The Complete Zero-Waste Guide to Dining and Drinking at the Walt Disney World Resort

The Complete Zero-Waste Guide to Dining and Drinking at the Walt Disney World Resort
Disney Parks Drinking Around the World Snacking Around the World Zero Waste Wandering

Last updated: July 7, 2020.
This guide was written prior to the COVID-19 Park closures and we’re working to get the information updates as soon as possible.
Keep checking back for the latest, and thanks for checking us out!

While we strive to keep this information as up-to-date as possible, Disney changes things constantly.
If something needs updating, let us know in the comments below or by contacting us.

This post is just one part of our Complete Guide to a Fully Sustainable, Zero-Waste Walt Disney World Vacation where we cover all aspects of visiting WDW with zero-waste in mind.

Eating and drinking in Walt Disney World is a magical experience; From booze to Mickey-shaped snacks, we’ll show you how to enjoy it all and cut out the waste. We’ll even make sure you’ll stay hydrated in the hot Florida sun. It does take a little bit of planning, but with the right tools and knowledge, you’ll go from zero to zero-waste hero in no time flat!

Disney and Food Safety

If you’re already living life with zero-waste, then you’re used to bringing your own containers to cafes and coffee shops and asking them to put food in it for you in an effort to eliminate disposable takeout containers. Unfortunately, Disney has a strict set of internal food safety requirements that hinder certain things like this.

For example: you may bring a travel tumbler to your local Starbucks and they’ll put coffee in it, no problem… but don’t expect this to happen at the Disney-owned Starbucks stores in the parks (don’t worry, we give you tips on getting your caffeine in a section below).

Disney’s rule is: once an item is placed on a table, it’s considered contaminated. So a server puts a wrapped straw down in front of you – if you ask them to re-use it for someone else, they can’t. The same goes for items placed over a counter – if you try to hand a cast member your container and ask that they put the food directly into it, they won’t be able to. This is actually an FDA regulated issue (3-304.17, section A of the Public Health Code), so don’t expect it to happen, no matter how hard you beg.

Even though the FDA does allow beverage containers to be filled, Disney-owned locations still won’t accept them for filling (we have a list of locations where you can do this, below). We understand that Disney has some fairly paranoid lawyers (perhaps rightfully so?) that have set these internal standards in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits of guests blaming Disney’s food for their health issues.

Eating

By the time you get to Orlando, you should have an idea of where you plan to eat and hopefully have some advanced dining reservations set up. If not, check out our page on Everything You Need to Know About Planning a Zero-Waste Walt Disney World Vacation where we talk about things like how to find vegan meals and deciding if the Disney Dining Plan is right for you.

In this section, we’ll focus more on zero-waste dining tips and hacks to make the most of your meals.

Table Service Meals

From a zero-waste point of view, table service meals (one’s where you are seated and a server takes your order then brings you food), as well as buffet-style meals, are fairly safe. Food is served on real plates with glasses and stainless steel utensils. This also includes any lounge that serves food (ex: Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto). Best of all, most locations even use cloth napkins, too! 

Rose-shaped cloth napkins during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

You may find an occasional disposable plastic ramekin used for sauces and dressings, but it seems like they’re being phased out. Scope out other tables on your way in and if you see any, just ask your server to put the sauce on a small plate or bowl instead. 

A fan of locally sourced eats? Disney grows 30 tons of fruits and vegetables every year in Epcot’s The Land pavilion that are served in restaurants around the Resort!

Disney has already made the switch from plastic straws to paper straws, but if you don’t feel the need for one, or want to use your own, just let your server know before they put it on the table. If you’ve read the above section about Disney and food safety, you’ll know that they have fairly strict rules for things like this.

The same goes for kids’ drinks: servers will typically bring a disposable paper or plastic cup with a straw for children right away. Get ahead of this by letting the server know that you don’t need one (assuming you’ve brought your own sippy cup or they’re old enough not to need one). Just order a drink in a regular glass for them and transfer to their sippy cup, if needed. Find more tips like this in our post about Zero-Waste with Babies and Kids at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Pro-Tip: Looking for a bite without a reservation? Seek out restaurants that have an attached bar or lounge area. You sit here and order off the full menu with all items served on real dishes! Try Rose and Crown in Epcot or Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Our first course at Epcot’s Garden Grill.

You may see other things like a bread basket lined with a sheet of paper, a cocktail napkin placed under your drink, or a bamboo toothpicks marked “allergy” stuck into certain foods if you mention a food allergy (they sometimes do this for vegan items as well). We give these types of things a pass as they’re done for “safety”. Assumably, these items are taken to Harvest Power for anaerobic digestion along with food scraps.

Something to be aware of, though it’s beyond your control, is a term we’ve coined called surprise plastic. We’ve been recipients of surprise plastic in the form of packaged vegan cookies (the same Enjoy Life Foods brand cookies you can find in stores) at The Garden Grill and Hollywood & Vine. We’ve noticed that servers and chefs will do things like this to go above and beyond if they feel like your dietary restriction limits what you’re able to eat at a buffet or family-style restaurant. We actually appreciate these thoughtful touches – so if this happens to you, our advice would be to just roll with it. The effort you make beyond this is lightyears ahead of the wasteful and selfish behavior we’ve seen from others. 

Quick Service Meals

The real struggle for zero-waste Disney fans will be evident during quick service dining (also called counter service or fast-casual). With the exception of a handful of locations (see complete list below), all Disney quick service spots use disposable plates, cups, cutlery, etc. This is one of the reasons we never leave the hotel without our trusty spork and containers.

Minimizing our waste at Sunshine Seasons

The one redeeming thing we’ve seen lately is the move away from plastic plates and bowls, and more towards kraft paper boats, though this isn’t the case everywhere. If you do see items being served in plastic, ask if they are able to use paper instead (the lesser of two evils) – we’ve had varying degrees of success with this tactic, so it’s worth a try.

We assume that leftovers and paper served at counter service locations are not included in the Harvest Power anaerobic digestion program since they’re disposed of into trash cans mixed with non-organic items.

Kids’ meals should be avoided as they almost always come with a packaged side item (ex: carrot sticks, apple slices, or yogurt. You can find a single, unpackaged mandarin orange in some locations, though) and a packaged drink (ex: bottled water, juice box, or container of milk). There’s usually only a small discount (less than one dollar) to forgo these zero-waste fails, so our advice would be to ditch the kids’ meal altogether and either order a normal entree portion (take leftovers with you in your container) or aim for the food locations that have toppings bars (see our list below) in order to stretch out the amount of food you get to extend to your little one. For more tips on traveling Zero-Waste with Babies and Kids at the Walt Disney World Resort, check out our separate post.

Locations That Don’t Use Disposables

Our Satu’li Canteen meal served in a reusable bowl (dressing on it to avoid a plastic ramekin)

As mentioned above, Disney has a handful of quick-service dining locations that serve food on reusables like plates and bowls. These places still serve beverages in disposable paper and plastic cups though, so see our tips on beating this in a section below. You’ll also see sauce and dressing served in disposable ramekins in most locations. You can request that these items be put directly on your food, a separate plate, or a bowl, instead of on the side – though this is hit-or-miss.

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
    • Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Salads are served in real bowls but most items are served on a metal tray lined with deli-paper. Sides use kraft-paper bowls.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • ABC Commissary: breakfast and dinner only – lunch still uses disposables.
    • Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo: this Star Wars-themed location used to have cool alien-looking stainless steel sporks – but too many people stole them. Now they just use regular silverware – way to ruin it for us, people!
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Disney Springs

    A lovely Blaze pizza, just for me!

    • Wolfgang Puck Express
    • Blaze Pizza: Pizzas are served on metal plates with a sheet of deli-paper)
    • Polite Pig: Salads are served in real bowls but most items are served on a metal tray lined with deli-paper. Sides use kraft-paper bowls.
  • Disney Resort Hotels – let the cast member taking your order know that you’d like to be served on real dishes for dine-in. Note that ordering using the mobile app at these locations will default to takeaway packaging.

Locations With A Toppings Bar

Behold: the toppings bar!

Besides frequenting the dining spots with reusables, we also aim for ones with toppings bars (sometimes called fixin’s bars). Even though these items serve on disposable plates, you have the opportunity to load up (and up and up…) on toppings without extra waste, a trade-off we’re often willing to take. You’re essentially able to turn one meal into two (or more??) using this strategy, so the next time you’re at one of these places, go HAM!

  • Magic Kingdom
    • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe: Bill’s bar has enough items and Tex-Mex fixin’s that we consider it more of a salad bar than a toppings bar.
    • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café: Thank the space angels, grilled mushrooms and fried onion chips stand out among other fresh toppings here.
    • Casey’s Corner: Casey’s makes the list for its complete assortment of hot dog toppings like sauerkraut, relish, and onions.
  • Epcot
    • La Cantina de San Angel: We give this spot an honorable mention for it’s two flavorful salsas on tap: a mild salsa verde and a hot salsa chipotle. Food hack: these salsas go great on soft pretzels too. Just walk one over from Future World or the Germany pavilion and load up!
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • Restaurantosaurus: We love this Dinoland spot for lunch or dinner because of its fixin’s bar touted as a premium topping bar – turn a boring burger into a premium meal with toppings like sauteed onions, diced tomatoes, and fresh arugula.
  • Disney Resort Hotels
    • Picabu in the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort: Picabu not only serves on reusables, but they also have a huge specialty salsa bar. Even more, they’re one of the only 24-hour food spots on Disney property, a prime choice after a long night of drinking in Epcot or on the BoardWalk.

Pro-Tip: Pile the toppings high on the plate they give you or use your own container at the toppings bars to cut down on unnecessary waste!

Before and after attacking the toppings bar at Restaurantosaurus

Snacks

Disney snacks, where Millenials get most of their content for Instagram posts. Short of packing your own to get you through the day, Disney does offer some decent options for snacks and some of these even qualify as such on the Disney Dining Plan. If you can get off-property though, try Bulk Nation, Lucky’s Market, Sprouts, or Whole Foods for BYO container bulk snack shopping.

Bulk Candy

(Confirmed – bulk candy is available during COVID re-opening period) Did you know that Disney has bulk candy for sale!? You can find small, loose candy like jelly beans, M&M’s, gummy bears, chocolate covered almonds and more in Goofy’s Candy Co. kiosks throughout the parks and in Disney Springs. Just load up and have your items weighed at the cash register. Prices range from $12.99 – $17.99/lb depending on the location.

The wall-o-candy

There is one small caveat: Disney only offers disposable plastic bags for filling. We have a solution though! Certain locations will have a bakery counter nearby which will (if you ask politely) give you a paper bag (paper being the lesser of two evils here) to use at the bulk bins.

You are also free to use your own container but they will not tare (subtract the weight of the empty container). Keep that in mind before you go that route as our empty X-Seal & Go containers weigh about 0.2 lbs… that’s an extra ~$3 per purchase – ouch!).

Here’s a complete listing of these Goofy’s Candy Co. bulk candy kiosks:

Fill ‘er up!

A look at the Main Street Confectionary in the COVID re-opening period

Package-Free Snack Options

Besides the bulk candy, you can find a few other package-free snack options readily available in Walt Disney World. Most of these even qualify as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan.

  • Fresh Fruit: Expect to find bananas and oranges most abundantly. Apples are always plastic-wrapped for “safety” (though we’ve started to see some unwrapped – we’re still investigating this!). Be aware that fruit and vegetable choices available as side options on quick-service kids’ menus (such as apple slices and grapes) almost always come packaged – be sure to ask if you’re not sure.

    Zero-waste ice cream from Ample Hills on Disney’s BoardWalk

  • Ice Cream Cone: Skip the bagged Mickey bars and go for the real deal: ice cream in a cone. Disney is really starting to bank on these treats with imaginative flavors, designs, and a growing number of vegan options. Some cones will come with a paper wrap (again, food safety) but if the scooper is wearing gloves, there’s no need for it. Assuming the paper wrap isn’t already on the cone, feel free to ask for it without the wrap. Some shops like Ample Hills Creamery will also attempt to put your cone in a disposable plastic holder – be sure to intercept this when ordering.
  • Popcorn: While WDW’s popcorn flavors aren’t as varied and weird as Tokyo Disneyland’s, the Orlando parks do offer refillable popcorn buckets for $10 with refills for only $2. These buckets are technically only refillable for the length of your visit but we haven’t heard of a refill being denied. Though we try to discourage purchasing new things – if you’re a popcorn fanatic, plan on getting lots of mileage from your bucket, and don’t mind lugging it around, then it may be worth the investment. They also have pretty high re-purpose potential at home as a decorative item, planter, desk accessory, etc.
  • Self-Service Bakery Items: Most Disney resorts will have a cafeteria-style quick-service dining location that offers a self-service bakery display filled with baked treats like cookies and cinnamon rolls. At breakfast, you’ll also find bagels as well. These items are in an open display with tongs or deli-paper available to grab and go – just use your container as a plate instead of wasting a disposable one. Similar self-service kiosks with Dunkin’ Donuts items can be found at the three Speedway gas stations on Walt Disney World property. These Speedways also come in handy for cheap zero-waste coffee and soft drinks – we talk more about this in the section about drinking, below.

Low-Waste Snack Options

Sometimes trash can’t be avoided. In the case of certain snacks in Disney, we make some compromises as a way of treating ourselves (living zero-waste outside of Disney gives us a good excuse and karma points in this field). For those that are waste-conscious but still want to have some fun, we’ve come up with a list of items that are minimally packaged and plastic-free.

  • Soft Pretzel: Find these in a variety of stands and shops, often Mickey-shaped. Only a sheet of deli-paper is used to hand you these soft strips of doughy vegan goodness. The pretzel usually includes a disposable plastic cup of (plastic-y) nacho cheese, just let the cast member know you’ll have it without the cheese sauce (sadly there’s no price break for this). Mustard can be found on tap in most quick-service locations – just squirt it directly on or fill up your travel container.
  • Churro: These sweet treats can usually be found in the same stands as the soft pretzels and come in a deli-paper or paper sleeve (which have seen some pretty creative designs lately). Similar to the pretzels, these will sometimes come with a dipping sauce in a plastic container – be sure to let them know you won’t need one when you order.
  • Popcorn: If you didn’t spring for the refillable bucket, popcorn in the parks comes in a paper box, not the worst thing in the World.
  • An example of a bakery display

    Baked Goods: Bakery display counters can be found in a variety of merchandise and foodservice locations around Walt Disney World. You’ll find a wide variety of baked snacks like brownies and donuts as well as sweets like candy apples, fudge, chocolate-covered fruit, and more.

    These items are loose in the display case, but the cast member will put them onto a plate, paper bag, or box, depending on the item or location. Candy apples are sometimes placed into plastic clamshells as well. Get ahead of this when you order by asking the cast member to hand it to you in just the wax paper deli-sheet they used to pick it up with.

    Be sure to check out Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, a vegan bakery in Disney Springs that may make all your sweet dreams come true!

Drinking

Ah yes, drinking. Whether for hydration or to have a good time, everyone needs to drink. Follow this guide and you can do it all without ever having to visit Disney’s used paper cup exhibit

Ohh! It’s a used paper cup exhibit. Boy, these Disney people are always on the cutting edge! Image ©Disney/Muppet Studios

Water

Free water in the waiting area of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

As long as you’re armed with a bottle or tumbler (you can even re-use a plastic water/soda bottle), finding fresh, filtered water is only a few steps away. If you’re OK drinking from water fountains, you’ll find even more opportunity to hydrate. Fountains are outside of every restroom and in dozens of other spots. For some, the taste of Florida tap water may take some getting used – if you’re sensitive to it, you can carry a LifeStraw which may improve the taste (we see this as a win if it gets you to drink more tap water and less bottled water). Disney also seems to now be making an effort to add bottle filling water fountains around the resort. You’ll find a complete list of these just below.

If you’ve read our above sections about Disney and food safety, you’ll know that asking a quick-service dining location to fill your own cup with water will end in disappointment. Instead, they’ll hand you a cup of ice water in a disposable cup.

Locations With Filtered Water On Tap

The water lever is on the same spigot as the lemonade in this fountain – you might even get some bonus lemon-y flavor!

Filtered water can be found on all self-service soda fountains – just look for the “water” lever (if it doesn’t have its own spigot, look for it attached to a non-carbonated drink’s dispenser). You don’t have to ask permission to use them or the ice dispenser, just walk up and fill up.

In our list, we also mention some bars were you can walk-up and just ask for a glass of water (specify it in a glass, to stay, so you don’t get a to-go cup) without a straw. If you’re in a hurry, dump the water into your bottle and head out – just be sure not to take the glass to-go.

From time-to-time, you’ll also see restaurants, hotel lobbies, and other areas put out large dispensers of ice water in the waiting areas. We notice these temporary stations set up on especially hot or crowded days. If you see a sign asking you not to fill personal bottles, just politely ask yourself: what’s the difference between refilling the disposable cup after using it and refilling a personal cup?

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
    • Sunshine Season has multiple soda fountains with water spigots.
    • Regal Eagle Smokehouse. This new dining venue has 2 sets of soda fountains each with water spigots.
    • The “Rose Walk” restrooms (by Refreshment Port, next to the temporary Starbucks) has a new bottle filling water fountain.
    • DVC Member Lounge has Coke freestyle machines. Access to this area is limited to DVC members and their guests only.

      Filling at a fountain may require as many as two hands

    • Baby Care Center near the Epcot Experience building has a water cooler available.
    • The Epcot Experience building has a bottle filling water fountain near the entrance closest to the Baby Care Center.
    • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Italy has a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water. Entry to the bar might be limited based on crowds.
    • Rose and Crown in the UK pavilion also has a walk-up bar.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Backlot Express has multiple soda fountains with water spigots.
    • Tune-In Lounge has a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water. You’ll usually also find a temporary water station in this area as well.
    • ABC Commissary has soda fountains with filtered water on tap.
    • Baseline Tap House has a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water.
    • The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge has a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water.
    • Find two brand new bottle filling fountains in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge:  one to the left of the Milk Stand (across from the restrooms) one in on the far end of the Market (to the left of the restrooms). The one in the market even has an interactive aspect to it that can be enhanced using the Disney Play mobile app.
      • You’ll also find bottle filling fountains inside Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: look for them at the end of the short hall just after exiting the ride vehicle. These can only be accessed after riding the attraction.
    • Baby Care Center by the park entrance has a water cooler available.
    • Outside the park, find bottle filling water fountains located near the bus stops as well as the restrooms of the Disney Skyliner building.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom

    Every Baby Care Center will have a water cooler available, similar to this one

    • Avatar Flight of Passage has a couple of bottle filling water fountains placed throughout the standby queue (none in the Fastpass queue). You’ll need to enter and (definitely wait) on the line for a bit before getting to one.
    • Na’vi River Journey also has similar bottle filling water fountains set up along the standby queue (none in the Fastpass queue).
    • Satu’li Canteen in Pandora has multiple soda fountains with water spigots. If the entrance directly to the dining area is closed, just walk through the mobile order line and continue back to the dining area, or let the cast member at the entrance know that you want to use the soda fountains.
    • Restaurantosaurus has soda fountains with water spigots located in both dining areas.
    • Nomad Lounge has a walk-up bar inside where you can order a glass of water.
    • Rainforest Cafe just outside the park’s entrance has a huge bar area where you can order a glass of water. Just let the host stand know that you’re looking for the bar.
    • Yak and Yeti Restaurant has a walk-up bar inside where you can order a glass of water. Just let the host stand know that you’re looking for the bar. Though seating is limited, you shouldn’t have an issue getting a bartender’s attention.

      Starbucks in Disney Springs will fill your bottle. The Starbucks inside the parks will not!

    • Baby Care Center near Creature Comforts (Starbucks) has a water cooler available.
    • Dawa Bar serves in plastic cups but typically has a water station set up on the far right side of the bar.
  • Disney Springs
    • D-Luxe Burger, Chicken Guy!, Polite Pig, and Blaze Pizza all have soda fountains with water spigots. Just walk straight into the dining areas for access.
    • Both Starbucks locations in Disney Springs will fill your bottle for you – just ask when ordering a drink or walk straight up to the pick-up counter and ask (unlike the ones in the parks, these Starbucks locations are corporate-owned and will indeed fill your own cup!) – UPDATE – Starbucks has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
    • AMC Disney Springs 24 has multiple Coke freestyle machines, but note that you’ll need a movie ticket to enter this area.
    • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar offers a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water.
    • Nearly every restaurant in Disney Springs (no need to name them all) also has a walk-up bar where you can order a glass of water.
  • Disney Resort Hotels
    • Every hotel’s quick-service dining location will have either a soda fountain with water spigots or Coke freestyle machine that dispenses ice and water.
    • Poolside bars will always serve in plastic, but all other lounges and bars will have a walk-up bar where they’ll serve you a glass of water without having to be seated.

Pro-Tip: If doing laps around Crescent Lake or heading to Epcot, stop by Hurricane Hanna’s Bar and Grill at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. They have soda fountains with water spigots set up right along the walkway by the beach!

Hydration station in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Skip the plastic and use your own bottle!

Coffee, Tea and Soft Drinks

Sometimes water won’t cut it and in those cases, a little sugar or caffeine may be required. In this section, we’ll walk you through how to get your fix of coffee, tea, soda and more without the waste of disposable cups.

Getting Your Caffeine Fix

Coffee is one of the three necessities for a Disney trip (the other two being clothing and a comfortable pair of shoes). Luckily, the resort has multiple coffee bars owned by Joffrey’s Coffe & Tea Company and not run by Disney. This is good news since these locations do indeed allow you to hand over your personal tumbler to be filled! – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.

Thank you King Joffrey!

The only exception is alcohol which they must serve in a clear, plastic cup for “liability” reasons. Find a complete list of all Joffrey’s locations on their website by clicking here. They even have a location in Disney Springs that makes fresh smoothies!

If you’re a Starbucks lover, you may be disappointed to find out that the Starbucks locations inside the Disney Parks are franchised stores and follow Disney’s “no personal cups over the counter” rule. That means that you can only get drinks served in disposables. The Starbucks in Disney Springs, however, are corporate-owned locations and will take your cup, no problem, just like every other Starbucks store in the real-world. UPDATE – Starbucks has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.

If you have a car on Disney property, stop into one of three Speedway gas stations located at the resort. Each location offers a self-serve Dunkin’ Donuts coffee bar with all of the normal flavor shots you’d find in a Dunkin’ store. If you don’t mind a 10-minute walk, the one by Disney Springs is also accessible on foot by walking across the bridge near the Bus Station at The Landing or through the Grapefruit Parking Garage.

Each Disney resort hotel will offer a quick-service location with self-serve coffee bars. You can use your personal tumbler here using the method mentioned in the section below. Note that most of these locations only offer dairy milk for coffee, but we’re seeing non-dairy options starting to pop-up more and more.

Non-dairy options like almond and vanilla soy can be found on the self-service coffee bar at Primo Piatto at Disney’s Riviera Resort

Where To Find Soft Drinks

Let’s talk about getting soft drinks while at the resort. As you may know, all Disney hotel quick-service locations sell refillable mugs that can be activated and used for up to 7 days during your trip. These mugs use a system called Rapid Fill which only dispense soda to activated mugs (using a fancy RFID technology). Unless you’re a real soda addict or have long term plans for the mug after your trip, we don’t recommend shelling out the ~$22 for it. The mugs are made from a cheap plastic that will not hold up as well as a stainless steel travel tumbler. We have started to see Disney sell insulated stainless options for an upcharge, but they don’t appear to be leakproof, so think twice before adding another item to your collection.

A typical self-service soda and tea station. No need to bother asking Johnny about it.

As an alternative approach to buying a mug, we seek out quick-service locations with a self-service drink station (we list them out for you below) and order a drink as normal – just let the cast member taking your order know that you’ll use your own cup. Skip the pick-up counter, or if ordering food too, let the person bringing your food at the counter know that you won’t need a cup for drinks (do this before they place the cup on the counter otherwise they may toss the cup out anyway).

This technique not only works for soda, but also for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate at hotel quick-service locations (these don’t use Rapid Fill). It may even work for soda fountains in hotels as the Rapid Fill stations have known to be shut off from time-to-time… but always try before you buy. As you know from our section about food safety above, Disney owned locations won’t allow a cast member to take your personal tumbler behind the counter to fill it.

We’ve had success doing this in multiple locations across the resort. Sometimes cast members may be confused (since they don’t see this often enough, sadly), but we let them know that we’ve done it before and it hasn’t been a problem. We’ve even had area managers been called over about it and approve it, but again, your mileage may vary. Just hold onto your receipt (which is printed automatically) in case you are questioned while filling your mug – which has yet to happen to us… but… just in case.

Another way to get your sugary fix, similar to what we mentioned in our section about water, is to walk into any bar or lounge and order your drink. Make sure to specify it in a glass, to stay, and without a straw. If you plan to take it to go, just transfer the drink into your own tumbler and hit the road (be careful that carbonated beverages don’t pop your lid open during shakey rides!).

Without further ado, here’s the complete list of Walt Disney World locations where you can get zero-waste soft drinks:

  • Magic Kingdom
    • Be Our Guest Restaurant has multiple soda fountains, tea, and coffee stations. Access is only allowed with a breakfast or lunch reservation. During dinner service, the fountains are closed to guests.

      The Joffrey’s Revive kiosk in Tomorrowland

    • Joffrey’s ReVive Kiosk in Tomorrowland offers coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. This location is not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
  • Epcot
    • Regal Eagle Smokehouse. This new dining venue has two soda fountains and iced tea stations.
    • Sunshine Season has two soda fountains, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee stations. We like this one because you can fill up before checking out, thus eliminating the potential confusion from cast members.
    • DVC Member Lounge has Coke freestyle machines. Access to this area is limited to DVC members and their guests.
    • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in Italy has a walk-up bar where you can order soft drinks. Entry to the bar might be limited based on crowds.
    • Rose and Crown in the UK pavilion has a walk-up bar with soft drinks.
    • An example of a Coke freestyle machine

      Joffrey’s operates four separate kiosks around the park (plus one just outside the gates) that offer coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. These locations are not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern. Find one just past the breezeway near Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, one by Disney Traders, one in The American Adventure pavilion (on the Italy side), and one on the path between the Canada and UK pavilions (near World Showplace). The one outside of the park gates is by the monorail station.

  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Backlot Express has multiple soda fountains, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee stations.
    • ABC Commissary also has a beverage station with soda, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee available.
    • Tune-In Lounge has a walk-up bar where you can order soft drinks.
    • Baseline Tap House has a walk-up bar with Blue Sky Black Cherry Soda or Wild Strawberry Lemonade, both on tap. You can even get free refills!
    • The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge has a walk-up bar with soft drinks and specialty mocktails.
    • Joffrey’s operates two separate kiosks at this park that offer coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. These locations are not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler. Find one just outside the exit to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the other to the left of the entrance to Pixar Place. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • Satu’li Canteen in Pandora has multiple soda fountains, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee stations.
    • Nomad Lounge has a walk-up bar with a variety of soft drinks.
    • Rainforest Cafe just outside the park’s entrance has a huge bar area with a variety of specialty soft drinks and smoothies. Just let the host stand know that you’re looking for the bar.
    • Yak and Yeti Restaurant has a walk-up bar inside where you can order soft drinks. Just let the host stand know that you’re looking for the bar. Seating is limited but getting the bartender’s attention should be easy.
    • Restaurantosaurus has soda fountains, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee stations located in both dining areas.

      This Joffrey’s kiosk is disguised as The Royal Anandapur Tea Company

    • The Royal Anandapur Tea Company (across from Yak & Yeti) offers coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. This location is owned by Joffrey’s and not Disney, so they’ll fill your personal tumbler. You can find another Joffrey’s stand just outside the park’s entrance (across from The Outpost Shop). – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
  • Disney Springs
    • D-Luxe Burger, Chicken Guy!, Polite Pig, and Blaze Pizza all have soda fountains with a variety of other soft drinks depending on the location.
    • Both Starbucks locations in Disney Springs will fill your travel tumbler for you – just hand it to them know when ordering (unlike the ones in the parks, these Starbucks locations are corporate-owned and will indeed fill your own cup!). UPDATE – Starbucks has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
    • Joffrey’s operates three separate locations in Disney Springs that offer coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. These locations are not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler– UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.Find a kiosk on the West Side (near the water fountain between the AMC Theater and Planet Hollywood), a storefront in The Landing to the left of Vivoli Il Gelato, and one in the Marketplace to the left of the stage.
    • Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar offers a full-service walk-up bar where you can order soft drinks. They even have a few specialty mocktails on the menu!
    • Nearly every table service restaurant in Disney Springs (no need to name them all) has a walk-up bar with a variety of soft drinks available.
  • Disney Resort Hotels

    Speedway’s self-service coffee bar

    • Contemporary Grounds in Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. This location is owned by Joffrey’s and not Disney, so they’ll fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
    • There’s a Joffrey’s Kiosk just steps from the Skyliner station at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort that offers coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. This location is owned by Joffrey’s and not Disney, so they’ll fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
    • Every hotel quick-service location will have tea, coffee, and hot chocolate available. Soda may be hit-or-miss depending on if the Rapid Fill system is turned on. See above for more info on this.
    • Poolside bars will always serve in plastic, but all other lounges and bars will have a walk-up bar where they’ll serve you soft drinks without having to be seated.
  • Water Parks
    • Blizzard Beach: Joffrey’s operates three separate locations in the park that offer coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. These locations are not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
    • Typhoon Lagoon: Joffrey’s operates two separate locations in the park that offer coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies. These locations are not Disney owned and will fill your personal tumbler. – UPDATE – Joffrey’s has temporarily paused accepting personal cups due to Cornovirus concern.
  • Speedway Gas Stations

Alcohol

Now that The Simpsons are officially part of the Disney family, we can use this quote:

Alcohol: the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems!
– Homer Simpson

It may not be for everyone, but many find adult beverages a nice way to unwind and escape from the vacation you’re on. Whether you’re drinking around the world or doing a bar crawl of the monorail resorts, we’re going to show you how to get your boozey bevs while partying through the parks.

Pro-Tip: Beer on tap, especially local brews, are the ultimate zero-waste alcoholic drink since empty kegs are returned for refilling. Look for “draft beers” on restaurant menus or ask your server which beers are on tap!

Ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da… TEQUILA!

If you haven’t read the above sections about Disney and food safety, take some time to go back and read through it. The same rules mentioned about Disney not being able to fill your personal tumbler or cup still apply here. When it comes to alcohol, Disney goes one step further and decrees that all alcoholic beverages served to-go in the parks must be dispensed into a clear cup, whether glass or plastic. Even if it comes from a bottle or can, it has to go into a clear cup. We’re not sure why this is – we speculate that it’s so the beverage can be identified by cast members and security in case an overindulgence issue arises.

Pro-Tip: Some specialty cocktails are served with glow cubes or plastic toothpicks for garnish. Be sure to let your server know that you don’t want one when you order. Unfortunately these items can’t be taken back for re-use once placed in your drink.

Disney also has a strict policy prohibiting alcohol from being brought into the parks according to their official rules so don’t even think about trying to smuggle some in via your tumbler or bottle – park security doesn’t sniff test each and every container but if you do try to go this route: do so at your own risk.

Bar Locations That Don’t Use Disposables

Enough with the pleasantries, here’s the list you’ve been waiting for: everywhere on Walt Disney World property where you can grab a cold one (or two) without the extra waste of a disposable cup. Combine this with our (probably frowned upon) hack of pouring the item into your own tumbler for on-the-go enjoyment.

  • Magic Kingdom
    • Magic Kingdom is a somewhat dry park. Beer, wine and wine-based cocktails are only served at table-service restaurants – all locations serve in reusables.
  • Epcot
    • All table-service restaurants offer a full bar menu in glassware when dining in.
    • La Cava Del Tequila. While this spot does offer a walk-up bar, it’s only for to-go orders, so you’ll get a plastic cup. You’ll need to grab a table with waiter/waitress service in order to get your drink in a real glass. Try our personal favorite, the jalapeño margarita!

      Beer on tap at the Rose and Crown

    • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar has a full walk-up bar stocked with a variety of Italian (and other) wines, beers, liquor, and specialty drinks. Entry to the bar might be limited based on crowds.
    • Spice Road Table offers a full walk-up bar. Just let the cast member at the podium know you’d like to order at the bar.
    • Rose and Crown in the UK pavilion has a walk-up bar with many delightful beers on tap and lots of liquor.
    • Note: some shops in Epcot offer bottles of wine for sale which can not be consumed in the park. They’re typically sealed in a box/bag and usually sent to the front gate to be picked up on your way out. Sadly, this service still uses disposable plastic bags for transporting items. For more information, read our post about Zero-Waste Shopping While at the Walt Disney World Resort.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios

    Look for bars with real glasses behind the bar like at Baseline Tap House. Be sure to ask for your drink in glass instead of plastic!

    • All table-service restaurants offer a full bar menu in glassware when dining in.
    • Tune-In Lounge offers a full walk-up bar including specialty boozy milkshakes!
    • Baseline Tap House is a walk-up bar with a huge variety of beers, ciders, wine and even cocktails on tap. Be sure to ask for your drink in a glass to-stay so you don’t get handed a plastic cup.
    • The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge has a fully stocked walk-up bar with an extensive cocktail list.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • All table-service restaurants offer a full bar menu in glassware when dining in.
    • Nomad Lounge has a fully stocked walk-up bar inside with excellent specialty cocktails.
    • Rainforest Cafe just outside the park’s entrance has a huge walk-up bar area with a variety of alcoholic beverages offered. Just ask at the host/hostess stand to be directed to the bar.
    • Yak and Yeti Restaurant has a walk-up bar just inside the entrance area with a variety of specialty drinks including boozy slushies. Just let the host/hostess stand know that you’re looking for the bar. Seating is limited but getting the bartender’s attention should be easy.
  • Disney Springs
    • All table-service restaurants offer a full bar menu in glassware when dining in.
    • Nearly every restaurant in Disney Springs (no need to name them all) has a walk-up bar, usually fully stocked. This also includes Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar and MacGUFFINS in the AMC Movie Theater.
      • Note: Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ offers a plastic, reusable 22-ounce “jumbo squeeze bottle” for $22 (includes your first drink). After that, you can get lifetime refills of any of their moonshine drinks on tap for just $12. If you’re a local or an annual passholder, this deal might work for you… but consider how often you plan to take advantage of it. The cup is a cheap plastic which likely won’t last more than a few years. In our opinion, it’s not worth the few dollars of savings you get for another hunk of plastic in the landfill.
    • Mickey’s Pantry sells bottles of wine. Note that these are technically not allowed to be consumed in Disney Springs unless you pay a corkage fee at certain restaurants.
  • Disney Resorts

    Trader Sam’s still uses plastic straws for some sad reason

    • All table-service restaurants offer a full bar menu in glassware when dining in.
    • Every hotel quick-service location and/or resort gift shop sells beer, wine, and a selection of liquor (usually in a cabinet behind the gift shop counter) in cans or glass bottles. It’s not ideal from a waste perspective but as long as it’s disposed of in the proper recycling bins, we are confident that Disney will make an effort to have these aluminum and glass items actually recycled.
    • Moderate and Deluxe level resorts have bars and lounges available for all your alcohol-in-a-glass-cup needs.
      • Note: Be wary of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. They still use plastic straws and plastic cocktail stirrers in certain drinks. Just remember to ask for your drink without them, no matter how much less Instagram-worthy they may be.
      • Pro-tip: Order a Lapu Lapu the next time you’re at Tambu Lounge in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. It’s a rum-based cocktail served in a hollowed pineapple! Just be sure to ask for it without a straw or decorative umbrella to ensure it’s the ideal zero-waste drink.
      • Sad news: Jellyrolls on Disney’s BoardWalk only serves drinks in plastic cups. You can order certain beers in a can or glass bottle without the cup, if you prefer. They do offer a refillable tumbler only for specialty drinks, but similar to the Homecomin’ one (see Disney Springs section above), our advice would be to skip it.
    • It’s worth noting that all poolside bars will serve in plastic cups, even if you stay at the bar to drink, due to safety concerns for broken glass and bare feet. If you’re OK with aluminum recycling, you can typically get beer in a can without a cup, just ask your bartender for it without a cup before they pour it. Otherwise, find options at other bars and lounges, as mentioned above.
  • Speedway Gas Stations

Wrap-Up

Now that you’re sufficiently hydrated (or the opposite), let’s go shopping! Take a look at our Zero-Waste Guide For Souvenir and Gift Shopping While at the Walt Disney World Resort.

This post is just one part of our Complete Guide to a Fully Sustainable, Zero-Waste Walt Disney World Vacation where we cover all aspects of visiting WDW with zero-waste in mind.

About Daniel

Curating a database of Disney locations from around the world - come #WanderDisney with me!