Universal Studios is chipping their soda cups to limit refills

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/11/huxleyed-into-orwell.html


I knew that there was a reason that I haven’t gone to see a picture show since 2009.


I’m sorry Dave, I afraid can’t refill that.


Hey, that’s nothing! I’ve been chipping mugs for decades. I’ve been cracking mugs too!


To me this is a plus. Honestly no one should be drinking sugary carbonated drinks or their diet counterparts. I hope this has the unintended consequence of less soda being sold.


To be accurate, you can still drink soda all day. You just can’t refill it all day.

The idea of someone walking around all day perpetually refilling their soda cup makes me sad. It should be something better than soda.


it’s really petty especially considering the cost of the hotel, but really, does anyone expect that free refills mean unlimited free refills long after the meal when you bought the first one? (it says after 2 hours). I mean you do that sort of thing as a teenager, filling a water cup with soda, filling your own cup you brought in or whatever, but no one actually believes it’s technically allowed… I mean yeah i get it, it’s petty, but they’re probably doing your blood a favor.


All of them do make you feel nickel & dimed, that is true. I will argue that Disney World for all of that still delivers a worthwhile experience staying inside the park at one of the resorts, despite the exorbitant cost.

Places like Universal though really are better staying off site and getting park passes.

Additionally, when it comes to this “unlimited soda refills”…which is it? Are we against unlimited soda because it is so damn unhealthy and bad for folks….or are we against anyone limiting it because “freedom to destroy one’s self” is paramount?


Disney’s been ‘chipping’ their refillable cups for years, but they are endlessly refillable with any liquid (coffee, water, soda, tea) at your resort for the length of your stay, so you can’t keep bringing your refillable cups year after year.

The Universal parks are rather desperate to get your money, with hawkers selling you stuff all along the entrance route (which is literally a mall) and as you go inside. And when you get your tickets, you’re offered an upcharge to jump the line.


I’d love to see the numbers on this, how can it possibly be cheaper to deploy an RFID system than to just let the syrupy water flow?


So, bring a flask or a thermos or a Camelback. How much sugar water does one need?


Why not just inject the park attendees with diabetes when they first enter the park?

Sugar addiction fix every 20 feet it looks like… more Coke dispensers than water fountains. What a lovely place to not visit.


Disney World (Orlando) also has RFID stickers at the bottom of their disposable soda cups that work similar to the ones at Universal.

  • You get a limited number of refills (on the disposable cups)
  • The cup expires after a certain amount of time from purchase. They scan your cup when you pay for it to start the timer.
  • Each refill will only dispense a certain volume of liquid

Last time I was there, the chip readers were only on the soda machines, not coffee/water/hot cocoa.

Disney also sells non-disposable cups with embedded RFIDs. They work a little differently. You choose/pay for how many days of refilling you want, or you can choose for the length of your stay (which I believe sets the timeout at 2-weeks).


Buy one drink to get one cup with a valid chip in it. Rip out the chip. Hold the chip near the soda fountain to get refills for everybody.


Eventually, some libertarian chap is going to film someone with gallon jugs snuck into the restaurant filling them up and stashing them in a backpack.

The film will be captioned “HERO”.

They won’t be the hero we asked for, but they’ll be the hero we deserve.


Yeh, it’s kinda weird, because it is creepy and cheap on the part of the expensive resort, and yet it is hard to feel that folks who just want to drink endless free refills of soda are being terribly wronged.


Hmm. It can’t be a complicated system. A cheap passive RFID with a unique serial number for each cup. On payment, back in their database they activate the serial number with a timestamp. On refill attempts, they check the current time against the timestamp.

If I did go to Universal Studios, it’d be my holy mission to bypass their system and get unlimited refills, even if I didn’t want any refills.


True, like Universal, they’re trying to keep the cups inside food locations, rather than have people buy a huge paper cup in the morning and carry it around all day, sneaking free refills. And as you say, the RFID stickers keep them from overflowing. I mean, if someone feels strongly enough about getting sugar water than they want to game the system and Break The Bonds of Servitude to fill their cup with more soda, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard… but why?




The syrup must flow. Deploy the spoofers…