There have been many debates about the refillable mugs offered at Disney World Resorts – are they a good deal or a total rip-off? We are going to break it down for you so you can decide for yourself if this mug will be beneficial on your next Disney World vacation. Take a peek at these facts about Disney’s refillable mug program!
What are Disney Refillable Mugs?
Refillable mugs are 16 oz hard plastic, insulated mugs sold at the Walt Disney World Resort. (Note: there is currently no refillable mug program at Disneyland – that’s been gone for awhile, so if you’re heading to California and not Florida, this program won’t be available to you.)
If you are travelling on the Disney Dining Plan, you get a free mug for each family member on the dining plan. If you’re not using the Disney Dining Plan, these mugs are available for purchase at $19.99 per mug at Refill stations that are located in food courts, quick service locations and pool bars at all Value/Moderate/Deluxe resorts.
These mugs entitle you to free refills of soda, hot chocolate, tea and coffee at all Disney resorts for 14 days or your length of stay but cannot be used at the parks, at Disney Springs or at the water parks. (However, the water parks have their own refillable mug program.)
The mugs also cannot be used for milk, fruit juices or alcoholic drinks or “specialty” coffees liked iced coffees or lattes.
How do Disney’s refillable mugs work?
All mugs have a RFID chip in them, which allows the soda machines to identify the mug.
When you place the refillable mug on Disney’s refill stations underneath your beverage choice, the chip is identified and a little screen will pop up showing how many days you have left of your activation. You can then fill up your mug.
(Note that the new mugs have a 2-minute time delay between refills.)
The RFID chip is activated when you pay for the mug at the counter; if you are on one of the Disney Dining Plans then the mug is included in your package. Simply tell the person at the counter that you would like to redeem your free mug on the dining plan.
While the mug is supposed to only be active for the length of your stay (if under 14 days), a lot of cast members tend to activate for 14 days rather than look up your reservation.
- If your reservation is longer than 14 days, you can request a small extension but that is up to the cast member’s discretion.
- If you are doing a split stay at two or more resorts, be sure to mention that as the cast member may not notice and will only activate the mug for the length of the first resort stay.
Things You May Not Know
Each self-service, refillable mug location has a MUG WASH! That’s right — there’s a little sink right next to the drink dispensers that you can use to wash out your mug.
You can take your mug into the parks, but you cannot get your mug filled for FREE like at your resort. However, you can often get kiosks to fill your refillable mug with ice water – or they will give you a cup and you can just pour it into your mug.
You can refill your mug at other resorts, so feel free to take your mug with you if you plan to eat at one of the quick service locations at another resort.
Anyone can purchase a refillable mug; you do not need to be staying on property to walk into a quick service resort location and purchase a refillable mug. Many people love purchasing these for souvenirs and they really are made well and last much longer than most souvenirs.
You can bring your mug back on previous trips, but you will still need to pay the full $19.99 reactivation cost. I wouldn’t bother bringing back the plastic mugs, but if you paid for the upgrade of a stainless steel tumbler on a previous trip and prefer that model, then paying $19.99 for reactivation versus paying $29.99 for a new stainless steel mug is a bit of a budget saver.
The mugs are dishwasher-safe but not microwaveable.
Previously, you were able to purchase a refillable mug for a single day or for two days at a lower cost, but now the fee is the same regardless.
****Currently Disney World is not allowing anyone to refill refillable cups at the refillable stations themselves. A cast member will give you a disposable cup and you are able to fill your refillable cup if so desired. Disney World is also not offering the dining plan, so cups are available for purchase by themselves. Many of the Disney World Resorts are currently upgrading their fill stations to new touch-less fill stations. This will allow for guests to fill their refillable cups with no contact to the actual machine.
Is Disney’s refillable mug program worth the cost?
This is where things tend to get heated! I think it depends on a few factors:
- how much of your vacation time will be spent at resorts
- how many meals you will be having in your resort cafeteria
- what your soda or coffee/tea drinking habits are
- and, whether or not you’ll be ordering a grocery delivery to your resort.
(Of course, if you are on the Disney Dining Program, the mug is free – so cost isn’t really a factor.)
A single soda purchase at the resorts is $4 and (drip) coffee/tea is $3 – you can get free refills during your meal, but once you’ve left the cafeteria or restaurant, you can’t refill your disposable cup again. So, if you’re probably going to purchase at least 6 fountain sodas or drip coffees (or tea/hot chocolate) at your resort, then this is an easy decision – because once you exceed 5 sodas or 6 coffees, the mug is saving you money.
However, you do have in-room coffee (either the standard Cuisinart coffee pod systems or a Keurig system, depending on your hotel and room type) and many local grocers offer free or discounted delivery to the resorts with a minimum order amount – so purchasing drinks at your resort isn’t your only option for refreshments. (Read more about ordering groceries to your Disney resort here.)
Personally, I rarely opt to purchase the refillable mug program – I tend to only take advantage of it when I’m on the dining plan.
They can be really convenient for pool days, especially compared to having to drag all of the drinks with you from your room – and also have them get warm while in the sun all day – or try to drag all the the kids back to the room in order to grab refills.
And they can be convenient if your room is located close to the cafeteria for grabbing a morning coffee or a late night hot chocolate.
If you have older kids who will be allowed to wander around the resort a bit, having the refillable mugs is a fun perk for them and they won’t be wasting their travel money on sodas. I’ve heard from a lot of parents that their teens found the refillable mugs to be the coolest thing about a resort stay – go figure!
For us, I tend to do a small grocery order of drinks, milk, breakfast items and snacks to have in our room and skip the refillable mugs if we’re not using the dining plan on our trip. (Read more about whether or not the Disney Dining Plan is right for you here.)
I’d rather purchase a milk to have in my mini fridge (since I don’t like the provided powdered creamer) and make coffee in my room – in my pjs – as we’re getting ready for the day rather than have to get dressed and trek all the way to the cafeteria before I can caffeinate. We save money by not eating in the resort’s cafeteria for breakfast – if we’re going to pay for breakfast, I want it to be a special one, not just a quick bite. (And if you do want to grab something from the cafeteria, you can always bring a coffee from your room with you.)
On pool days, I might have one or two Diet Cokes as a treat (which I bring from my room), but I prefer that the kids drink (free) ice water so that they stay hydrated while out in the sun. If they want something a bit more fun, we use single-serve lemonade or gatorade powder packets and mix them into the free ice water.
I don’t like carrying the empty mugs around for an entire day – which is what I’d have to do if I stopped by my resort’s cafeteria for an “on the go” coffee before heading to the parks. And if I’m craving an after-the-parks soda or hot cocoa, I don’t want to walk to my room, retrieve my mug, walk to the cafeteria for a refill (and I always tend to pick rooms that are the furthest possible distance from the cafeteria)… then back. I’d rather just have things in my room to enjoy when I want.
I hope this post answered any questions you might have about the Disney Refillable Mugs. Be sure to check out this post which discusses all of New Mugs Designs, too!
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