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While visiting a theme park is always an expensive affair, there's definitely one way Universal is helping to take the pressure off your wallet -- its refillable cups, popcorn buckets, and Coke Freestyle programs.
Despite these being popular and heavily used offerings, due to some significant changes over the past few years (and just some common misinformation still floating around), guests often have questions about them. The purpose of this page is to fully explain each program and let you know how best to enjoy it!
When you learn how to save on snacks, it's also important to know that you can save big when you shopDiscount tickets to Universal Orlando Resortby the Orlando informant!
Read on to learn all about the various replenishment programs Universal Orlando Resort has to offer!
- How it works
- Refill popcorn
- Frequently asked questions about charging
- FAQ Cola Freestyle
How Universal Orlando Discount Reload programs work
Universal Orlando Resort's three refill options are as follows: a souvenir popcorn bucket, a souvenir mug (which is a Tervis-style mug), and souvenir sippers (dedicated to one character or another). You can buy them at various locations in Universal's theme parks. Popcorn buckets are about $12, with $2.19 per refill — a lot if you've got a popcorn lover in your group and plan on staying there for several days (or returning for multiple trips).
Souvenir soda cups can be refilled at virtually any permanent liquor counter or any quick service or full service restaurant in the parks. That said, the only places you can't fill them up are the drink carts - but you can't get fountain drinks there anyway. A good rule of thumb to find a participating charge location is to look for the chargeable icon that appears in their menus:
We're saying a "general" rule because there are of course some exceptions — some counters that don't have a red light still offer discounted soda refills. Bottom line: if the location is in the theme parks and sells fountain drinks you might be able to get a discounted refill - just ask!
For popcorn, however, each theme park has four locations where you can get discounted refills. To find these spots, just look for the big popcorn machines:
Popcorn refills at Universal Studios Florida
Standard popcorn buckets cost about $12.29, with $2.19 per refill — a lot if you've got a popcorn lover in your group and plan on staying there for several days (or returning for multiple trips).
If you are a Minions fan or enjoy thejurassic worldmovies, you can grab a bucket of special characters to represent your fandom. They are more expensive but often include a coupon for the first fill. Refills for these particular buckets are also $2.19.
Frequently Asked Questions About Universal Orlando Discount Fuel Programs
The popcorn bucket and party cup program is very clean and simple, at least at the beginning–but it gets tricky once you start digging a little deeper. That's why we've put together this fairly complete list of frequently asked questions:
Does my mug of Butterbeer count?
Yes! When you buy a souvenirButterbierCups, can be used in the same locations as reusable cups for discounted soda refills.
Can I use my souvenir mug for discounted Butterbeer refills?
That's a question many muggles want to know, and unfortunately the answer is no - there are no discount butterbeer refills. It doesn't matter what kind of mug you have; If you want Butterbeer you pay full price. (We should note that Preferred and PremierPassinhabercan get the standard drink discount on the exclusive drink if they buy it within the periodThe three broomsticks, Boar's Head or anywhere elsebeco DiagonaleHogsmeade.)
Well, that answer confuses some guests because Universal sells Butterbeer in three different types of mugs: the plastic souvenir mug pictured above, the metal souvenir mug pictured below, and a single-use plastic mug. If you buy frozen butterbeer in the plastic souvenir mug, it's $13.49, and if you buy frozen butterbeer in the metal mug, it's $37.99—both prices exclusive of tax. Once you tip your drink and bring it back for a refill, you will be charged $7.99 plus tax. But this is notrecharge with discountPrice – $7.99 is the price you pay for Frozen Butterbeer in a disposable plastic cup. So while you're actually paying less than you would for your original butterbeer in a souvenir cup, you don't get a discount on the refill - you're just paying the disposable cup price that everyone else is paying who doesn't pay them. I don't want a souvenir mug. (If you're looking to save a little more, remember the plastic Butterbeer Tankard is available without Butterbeer for $10.65 plus tax.)
Can I use my souvenir mug for discounted refills of Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Fizz, Fishy Green Ale, etc.?
We're sorry to say this, but you can't. Pumpkin Juice, Pumpkin Fizz, and Other "Brands"Harry PotterDrinks are always full price, just like we described with Butterbeer above - even if you get a souvenir glass, you're paying what everyone else is paying.
However, you can use your souvenir butterbeer glass.orany other souvenir mug for discounted refills of the generic drinks sold in the wizarding world, including tea, soda, and cider.
What can you tell me about the Boar's Head mug? Can I use it for discounted top-ups?
In addition to the butter beer mug, guests can also purchase a boar's head mug as a souvenir:
This $15.44 (incl. VAT) mug is slightly larger than the Butterbeer Stein and features the insignia of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while the Butterbeer Stein does not.
Unfortunately, this mug is not eligible for refill discounts for draft or soda drinks. Please note that Butterbeer cannot be served in this mug either.
Can I get top-ups with a discount onSimpsonsspecialty drinks?
NOThe Simpsons'SFast-Food-Allee, you'll find a variety of specialty drinks including Buzz Cola and Flaming Moes. However, as you saw in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the "sign" isSimpsonsBeverages are not available as part of the discounted refill program.
But remember, Coca-Cola sodas are served at Moe's Tavern and all locations on Fast Food Blvd, so you still have a chance to get a discounted soda refill.
What else can I get with the souvenir cups at discounted refills?
Soda is what you need if you only want to pay $1.49 plus tax for a refill. With a souvenir cup you get a percentage discount on some other drinks in the park. As mentioned above, you can get discounted tea, soda, and cider refills in the Wizarding World. Outside of Wizarding World, discounts are also available for scratch cards and ice cream.
So we bet you're now wondering, "Well, can I get the same discount with one of the souvenir mugs?" Yes you can. You get five scoops of lemon marmalade and the same fee as the pint of butterbeer.
If you're looking for an upscale cold drink, head to a stand that sells Icees. You can refill your entire glass with a blue or red Icee for a dollar off the regular price.
Do I have to pay for water?
No - you don't have to pay anything for water refills, so this is a great way to save money and really get your body hydrated. You can refill water for free at most beverage carts and kiosks, in all restaurants, and at any of the park's dozens of water fountains—and you even get free water refillswith any cupin Coke Freestyle machines.
Keep in mind that you get so-called "tap water", not bottled water, but on a hot day it will taste really good.
Can I use my Coke Freestyle mug for $1.49 refills?
You may be wondering if you can use a glass of Coke Freestyle for $1.49; Finally, we said that a good rule of thumb is that if you paid more than $8.99 for your soda glass, you can use that for discounted refills.
The answer is yes, you can. (For those who have dealt with this issue in the past, please note that this is a more recent change.)
Can I get "flavored" popcorn at a discount?
Universal also sells flavored popcorn, like caramel and cheddar, at spots in the parks, but if you want to indulge in the flavor, you'll have to pay full price.
Can I use souvenir popcorn buckets and cups purchased at one theme park at another?
Does Volcano Bay offer refill packs?
Universal's water theme park features its own refillable cup and also has places to refill your popcorn. However, it should be noted that aUniversal Studios Floridaoradventure islandsrefillable cup can work in itvolcano bay, or the other way around.
Can I top up credit at CityWalk or local hotels?
However, there are no discounted popcorn refills at CityWalk and no discounted soda or popcorn refills at Universal's.Hotels. It's worth noting that some of the newer hotels have their own soda refill programs, but their cups are only valid for use at the hotel where they were purchased and don't work for discounts anywhere at Universal or CityWalk parks.
What if I need a new straw or lid?
Universal replaces straws and lids free of charge. Just ask at a participating food kiosk.
Are the cups and buckets dishwasher safe?
It depends. The Tumbler Keepsake Cups are certainly dishwasher safe (top rack only), but every other cup seems hit and miss; For example, we've washed the Butterbeer tankard and popcorn bucket multiple times in our dishwasher, but other fans have had melting experiences. So if you want to be on the safe side, hand wash these items.
Coca-Cola Freestyle no Universal Orlando
The Coke Freestyle program, like the classic Soda Cup program above, is pretty simple at first — but as you start to dig into the details, it gets a little sticky. So let's talk about what exactly Coke Freestyle is, how Universal's refill program works, and how it compares to the classic souvenir cup program.
First, what is Coca-Cola Freestyle? Basically, Coca-Cola designed a super soda machine, filled it with dozens of drinks, reduced the spouts to a single dispenser, and provided itOfFull control to fill your glass however you like.
The machines are very easy to use: insert the glass, slide it back when you want ice, then make your drink selections via the touch screen and use your magic to create the perfect drink pairing. Here is a little video:
The Coke Freestyle refill program offers different price points. If you want to buy one, it will cost you $16.99 plus tax. If you buy two, it's $15.99 each plus tax. Finally, if you want to buy three through six, it will cost you $13.99 each plus tax. All glasses must be purchased at once to receive the discount. No matter how many mugs you buy, the mug(s) entitles you to itBuchRefills at any Coke Freestyle station at any of the three parks for the day. If you already have a cup, additional days are $8.99 plus tax.
You must be wondering what you can spend on one of these Freestyle Coke machines. Well, believe it or not, there are just too many options to list here, but you can explore them all belowPage Cola Freestyle.
Now it's time to return to the Tervis-style souvenir mugs of yore. Remember how we said they could also be used as Freestyle Coke cups? Well, they can, but with one important caveat - it costs you $8.99 to activate the top-up option not only on each subsequent day, but also on the first.
(Note: Coke Freestyle is available duringHalloween Horror Nightssince 2015.)
There are Coke Freestyle stations at many locations in Universal Studios Florida (USF), Islands of Adventure (IOA), Volcano Bay (VB) and more recently CityWalk (CW):
- USF-Louie's Italian restaurant(fast food restaurant in NYC)
- USF-Drive-in da Mel(fast food restaurant in Hollywood)
- USF-Crepes from Central Park(Fast food stand across from Mel's Drive-In)
- USF-Richter's Burger Co.(fast food restaurant in San Francisco)
- USF-San Francisco Pastry Company(fast food restaurant in San Francisco)
- USF - Coca-Cola Refresh Shop (store opposite Men in Black Alien Attack)
- USF – ICEE Stand (Food Stand in Front of Men in Black Alien Attack)
- USF-KidZone Pizza Co.(Outdoor Fast Food Restaurant in Woody Woodpecker's KidZone)
- IOA – Lemon Slush (stand opposite Confisco Grille)
- IOA -Cartoon-Café(Schnellrestaurant in Toon Lagoon)
- IOA -There Dig-Burger(fast food restaurant in Jurassic Park)
- IOA -Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-Pendous(Fast food restaurant at Seuss Landing)
- IOA -Elk juice, goose juice(outdoor fast food restaurant at Seuss Landing)
- IOA -Doc Sugrues Desert Kebab House(outdoor fast food restaurant in the lost continent)
- IOA -Captain America Diner(Fast Food Restaurant on Marvel Super Hero Island)
- IOA – Cotton Candy (stand in front of Café 4)
- IOA -the water cooler(outdoor bar in Jurassic Park)
- IOA - Bone Chillin' Beverages (opposite Thunder Falls Terrace)
- IOA -Raubpizza(outdoor fast food restaurant in Jurassic Park)
- VB-Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club(fast food restaurant in Wave Village)
- VB-eat hydrate(Fast food restaurant in River Village)
- VB-Bamboo(Fast food restaurant in Rainforest Village)
- CW – Coca-Cola-Stand, nahRote Forno Pizzeria
In addition to the restaurants, Universal has significantly expanded its Coke Freestyle locations since the program began in 2012, and you can now find standalone stations throughout the parks, like these at the Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure and Seuss Landing:
There is one nearby at Universal Studios FloridaMen in Black: Alien Attackand just before both sides of London. In Islands of Adventure there is also one at the end of the Port of Entry on the Dinner Reservation Car and Cool Bones in Jurassic Park.
Please note that there are no Coke Freestyle stations in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley).The Simpsons's Fast Food Blvd or any of Universal's full service restaurants. Additionally, none of Universal Coke's hotels have freestyle machines affiliated with the In-Park Refueling Program. But beyond those areas, it's never too far from the nearest Coke Freestyle station as you stroll through the parks.
Frequently asked questions about the Coke Freestyle program
Now that you know the basics of Universal Orlando's Coke Freestyle program, you might have noticed some differences between it and the classic refillable souvenir cup program. Let's get to the questions...
Can I really only use the Coke Freestyle Cup during the day?
Yes and no.
We say yes because Coke Freestyle cups can only be used on the day you buy them for free refills at Coke Freestyle stations. Universal can track this because each cup contains an RFID chip (RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification). The first time you use your cup, the Freestyle Coke Station will record that day's use via the RFID chip. If you come back a few days later with the same mug, the post office will read the chip, check if it's expired, and won't give out what you want.
We say no because you have the option to purchase additional days of access to Coke Freestyle at the discounted price of $8.99 plus tax. (Note: days do not have to be consecutive.)
Are refills really free?
If you use Coke Freestyle stations, yes they are. Unlike the classic souvenir soda cup program where you pay $1.49 for a refill, Coke Freestyle cups give you unlimited refills at no additional cost. Even better, you don't have to wait for a member of the Universal team to fill your cup - just go to any Coke Freestyle station and do it yourself!
Are Coca-Cola Freestyle queues too long?
It can be sometimes. Interestingly, given the benefits of this program and the freedom of the Coke Freestyle concept, these tumblers weren't very popular to begin with - but you'd better believe that over the years, customers have taken notice of Freestyle refills, and they're enjoying them always more.
Our best advice is to avoid refills around lunch or dinner, as there will certainly be queues at most if not all stations.
I don't care about the "freestyle" part - I just want my Diet Coke neat. Should I skip Coke Freestyle?
Just because you have a Coke Freestyle mug doesn't mean you have to go crazy with your drinks - you can use the machine however you like. So if that means you just want to drink one product without mixing anything else, you're free to do so. The advantages explained above remain the same.
Since I fill my Coke Freestyle mug myself, can I buy one and fill my friends' plastic cups all day?
The machines track when you fill your cup and once the refill is complete you have to wait 10 minutes before you can use any of the machines again.
Once the 10 minutes are up, you can get another free top-up. So if your party is willing to wait 10 minutes for a recharge, we'll assume you can share. But we don't know how long you really want to stay in the restaurants.
If refills are free, why should I buy the classic souvenir lemonade cup?
There are two major trade-offs with the Coke Freestyle program:
- To use the Cup for multiple days, you must repurchase access for each additional day for $8.99
- Replenishment is only available at Coke Freestyle machines (several stations per park, but none at hotels eligible for use with the In-Park program)
If you buy the classic souvenir soda cup, you might have to pay $1.49 per refill, but…
- You can use your mug for several days (or years until Universal changes the policy).
- You can use it at over 50 locations throughout the parks and CityWalk, including full-service restaurants.
- Can be used for discounts on various beverage options - Soda, Iced Tea, Slushies, Icees, Cider etc - but not Coke Freestyle machines
And that, our friends, outlines the main decision you'll have to make between programs. At Coke Freestyle you don't have to pay for refills and you can mix the perfect drink with their modern machines. But their top-up spots aren't very numerous, and you only get a day's worth of top-ups on your first purchase. The classic souvenir cup program requires you to pay for individual refills, but you can get these refills at a discount pretty much anywhere in the parks and CityWalk, and you can use the cups forever (again, until Universal changes policies).
Rechargeable Programs at Universal Orlando - Graduation
Whether you visit Universal Orlando's theme parks once or multiple times year after year, rechargeable programs can be a great deal. Should you really be drinking all that soda and eating all that popcorn? Well, that's a discussion to have when you get home from vacation!
Reusable cups and popcorn buckets at Universal - photo gallery
Click on any image to view it full screen. When full screen is open, right click to scroll through the gallery.
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