Zoo America – Hershey, PA

While we spent the day in Hersey Pennsylvania we stopped in to check out Zoo America.  Now this isn’t a huge zoo and you can probably get through the whole thing in about 30-45 minutes if you walk really slow, but still has some unique exhibits I haven’t seen at other zoos.  You can access this separately from Hershey Park and there is a pretty reasonable admission.  However, if you are visiting Hershey Park you can access the zoo for free.  Just make sure to get your hand stamped before walking over the bridge as that is how you will get back into the Park once you’re done with the zoo.

zoo-america-01

Once you enter the Zoo there is a recommended trail to follow which will ensure you get to visit all the areas and exhibits.  Once of my favorite is the Desert with a nice assortment of animals and is one of the unique exhibits I had mentioned above.

zoo-america-02

For years this Zoo has had 3 penny machines available.  They have changed designs over the years and as luck would have it during this visit I was able to get the brand new sets.

zoo-america-machine-02

The first machine along the recommended trail is located in Bear Country.  It’s just outside the covered viewing area of the Black bears.

zoo-america-02-pennies

You will see that each of these designs includes the name of the animal pictures (thank you!) which is nice as sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what it’s supposed to be.  This set included a River Otter, Great Horned Owl, American Black Bear and an American Alligator.

zoo-america-machine-03

The second machines is located on the main path of the zoo and is located right near the small little concession stand.

zoo-america-03-pennies

These coins were on the very of rolling short but thankfully still came out okay.  The images on these coins are a Canada Lynx, North American Porcupine, a Road runner, and a Gray Wolf.

zoo-america-machine-01

The last machine is located just before the exit of the zoo before you enter the gift shop.  Technically this is also located right at the entrance, but if you follow the recommended trail you will go up some stairs behind this machine and won’t be able to access it until the end.  Another good reason to stick to the trail is it will ensure you find all three machines.

zoo-america-01-pennies

The final set of pennies has a Rattlesnake, an American Marten, Swift Fox, and a Thick Billed Parrot.

zoo-america-penny-back

Each of the 12 designs does include a backstamp of the zoo’s website zooamerica.com. The image was not very centered in any of the coins I pressed and the above is the best one I could find.

As I mentioned above it would be hard to spend an entire day at this zoo as it isn’t that big.  But it does make a nice side trip away from the crowds and screaming from the Theme Park.  With out fill of animals and yet more pennies collected it was time to meet up with the rest of our family back in Hershey Park.  Roller coasters were calling our name.

Pieces of Eight Gift Shop – Disneyland, CA

It was only a matter of time before the fantastic 60th Diamond Celebration at Disneyland came to and end.  I’m sad to say I was unable to actually visit during the celebration but from everything I have seen it looked really amazing.  Now that the decorations have started to come down in the parks it also means the special 60th pressed coin designs are beginning to disappear.

The first machine to have a brand new set of designs is located in the Pieces of Eight Gift Shop.  As you may guess this is where you end up after riding Pirates of the Caribbean and is a store filled with all your Pirating needs.  Towards the end of the store is where this machine is located and has some really detailed new images.

dl-pieces-of-eight-01

The coins pressed a little long in this set but the images still came out really nicely.  As you can see they have a lot of detail and are a great new set.

dl-pieces-of-eight-02

The first penny has an Anchor and says “Dead Men Tell No Tales” which for you Pirates of the Caribbean fans is a familiar warning you hear before boarding the ride.

dl-pieces-of-eight-03

The second penny displays a pirate skull with hat and crossed swords in the background.

dl-pieces-of-eight-04

The final available design is another skull with a banner saying Pirates of the Caribbean.  I was really impressed with these designs and am exited to have even more new coins to collect.  I don’t know if all the 60th coins machines will be replaced with brand new images and would assume some will be old designs brought back.  But I’ll keep my fingers crossed and will keep you posted.

Chocolate World – Hershey, PA

This past weekend we decided to take a trip over to a magical town in Pennsylvania that’s name explains it all.  Hershey.  Driving along roads named Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue you can’t help feeling like you are entering into Willy Wonka’s Factory.

hershey-pa

Unfortunately we didn’t have a special golden ticket, but thankfully Hershey takes credit cards instead and lets you wonder through a building known as Chocolate World.

chocolate-world-01

This is located just outside Hersheypark, and can be accessed without a Theme Park ticket, and is quite the attraction all its own.  Inside there is a theater showing the 4D chocolate mystery movie, the Hershey Chocolate tour ride, you can create your own candy bar, and of course one of the largest Hershey stores I have ever seen.

chocolate-world-ride-02

This is a really deadly place to visit for me as Hershey chocolate is a childhood favorite of mine, and I usually need a large truck to get all the candy and souvenirs out of this place.  But they also have a couple of penny machines which is just the cherry on top.

chocolate-world-machine-01

The first machine is located near the main entrance doors towards the bathroom area.  The machine does have a change machine attached incase you didn’t come prepared (Shame!).

chocolate-world-1-pennies

This set of pennies includes images of a Cow “Made on the Farm”, Hershey’s Chocolate Soldier, A Kiss for You, and Airplane.  As luck would have it you need to make your way through racks and racks of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and licorice until you find the food court.  In among the tables you will find the second penny machine.

chocolate-world-machine-02

As you can see above this machine also has an available change machine.  When this area of the food court is busy I would anticipate this machine is a little hard to use because there were some tables located right beside it.  But thankfully the area was pretty calm so I was able to press the coins without any issue.

chocolate-world-2-pennies

This set includes some familiar faces, Mr. Reese’s, Miss Kiss, Chocolate Bar Man, and one with all three together.  With my new pennies collected I finished shopping for more candy than anyone really should try to consume.

chocolate-world-02

Case in point check out the 5 pound Hershey bar my daughter Hanna found.  As much as it would have been entertaining to watch her try to eat this we convinced her to put it back and get something a little more portable.  Chocolate World is really a chocolate lovers wonderland.  If you’re in the Hershey area be sure to check it out and let your inner child just have a blast.

Once Upon A Toy Store – Disney Springs

It’s been very hard to keep up with all the changes and new openings going on at Disney Springs.  I’m attending a Disney Wedding in October and can’t wait to spend some time here checking out all the new stuff.  But with all the changes be sure to check out the old standbys as they still have some great things to offer.

img_0347

Down in the area towards the Rainforest Cafe is a pretty cool store called Once Upon a Toy.  As the name implies this is just one huge toy store.  When I visited in May this was one of the stops I needed to make as they had one of the new super multi-mega penny machines themed for Frozen with 8 unique designs and you can read out it here.

Que the Star Wars music.  I told you in my previous post that pressed coins seem to have ” gone to the dark side” (sorry couldn’t resist) with the Star Wars bug which is fantastic for us fans.  Shortly after the most recent machine at the Star Wars Galactic Outpost there is now a second 8-design penny machine.

img_0352

This machine is located in the far back area of the store where majority of the Star Wars merchandise is located.

Once Upon a Toy Store 2

This set has each design numbers from 1 to 8, and includes the classic characters R2-D2, Chewbacca, Yoda, C-3PO, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, a Stormtrooper, and Darth Vader.

As with the other Star Wars machine I haven’t personally been able to visit this machine yet, but did acquire a set to post about thanks to a co-worker that just happened to be visiting Disney this pas week.  I actually sent her with a package to get some other coins from her resort which I’ll review shortly, but thankfully when she saw this machine and found out it was brand new she didn’t hesitate picking me up a set.  I really do have my friends and family well-trained to always be on the lookout.

Will Disney release any more Star Wars coins?  Only time will tell but with their upcoming release schedule of about one new Star Wars moving a year for the next who knows how many years this is probably a huge new set that will be forever growing.

Albany, New York

In just a few days we had been able to visit quite a few placed in our Upstate New York visit and on one of our last days it was late afternoon and we decided to pick a spot to get a hotel and rest for the evening.  We were coming up to Albany, NY and figured that would be a pretty easy place to find a hotel.

Albany Sign

We headed downtown and found a reasonable hotel that had a vacancy.  My family wanted to stay and rest in the room so I took the car out and decided to see if I could find any nearby penny machines.  As luck would have it there was one not too far away, I just had to hope the place was still open.

NY State Museum

The New York State Museum as you can see from the above picture is a very unique building.  They have some great exhibits and admission is free but donations are always welcome.  By the time I got inside they were actually starting the process of closing everything up.  I asked the security guard as nicely as I could if it would be okay for me to just stop over by the gift shop and use the penny machine.  He waved me through and I felt like I was getting away with something.

NY - New York State Museum

I fumbled some change out of my pocket and pressed a set of coins.  They all came out nicely even though the machine was a little rough rolling.

NY State Museum Pennies

In this set you will get a I Love (Heart) Albany, a Carousel Horse, a Wooly Mammoth, and a Trilobite.  I stored my new pennies away and thanked the guard again as I left and heard the doors being locked behind me.  After the short drive back to our hotel I was greeted by my family that seemed ready to go and find something to eat.  Having a secret up my sleeve I mentioned that we should go to the Crossgates Shopping Mall as they would have a varied selection of places to eat.  Everyone was on board and a sneaky grin crossed my lips.

Crossgates Mall Albany NY

The mall was a bit of drive away but we drove around the parking lot checking out the available restaurants.  We ended up choosing The Melting Pot which is a fondue restaurant.  All I’ll say is their desert Chocolate fondue is to die for.  Yes you do technically cook your own food, but the experience is still pretty cool and fun for the entire family.  Once our meal was over and we were completely stuffed with melted cheese and chocolate we figured it was a good idea to walk around the mall for a bit.  Eventually on the second floor we came across the food court and my plan fell into place.

NY - Crossgates Mall

A penny machine was are the changes?!?!  My family just laughed and realized how I had orchestrated this entire side trip.  You’d think they would know better by now.

Crossgates Mall Albany Pennies

I pressed my coins and we finished our after dinner stroll.  With the bloating feeling in our bellies starting to subside we eventually made it back to our car and then back to the hotel to get some sleep.  It was finally time to admit that our trip was over and time to head back home to Jersey.  Spending this time with my family was really a treat and we came back with some great memories and a pocket full of new pennies.  Overall it was another great family trip.

Lake George, New York

Continuing our family tour of Upstate New York we came across another hidden gem Lake George.  Now I will admit that years ago before our first daughter Hanna was born my wife and I took our Babymoon here.  Babymoon you say?  Yes we never heard of it either but were told by the doctor that once my wife made it to her second trimester it was the perfect time to take a Babymoon which is like a honeymoon only you take it before your first child is born.  I guess it’s kind of like a “kiss your sanity goodbye” final vacation.  We initially stayed for a long weekend which was the perfect amount of time to hang out on the lake and just enjoy the quaint little town.  This time unfortunately we were just visiting for one night before heading finally making our way back to Jersey the next day.  But we didn’t let that scare us away from taking in the beauty of the lake.

Lake George 01

By the time we wandered around a bit, everyone was pretty exhausted so we checked into our hotel.  After a short rest everyone was getting hungry but no one really wanted to go back out so I offered (wink wink) to head out and pick up some food.  Using my trusty Yelp! app on my phone I found a pizza place at the top of Canada Street that runs along the west side of Lake George.  Why did I do this?  Because there were a bunch of penny machines located nearby.  What a crazy questions I’m surprised you didn’t think it of.  Anyways, after placing our food order I had about 30 minutes to wander around and collect everything I could.  My first stop was the Village Emporium.

Lake George Village Emporium

As with most of the stores on this street they were jammed packed with T-shirts, sweaters, shot glasses and all sorts of other things you would usually find in this type of souvenir store.

Village Emporium Machine 01

Just inside the main front entrance was the penny machine.  Just like I wrote about previously when visiting a store in Saratoga Springs this machine is a little unique.  I won’t go into details again, but please heed my warning “READ THE INSTRUCTIONS”.  Don’t just jam your coins in, the machine works just a little differently than you may be used to.

Village Emporium Lake George NY Blog

The machine offered 3 designs.  The Minnie Ha Ha Ship, I Love Lake George NY with a Teddy Bear, and My Lucky Lake George Penny with Shamrocks.  I felt like I was playing beat the clock as my dinner was going to be ready before I knew it and I still had quite a few places to check out.  Thankfully just a few stores away was my next stop the Waterfront Living store.

Lake George Waterfront Living

When I was doing some research before our trip I saw that this machine was a recent addition to Lake George.

Waterfront Living Machine 01

The machine isn’t right inside the main store, but out under the covered area near the street.  I don’t know if this is left open while the store is closed so make sure to go during business hours to make sure you can access it.

Waterfront Living Blog

These had some cool images on them.  The four designs available included I Love (heart) Lake George, a couple of Black Bears, Laid Back at Lake George, NY and Enjoying the View with some Hot Air Balloons.  Tick tock, tick tock time to get moving.  Just another short walk away was Riley’s at the Lake.

Lake George Rileys

My wife and I used to have a cat named Riley and we always think of her when we visit this store.  Before you get any ideas it’s not a pet store just another Lake George Souvenir shop with a penny machine inside, oh and some t-shirts and a giant stuffed black bear out front.

Rileys at the Lake Machine 01

This machine had quite a few quarters and pennies laying in the bottom of the machine.  I was a little nervous it wouldn’t work right but that was all for nothing as the machine worked perfectly and out popped my four new coins.

rileys-lake-george-01

The coins rolled a little long but the images were all intact.  The designs were I Love NY, Adarondak Mtns (Yes this is how it’s spelled on the coins take a look yourself), a Moose Lake George NY, and My Lucky Penny Lake George NY.  I left the store and continued heading down to the next traffic light and made a left onto Beach Road.  This is where you can sign up to enjoy a dinner cruise, or other boat excursions out onto the lake.  They also have a really nice walkway that follows the southern end of the lake with a beautiful view of the entire lake and surrounding mountains.  As with the main street there are also many different shops and restaurants along this road.  One of those was the Olde Curiosity Shop.

Lake George Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

There wasn’t much in here I hadn’t already seen in other nearby souvenir shops, but as I made my way to the back of the store I found the penny machine hidden inside.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop Machine 01

This machine worked fine except it wasn’t level so it kept tilting to one side each time I turned the handle which took a little doing to not crack my skull on the corner.  But with some coordination I pressed the coins without permanently hurting myself.

Ye Old Curiosity Shop Pennies

The coins at this l location had designs of a War Drum, a Cannon, one of the River Boats, and a Colonist with a Native American.  This last coin is a perfect segue into the final stop on my quick penny squishing mission.  At the top of the fairly large hill located behind the store was Fort William Henry which is now a museum.

Lake George Fort Henry 01

As I quickly made my way up the hill there are a few various pathways that all lead towards the museum.  As you get closer you can hear the sound of marching and gun fire all from the battle reenactments that take place at various times during the day.

Lake George Fort Henry 02

Fort Henry was constructed in 1755 to command the southern end of Lake George.  It was a British outpost to protect colonies further to the south.  Since I was rushing against the clock and my food was getting very close to be done I didn’t have time to really check out the museum in all its glory.  Instead I ran in to explore the gift shop.

Lake George Fort Henry 03

As you can see from the above picture just outside the gift shop was a penny machine.  I headed over but quickly noticed the large sign tape to the top.

Fort Henry Machine 01

“Out of Order” how could they do this to me.  Oh well no biggie sometimes this happens and you just have to roll with it.  After we got back home from our trip I waited about a week and sent a letter to Fort Henry Museum with some quarters and pennies asking if someone could press me a set when the machine was back up and running.  A very short time later I received my self addresses stamped envelope back with a nice set of coins.

Crossgates Mall Albany Pennies

The pennies had some similar images to ones I had already collected but were still a great addition to my collection.  The coins showed a Colonies and Native America, I Love Lake George, a Cannon, and a Steam Powered Paddle Boat.

Now back at  Fort Henry I took a quick look around the gift shop and then headed outside.  Our takeout order was just about ready so I made a mad dash back to the restaurant, paid for our food and jumped in my car.  Somehow I had made it and our food was still hot which my family would appreciate.  Once I got back to our hotel we quickly dug into all our food and had a great time just lounging in our room, laughing and reminiscing about the trip so far.  Sometimes those are the best moments of family vacation, not waiting in lines or fighting crowds but just enjoying each others company.

Star Wars Galactic Outpost – Disney Springs

When I had visited Disney Springs back in April I couldn’t help but check out a fairly new store at the time called Star Wars Galactic Outpost.  For any huge (or casual) Star Wars fan this place is a must stop, and has everything you could possibly imagine.

Star Wars Outpost 01

Inside has clothing, memorabilia, figurines, magnets, key chains, and much, more.

Star Wars Outpost 02

However when I visited I was sad to see that there was no pressed coin machine here.  This boggled my mind as this seemed like the perfect place to have one.  Apparently Disney decided they had enough of my persistent emails (not really) and put a new machine here just a few weeks ago.  Not only is it a machine but one of the new super mega-multi design touch screen units.

Star Wars Outpost Blog

Unfortunately I was not able to actually visit this machine in person yet, but did have a friend check it out for me and send along a set of the new coins so we could review them.  The cost is 1 design for $1 or all 8 for $5 and it works just like all the others.  This set includes coins of Han Solo, Kylo Ren, the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing Fighter, a Store Trooper, Power First Order, Fan Favorite Droids C-3PO BB-8 & R2-D2, and the Justice Rebel Forces Shield.

I’m heading back to Orlando in October for a Disney Wedding and will be making a special trip to check out all the new things in Disney Springs since our last visit and this machine will be on the top of that list.  If you are a Star Wars fan be sure to pick this setup up as it’s a great addition and seems to be a new hot pressed coin trend as you will see in the very near future.