Something Free At Walt Disney World & Disneyland? Of Course It Couldn’t Last…

People always say you never get anything of substance for free at Disney parks. And you really don’t. I mean, even their free dining program isn’t truly “free” – you’re paying it via some other avenue. So when Disney started selling Fuel Rods, the “first reusable, portable charging system allowing you to charge mobile devices on the go & recharge or swap for a fresh one instantly,” and offered free swapping, I was skeptical.

At first I thought the idea was dumb, simply because of, among other things, the price point of the Fuel Rods themselves (they were 50% more expensive than anywhere else they were available), the lack of swapping ability outside of Disney, and what a crappy charge the Fuel Rods gave your phone. Wow, did I get a lot of flack for that from hardcore Disney fans, LOL!

About 6 months later, I re-examined the whole Fuel Rod thing and one new thing stood out – there were admittedly many more kiosks around, particularly at theme parks, which meant there were more places to switch out. I still thought there were much better portable rechargers out there, but agreed they were OK during specific circumstances.

Then things started getting ugly…

Late last year, Fuel Rods started charging for battery swaps, which they weren’t doing before. They had been free, and now they weren’t. People (obviously) noticed.

And people (obviously) were NOT happy.

The odd thing was Fuel Rods were saying, between the lines, it was a business decision so they could stay in business. But not long afterwards, they were saying the sudden charges for swaps were at the property-owner’s discretion.

In a short matter of time, although the swaps at Disney parks remained free, all other locations had to pay a fee to swap out their Fuel Rods. It started as $1 but in a few months was up to $3 per swap.

In September, although the swaps remained free at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, a few eagle-eyed Disney fans noticed that the “free unlimited swapping” graphic had been removed.

And now, as per TMR Tours, signs have been quietly placed on the Disney parks Fuel Rod’s kiosks say that they will be charging for Fuel Rod swaps, effective November 1, 2019.

Because of course they will.

The cost will be $3 per swap.

It makes you wonder – is this sudden change because Fuel Rods needs the money to stay in business? Is it because Disney (who already charges $30 for Fuel Rods, as opposed to $22 everywhere else) wants to get in on grabbing more money? Is it a little of both? Either way, I’m going back to my original statement about Fuel Rods – I don’t recommend them.

What did you think of Fuel Rods before this news? What do you think of them now?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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