About the Column

Admit it. You do it a lot. You ask yourself: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Maybe you ask others, too. Maybe you gather in groups, gnaw on turkey legs, and ponder what Disney does. But any such gab sessions inevitably lead to confusion and perhaps frustration. Because none of us have the answers. Disney has the answers, but it's not telling. The Mouse justifies its actions either with "it's part of our business plan" or the even more nebulous "it's part of Walt's vision". You deserve better. In his column, Lee Beatens will uncover the truth. Or at least deliver some entertaining rants.

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FROM: Why Did Disney DO That?!? Published As Necessary

Of Refillable Mugs and Pop Nazis

The refillable mug debate is endless and pointless. Whether you obey Disney's rules for use of a refillable mug is your business - and Disney's business, if they catch you. But now Disney is testing a new scheme to regulate the flow of refreshments.

Loss Leader.

I may not have the exact term right, but basically the idea is simple: stores will advertise a product at cost or below cost to get you into the store. It's like a perk for shopping at a particular retail chain. Of course, they position the loss leader item at the back of the store so that you have to pass other things you might buy on impulse, but that's business.

Does Disney do this? Is Mickey a mouse?

Disney is famous for offering perks to those who stay on property. Free transportation is perhaps the most obvious example. But a close second is the refillable mug. This magical receptacle would refill itself over and over again for the entire length of your stay! OK, maybe you had to hold it under a soda dispenser, but the end result was the same.

The hook here was that there was no limit. Oh, Disney did say that it was supposed to be good only for the duration of your stay, and that you could only use it at your own Resort. And there were probably a few other rules that Disney never expected anyone to follow.

And so many Guests brought their refillable mugs back year after year for more free refills. Others carried them from Resort to Resort and refilled them there, also. Interestingly, no Cast Member every policed these rules infractions. So Disney must have seen that this loss leader was ultimately making them money.

Things Are About to Change

A refillable cup test has already started over at Disney's All Star Sports Resort. The details are still sketchy but some are as clear as a cup of Sprite. For example, if you buy a paper cup, it will have a code on the bottom. When you use the soda dispensers, they will read your cup and only give you three refills over a one-hour period, but timed five minutes apart. Got it?

The new dispensing machines see all and give only that much. Granted, just how much soda can one person drink in an hour anyway, but maybe that's the point.

Does Disney really NEED to do this?!?

Tomorrow: The Refillable Mug

It's just a test, but you just know Disney will push the technology further. If it works, you can expect to see these mechanical Pop Nazis (Seinfeld humor) in every Resort and restaurant on property.

And will the plastic refillable mugs be immune? Maybe they're already part of the test, I don't know for sure. But if Disney can find a way to restrict refill times, refill amounts, and refill date windows on ALL beverage offerings, you can bet they'll be all over it!

So far coffee and tea are not part of this test. Maybe Disney doesn't want to face a decaffeinated mob!

With the price of staying on property already at a premium, and the added expenses of Park tickets and souvenir purchases, does Disney really need to take a free refill away from us?

Apparently. So look for a new Cast Member to be standing at dispensers soon, saying: "No more pop for you!"


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