This May Be The Worst Purchase You Can Make At Disney World

Our family loves Disney World.  It’s not cheap, but there are so many lasting memories to be made.  We’ve purchased $15 balloons, $18 souvenir mugs and a variety of other items our kids just had to have, while passing up on many more expensive “Disney must haves”.  As you’re busy creating memories, the smart phone battery is dying from all the pictures with princesses, heroes, villains and Mickey.  Being able to charge your phone while in the park is almost a given unless you’re taking pictures with a true camera.

I just saw an announcement that Disney World was going to be rolling out Fuel Rod kiosks in the parks.  In case you’re not familiar, these are kiosks where you can purchase a small, portable battery to recharge your smart phone.  Once you purchase the battery, you get unlimited free “swaps”, where you deposit your discharged battery in a machine and get a fully charged one back (you can also recharge yourself).  If the information (and pricing) is accurate, then it leads me to wonder whether the folks at Disney got played or are intentionally marking this up to obscene levels.  Fuel Rod doesn’t have an announcement on their website yet, so maybe all the details aren’t quite squared away.

I ran across Fuel Rod in a couple of airports last year.  I was definitely skeptical, but just kept walking past the kiosks, preferring the batteries I already carry.  I finally broke down and bought one, but should have stayed skeptical.  I paid $20 and ultimately arrived at the fact that there was no way the battery was worth it.  So, you’re paying a premium of the convenience of kiosk location, something that’s sorely lacking right now as I’ve only seen them in a handful of airports.

The announcement about the relationship with Disney World states that the price is $30.  I have to assume it’s the same size battery I paid $20 for (which is still the price Fuel Rod lists on their website).

If you’re looking for a battery the same size, you can just buy the Anker lipstick battery for $9.99 on Amazon, with free shipping.

Disney World

Heck, for $30 you can get an Anker battery that’s 3 times the size of the lipstick version.

You can read a detailed breakdown of a variety of battery sizes I’ve carried.

Giving You The Power

I’m hoping the $30 pricing is just misinformation.  I’m really hoping this info helps folks make a better decision here.  Even at $20, this is a bad price for a lackluster product.  Don’t sacrifice money for convenience you don’t really need.  Buy a good battery, charge it before you hop on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and spend the rest on one of those really expensive balloons.

Note: the Amazon links are referral links for me.  Yes, I earn a few pennies if you buy a battery through one of my links.  But, I won’t make nearly as much as you’ll save if you buy a real battery instead of a Fuel Rod.

14 Comments

  1. Ten or more years ago, I needed a new SD card at Disney World. I still remember the exorbitant price! But I too love Disney.

  2. If you fail to plan ahead, and your phone is dying after a ten hour day at WDW, then you either lose out on photo ops and the useful apps that help maximize your visit, or suck it up and pay the Disney price. We went there in February, and took a battery and charger with us. It was too easy to pop them and a few water bottles and snacks into the backpack before leaving the hotel. Had we not, we could very well have wound up paying whatever we needed to in order to keep our iPhones running; after all, it was our daughter’s first trip to WDW.

    1. Exactly! On a recent trip to DW we packed our Amazon-purchased battery but threw in the wrong charge cord. Aaaaaa! How grateful we were for this new service. (no phone – no photos) We swapped it out maybe a dozen times and it saved all four of our party from disaster. The only complaint I had was that more kiosks were needed – a problem they seem to be solving. A much better purchase than most park items! I’m a fan!

  3. I just paid $30 for one. But I’m an Annual Passholder and come often so a one time $30 investment and I can swap for new ones anytime we are here- which is sometimes 2-3 times a month. Sounds like a great deal to me

  4. I agree that it’s kind of expensive, you could buy and manage 3 Anker batteries for this price, but then you’ve got to juggle charging them all. It’s like going to a restaurant and saying this food would cost 1/3 the price at the supermarket. You’re paying for the service as much as anything.

    Fuel Rod had to design and build all of these kiosks. Not sure which, but the kiosks either have to have some innovative way of recharging the deposited batteries, or someone has to physically go and swap them out on a regular basis. Outside of Disney, they usually charge $20 for the battery. It seems reasonable that they pay something to Disney to put these kiosks into the parks, so Disney’s premium is the extra $10 per unit.

    The fact that you can swap these out all day is why I might try it out. Perhaps at first there aren’t a lot of kiosks, but as the concept proves itself, we’ve already seen an expansion to more locations… it could keep growing (both inside and outside of Disney). Not that it’s so hard to manage batteries, but given the investment, labor, and rent, I’d say that there are much worse values at Disney.

  5. I really have no idea what your bitching about you certainly do Pea convenience up charge to basically by the thing for 20 or $30 and walked to a kiosk or another kiosk within the parks and exchange it out for a full one so you don’t have to stand in a wall and charge it that’s what youre paying for. The app it was just $30 for a recharge stick that would be absurd but it’s $30 for a recharge stick with accessories that you can exchange any time you want for a full recharge stick if you’re in the park and need it

    1. Chuck, I think you’re missing the point. That money would buy you a battery bigger than most people could ever kill in a day. I’m talking 6 or 7 charges of your iPhone. The very few total kiosks in the park are only as good as you being close by. You might say it’s easy to pass by one, but Disney is a big place.

  6. I bought a FuelRod in an airport for $15 (I’m cheap, and used a coping I found online at the time), and I plugged the rod into my phone and put it in my jacket pocket so I could walk around while charging from maybe 35% to 70% (Note 4) before the battery was drained. Then, before boarding my flight, I swapped out for a fresh charged fuelrod which charged my phone to full in the flight.

    But portable power is only one of the major benefits of a freely swappable rechargeable battery.

    I’ve got some larger capacity portable battery packs, including some that cost much more. But eventually those battery packs begin to fail. At first they just accept a little less charge, but eventually you can’t charge at all. So…you recycle them and buy another, right? But for the FuelRod, the user isn’t bothered by the battery’s lifecycle, or how to ‘responsibly recycle’ the worn out battery. Fuelrod’s kiosk or the magic elves that keep a charged rod ready for us to exchange, must charge and test the rod, and eventually they also have the burden to retire and replace the failing rods when they eventually reach their end of life.

    How many portable batteries have YOU owned that simply wrote out and croaked? This ‘fuelrod’ auto-magically never does (as long as you occasionally have access to one of their decreasingly-rare kiosks). I’ve seen generic battery packs about this size die in under 2 months. I needn’t care if this battery really dies, as it gets a free replacement on my next flight.

    When buying, get a Fuelrod in the airport ($20), and do a Google search for “fuelrod coupon”, and try one (or several) of the code(s) to save a few dollars (I’ve seen $3-$5 in the recent past).

    1. Kieth, glad you’ve had a positive experience with Fuel Rod, and sorry to hear about your problems with other batteries. I’ve actually never had a battery die on me. I’m guessing I eventually will. But, my Anker batteries just keep on going. To re-state the obvious, you only get a new battery when you’re near a kiosk. And, you need Fuel Rod to stay in business for a long time. No guarantees there.

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