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Next Gen Refillable Mugs

Update: 7/29/2013 – While they haven’t officially announced it yet, Disney is apparently moving forward with the Next Generation Refillable Mugs with the RFID chips embedded. Click here to read more about it at The Disney Food Blog. According to The Orlando Sentinel, the new program will be called, Rapid Fill and they will be priced as follows: $8.99 for 1 day, $11.99 for 2 days, $14.99 for 3 days, $17.99 for length of stay (4+ days).

So, here’s an idea that was spawned via a discussion thread over at WDWMagic forums. A new poster in the forums there mentioned a rumor that a company who specializes in RFID drink cups and filling stations is installing their system at WDW, starting with the All-Star resorts. If you’re not familiar with this technology, Disney has been using a similar system for several years now at their water parks, only that system uses bar coded cups that tie into a computer system to validate the date purchased, and will only allow use on that day. The system that is allegedly being implemented would work in a similar way except the cups would have either a RFID chip built-in or a sticky label with the RFID tag. The cups/labels would send a RF signal to the drink station receiver when the guest approaches and would activate the machine for use. It’s unknown if this is really happening, or if it’s just a trial run of the system.

Update: 9/01/11 – Click here to see some pictures Jeff Lange took of the new RFID cups and fill stations being tested at Disney’s All Star Sports resort.

Regardless, I think this could benefit Disney and their guests in many ways, depending on how it’s utilized. The immediate benefit would seem to be that it would prevent abuse of the walk-up drink stations from people who didn’t purchase a refillable mug or a single use cup. In my own trips to WDW, I’ve seen this abuse by guests a few times, so I know it happens, but I don’t see where it would be a huge loss to Disney, considering how much they charge for a refillable mug or a cup of soda. I think the real benefits of this system may be two-fold, one for the resort (ops and revenue), and one for the guests.

For Disney, these machines, if rolled out property wide, could free up some positions at the counter service restaurants. Many of these restaurants will have extra cast members during busy times and all they do is fill cups for soda and place them on trays. With the RFID system, the CM filling the order would simply give you the cups with your order and direct you to the soda machine. This would also have an added benefit of potentially faster service at these restaurants.

For the guest, these machines, if rolled out property wide, could offer more flexible opportunities to refill the mugs which are currently only supposed to be used at the resort purchased. With this system, Disney could offer a tiered pricing scheme with multiple options.

Refillable Mug Options

  1. 1-Day/1-park – this would be for guests who only wanted a refillable cup/mug for use on the day of purchase. With this option, they could refill their cup all day long, while in the park they purchased it from.
  2. Multi-day/park – this would be the same as the first option, only it would allow usage for 7-14 days, in the parks only.
  3. Resort only – this option would work the same as it does now. Mugs could only be refilled at the resort purchased.
  4. Resort Plus – this option would allow the refills of the mug at any resort.
  5. Premium – this option would allow the refill of the mug anywhere on property, at a resort or any of the parks.

The first two options would be for cups purchased in the parks. Options 3-5 would be for resort guests, or DVC members or AP holders. There are other options that could be considered as well including an option that would only allow for a certain number of refills. This could be used for regular (paper) cups purchased at a restaurant and they could limit a guest to only 1 or 2 refills per purchase which would benefit the company in a small, but perhaps noticeable way when you consider how many drinks are purchased across WDW in a year’s time.

Additionally, these options could be tailored and included for specific ticket or resort promotions/discounts.

Along these thoughts for the RFID drink machines, I would also like to see Disney install the Coca Cola Freestyle machines. If you’re not familiar with these, they are incredible! I believe they might have one of these in Coca-Cola’s Ice Station Cool at EPCOT. Basically, it’s a Coca Cola soda fountain on steroids, or you might call it their next gen soda dispenser. With these machines you can mix your own soda using a menu that will allow over 100+ drink combination choices and flavors to add-in (sorry no alcohol). They’re pretty impressive, but they’re also pretty overwhelming the first time you use one. Flavor add-ins include: Peach, Grape, Orange, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry and Lemon. If anything, there are too many options to pick from, which I could see causing delays at a busy counter service restaurant in WDW.

Coca Cola Freestyle Machine
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  1. July 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Sounds like Disney is getting with the time. I am surprised it took them and other places this long to implement this.

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