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Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs

PodcastEpisode 768 is now available for download.

Presented by:

Questions can be emailed to questions@wdwtoday.com or use this form

Show Notes

Hosts: Matt Hochberg, Mike Scopa, Mike Newell & Annette Owens

Running Time: 21:12
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs | 27 comments | Create New Account
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Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: JediMick on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 08:28 AM CDT

You're not being fair to regular families planning a trip to WDW when you compare Disney prices to prices in the real world. Disney prices should be compared to prices at stadiums, movie theaters and other places where people are, for the most part, a captive audience.

A 20 oz Pepsi at Yankee Stadium, for instance, costs $5.

With refillable mugs, one should ask themself:

Do I drink a lot of soda?

Will I be staying at WDW for more than three days and will I be spending a fair amount of time at my resort?

Do I mind walking to the food court every time I'm thirsty?

If the answers to all of those questions are yes, then I'd say go ahead and buy the mug.

Anyway, nice job on the podcasts...keep up the good work!
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: chopsva on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 08:28 AM CDT
From my short tenure @ 7-11, a 5 gallon bag of syrup can make 50 gal of soda. The bags were, at that time, were about $30-$50 so if bagwas even $75 now, that results in $0.012 per ounce.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: disneydustin on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:19 AM CDT
Couple comments....

1) My uncle worked for Coke...... a 20 oz. Fountain Coke + cost of paper cup = $.04 cost to typical gas station and restaurant establishments, and $.025 of that is the cups.... as mentioned, I'm sure Coke has given Disney some serious deals as well, so I'm guessing they are paying about $.02 or less per 20 oz. Coke including normal paper cup costs.

2) The comparison of value to grocery bought 2-liters is an extremely fair one, but not necessarily applicable for families flying to Orlando and using Magical Express. The convenience of that transportation option brings with it the isolation to only disney properties, and I would expect those prices to be higher.

3) In our case, the mugs were a good value for our trip (given point #2...if we had a rental car, that changes things) My wife and I and our 3 1/2 year old stayed at the Poly for a week, and we would fill up with Juice and Coffee during breakfast, then fill up with more coffee on our way back to the room to finish getting ready for the parks. Then on our way out the door to the monorail, we'd fill up with pop (we had a stroller, so carrying mugs wasn't an issue, we could store them). Typically, we'd come back to the hotel for afternoon naps and swimming, and refill again. Then, once home in the evening, we'd fill up once more with coffee, pop or water. In the end, spending $24 for the two mugs over the course of 8 days definitely worked to our advantage. It helped that Captain Cooks is easy and convenient to get to on route to transportation (I can see this as an issue in the value or more sprawling resorts), and we did make a concerted effort to fill up whenever passing by.

4) One last suggestion for those without transportation - most of the resorts have some advertisements/solicitations distributed regarding pizza delivery by third party restaurants.... most of these restaurants also will provide 2-liters of pop with their delivery service, and, while inflated, a $3 or $4 2-liter is still better than the basic Disney pricing......

- Dustin
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: ricesk on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:30 AM CDT

Wow - I completely disagree....We love the refillable mugs...it's part of the vacation for us. We have two teenagers. Sure, it is cheaper to go to Hess and buy soda/water etc. It's also cheaper to stay offsite & eat offsite. My kids love the freedom to be able to go to the food court and get a drink for themselves...and I love to get coffee every morning (though the coffee is literally horrible...it's still caffeine!). I am kind of shocked that Annette doesn't agree with this...since she has kids about the same age?

Also, yes, I do bring the mugs with us on multiple vacations, only purchasing new ones when the design changes....I am not bold enough to use the old resort-specific mugs. For us, It's part of the fun to re-use the mugs, actually.....In my opinion, the only people who are going to re-use these mugs are the regular guests...the ones who visit WDW multiple times a year probably.... I think you are right about one thing...if this were a real financial issue for Disney, they would figure out a way that ensure that guests could only use the mugs for one trip. I think this is more of an "unspoken" perk for regular guests. Or am I just justifying my bad behavior??? I don't think so...I'm sticking with unspoken perk... :-)

Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: sendsley on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:57 AM CDT
The point you're missing on this discussion is that not everybody has any access to buy 2-liter bottles of soda, nor do we necessarily want to waste time grocery shopping. Comparing the cost/price of soda to your regular supermarket - of course it's ridiculously expensive. BUT it's more fair to compare how much buying sodas multiple times at the resort, suddenly not as bad of deal when you compare fairly to the prices we'd otherwise pay for soda!

I do agree resort mugs would be MUCH better - I remember my first (and only, since they've changed since my first resort visit). And of course a park mug would be a MUCH better deal!

Love the show keep up the great work!
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: Ham on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 10:01 AM CDT
We did the Keys to the Kingdom tour in December and we were told that Coca Cola provides all the fountain drink syrup to Disney free of charge because it costs them so little and the massive brand exposure they get out of it. I am pretty sure that was resort wide and not just the parks.

When we go to WDW we are there for 2 weeks anyway so it is worth it in my opinion, but I do really miss the resort specific mugs, I did feel a bit cheated with the rather generic mugs this last visit. They have also certainly reduced in size since my first mug from Wilderness Lodge in 95!
Depends on where you stay
Authored by: TQM on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 10:06 AM CDT
I'm torn about the Mugs... There are times when I think they are worth it. For example, when we stay at Wilderness Lodge, it's really easy to head down to Roaring Fork to refill. When we've stayed at the Poly, it was a little inconvenient to walk over to the GCH from Tahiti (but we still did it). If we were staying at a value... forget it. There's no way it would be worth it to schlep all the way over to the food court for a Coke.

Overall, I think we drink enough soda and coffee to make it worth it (especially since we share two cups amongst our family of 5).
Plus, when I head to work with coffee in my Disney mug, it provides a little bit of Magic in my otherwise dreary commute.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: EldonAsher on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 10:47 AM CDT
We have purchased RM's in the past and trip after trip they kept on multiplying. So I decided to get more use out of them at home then the conventional drinking mug. When we bought a new Honda Fit, it did not come with an arm rest which bothered me. To solve my irritation with the car I stacked a couple of RM's and bolted some wood covered with cushion and fabric on the RM's and then used the cup holder that was between the driver and passanger to hold the new and recycled arm rest. It moved around a little until I took some wrist bands like the Live Strong ones and lined the bottom of the RM's so that they do not move. This has solved the irritation with not having an arm rest. They are the RM's that are still giving:) This hase solved only a two of the multiplying RM's now maybe some one can come up with some more ideas and then we could write a book on "How to recycle WDW".

Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: Cosmic Rae on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 11:13 AM CDT
No way would I pay what Disney asks for a resort refillable mug. But if they would extend the free refill privileges into the parks it would be a no-brainer. We were at Dollywood's Splash Country water park earlier this year and they sell a refillable mug for $24.99 that is good all season long inside the park. I thought that was brilliant! Their daily refillable mugs were about $7-$8 and refills were not free, they were about 99. I wouldn't even consider it. We were at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh a couple months ago and as I recall their in-park refillable mugs were about $9. So when you compare those single-day in-park refillable mug prices to the length-of-stay Disney mugs, the price doesn't seem out of line, but there's no way I would pay it. It's just not convenient enough when staying in a resort. (And I would drink water with meals, which I do a lot anyway. Have you noticed how soda prices in restaurants all over the place have jumped?)

There's a mid-sized theme park in Indiana named Holiday World that has FREE soft drinks inside the park. FREE. They're sponsored by Pepsi. They have small drink "huts" throughout the park and the water park with disposable cups about 12oz. And instead of just Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7Up, Mr. Pibb, they have just about any Pepsi fountain drink you can think of. I love it that a small park has made that one of the ticket benefits and points of advertising, whereas Disney and other parks choose to make sodas one of their biggest money making items. As far as I know, they're the only park doing this. http://www.holidayworld.com/visit/free-soft-drinks
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: timsampson on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 11:44 AM CDT
Listening to this show now...good topic.

I haven't bought a refillable resort mug since they changed them to the new homogenized version. I mean, what's the point? I liked having not only the refillable drinks during my stay but the very cool souvenir to bring home. I still have my big Wilderness Lodge mug in my office.

Having said that, we used to buy the mugs depending on our stay. If we were staying for several days, then we might purchase the mug. Also, if the resort food court was not convenient to refilling the mugs (most are not), then I would not purchase them, even if staying a week. Like if staying at Wilderness Lodge or Beach Club, the use of the mug was very convenient. Other resorts like Caribbean Beach or Port Orleans, not convenient, no mug.

Now that we are DVC, we have no reason to purchase mugs. Besides we drink very little fountain drink-type stuff anymore.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: eagillinois on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 01:46 PM CDT
I think most of look at the refillable mugs as a souvenier with a convenience factor built in rather than the value. If you were comparing the value to the cost of the drinks at the resorts, it would be considered a good value.
Really many of us visit once a year or every two years, we don't have cars and stay on property because it is CONVENIENT, not because staying on property gives you the best room or the best value for what you pay. I think the mugs fall in the same category, they are very convenient for those that stay on property and do not have a car.
Oh and the kids love them!! I do miss the resort specific mugs and wish they would bring them back!
Love the podcast, thanks for all you do.
Episode 768 - Scanners
Authored by: Kfischler on Friday, September 03 2010 @ 04:31 PM CDT
I think one of the reasons that scanners were not instituted across the property for re-fillable mugs may have been a cost benefit analysis. I don't know the cost of these scanners, but it may have been that the cost to install, maintain, and train CMs on what to do when they malfunction outweighed the $.025 it cost when someone filled up an old mug or one from another resort.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: jcodirewolf on Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 01:01 PM CDT
I see someone else said that Disney gets the coke mix for free. I know when I've done events in the past the "Standard" deal is coke provides the everything for free up front (depend on how much gear you take they may want a deposit) then they charge you not based on cylinders or mix used but cups (I assume this is why some places have signs up saying they have to charge you the same for a cup of ice as a cup with a drink.)

The mix costs so little I would guess it would cost Coke more to track it than just send Disney the supply they want. Most places (aka the mom and dad sub shop) the equipment (machines or fountains) plus the maintenance on them would represent a good investment. Another data point, the vending machines are stupid expensive (like $10k or something) but if you buys some small amount of product they are free (last I knew it was like 5-6 cases of soda a month, made the machine free.)

As for letting you use them in the parks. I think it would be a great perk buy a resort mug if you are a guest you can use them in the park. How do you do this. Simple tie it to your key to the world card. When I was last on a RCL cruise, the free/refillable coke was on your room card (you got a insulated glass/mug, but you just need your room key to get a drink.)

Also as others have pointed out Publix vs Disney isn't fair. Disney vs Foxboro, is more fair, we'll the same mug Disney uses is $8.50 with soda at Foxboro without any refill privs.

To answer WHY do people reuse mugs so much that the design has worn off? Because people like the feeling they have "scammed" or "taken advantage" of the system. If I told you there is a 5% off sale at Target, would you run over and buy a new TV ($950 vs $1000)? But you should see how people plan what they are going to buy when MA suspends sales tax for a weekend.
Scammers or collectors?
Authored by: Mike Newell on Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 02:43 PM CDT
In case you missed it, we're having a "debate" over on the WDW Today Facebook page about the refillable mugs.

With a new twist, not mentioned on the show.


The debate is Would you ever buy a USED mug on eBay? And is it OK to buy a used mug with the intention of using it on a future trip.?

MouseWorld Radio

Ron & Fez Noon to 3

Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: Grumpy on Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 09:45 PM CDT
After taking a break from the WDW Today, I decided to download the last few episodes and see if there has been any improvement. I was saddened to learn that there has not. To me, this episode personifies the problem with the podcast - NO research or planning! You set out to do an episode on refillable mugs, yet NOBODY bothers to research what the price of the mugs are, or how much they hold??? Come on guys, we don't expect hours of research for a 25 minute podcast but would a little Googling beforehand kill you?
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs COFFEE!!!
Authored by: angel on Sunday, September 05 2010 @ 08:28 AM CDT
Don't forget, there aren't coffeemakers in the rooms at value resorts, so how else are you going to get coffee?
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: Gatorhead on Sunday, September 05 2010 @ 05:14 PM CDT
The refillable mugs seem to work to our advantage while at Disney. We tend to use ours, at least, 2-3 times a day if not more so we more than get our money's worth out of weeks stay. We don't rent a car or drive down so we're limited to Disney transportaion. Which is fine with us. Not only do we get our money's worth out of the mug while at Disney but it also makes a great mug to use after you get home. Mine get's filled with the morning coffee every day I leave for work. :)
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: danthebookman on Wednesday, September 08 2010 @ 05:20 PM CDT
Just a quick note to say that I do not believe that it is against the rules to use your refillable mugs at another resort. I say this because it is what a cast member working at the Boardwalk Bakery told me on our honeymoon in May. We stayed at Port Orleans, bought the mugs (we do wish they were still resort specific - and Matt, that only changed a couple of years ago) and used them morning noon and night at our resort. We'd then rinse or wipe out the empty mug & put one in each of our backpacks. One day, we strolled from Epcot to the Boardwalk and bought a snack at the bakery. We saw other folks with the refillable mugs, and asked if we could get ours refilled there too. She said and yes and filled them at no charge and then asked if we were staying at Boardwalk. I said "No" (I thought we were about to get busted), but she said, "Oh, okay, I was just going to let you know that you can have your mugs refilled at any other resort on property." Yes, they are overpriced, but so is everything at WDW - tickets, hotel, meals, etc. If you use the mugs at least a couple of times a day, it's worth it to us - especially considering the convenience factor and the fact that we usually do not have a rental car while we are there.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: jaywdwdreaminnva on Friday, September 10 2010 @ 04:58 PM CDT
Generic mugs. Just another item to add to the ever growing list of "paying more for less" topics with Walt Disney World discussed in the comments for episode 738. Gotta please those shareholders...(I guess pixie dust doesn't count for $$$$$$$).

People often ask if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is you do it by working. - Walt Disney
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: dmpurvis on Sunday, September 12 2010 @ 07:36 AM CDT
In 2009 we had a cast member working in the food court at one of the value resorts tell us "off the record" that it is okay to reuse the refillable mugs during future trips.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: parks422 on Monday, September 13 2010 @ 11:26 PM CDT
We have purchased refillable mugs on all previous trips to WDW. We stayed at WDW value resorts most of the time, and without a refrigerator or a rental car. At Pop Century we enjoyed the Coke products, hot chocolate, and Slurpies. My wife enjoyed her morning coffee.
On our next trip in December we will be staying @ the Wilderness Lodge without a rental car. We look at the refillable mugs as functional souvenior during and after our WDW stay. This episode has caused me to evalute whether or not to purchase mugs for this trip. We still plan to do so, but we may not purchase one for every person.
Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: BJWanlund on Wednesday, September 15 2010 @ 12:36 PM CDT
Matt, I totally 100% agree with you about the resort-specific refillable mugs needing to return, as well as the need for refillable mugs that could be used at counter service locales in WDW. It could be a onsite resorts only perk, and we all know how Disney loooooooooves their onsite resort only perks. I can even see Disney charging $20 for the refillable mugs, but it would be a much better value at that $20 pricetag if they allowed you to refill wherever you wanted to on WDW property for a mere $2 extra (after 3 free refills or something like that), and maybe even a Disney Cruise Line-specific refillable mug for the free sodas on the cruise ships!

Either way, Disney needs to take a MAJOR look at how their refillable mug business is going, and if they could put just a little bit more effort into their refillable mugs, they would make more money on the mugs, and therefore on every single soda purchase.

Episode 768 - Refillable Mugs
Authored by: MrStayPuft on Tuesday, September 21 2010 @ 01:08 AM CDT
As far as the refillable mugs go, I will say that they're a great deal for one select demographic: Florida, residents, specifically Central Florida residents. I live in Metro Orlando and always keep my mug with me. Whenever I go to a resort, I keep the mug with me and am able to refill with coffee, soda, whatever I like. I know some of you might call it "abuse" but the way I look at it, I'm using the system the way it was designed and at the end of the day, would probably spend money at the resort anyway...