Walt Disney World will soon be introducing the Rapid Fill Mug to replace the standar refillable mug that has been sold at Disney resorts for years. The biggest difference will be that each mug will have a RFID chip. These chips will communicate with the new self-serve drink filling stations. The stations will also recognize traditional paper cups which can also be purchased will also have a chip and can be only be used for one hour from the initial serve and are limited to four 20 oz pours.
This is an obvious change from the way things currently work. Currently the drink stations are basically functioning on an honor system. Guests can fill any cup they want. Some have even been known to fill bottles and other assorted containers. I have seen mugs from resorts other than the one I was staying in filled as well as mugs that are obviously years old. In effect, if you wanted a free beverage at the resort, there was nothing to stop you from getting one.
Of course it was not intended to work that way. For those who have not stayed at the Disney on-property resorts a little explanation might be helpful. For years Disney has been selling refillable mugs. These mugs were sold with the clear understanding that they were for the length of your current visit and for use only in the resort you were staying in.
They were a bit pricey. The first one I bought was about $12. The last one was about $15. However, if you are staying in one of the resorts and you only bought two drinks for two days, at your resort, you about broke even for what if would have cost just to buy a single use paper cup plus you had a handy souvenir. Since I was always staying for more than two days I not only broke even but I saved money.
As a guest, I must admit I was a little frustrated to pay the money for a mug and watch others using the old mugs they had bought. By nature I am an honest, if slightly grumpy person. I do not abuse a system nor do I like to see others abuse the system. I am also smart enough to know that they money Diseny was losing from dishonest customers was costing us honest ones. We were, in effect, going to pay for those who were abusing the system.
Which brings up a moral question. Though these people were doing was an obvious abuse of the system was it wrong? Was it stealing? By definition stealing is taking something that does not belong to you. These people doing that were they not? What is the difference between that and shoplifting? None in my book.
Of course some people are going to say that Disney is making plenty and that Disney prices are outrageous. I do not disagree. It irks me to pay the price I have to pay for a drink at Disney too but I have a choice. I can always bring my own.
There are two other changes in the system.
The first is that guests can use the mug at any resort now. I am not sure how much impact this will have for the average guests. How often are they going to be at another resort after all? However, there are a good number of guests who split their stays between multiple resorts. Now they will not have to buy two mugs to stay legal.
The second involves pricing. Because the number of days the mug is valid varies the price will too. The price will start at $8.99 for one day and go up to $17.99 for length of stay plus four days.
Since Disney is going to start charging more as well as eliminating theft, I would like to make one suggestion. Get rid of the generic mugs and bring back resort specific mugs!
The new system was tested in 2011 and will starting rolling out to all Disney resorts soon.
For more information check this out this articl article from Orlando Theme Park News.