Walt Disney World’s use of a refillable mug at resort hotels can be a great option for some guests. Is it right for you? The mugs have been the source of quite a few Disney debates over the years, so let’s take a look at whether this purchase is worth it.
Resort Refillable Mugs
The resort refillable mug is a thermally insulated mug made of either plastic or metal that is equipped with an RFID chip. This “RapidFill” technology allows the mugs to be activated and used at any RapidFill station at any Disney resort for the length of your stay. You can find the beverage islands at the resort’s quick serve dining location and swimming pool area.
It is important to note that the resort refillable mug cannot be used in theme park restaurants, Disney Springs, and Water Parks. Additionally any hotel that is not Disney-owned (such as Swan & Dolphin) is also off limits.
For 2021, regular designs are $19.99, and upgraded metal designs such as the Star Wars Resort Refillable Mug are $29.99.
The refillable mugs have been the source of quite a bit of debate between Disney fans over the years. To a non-Disney fan, I’m sure this might be hard to comprehend. However, one of the most common questions asked and debated on our site centers around whether the refillable mugs are worth it.
It’s hard to explain what will become a hot topic is Disney fandom. We can look no further than the recent #noodlegate.
Under normal circumstances, the refillable mugs are included for free in the Disney Dining Plan, but the Dining Plan remains temporarily suspended. As staff hiring/callbacks increase and more dining options return, we may see the dining plan return at some point in 2021.
What beverages can you get?
First off, you can fit about 13 ounces of liquid in the mug or just about a typical can of soda. You can fill your mug with Coke products, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Juices and milk are not included. So, are they right for you?
If you think you will be exclusively eating in the theme parks during your trip and not at your resort then the mug might not be a worthwhile option. But, if you will be using all or some of my scenarios then it would be a great option for your vacation. Let’s assume you make these beverage purchases at your resort’s quick service restaurant or beverage island throughout the day:
With breakfast: Joffrey’s Coffee regular $3.29
With a quick serve lunch or dinner meal: 20oz bottle of Coca-Cola $4.19
Hanging out at the pool: 20oz bottle of Sprite $4.19
On day one, we spent $11.67 on drinks in this scenario. By the end of day 2 we would be reaching our refillable mug price. Even if you might not be using the mug in typical refill situations like on the way to the room or hanging out at the pool, you can still come out ahead. If you eat the quick serve meal at your resort once a day and get a soda with that meal you would break even on day 4. Also keep in mind that a 20oz bottle of Dasani water is currently $3.50 at Disney resorts.
Refillable Mug Process
When Disney reopened after the closure for the Covid-19 pandemic there were changes to the process for refilling your beverage. A cast member gave guests a paper cup with the beverage. Then, you could either use that cup or dump the contents into your mug.
This became a tedious task at times, especially when cast members were forced to multi-task during staff shortages. Thankfully, Disney changed that policy as health recommendations changed and the refillable mug process is back to normal.
Disney introduced a new era in the refillable mug system two years ago with the stainless steel Skyliner mug for an additional $10. Currently you can upgrade to a stainless Star Wars-themed mug.
It takes you a little longer to reach the break even point, but these upgrades have a bit more souvenir appeal, especially if you are someone who has a stockpile of the old plastic mugs.
Additional Mug Considerations
Keep in mind that the Disney RFID chip allows for a 2 minute pause after you refill. This is to prevent a guest from refilling multiple times immediately and dumping their mug into other containers that their party might have or even larger items.
This ethical side of the mug process is usually where the debates happen. Those readers who are longtime Disney visitors probably remember the “Wild West” days of refillable mugs before the RFID chip. I can remember someone filling up a gigantic Thermos one time! Necessary or not, the RFID process or similar technology seems here to stay.
The location of your room in relation to the refill stations can be a factor when deciding to purchase. If you pass by a station on your way to and from the bus, then that is convenient. If you are near your resort’s feature pool, that will often have a refill station. Check on your location before purchasing because this could be a big factor if a refill requires a long walk.
I like to grab a coffee on the way to the bus stop, monorail, or skyliner (depending on where we are staying) in the morning. I like to sip a cup of coffee while waiting for and riding the bus. Since you cannot use the mug in the theme park, some guests choose not to purchase because they find it annoying to have the mug with them.
This has not been a burden for us. When my kids were younger we stored them in the stroller. Now we do not find it difficult to store in our backpack. There are even some ingenious stroller mug straps out there on the internet. Something may work for you.
Another cost consideration is the option of buying a case of soda before your trip or use a grocery delivery service to include a case of soda or other drink in your order. That certainly would be more cost effective (check the delivery fee first!), but for some the mug has a little added value as discussed below….
We often hear from readers that they buy the mug automatically for the souvenir value. Many Disney fans collect the various styles through the years. In addition there are popular holiday designs. We looked at costs above, but obviously we don’t always make purchasing decisions (especially in Disney) only based on cost.
For many, the mug has an added benefit. For example, bringing your coffee to work in your Disney mug can keep a piece of the magic and nostalgia going, and that is an understandable benefit for some.
The new upgraded stainless mugs (again, for an additional $10.00) really add to the souvenir appeal for many guests. Keep in mind that these new stainless mugs have no handles and are often more compatible with car cup holders than the traditional plastic mugs.
Also note that the stainless mugs are hand wash only and are not microwavable. Personally, I try to shy away from microwaving anything, but the ability to microwave the plastic mugs is often a selling point for many fans of the mug.
Final Recommendation- Yes or No?
When I total up all of the factors discussed including the cost, convenience considerations, souvenir possibilities, and potential upgrade, I give the mug a YES for most guests to purchase.
Guests on a short stay, or someone wanting only specialty coffee drinks or someone on a tight budget with grocery items may be able to pass on the refillable mug. However, overall I think it is wise purchase for most guests.
Do you purchase the refillable mug? Will you get the upgrade? Do you have any crazy mug debate stories or remember any interesting refill situations at your resort? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook!