Merchant of Venus – Magic Kingdom, FL

Recently it seems like Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom has been getting some much needed new pressed penny machines.  First over at the Speedway, then at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and now over at a store that you have probably cut through to get a quick Air Conditioning break, Merchant of Venus.

This store is located just beside Stitch’s Great Escape and Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies.  As with most of the other stores in the Magic Kingdom they sell pins, plush toys, and all your usual march.  They do try to specialize in Space themed movies, so there is a lot of Stitch and Tomorrowland stuff here to collect.  Just inside one of the doors is where the latest penny machine is now located.

I should really stop referring to these as penny machines, and rather the new 8-Design touch screen pressed token machines.  I still have come to like these machines (the additional designs helps).  They are easy to use, and the finished coins that drop out of the machine are nice and shiny.  Not sure if they will hold up like that after numerous years but only time will tell.

As you can see from the machine itself this is another set of Star Wars themed coins.  The designs include: Star Wars Logo, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, R2-D2, Stormtrooper, Tie Fighter, Millennium Falcon, and an X-Wing Fighter.  These coins are similar to some of the other Star Wars themed designs available around the Disney property.  I’m hoping they start to come out with more obscure character designs but then maybe casual collectors are less like to press a set.  But with more Star Wars movies on the way each year for the foreseeable future I’m sure there will be many more pressed coin designs on the way.

2016 WDW Trip Day 6 – Wedding Pavilion / Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

The Wedding Day was finally here.  My brother-in-law’s sister was getting married and being the huge Disney fan that she is there was nowhere else in the world to get married.  But we had a few hours before the ceremony so we got up early and headed over to the Grand Floridian Resort for breakfast.

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1900 Park Fare is located on the first floor of the resort and is a character breakfast buffet.  The characters we met included Marry Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Alice.

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The food was pretty standard and nothing overly exciting.  There was a kids area that had candy dispensers which Hanna enjoyed but who wouldn’t be excited about endless gummy bears.  After breakfast we headed over to the Wedding Pavilion which is right on the Grand Floridian property.

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This really is a beautiful place to get married, and as you can see from the above picture the day they had was as perfect as anyone could have wished for.

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Inside the area where the ceremony was held was decorated for a magical event.  It’s hard to see in this picture but the big window in the middle at the back where they exchanged vows looks right out towards the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle.

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Our niece Ava and nephew Luke were the flower girl and ring bearer.  How cute are they?  They did a great job and was a great way to star the ceremony.  The entire ceremony was really just like a fairy tale, and Disney had completely outdone themselves.  Before we knew it the vows had been exchanged, rings blessed, and we were outside ready to toss flower petals at the newlyweds.  Up next was the reception, and Disney did include a bus to transport everyone over, but since we had driven we just got back in our car.

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As luck would have it the reception was near the Boardwalk Resort which was right across from our resort.  We took the opportunity to walk along the Boardwalk towards the Dance Hall.

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Inside is where the reception was held.  Our table assignments were designed like the old fashion paper fastpasses which I thought was a really cool touch.  The cocktail hour was very nice and we got to catch a glimpse at the cake.

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Eventually it was time for the wedding party to make their grand entrance, and then the first dance, bride and father dance, and just a whole lot of fun.  The dinner was a buffet style which was nice, and the food was a nice assortment of options.  The dance hall was definitely rockin’ once the meal was over and the DJ was really fantastic.  I’m still not sure if he was from Disney or not but either way he did a really great job.  Before we knew it the festivities were coming to a conclusion.  As we left my parents headed back to their car to drive it around to our records, but I took the change to visit a few penny machines on the boardwalk.

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Inside the Boardwalk Resort just near the main lobby is a set of elevators and right there you will find the two penny machines.  The cabinets of these machines are pretty cool looking and look like they came out of Atlantic City in the ’20s.  the first machine has images of Chip, Winnie the Pooh, and an Elephant squirting Donald Duck.

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The second machine had designs of Mickie in a Tux, Ariel, and Lilo with a doll.  We headed back outside to the boardwalk and found the next machine right along the waterfront.

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This machine had 4 designs available and included images of Goofy juggling on a unicycle, Mickey with a Surrey Bike, Mickey as a Strongman, and Mickey & Minnie on the Boardwalk.  I’ve been on the boardwalk during the day and it’s nice, but it definitely gets interesting at night with a lot more going on.  A little further down the boardwalk was an ESPN Zone restaurant and bar.  I headed inside real quick as a machine is located just near the check-in desk.

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The pennies at this machine all included the ESPN Club logo and had images of Football player Mickey, Donald twirling a Basketball, and Daisy swinging a bat.  The Boston Red Sox’s where in a close playoff game and the bar was getting a little crazy with fans so I headed back outside so we could finish making our way over to our resort.

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This was a picture I took of our Beach Club resort from the Boardwalk.  The resorts really do come alive at night and this was just a really nice way to cap of a wonderful day.

BONUS: Day 7 – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

The next was the our last full day of our trip.  We had scheduled to take it easy this day so we could be ready for the Halloween party at night in the Magic Kingdom.  For breakfast we headed back to the Polynesian Village Resort to meet up with my sister’s family at ‘Ohana.

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The breakfast here includes characters and we were able to see Lilo, Stitch, Pluto, and Mickey.  The food was endless jumbo sized skilled filled with bacon, eggs, sausage and biscuits.  This sounds like a standard breakfast but for some reason it was really fantastic and I would definitely come back here again to start a day.  After we ate we all headed back to our resorts for some pool time, and naps in the afternoon.  By late afternoon we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the party.

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This is a special ticketed event that we had to set up ahead of time.  We had printed tickets for the entrance gate, but were given special wrist bands so the cast members knew who was allowed in after the park closed for non-party guests.

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I posted this before but the castle was all lit up for Halloween and was really cool looking.  Our kids didn’t want to get into their costumes until we were in the park so it was about now that they decided to transform.

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Hanna had recently coming interested in Sleeping Beauty after watching it a few times.  To be honest I think it’s just because the dress is pink, but she really got into it knowing that candy must be nearby.  Since we were allowed in a little early we had made dinner reservations over at the coveted Be Our Guest restaurant.

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For dinner this restaurant is a standard table service setup where a wait staff comes to take your order.  For lunch there is touch screen kiosks to place your order.  We were seated in the darker West Wing room which is also where you find the famous rose with the falling petals.  We experience lunch the year before, and to be honest I think I preferred it.  The foods I had for dinner was okay but the sandwiches for lunch just seemed to be a lot more enjoyable.  For dessert make sure the “Try the Gray Stuff” and it was delicious.

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After we were done eating we were escorted into a private room to visit with the Beast, and take some pictures.  With dinner done the Halloween party was just about to start.  We headed over to Adventureland so we could ride Pirates and check out the first of many trick or treating spots throughout the park.

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There was a bit of a line at most of these places but it moved pretty quickly, and the cast members were not shy about giving fistfuls of candy.  It only takes Hanna a few times to get the hang of it and was rushing us to each of the candy stops.  When we got over to Splash Mountain our niece Ava wanted to ride it.  My family didn’t want to go so I went with my sister, and brother-in-law and got a log all to ourselves.

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My sister and I were in the second row, and Ava was in the front enjoying every moment of the ride.  I’m holding out hope that my youngest Melody will go on this with me when she’s older.  My sister used to drag me on this when we were kids so it was kind of fund to have an updated picture.  Once we were soaked we met up with our family and had perfect timing for the start of the first parade.  We were pretty close and had a great view.  I’m a big fan of the Haunted Mansion so my favorite part of the parade was the Hitchhiking Ghosts.

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 The rest of the evening continued on with us getting as much candy as we could, and riding more attractions than usual.  The nice thing about this after hours party is that since there are only a limited number of tickets sold the crowds levels are much smaller and wait times for rides are really, really short.  Eventually we were over in Fantasyland to ride The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train again, and then a short walk to ride Dumbo.

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I got to ride with my nephew Luke who didn’t want it to end, and I was able to snag a quick selfie with him.  We got off the ride and my dad and I went to check out the Big Top Souvenirs shop.  My dad wanted to get one of the limited edition Halloween Party Magic Bands and I went to use the penny machine.

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This is one of the few 4 design hand crank machines available in the Magic Kingdom.  The designs are all circus inspired and have images of Donald lifting a heavy weight, Minnie on the Trapeze, the Great Goofini, and Ringmaster Mickey.

Just as if we had planned it when we met back up with our group the fireworks started and we had a pretty good view area for the show.  When they were done there was still about an hour or so before the party was over, but our group was exhausted and already falling asleep.  We headed towards the front of the park, back to our car and eventually to our resort.

The next morning was our flight back to Jersey, and unfortunately back to reality.  It had been another wonderful vacation filled more amazing memories we won’t soon forget, and a whole lot of press coins to review.

2016 WDW Trip Day 5 – Animal Kingdom Lodge / Art of Animation Resort

After an eventful morning at the Animal Kingdom park we left shortly after noon to try to make our lunch reservation at a new place we had never been to before.  We left the parking lot and just a short drive away we drove up to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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The security guard at the gat was very nice in explaining where we needed to go.  After parking the car we headed inside and were just blown away with this resort.  The details they included here are really amazing, and towards the back of the lobby were huge windows giving you a fantastic view of the Savanna the resort surrounds.

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We took the staircase down one level and found the restaurant lunch Sanaa which I have been wanting to try for a while and have heard nothing but great things about.

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After a few minutes wait while they got our table ready we were given a tour of the restaurant on our way to the table.

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There were some tables right up near the large windows to look out at the Savanna, but unfortunately our group was too large and weren’t able to get one of these tables.

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But regardless there are fantastic views from pretty much every table inside.  Throughout our meal we were able to see various animals, and birds come right passed the windows which makes this a unique dining experience.  The food is definitely not what we are used to eating but was still excellent.

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The Indian-style bread service appetizer was the most talked about.  We opted for the full tasting option which included 5 different naan breads, and 9 different sauces/accompaniments.  This was our chance to try something outside our comfort zone but not be too crazy and this was really a great find and experience.  Weeks after our vacation was over this was the one place we all kept talking about.  It’s not necessarily the easiest place to get to if you aren’t staying at this resort, but that’s what makes this a hidden gem and well worth the extra time to get there.

After lunch we did spend a little time wandering around the resort and came to a conclusion that we were going to try to stay here on an upcoming trip.  I can only imagine how cool the rooms are, especially if you get one that looks out over the savanna.  Eventually we got back to our car, but didn’t want to got back to our resort right away.  I mentioned checking our another resort The Art of Animation which is a value resort but with really nice theming.  Last year I made a trip myself over to this resort to check it out and wrote about it here.  This time I wanted the rest of my family to check it out and Hanna really got a kick out of the Cars characters.

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When we were don’t walking around the resort we went back into the main building and got some drinks and snacks from their food court for the ride back.  While we were inside I took the opportunity to update my pressed coins from this resort.

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Both these machines have some really detailed designs.  This first machine has pennies with images of Nemo, Lightning McQueen, and The Art of Animation Resort Logo.

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The second machine has pennies with designs of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Simba from The Lion King, and Mater from Pixar’s Cars.  By this time we were about ready for an afternoon nap.  We headed back to our resort and took the rest of the afternoon off just to rest and recharge.  Our dinner reservation was later that evening but thankfully it was just over in the Yacht Club Resort which was just a short walk away.

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The Yachtsman Steakhouse was another fantastic meal.  Coming from Jersey we have visited some really great Steakhouses in New York City, but this was really a nice find.  Upon entering the restaurant we passed by their meat aging room, which is also where they hand cut the different steaks.

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They do have an open kitchen so you can see everything going on, and the staff is very friendly and greeted us as we passed by.  Our table was a little further back but our wait staff were fantastic.

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The food was also really top-notch, but please note that the price definitely reflects this.  But we were so impressed with everything that we felt the cost was definitely justified.

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I started with a French Onion Soup which I have any time it’s on the menu.  My main course was a 10 oz Black Angus Filet Mignon with mashed potatoes and a Cabernet wine sauce which is pictured above.

When we were done it was a good thing our resort was a quick walk away.  We were completely stuffed but the nice walk along the water helped our digestion.  This has been a fun day filled with new adventures and new food favorites we would absolutely be trying again.  Tomorrow was the Wedding Day so we made it an early night.

Gone Hollywood Gifts (Star Wars Set) – California Adventure, CA

Just as short walk from Disneyland over in California Adventure there is a new set of pressed quarters that just appeared on stage.  New quarter designs are always fun and a little unique since they aren’t too common, plus I like the added size for extra design space.  This new set can be found over at the Gone Hollywood Gifts store.  Now before I show you the coins, as I mentioned above this is a new Star Wars set which is fantastic, but another cool new feature is the machine cabinet has a digital screen.  I will admit I have not been able to see this in person yet, but was able to find a video that you can see here.  This video is courtesy of Anastasia Sousa from the Facebook group “Souvenir Penny (Elongated Coin)”, be sure to join if you haven’t already.

As you could see from the above video there are three coin designs.  The full set includes images of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and C-3PO & R2-D2.

There is also a backstamp on each of these coins with the classic Star Wars logo.  I’m definitely into all these new Star Wars designs we are seeing, but hope they start to expand the characters available at these machines.  That universe is huge and there are a lot of other characters they could be putting onto these coins.  Some are obviously a little more unfamiliar to the casual fan, but I still think it would be great to have a Boba Fett or AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport – Look it up you’ll know it as soon as you see it) design on a pressed penny or quarter.  Keep ’em coming Disney I’ve got room for many more.

2016 WDW Trip Day 5 – Animal Kingdom

This day’s schedule had us visiting the Animal Kingdom in the morning, but I had booked us a lunch reservation at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  This was causing me some indigestion to try to figure out the best way for us to enjoy the park but still be able to make it over for lunch.  We decided to get to the park as early as possible so we had more than enough time to do everything we wanted.

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Just after the security check point but before the actual entrance to the park is one of the multiple locations of the Rainforest Cafe that are available on property.

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They serve breakfast at this location which I think is the only one that does so, but I just wanted to use the machines inside.

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The first three machines are right inside the main entrance.  The machine on the left has pennies  with images of Maya the Jaguar, Cha Cha the Tree Frog, Iggy the Iguana, and Ozzie the Orangutan.  The second machine has designs including Bamba the Gorilla, Cha Cha the Tree Frog, a Mockingbird with Rio the Macaw, and Tuki the Baby Elephant.

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The third machine near the entrance had images of an Alligator, a Mockingbird (Florida State Bird), a Crab, and Two Hot Air Balloons.  The last machine pressed on quarters and had images of an Orangutan, a Frog, a Fish, and a Butterfly all with Rainforest Cafe Orlando, FL included in the designs.  With all these coins collected I ran back outside and met us with my family.  Just as we were about to head into the park I noticed that we were in a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the Floating Mountains soon to be revealed in the new “Avatar Land”, technically the actual name is Pandora: The World of Avatar.

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Disney has announced that this new area of Animal Kingdom will open the Summer of 2017.  Not exact date has been officially announced and of course there are a ton of rumors.  But I will say I am really excited to check this brand new state of the art area once it’s open.  Next we headed straight back to the Tree of Life, watched the flying birds opening ceremony and immediately headed to DinoLand USA.  Hanna loves the TriceraTop Spin ride which is exactly like Dumbo just with Dinosaurs.  While they waited to get on I headed nearby to Chester & Hester’s Dino Treasures.

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Unfortunately as you can see from the picture on the left above this machine was out-of-order when I visited.  This machine when working had another of the 2016 designs with Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, an Iguanodon, and a Carnotaurus.  The second machine on the right was located outside the store and was in perfect working condition.  This machine had designs of Paleontologist Mickey, Terk, and Scar from The Lion King.  I got back to the Flying Dino ride just in time to see Hanna and my wife soaring through the sky.  When the ride was over Hanna insisted on going again.  There wasn’t much of a line so they hopped right back on.  This gave me another opportunity to check out a couple other nearby machines.

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The Restaurantosaurus is a quick service location which some interesting menu options.  Right before you enter there is a penny machine on the front porch area.

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This machine has three pennies available with images of Tarzan & Jane, Donald dressed like a Dinosaur, and a Dinosaur Fossil.  At this early in the morning this restaurant is not open, however the doors were unlocked and I knew there was another machine somewhere inside.  Once inside I found myself wondering straight into a staff meeting of cast members.  I apologized for interrupting and asked if they could point me in the direction of the penny machine.  They were more than happy to help and showed me where it was in one of the back dining areas among a bunch of tables.

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This was probably the most convenient time I could have used this machine since no one was in there eating.  But if you go during any other time of the day this area may be packed with people making this a little more difficult to access.  The pennies here included three separate images of Dinosaurs.  To be honest I have no idea what kind of Dino’s these are so I’m not even going to guess.  Here’s a close up of the marquee so you can see the designs.

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My family all met up just outside this area of the DinoLand USA area and I noticed Hanna convinced her Grandparents she needed to have her face painted.

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We then started off to the next area of the park.  Along the way we passed the Everest coaster which I get vertigo just looking at from the ground, but went into the gift shop called the Serka Zong Bazaar.

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The first penny image I have always like since it first became available.  It’s a cute cartoon version of the Yeti you encounter on the Everest ride.  The other two designs are of Mountain Climber Mickey, and the Everest Coaster Logo.

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It was about time for our Fastpass to the Safari jeep ride so we headed over there first.  Hanna actually stayed awake this year and enjoyed helping our guide point out the different animals along the way.  When the safari was over we headed to the Harambe Railway Station.

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There are two machines located in the waiting area for the train.  Just be sure to not delay too long as you may miss the train if you don’t press the coins quick enough.  The machine on the left pressed quarters and had the 2016 Pluto design, Simba & Nala, and Shere Khan.  The second machine has pennies designs including Tarzan, Pumbaa, and Professor Archimedes from Tarzan.  I finished up just in time and jumped right on the train.  This takes you up to the Conservation Station which our kids had a great time at last year and we were anticipating the same.  After we got off the train there is a long walk to the Conservation Station but this is a great place to take a quick bathroom break and enjoy the air conditioning.

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The above machine was new for 2016.  The images on these pennies were of Goofy with a Giraffe, Donald with a Map, and Timon & Pumbaa.  My daughter Hanna helped me press these coins and just as we were done she saw a familiar face make an appearance for a meet and greet so we headed right over and got in line.

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Recently at home Hanna has become a fan of The Lion Guard which is a TV show based on a movie that is a new sequel to Lion King.  Yikes did you get all that?  Anyways my wife had to explain this to me as I couldn’t figure out how Hanna new who Rafiki was, but that explained it.  She really enjoyed meeting Rafiki and he was really great with her not rushing her on and spending quite a bit of time with her.  I’m sure it helped that there were only a few people in line at that time.  Back outside there is a petting zoo which we had to drag Hanna away from last year, but this year she petted a few sheep and goats but was almost dragging the adults out this time around.  Melody seemed to be enjoying herself, but that may be due to us escorting her around like royalty.

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We made our way back to the train and once off were in the Africa area of the park.  We had a fastpass coming up but had time for a quick snack at the Tamu Tamu refreshments stand.  Hanna got an ice cream sundae and I opted for a Dole Whip with Coconut rum.  We ate our snacks as we wandered back over towards the Asia part of the park.

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The Yak & Yeti is a restaurant we have eaten at a few times over the years.  We have always had enjoyable food and great service, but I do know some people who have said otherwise.  We enjoy it so we usually try to go each time we are at this park, but this year we had other lunch plans so I just ran inside to use the penny machine.

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The designs on these pennies include the Himalaya Mountains, a Yak, Two Tibetan Mastiffs, and a Pagoda.  Our fastpass for a character meet and greet had started so we just took a quick trip over the bridge to Discovery Island and scanned our magic bands to enter the greeting area.

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We still had to wait a few minutes in a queue but once we rounded the corner and Hanna saw who we were going to meeting she could hardly contain herself.  Mickey and Minnie in Safari outfits was a cute theme.  We got a lot of pictures and they definitely took their time interacting with both Hanna and Melody.  Hanna didn’t want to let Minnie’s hand go at the end but we promised to come back again another time.  It was getting closer to lunch time and we needed to start heading back to the parking lot so we could try to make it to our reservation.  We didn’t get to hit up all the attractions at the Animal Kingdom we wanted to but did get most of them done.  Thankfully once we were back in our car we didn’t have too far to go.  Check back to see where we went for lunch and if we run into any other penny machines (Hint: Absolutely).

Epcot China Pavilion Penny Machine #3 – Just released

I don’t know if  I should necessarily call this breaking news, but  I guess in the Walt Disney World Pressed Penny collector circle that’s what this is.  Make sure if you are visiting Epcot you head over to the China Pavilion and check out the third penny machine that has been placed on stage here.  This is becoming quite a collecting corner for pressed coins.  Two of the machines are four design hand crank models, and the third is a three design electric model.  This new machine is located just outside the House of Good Fortune gift shop.

The designs include images off Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald.  Two of the designs list China, and the other two have a unique Disney logos on them.  There is no word on whether these are only for a limited time, but I’m excited to see the multiple machines at this location.

Hopefully some of the other pavilions will follow suit and gets some new updated machines.

Astro Blaster (Buzz Lightyear) Exit – Disneyland, CA

Disneyland has been taking a little time off since the last set of new press coin designs were released.  But just a short while ago this has changed and a couple new sets have made an appearance.  First up is at the Astro Blaster Exit also known as the Buzz Lightyear ride/attraction.

This is a really cool set.  You can see there is the famous Disneyland Monorail, an Astro Orbitor and the Space Mountain Logo.

As with most of the new coins at Disneyland these have a nice backstamp.  The design on the back of these coins represents their location within the park Tomorrowland.

Ever since I was young the Monorail was one of my favorite attractions.  Just for that one design alone this was a must have set I couldn’t wait to get.  Hopefully there will be more on the way.  Disney has a lot of different transportation and ride vehicles throughout their parks and resorts and I always thought that may be a fun mini-set of pressed coin designs.  I’ll keep dreaming and hope someone can make that happen.  Happy collecting!