Anna & Elsa Boutique – Downtown Disney California

While I have been trying to keep all the new 60th Celebration designs organized and up to date Disney released another new machine.  But this machine isn’t part of the 60th Celebration.  Instead it’s part of a new store in Downtown Disney called Anna & Elsa’s Boutique and as you can probably guess is all about the movie Frozen.

Anna Elsa Boutique

This place is supposed to be a Frozen fans wonderland, with everything you could image from the movie.  They also have a Frozen makeover similar to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeovers already available.  As much as I love the Frozen movie I was honestly more interested in the new penny machine that was made available here.

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There are 3 designs: Elsa, Olaf, and Anna & Elsa surrounded by snowflakes.  I’m amazed at how they keep coming up with new Frozen themed penny designs, but I’m sure there are plenty more to come.  So if you’re in the Anaheim area and in need of a Frozen fix be sure to check out this new Boutique and don’t forget to press some pennies on the way out.

Disneyland 60th Diamond Celebration – New Downtown Disney Coins

I received word that a new set of pressed pennies went on stage as part of the special 60th Diamond Celebration going on at Disneyland in California.  The new designs are located in Downtown Disney at the World of Disney store.  These replace the previous designs that celebrated the “Opening Day” decades set which I have pictures below.

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The now retired designs included:  Opening Day Castle & Attractions, Opening Day Walt Disney, and Opening Day Tinker Bell & Dumbo.

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Pictures above are the 3 new designs: 1955-64 Mermaid & Pirate Ship, 1955-64 Tiki Room & Skull, and 1955-64 Matterhorn & Rocket Ship.

It appears that the remaining limited 60th Celebration Designs are starting to show up but there isn’t any specific schedule I can find.  However if the trend continues with this latest set the new designs may be replacing the initially released designs.  So if you haven’t already I would recommend stopping by the parks and pressing them before they are gone.

MLB All-Star Fan Fest 2015 – Cincinnati, OH

As a baseball fan few it’s always entertaining to watch the Midsummer Classic also known as the All-Star Game.  It probably goes back to when I was a kid and would make up my own All-Star Rosters featuring my favorite players at the time and even squeezing myself into the lineup hoping it may just one day come true.  Well here I am all grown up and unfortunately never made it on the field or even in the crowd to see an All-Star game but that doesn’t stop me from watching everything from the Home Run Derby to the actual game I can’t get enough of it.

This year the game was being hosted by the city of Cincinnati, Ohio at the Great American Ball Park which is the home to the Cincinnati Reds.

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I’m sure by now all the fans have been the final outcome but just in case I’m not going to review the game or the final score.  But I did want to show off some special pressed pennies that were made available by the great team over at pennycollector.com.  The the last few years they have made special machines available just for the All-Star game and the Fan Fest that takes place leading up to the game.  I have tried to collect them all and have a pretty complete set but am missing a few years.  This year they actually offered on their website some additional designs that were not available in Cincinnati.  As soon as I saw this I had to place and order.

MLB All-Star 2015 Pennies

There are 3 designs available: All-Star Game July 14 2015, Fan Fest July 10-14 2015, and Great American Ball Park Cincinnati Ohio.  The designs were all pressed on copper pennies which is always a plus when you can get them.  The special offer included in additional to the pennies their new 2015 Baseball Booklet.

Baseball 2015 Booklet

I don’t personally use these booklets to store my pressed coins but I still like collecting the booklets separately and always enjoy seeing the new ones each year.  If you haven’t checked out pennycollector.com please do so.  They have a lot of great tips, a huge catalog of all available penny machines around the world, and an online store with a lot of unique coins and even some retired designs no longer available.

For anyone that loves baseball this is really a nice little set.  With new designs available each year (and hopefully many more years to come) there is always something to look forward to in addition to watching the worlds best ball players all together in one place.  If only they had pressed pennies in the Cracker Jack boxes I’d be all set.

Penny Machines on TV

Over the weekend after spending the day collecting pressed coins I decided to indulge in another guilty pleasure of mine.  There was a movie on SyFy Network a few years ago that started it all, Sharknado.  When I originally heard the title I immediately laughed out loud but than had to check out the promo trailer.  It looked incredibly stupid and yet intriguing all at the same time.  I watch the original and I just can’t explain my draw to the movie other than saying it was so dumb it was good.  I apparently wasn’t the only one as they had such a following of the first that last year (2014) they came out with a sequel that was equally as bad but still entertaining.  Well the SyFy network has done it again and just last week came out with the third installment.  Now before you go running for the hills thinking this is a review of a terrible movie I promise that isn’t the point of this post.

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Each movie takes place in a different part of the United States.  First was Los Angeles, then New York and this time it started in Washington, DC but ended up in Florida and more specific in Universal Studios Orlando.

During one scene when the Sharknado is raining down all manner of sharks on the innocent tourists visiting the park something immediately caught my eye.  This must be from all the training I have whenever we are out on vacation or visiting any new attraction.  I noticed in the background there was a penny machine.

Sharknado 3 Penny Machine

I was able to grab a screen shot and as you can see above it was right in the middle of the shot.  After seeing this I quickly headed online and checked out my personal collection as I was almost positive I had visited that exact machine.  Sure enough I found a picture of the machine I took when visiting Universal Studios 2011.

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Back when I had visited the Jaws ride was still there but has recently been removed to make room for more Harry Potter attractions, but apparently this machine is still available for use.

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The designs are still the same and include: Amity Island, Bruce (Jaws), Spider-Man and X-Men.  After finishing the movie I started thinking back to some other shows I had seen in the past where a penny machine made an appearance.  My wife always laughs when we would watch these shows and I would immediately pause the screen and point out the machine.  She was just amazed at how I can pick these out at a moments noticed.  What can I say it’s a gift.

It took a little time on my end but I was able to come up with two other instances.  First was from a show on the Travel Channel called Food Paradise.  They basically pick a type of food (Steaks, Burgers, Pizza, etc) and visit places all across the country that supposedly have either the best or most unusual take on that food.  One episode I saw was titled Deep Fried Paradise 2 Extra Crispy.  In it they visit Old Town in San Diego California where there is a restaurant called Cafe Coyote that services up Deep Fried Ice Cream.  They interview numerous customers and then have a shot of a mariachi band playing right beside a penny machine.

Deep Fried Paradise 2 Extra Crispy Cafe Coyote 2010

Strangely enough I had also visited this location during a trip to California back in 2008.  Unfortunately at that time I didn’t know this place had such great Deep Fried Ice Cream so we didn’t stop to eat here but I knew about the penny machine and made a special stop to collect the coin.

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There is only one design available and as you can see from the picture above it was pressing a little short.  The design is of Old Town itself and lists Cabrillo 1542.

I knew of one other machine I had seen on TV and it was in the newer version of Hawaii Five-O that premiered in 2010.  I stopped watching the show after the first couple season, but I remembered in Season 1 Episode 1 Steve McGarrett returns home to Oahu and is greeted by Chin Ho Kelly.  As they reminisce about their past they walk right by a young boy using a penny machine.

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This one took me a little time to research online.  Since I have not had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii yet I have not used this machine and didn’t recognize where it was located.  Eventually I found on the pennycollector.com website that this machine appears to be at the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial.

USS Missouri Memorial

There are 4 designs available: USS Missouri, Kamikaze Apr 11 1945, Pear Harbor, and USS Missouri BB-63 Pear Harbor Hawaii.

I must say I was pretty impressed with my memory on some of these.  It took some time to go back and find the shows but was really cool to see the machines on some pretty popular shows.

Remember to keep your eyes open you never know when you’ll find a machine during your travels, or even on TV.

USS New Jersey – Camden, NJ

With a recent afternoon to myself I decided to take a quick trip down to Camden New Jersey to check out a piece of history I’ve been wanting to check out for a long time.  After about a 45 minute drive south on 295 I arrived at the recently renovated Camden Waterfront that includes the Adventure Aquarium, the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball team, and the Children’s Garden.  But what I was here for was the huge battleship The USS New Jersey also knows as the “Big J”.

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The USS New Jersey (BB-62) is an Iowa-Class Battleship.  It’s 887 feet (270.54 meters) in length, has a beam (width) of 108.2 feet (33.0 meters), a displacement of 58,000 tons, and had a crew of over 1,900 sailors.  It was launched in 1942 and served in World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and the Lebanese Civil War.  The battleship was decommissioned for the final time in 1991 after serving a total of 21 years in the active fleet.  In 2000 it was announced that the USS New Jersey would become a museum located at its final resting place on the Camden Waterfront.

Whew, now with all technical background out of the way let me say this is really an amazing ship (Sorry in advance as I’ll probably say that a few more times).  Before I actually went aboard there was a penny machine available right outside the gift shop on the dock.  You do not need to pay any admission to use the machine, but if you make the trip here I would highly recommend spending the money and taking the tour.

USS New Jersey Machine

As you would assume the designs on the pennies incorporate the battleship in them.  The machine as shown above is a 4 design hand crank model.

USS New Jersey Pennies

The designs include:  Battleship New Jersey The Big “J”, BB-62 Firepower for Freedom Shield, United States Navy emblem, WWII / Korea / Vietnam.

With the pennies in my pocket I was ready to climb aboard the ship.  There are  two different tours you can take.  There is a self guided tour which I opted for just due to a limited amount of time I had available that afternoon.  But there is a guided tour available which is usually given by a very knowledgeable Veteran which gives a lot of personal insight of what it was like on the Battleship.

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The self guided tour is done by following a special colored light painted on the deck of the ship and takes you in through all the different areas of the ship.  Each area has a ton of information and historical pictures available to give you more details about what it was like on board.

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In the crew quarters you get a sense of how the more than 1,900 sailors were all packed into this ship.  It really is a huge floating city, but was hard to imagine that many people on all at once.  Luckily I was only there with about 20 other people and it was still pretty cramped walking through the different areas.

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Above is a picture of the mess deck that fed the crew.  As you can see there was very little space that wasn’t used for some purpose.

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Last up was the Captains in port quarters.  This was apparently mostly used for entertaining purposes, but gives a very interesting perspective of life on the USS New Jersey.  After my experience here I really want to head into New York and check out the USS Intrepid.  I may even come back and take the guided tour just to get some more details about what it was like to serve on this amazing Battleship.

Dutch Wonderland – Lancaster, PA

After our recent trip to Six Flags in Jackson, NJ we were on a bit of a theme park kick.  Another place we usually visit about one a year is Hershey Park over in Hershey Pennsylvania, but when thinking about visiting that park I remembered another place.  Over in Lancaster, PA there is a family friendly attraction called Dutch Wonderland.

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On previous trips to Hershey on our way back home we always pass by this place but have never made a trip just to check it out.  I did some research online and this seemed like a great place to bring kids 5 and younger as everything is geared specifically for that age range.

The drive was about an hour and a half from our house, which gave Hanna a nice nap before an afternoon of walking, rides, and a small water park.  As we pulled into the parking lot and made our way to the front entrance we were greeted by the parks main castle.

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The park was pretty crowded but there were enough things to do that most wait times were under 10 minutes.  One of the first things we did was ride a miniature steam train which takes you on a nice tour of the park.  Along the way I thought I saw something magical out of the corner of my eye but wasn’t sure so I had to wait until later in the day to confirm.  I won’t keep you guessing, but I bet you think it was a penny machine.  Well you would be … wrong!  Can you believe it.  This park does have a couple of penny machines and I’ll go over them shortly but what I thought I saw and did eventually indulge in was something I thought I wouldn’t be able to have again until I went back to Walt Disney World.

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Dole Whip!  Holy cow I just couldn’t believe it.  For those of you that read my posts about our big Family Vacation back in April you will know that Pineapple Dole Whip is my new obsession.

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There were a few people in line ahead of us but I didn’t care.  I would have waited over an hour for it.  Just like in Disney they had not just the regular Pineapple Dole Whip in a cup, but also offered my personal favorite the Dole Whip Float.  The cup is filled with pineapple juice and then topped off with Dole Whip.  It tastes exactly as I remembered and I was in heaven.  My wife and I refused to share with each other so we each got our own to enjoy.

Floating on a Dole Whip high we continued around the park and went on as many rides as Hanna wanted to go on.  As usually she couldn’t pass up the carousel ride which is her absolute favorite.

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The park did have a small barnyard area that offered Pony rides for an additional cost.  Hanna wasn’t interested but I did manage to find the first penny machine located in the park.

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This was a 4 design hand crank machine.  The designs included: Princess Brooke, Sir Brandon, Merlin and Duke the Dragon.

PA - Dutch Wonderland 01 Pennies

Eventually we made our way over to the small water park that is available as part of your park admission.  There were a couple large water slides for the big kids and adults, but we just stuck to the splash zone which allowed for a nice break and allowed us to cool off for a bit.

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After about an hour, our fingers and toes were thoroughly pruned up.  Hanna wasn’t too happy when we started to dry off and change.  But with all the walking and the bright sun shining down all day she was starting to tired out.  We started to head towards the exit where the large gift shop was located.  While my wife and Hanna looked at the souvenirs I came across the second penny machine right by the exit door.

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I always find these style machines a little strange.  The cabinet is made of some sort of plexiglass material, but there is no color or designs on them, just completely clear.  I always like being able to watch the coins going through the rollers but I always get a kick out of the unique themed cabinets I come across from time to time.

PA - Dutch Wonderland 02 Pennies

This machine also had 4 designs: Dutch Wonderland Logo, Duke the Dragon, PA, Dutch Country, and the Lord’s Prayer.  All the designs pressed really nicely and there were no issues with the machine.  I had checked online before our visit to see about the machine locations for this park and some previous visitors had mentioned a third machine, but I’m pretty sure we visited every nook and cranny and of this place and didn’t see it anywhere.

If the third machine does make another appearance it will just make for a great excuse to come back. Well that and of course the Dole Whip.  I may come back just for that!

Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari – Jackson, NJ

A couple of days before July 4th I had taken a day off from work to stay at home with my daughter Hanna.  I had contemplated just staying in the house but with the crappy weather we have been having in Jersey I figured it was a good opportunity to get outside and visit someplace we hadn’t been to in a while.

As I do with most trips I plan I checked out pennycollector.com to see where some new penny machines may be located that needed to be pressed.  I have visited and acquired pretty much every penny machine available in the state, but ever now and then new machines do pop up and this was no different.  I saw that Six Flags Great Adventure had 2 new machines.  A few years ago I would visit Six Flags a few times a year trying to update the online records of the penny machines and which were still active, their current locations and any changes.  Unfortunately about 2 years ago all the machines were taken away and the last time I had checked there were still none available.  So needless to say I was excited to see some new machines had made their way back on stage.

Another new attraction at this Six Flags is their Safari Off Road Adventure.  They used to have a safari that you could drive through in your own car and the animals would come over for an up close and personal visit.

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This was another attraction that closed a few years ago, but has recently reopened with a slight change to how you experience it.  Now you get in a large open view jeep style vehicle and there is a driver and separate guide that take you through the safari .  I had heard that this was a pretty popular attraction so we decided to head here as soon as the park opened.

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The entire trip through the Safari takes about 40-45 minutes.  There is a stop in the middle of the trip where your dropped off at the Camp Aventura where there are some smaller animals you can interactive with.  They boast over 1,200 animals on the Safari and there is quite the variety.  The guide was very knowledgeable and more than happy to answer any questions we had along the way.

Once the Safari was over and we were back in the them park we began wondering around checking out the huge (and crazy) roller coasters and other thrill rides they have.  With Hanna being only 2 we were on the look out for some more timid rides.  As we headed out of the Frontier Adventures area of the park we came across the first penny machine.

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The machine worked perfectly, well I should mention that I rolled one design short but that was completely as user error.  Luckily I had some extra coins on hand and pressed it again without any issue.  Since this machine was the closes to the Safari it was no surprise that the designs were inspired by the latest attraction: Safari Off Road Adventure was listed on all four designs which also included the Safari Jeep & Giraffe, an Elephant, a rhinoceros, and a Zebra.

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We continued wandering around the park and got to checked out some shows and plenty of rides.  Hanna really had a great time on the carousel which is her absolute favorite.  We must have gone on that about 5 times.

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She even got to spend some time with some friends I hadn’t seen since I was a kid.

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Porky Pig and Marvin Martian, who doesn’t love these two characters.  There was no line and Hanna was able to spend quite a bit of time with them and I was amazed at how comfortable she was with them.  I don’t even know if they play Looney Tunes cartoons on TV, but she loved them anyways and is always looking to make new friends.

After our long day at the park we decided to start heading towards the exit.  I made sure to save the massive gift shop until the end so I didn’t have to carry any souvenirs around all day.  This was also where we found the second penny machine.

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The machine was located outside the Looney Tunes Shoppe and the “M”Porium Candy Store.  As with the other machine this one worked perfectly and I made sure to line up my requested designs properly before turning the handle.

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The designs at machine were really nice.  I’m not a huge roller coaster fan but these do capture the big thrill rides available at this location.  The designs included: Six Flags Logo Jackson NJ, Nitro, El Toro and Zumanjaro Drop of Doom / Kingda Ka.

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We left the park completely exhausted and with a pocket full of new pressed pennies.  I think Hanna fell asleep about 10 seconds after I had her strapped in the car seat.  Luckily we didn’t have a long ride home but it was a lot of fun.  I remember years ago when Six Flags had over 20 penny machines available, and now they only have 2.  But 2 is definitely better than none.  Maybe if I keep my fingers crossed there will be more coming in the near future.

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July!!

My original intend of this post was to share a special 4th of July pressed penny design, but after spending all of last night reviewing my entire collection I realized I didn’t have one.  To be honest this seemed kind of unbelievable to me and now I’m on a mission to find one.  In the meantime I came across some coins that are related in the celebration of American’s independence.

As I have mentioned in the past I live in central New Jersey which is ideally located about an hour from New York City and 30 minutes from Philadelphia.  A few years ago I had gone on a pressed penny trip around downtown Philly that is full of historical sites and quite few penny machines.  One of the really nice places to check out if the new National Constitution Center.

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The National Constitution Center opened its doors on July 4th, 2003.  It contains lots of interactive exhibits, and as you can image is just filled with amazing history.  If you’re even in Philly make sure you head over to “America’s Most History Square Mile” where you can visit not just the National Constitution Center, but also Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

By the cafeteria and gift shop on the first floor of the National Constitution Center are two penny machines.

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The first machine has 4 designs: We The People, George Washington, John Adams, and The National Constitution Center Est. July 4th, 2003.

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The second machine also has 4 designs: A Quill Pen, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and I Signed The Constitution.

I visited the National Constitution Center a couple of years ago and both machines were working great at that time.  Recently a friend of mine also visited with his kids on a school trip and he said the machines were still there and a couple of the students squashed some pennies so they should still be there if you’re in the area for a visit.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th of July.  Enjoy your burgers, hot dogs and my personal favorite the fireworks.  This is a great day to be with family and friends to celebrate our Independence.  But tomorrow it’s back to looking for pressed pennies!

Frank S. Farley Service Plaza – Atlantic City Expressway

Earlier in the week I had written about our weekend trip to visit Storybook Land with our daughter, but neglected to mention a quick side stop we had made along the way.  Take to anyone in Jersey about how to get anywhere in the state and they usually say either the Turnpike or the Parkway, but for those heading to Atlantic City there’s the Expressway.  This is pretty much just a 4 lane highway stretching from just west to east and takes you right into the heart of Atlantic City, but also gives quick access to a lot of towns and attractions along the way.

AC Expressway Sign

As with most GPS systems out was doing it’s best to get us there in the shortest way possible, and even through we got hit with some tolls the Expressway was the quickest route.  At about mile marker 21.3 (thank you Google) near Hammonton, NJ we came across the Frank S. Farley Service Plaza.  We still had a ways to go so I took the opportunity to make a quick pit stop for the restroom, some snacks and of course the penny machine located inside.

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Just like all the rest stops along the NJ Turnpike or Parkway the penny machines are almost always located right outside the restrooms.  Unfortunately since this is the busiest areas of the service plaza besides Starbucks it makes using the machine a little difficult sometimes.  This time was no different as I walked up to the machine there where a couple of people leaning up against it at first.  I politely asked to use it and they obliged with no issue, and they even proceeded to stand by and watch as I pressed the designs.

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As I have mentioned in the past all the service areas and rest stops have some common designs that repeat and these designs I have collected in the past.  But my obsession to collect all the coins I can didn’t keep me from pressing a new set anyways.

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The designs included: I Love You, My Lucky Penny Shamrock, The Lord’s Prayer, and a Unicorn.  With my latest acquisition in my pocket we were shortly back on the Expressway and just a little bit closer to Storybook Land where there were even more pennies to press…or not.  In case you haven’t read the story check out my other post as I described our visit to the park and hunt for the penny machine in some Mother Goose nursery rhymes.