Update: apparently popcorn buckets have never expired and you could always bring old ones. This is a great piece of information that helps me a LOT. I’m a newbie to some of these mom things in the parks so I’m glad other moms know these things 🙂
For those who haven’t visited the parks since they reopened… the procedures with refillable mugs and popcorn buckets have changed. People are no longer allowed to refill their mugs at refill stations. Instead you bring your mug and ask a cast member for a “refill.” They then give you a normal paper drink cup with your drink in it. This is for cleanliness/safety reasons. They don’t want everyone touching the drink machines. Similarly, at popcorn carts, you show your bucket and ask for a refill, and they give you a paper container of popcorn.
So…. not to always be someone who works the system, but…. basically you can bring older mugs/buckets now that would normally be “expired” and not work in the drink machines, and get them refilled now with no problem. As long as they are a current design, you are good to go. I honestly rarely even had to show my mug when asking for a refill. I always had it in the stroller and they just got me my refill. I purchased a mug on our July trip, and the styles haven’t changed. I’d be surprised if they introduce new styles any time soon given that there are no dining plans currently and therefore way fewer people using the mugs, so they have a lot of inventory left in the current styles. This is the style we used on our July and August trips without issue for anyone who was curious :
Similarly, we bought a popcorn bucket in July and brought it back for our August trip. No issues getting refills. I finally feel like I got my money’s worth for these dang mugs and buckets for once ! There have to be some perks to this miserable pandemic right ? (As a side note, it’s a pain not being able to fill your own mug… at places like the Boardwalk Bakery you have to wait in the whole line of people ordering just to get a mug refill).
Edited to add: I’m not a proponent of screwing over Disney. I also don’t really think that that’s possible for individual consumers to do. I am a big proponent of saving a few bucks everywhere you can on the worlds most expensive vacations. If there’s a way to find discounts, use them. If there’s a way to find freebies, take them. This post was meant to suggest that it might be worth splurging on a refillable mug right now because you might get multiple trips use out of it. As a finance/accounting professional, it’s my opinion that Disney has factored in de minimus losses like this into their health/safety policy decision making right now. They know what they are doing and the potential tiny losses that might be incurred. They have totally factored this into their decision making. If there is one thing we all know, it is that there is nothing Disney doesn’t think of.
To clarify: we used an older mug at Boardwalk, Contemporary, and Caribbean Beach without an issue. Someone has reported that at Fort Wilderness they were asked to place their mug on a disc to confirm it was active back in July. We didn’t see any sign of that at the listed hotels in August. 🤷🏼♀️