mugs was that you should only use the mug during the vacation in which you purchased it, and only at the hotel that it was purchased at. That wasn’t too bad in the beginning when Disney had a different mug for each resort (please bring that back, Disney! I cherish my Pop Century mug!). Now that all the resort mugs are identical, it’s much more difficult to police rule breakers. Not that the rule was ever enforced anyway.

The problem is that a lot of people were bringing the plastic cups from their room down to the food court and filling up there. Or, doing the same, but using one refillable mug to fill up the other cups. Basically, a lot of people were getting free drinks who didn’t pay for the privilege.

Rather than actually tell guests “No, you actually have to pay for your drink”, Disney has taken the passive aggressive route and is now testing out a system that will actually lock the soda dispensers unless you’ve paid up front.

They are currently testing an RFID tag system at the All Star Sports Resort, and if it goes well, it will probably be implemented at all the Disney resort hotels, and possibly even at the parks. The new system has an RFID tag embedded into the bottom of the Disney refillable mugs that encodes your length of stay into the tag. Once your vacation is over, *poof*, no more free refills.  Apparently it also limits you to something like 4 refills per hour.

The single-use cups also have the RFID tag attached to them (by single use, I mean paper cups). According to the Jeff Lange video, you’re limited to 4 refills total, you can only refill for 1 hour, and there is a time delay between fills.

Basically, the new RFID tags shouldn’t make a difference to guests who follow the rules, but there is some concern among many who continue to use their mugs when they get home. Apparently, the RFID tags burst into flame if they’re microwaved, and many people do choose to microwave in their mugs. Please note that the refillable mugs are #5 plastic and shouldn’t be microwaved or cleaned in a dishwasher anyway.

Disney Refillable Mug FAQ:

I have an old Disney refillable mug from my last vacation, can I use it again on my upcoming trip?

At this very moment, yes, you can use it at any Disney World hotel food court except for the End Zone at All Star Sports Resort, where they are currently testing out RFID tags on the refillable mugs. It is against policy to do so, however, and you may be asked to purchase a new mug instead. Also, if Disney changes all of their mugs over to RFID, you will not be able to use your old mug with the soda dispensers.

Disney is so expensive, I don’t want to have to pay for drinks! Do I have to buy a refillable mug?

No, you don’t need to purchase a refillable mug. Water and ice are always free in the food court dispensers. Also, I’ve not heard that the tea, coffee, and hot chocolate dispensers will have the RFID tag reader installed. Technically, you’re supposed to pay for those drinks as well, but I suspect that Disney isn’t as concerned with those drinks as they are with the sodas (people are more likely to abuse the refill policy on sodas than they are on hot drinks).

I saw Disney refillable mugs on eBay for half the price that you say Disney’s charging for new ones. Can I just buy used ones instead?

Technically, yes. But please see the answer above about using old mugs. Currently, only All Star Sports has the RFID readers installed, but by the time you’re visiting, all food courts may have them. On the other hand, if the mugs are cheap enough, it’s not like you risked a lot of money.

I don’t want to spend all that money on a Disney refillable mug- but I don’t want to break any rules either. What should I do?

It’s totally up to you, but if you don’t want to break any rules, then you’ll either have to bring your own drinks, or buy a refillable mug (or individual serve cups each time). I don’t want to break the rules either. I have over a dozen Disney World Resort refillable mugs in my cabinets at home, but I buy a new mug on each trip. It’s really because I don’t want to be one of those people, but I tell myself that it’s just a really good souvenir.

Do refillable mugs come with Disney Dining Plans?
Yes. According to the official Disney World website, the DDP does come with refillable mugs. However, I only have the information for 2011 and 2012, so always verify before purchase if this is important to you.


Have questions about the Disney refillable mugs? Feel free to ask below in the comments or through my contact page. I can’t guarantee answers and I won’t swear to accuracy, but I have been using them for about 8 years now.


  7 Responses to “Disney World Resort Refillable Mugs”

  1. Will the mug sit in my backpack drink holder thingy? I just brought drinks last time, but then we wound up buying more while we were there. . .

    Love the new page!

  2. Hi Jen!

    Um… I’m not sure. I don’t actually know what your backpack drink holder thingy looks like? Do you have a picture you could link to? Good idea though, I kind of forgot about actually putting a picture up! *lol* I’ll have to grab a few of mine and do a group shot to give people an idea. Basically, though, they’re supposedly 20oz cups (according to the video, I swear they only hold 12oz, though). Tall, narrower at the bottom to accommodate car drink holders, and they have a handle and a lid. The lids have a straw hole with a smaller air hole on the other side, and you can turn a disc on the lid to block or open the holes. You can drink out of the straw hole, but that always feels weird to me, so I just use the straw. I’ll try to remember to put up a pic tonight. :-)

    And thank you! :-) I’ve had this site for ages, but I’ve only started putting serious work into it this year.

  3. Love the pictures! And the Parks one will fit, but I’ll probably have to be VERY careful with the backpack then.

  4. Thanks, Jen! :-) Sorry for the mix up- those are all resort only refillable mugs. I’ve never had an Animal Kingdom or water park refillable mug, so I don’t have any pix to put up. Sorry. :-( That said, here is a pic of the Animal Kingdom refillable mugs/bottles

    . I can’t seem to find a photo of the water park refillable mugs (and since I can’t swim, I’m not likely to be hitting a water park any time soon). I’ll shift that first picture up a bit and see if that makes it more clear.

  5. I have been reading that this new system will start everywhere (at all resorts, interchangeable) by the end of July. We are leaving for DW August 2nd. Have you heard anything?

  6. Hi Erika!

    The last that I heard is that they’re going to be running a trial at the All Star Resorts first, and then rolling it out to the other resorts if the trail goes well. If you’re staying at an All Star, you’ll probably get to try out the new mugs, if you’re staying anywhere else, I don’t think that they’ll be available yet.

    During the last trial, the plan was to make the mugs only work at your own resort and for the full length of your stay. The new plan is that they work at any of the Disney Resorts, and the price varies depending on how long you want it for (one price for 1 day, another price for 2 days, another for 3 days, another for the length of your stay- even if you resort hop).

    If you get to try out the new mugs, please stop in and let me know how it went!

  7. I’m lookin for the Walt Disney Plastic Chacter Cups that’s came with a Dinasaur or Castle and Disney Chacters on top circa 2000 and 2001 I had for all five parks but got lost in Recent Move My Disney Cabinet that’s locked is missing all these collectable cups and designer lids. Were sold in all 5 parks Animal Kingdom ,Blizzard Beach, Epcott , Magic Kindom ,Disney Hollywood Studios.

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