Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Cool Club Cups

Not so secret, secrets!

This is the first of a multipart series on secrets in the parks. Most of these are not secrets at all, but having traveled with children through the parks, we have discovered some wonderful little tid bits that you might enjoy that are not particularly well known. Here is part 1.

The Cool Club

When going to Epcot, everyone needs to take some time to stop at the Cool Club. Located behind Fountain View in Innovantions West, Cool Club is one of the last stops you can have before crossing over into the World Showcase. It is across from the main fountain and has two entrances. If you are bringing a stroller through, only the main entrance has a ramp. For parents with children who can walk, you might want to note that strollers might be very awkward in this location.

The Cool Club is sponsored by Coca Cola so you will notice plenty of Coca Cola merchandise along with an assorted array of American Idol swag as well. However, the real fun is the variety of soft drinks from around the globe. There are several vending stations providing little sampling cups for you to try out as many of these little gems as you wish. The beverages go from ultra sweet to “how can they possibly drink this stuff”. Its a great spot to cool off and its fun for the whole family.

In fact, here is a great little hint. The first thing you should do if you have any child that is in a stroller is to grab a stack of those little cups. They are the perfect size for little hands and you can spend the rest of the day filling them with little snacks. When you stop at a restaurant you can break up their nuggets and put little pieces in each cup and play little cup games. I know it sounds ridiculous, but you would be surprised how handy those little cups become throughout your stay. We usually get a bunch and store them in the bottom of the stroller for using at other parks during our stays.

Now for the secret. In the back of the store they sell souvenir cups that you can have filled with their slushy drink. This is not unique to Epcot. They sell souvenir cups at several parks that have slushy drinks like the Lunching Pad at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. However the Epcot cups are unique and can only be bought at the Cool Club. They come with interchangeable feet and hats. They feature Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Stitch, and “Princess”.

What makes these cups great is that they are slightly insulated and very rugged. If you get there on the right day they will have bendy straws as well. The cups are exactly 22 ounces and have a separate screw down top to prevent spills. With their hat in place, they are almost spill proof. Trust me, my kids have tried. The base of the cups are tapered and fit almost perfectly into all of the stroller cup holders we have tried. In fact they fit very tightly in to the tray’s cup holder for my child so there is little chance it will fall out even when bumped by unaware *cough* rude *cough* guests.

Even better, the feet come off and make a perfect bowl for snacks and are wide enough that they won’t easily fall out of the tray of a stroller. My children, especially the four year old” love this and will often prepare her cup to receive her drink and snack. If you are renting a Disney stroller, the bases of the Mickey, Stitch, and Goofy feet are wide enough that your child can set the cup down between his legs and it will be very stable for most strolling around the parks.

Since they are 22 ounces all regular soft drinks that you buy in the parks fit perfectly into the cups, and can also be refilled with water at any water fountain. So as you go around the park you can pour your drinks into these and know that you have a nice stable cup that will help keep those drinks just a little extra cool during the hot summer and warm spring days. Although they are not cheap, around $8 for them filled with a slushy, they are very reusable and the kids like to have them. It solves the “which drink is mine” debate that inevitably ensues if you have more than one, and helps you push fluids on those kids to keep them hydrated.

I have asked several Disney employees to dispense a soft drink directly into the cups, but due to food dispensing laws, they all refuse. Be aware, Disney is experimenting with some free refill stations in Hollywood Studios and Epcot, but as a rule there are no free or discount refills anywhere in the parks. When I say that these cups can be refilled, I mean that you can purchase a drink and use these cups instead of the paper cups.

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