2016 WDW Trip Day 1 – Travel Day / Disney Springs / Resorts

As I sit here trying to detail out our Family Trip to WDW we took almost four months ago, we are bracing for a severe winter storm up in Jersey.  I could think of nothing better on a snowy day that to finally get around to reviewing our trip in sunny Florida.

I’ve mentioned this before in an earlier post but figured I’d just give a quick review.  This trip actually started as a destination wedding for my brother-in-law’s sister.  She and her fiancé (now husband) are huge Disney fans and wanted nothing more than to be married in the most magical place on earth.  We decided to extend our scheduled stay for the wedding into a week-long vacation.  As I’ve posted in the past there is a lot of pre-planning for a Disney vacation that goes on and makes the time before your trip almost excruciating to wait through.  I won’t put you through those details this time as they haven’t changed (dining reservations, attraction fast passes, etc) but instead jump right in.

On this trip I did have scheduled to visit a lot (and I truly mean a lot ) of pressed coin machines.  Although since I had visited for a week-long trip just a year previously in 2015, and a few shorter trips earlier this year there weren’t a lot of new coins I needed to collect.  Instead I decided to take this opportunity to replace some of my old coins.  Back when I first started really getting into collecting the coins my selection of pennies was not the best so I have a lot of very tarnished or pennies in just terrible condition.  This was my chance to get these replaced and up to a higher standard.  Without further ado, we pick up our story just as we disembark the airplane in Orlando.

As with most air travelers as soon as we were off the plane everyone needed a quick bathroom pit stop.  I took the opportunity to visit the Disney EarPort store again and make sure the penny machine hadn’t changed.

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The machine was still in the same location (near one of the exits) and had the same three designs.  You can read out these coins in further detail here.  Next we headed to our rental car and were off to our next destination.  We had some time before our resort was going to be ready so we took the opportunity to check out something we have been working on for the last year or so.  My family is actually in the middle of relocating to the Orlando area.  As you may know from earlier posts I’m originally from Canada, moved to New Jersey in ’96 and am now heading even further south to Florida.  We are having a new house built about 30 minutes from Orlando which is why we have been making numerous small trips down to Florida this year, and helped keep up with all the new pressed coins.

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Above is a picture of our daughter Hanna on our future home site.  The building should start shortly and we are very excited about the move.  We stopped by just to check up on things and ensure everything was progressing which it was.  This was also the first time that Hanna and our younger daughter Melody were able to see the model home we picked and we got their stamp of approval.  As the day went on we were surprised to not receive our TXT message from Disney with our room assignment, so we decided to head over to Disney Springs for some shopping and dinner.

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For those of you that haven’t been to Disney Springs yet please go check it out.  It’s definitely a busy place but I feel the added Marketplace area has helped spread the crowds out a little bit.  The new Marketplace area is really nice to wander around, and see all the changes.  I remember years ago visiting Pleasure Island before it was changed, and they have definitely been making some great new additions.  The new restaurants by the way are fantastic and make for a lot of new choices.

We didn’t have any dining reservations, and just decided to wander around to kill off some more time before our room was ready.  There has recently been a bunch of new pressed penny/token machines placed here and I wanted to get some updated pictures.  First stop was the Marvel Superhero Headquarters.

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As you can see above this is one of the new 8-design touch screen machines, and you can read more about the coins I acquired previously here.  Right next door is the Star Wars Galactic Outpost which is a personal favorite of mine.

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This is another 8-design machine that I had previously collected.  Unfortunately my phone was dead on my earlier trip so this was a nice opportunity to get a picture of the machine.  These new machines are very cool to watch in action, and you can check out these coins in more detail here.

Since we were visiting during October we were able to get tickets to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party which I’ll write about in a future post.  But we had to stop in at the World of Disney Super Gift Shop to find our girls costumes for the party.  But before heading in there was a new food stand I wanted to try.

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The Daily Poutine was one of the first new food spots in the Disney Springs transformation.  Being from Canada I know all about Poutine and have missed it dearly in all our years in Jersey.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with Poutine it is usually a pile of french fries, covered with cheese curds and a thick brown gravy.  Not the most waistline friendly but helped us bulk up during a frigid Canadian winter.  This new stand has quite a few different options but I went for a special they were offering just to try something different.

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All-Day Breakfast Poutine how could I not try this unique offering.

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I will admit when they first gave it to me the gravy on it looked a little unappetizing, but I dug in and it was really good.  The gravy was very flavorful, and when you cut into the fried egg the runny yoke it all came together.  I don’t know how often this may be available but if it’s on the menu be sure to give it a try.

While I worked on my Poutine the rest of my family had already gone into the World of Disney looking for some souvenirs but primarily the Halloween costumes.  After checking out a lot of different dresses and tiaras Hanna decided to be Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, and Melody was going to be Tinker Bell.  With costumes paid for we headed a little further to the Once Upon a Toy Store which is currently the location of three machines.  I wrote about them previously and you can check out the details here.

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There is a 4-design hand crank machine, and then two 8-design touch screen machines.  Definitely a must stop to get a quick boost to your coin collection.  By this time it was starting to get dark and we were in need of some food.  We really wanted to try one of the new restaurants and were hoping to avoid a long wait.  Over in the new Marketplace area we stopped in at the D-Luxe Burger which had a fairly short line (10 minutes to order) and ended up having some really great burgers.

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After dinner we still hadn’t heard anything from our resort but figured the room had to be ready.  We headed over and were told they were having some system issues, but that our room was available.  By this time most of my family was exhausted and just wanted to relax in the room for the rest of the night.  I had received a phone call from my sister that her family had also made it to their resort and asked if we wanted to stop over for a visit.  My daughter Hanna was immediately revived with the notion of seeing her cousin Ava.  They were staying over at the Polynesian Village Resort so Hanna and I hopped in the rental car and headed over.  After parking we first stopped into the grand ceremonial house (main building of the resort).  We started on the second floor over near the new Moana Mercantile there were two coin machines.

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The first machine had 3 penny designs.  The designs included Pocahontas & John Smith, Pocahontas kneeling, and Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo.

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The second machine was also a 3 design model but pressed quarters.  The images were of Lilo dancing, Lilo & Stitch, and Lilo & Stitch eating ice cream.  These machines are right near the check in for O’Hana which is one of our favorite restaurants.  It was tempting to head over to the bar and get a Lapu Lapu (I’ll explain this later or you can google it) but there was another penny machine to find and a special treat we were looking forward to instead.

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We took the stairs down to the first floor and just inside the sliding doors that led out back towards the main pool was the last machine at this resort.  It has 3 penny designs of Sneezy, Buzz Lightyear, and Scar from the Lion King (Disney Villains set).  With the coins stored away Hanna and I walked through the sliding glass doors and made an immediately left turn.  We came face to face with the Pineapple Lanai which is one of the only placed to get the famous Dole Whip outside of the theme parks.  There were a few people ahead of us but we knew it was worth it.  Hanna and I each got a Dole Whip and we gobbled them down.  This is absolutely a must have snack if you are in Disney, it’s Pineapple non-dairy soft serve.  I’ve tried to make it at home and have gotten pretty good results, but there is nothing like getting it straight from Disney.

After we devoured our Dole Whips we finally made it over to my sister’s room and were able to visit with her family for about an hour.  By that time the long day had start to hit the kids and they all were staggering around half asleep.  We said goodnight and we headed back to our resort.  I don’t think I mentioned this but we were staying at the Beach Club Resort over near Epcot.

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Hanna was asleep in the stroller so I took the opportunity to try to get one last machine before we turned in.  We headed out the back of our resort toward the Yacht Club resort and right beside the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop was the Lafferty Arcade.

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When I visited this arcade a few years ago to collect the pennies it was located inside the arcade but this time around the machine was outside.

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The images on these pennies are of Mickey with a Surf Board, The Yacht Club logo, and Bashful Dwarf.  We had been up early and it was now getting pretty late.  Hanna was completely out in the stroller so I quickly made my way back to our room.  When we got inside we were greeted with a special gift from the resort staff.

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These were some amazing hand craft chocolates, and a cute chocolate lighthouse.  It was late to dig in this first night, but made for an exquisite pre-breakfast snack the next morning.  Day 1 was pretty busy and I was able to check off a nice batch of machines from my to-do list but there were lots more still to come.

Once Upon A Toy Store More Pennies – Disney Springs

I’m back with another update from Disney Springs as I heard about some new penny machines.  This trip took me back over to Once Upon a Toy Store which I could swear I had just visited?!?!  Click here to read about my last visit for some Star Wars pennies.

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In any case I shouldn’t complain since there is nothing wrong with more new pennies.  As I’ve mentioned in the past this is a huge toy store, and my inner child would love to just buy half the stuff they have here.  But I couldn’t be distracted as I was on a mission to find the new pennies machines.  Thankfully the first one was right inside the main doors.

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I should mention that this machine was actually located in this store years ago and was removed in 2015.  Just recently it has made its way back to the store but the designs have stayed the same as before.

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This 4-design hand crank machine has Mater and Ramone from Pixar’s Cars Movie, Dash and Frozone from Pixar’s The Incredibles Movie.  Now this store is kind of setup as three stores in one.  The first part had all the standard Disney characters and souvenirs, the very back of the store is all Star Wars (this is where the other machine was located), but right in the middle is the Marvel’s Superhero section.

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This is where I found the second machine which as you can see is an 8-design touch screen model (Love these!).

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The touch screen is easy to use and the instructions walk you through exactly what to do.  Being the nerd I am I used my Apple Pay as payment and my coins started dropping out the bottom.  This was a numbered set with images of Spiderman (1 of 8), Nick Fury (2 of 8), Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (3 of 8), Ant-Man (4 of 8), Black Panther (5 of 8), Vision (6 of 8), War Machine (7 of 8), and Falcon (8 of 8).

I wish I could say I stayed away from the Star Wars area but the Force was too strong (sorry I had to).  Eventually after deciding on just a half-dozen items I paid for my things and headed back out into the light so we could find something to eat…and maybe more pennies.

Waterside Stage – Disney Springs, FL

With all the brand new 2017 pressed pennies and quarters that were just put on stage throughout the Walt Disney World property you think a little down time may have been needed.  But thankfully for us diehard collectors another new machine was just put out at the Waterside Stage in Disney Springs.

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If you are like me you have probably past this place a hundred times and not really noticed it.  It’s located right across from the World of Disney gift shop.  The machine is at the back behind the seating towards the right side.

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All four of the pennies have the Disney Springs logo across the top, and have images of Mickey & Pluto, Donald with Mickey ears, Lilo & Stitch, and Winnie the Pooh with his friends.

This is a nice new set and is in a location I haven’t seen a coin machine at in the past.  There are more stores and restaurants due to open later this year at Disney Springs so maybe they will continue releasing new pressed penny machines at the same time.  Be sure to keep an eye out and your pocket filled with change just in case.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

Disney Springs Walkthrough – May 2016

Just recently my wife and I took a spur of the moment trip to Orlando for a few days to finalize some personal matters.  But that didn’t stop us from attempting to get some Disney magic fulfilled while there.  Unfortunately most of our days were filled with scheduled meetings, but one evening we did finish up early and decided to check out the new Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney).

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When my family had visited the previous spring there was still a lot under construction and many walls up preventing you from seeing the magic taking place behind them.  This time there was still a little construction going on but a lot of the new restaurants and shops were now open and has really transformed this area.  We had eaten already so there was nothing stopping us from just taking our time and wandering around.  There are two new multi-level parking garages available, but we were able to find a ground floor parking spot over by the Cirque du Soleil theatre.  Now just because we were checking out the new stores and restaurants didn’t mean I wouldn’t have time to check out the penny machines.  I will say that I have previously collected all of the coins available at Disney Springs, and this trip I was really just updating my records and pictures of the machines.  But there were a few along the way that I just couldn’t pass up pressing a new set.

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No better place to start than at Cirque du Soleil’s gift shop.  The last time I was here the machine was off-stage for repairs, but I’m glad to report it was back outside the doors to the gift shop.  A short walk away was the House of Blues restaurant.

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This machine has been here for years and the design has never changed.  It’s located just inside the main doors around by where the restrooms are.  This place was filling up fast so I just took the picture and headed back outside.

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Another short walk away was the Disney Quest building.  I have been inside on past visits, but this time decided not to pay the admission price that seems to keep going up but there are fewer and fewer things to do inside.  Instead we just wandered into the Merchandise Shop and while my wife looked at gifts for our kids I found the penny machine located inside.  Once done we finished walked through the west end which hasn’t really changed much but I’m assuming that may be a future phase to the construction.  We crossed the bridge into “The Landing” which I fondly remember from years ago as Pleasure Island.  Here there were a lot of new things to see.

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First we came across Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar.  For those of you that kinda sorta recognize the name, Jock is Indiana Jones’ pilot from the 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He has the huge snake in the plane, ringing any bells.  In any case that’s who this place is themed around.  I have seen pictures online and walking up towards it I will say the place looks awesome, but being so new the waiting time to get in was insane so I had to indulge from a distance.

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Close by was another new restaurant called Morimoto Asia.  If any of you are fans of the Food Network like I am you will immediately recognize the name of the famous Iron Chef.  I was lucky enough to eat at his restaurant in Philadelphia years ago when it first opened and he was actually there working at the sushi bar.  What really surprised us was that he took the time to come to our table and speak briefly with us (his english is still a work in progress).  He thanked us for coming and even signed one of the menus for us which I still have today.

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A very classy guy and I will always remember how he went out of his way to make sure we had an amazing meal.  I’m sure this restaurant will be no different.  It’s on my list of places to eat at the next time we visit in October.

Continuing our stroll we passed by the iconic Fulton’s Crab House paddle boat restaurant but it was closed.  For anyone that hasn’t heard it closed for a refurbishment and will be reopening the fall of 2016 with a new design and new name…Paddlefish.  Not sure I like the name, but at least it will still be a floating restaurant on Lake Buena Vista.  After walking by Fulton’s we were immediately swarmed by huge crowds which could only mean one thing, we were near the T-Rex prehistoric dining adventure.

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This place is owned and operated by the same company that handles the Rainforest Cafe franchise.  Inside there are animatronic dinosaurs near your table, there are meteor showers every 15 minutes, and a huge sea creature looms over the bar.  We fought our way inside to check out the gift shop.

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The store has two penny machines available.  One used to be outside in the kids play area but recently has been moved inside.  Just figured I mentioned it in case they like to move the machine around.  This gift shop is really cool if you are into dinosaurs but as I mentioned can be very crowded and busy due to the restaurant’s popularity.  I’ve eaten here previously and the food is nothing to write home about, but as with the Rainforest you are really going to enjoy the ambiance of the place.  I mean who doesn’t want to share their Jurassic Salad or Guac-asaurus Burger with a raptor sitting next to your table?  Our next stop was a place I could literally spend an entire day in.

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The World of Disney store seems to get bigger each time I go there, and they had everything you could imaging from clothes, to plush, jewelry, kitchen ware, candy, and for me best of all three penny machines.

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All three machines are towards the back of the store near the jewelry area.  These were pennies I had acquired over 6 or 7 years ago and before this trip I saw that my original coins were a little crappy.  Back then I didn’t make the best decisions when it came to the coins I used to press, so I figured this was a good opportunity to update my collection.

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This first set was a nice collection of Princesses (and a couple of princes).  The designs included Princess Aurora with Prince Phillip, Snow White and her Prince, Jasmine and the Little Mermaid herself Ariel.

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After using the first machine I just spun directly around and the next machine was right there and I only needed to exert about three steps worth of energy.

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This next set included images of Dancing Mickey, Dancing Minnie, Dancing Goofy and Tinker Bell all with the World of Disney included in each design.

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The last machine here was also not far away from the others.  It was just by the checkout area of the jewelry section kind of in a corner near a staff members only door.

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This last set had designs that included the World of Disney logo, apprentice Mickey, Cruella de Vil, and Captain Hook.  I can confirm that all 12 of these designs are the same ones I had collected so many years ago.  They haven’t been updated, but are still a nice variety of subjects on each coin, plus with the machines being so close to each other is a quick way to boost your collection numbers.  After buying more stuff that we really should have left the store.  But honestly who can leave that place and not buy at least a few (ahem dozen) things for your friends and family (technically it’s all still in my possession and will probably stay that way, sorry friends and family).

From a store that has had coin designs stay the same for many years we skipped nearby to the Once Upon a Toy store where they have my latest obsession the touch screen super-multi design machines.

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 As you can probably see from the machine’s marquee in the above picture these designs are all Frozen related.

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Here is a closer look at the inner workings of the machine.  I will say this really is cool to watch it running after you place your order on the touch screen.  Especially if you’re getting all eight.

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For those Frozen fanatics out there the designs in this set are: #1 Elsa with her Snow Castle, #2 Anna & Elsa holding a Snow Flake, #3 Anna & Elsa looking at each other, #4 Anna, #5 Anna sitting in front of the Castle, #6 Elsa, #7 Olaf, and #8 Sven & Kristoff.

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With the scent of fresh waffle cones being made at the nearby Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop calling my name I knew we were almost at the end.  But we did have a two last places to checkout first.  Marketplace Fun Finds is as the name implies full of interesting little souvenirs that you don’t get to find in the other shops.

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As you walk around the store there is a side entrance/exit where you can find one of the penny machines located here.

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After you use the above machine you can walk outside and find the second machine just around the corner.  These are a nice set that was put on stage shortly after the name of Downtown Disney officially changes to Disney Springs.

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With ice cream on my brain I make a quick dash through the Goofy’s Candy Co and headed inside my last stop the Rainforest Cafe.

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This place is packed everything I come here.  Luckily I wasn’t here to eat so I skipped the line and walked right into the gift shop to find the three penny machines and one quarter machine hidden inside.

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The first two penny machines are located almost immediately upon entering the store.

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Since the gift shop tends to be a popular place for people to wait for their tables it does get a little challenging to try to use these machines and especially take pictures of them.

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I had to just wander around to find the other machines which were a little hidden.  When I had first acquired these coins quite a few years ago I seem to remember the machines being in different locations.  The best advice I can give is just start at one end of the store and eventually you will come across all of them.

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With all the machines found, documented and some new coins collected it was time to head outside, grab my Ghirardelli’s and drive back to our hotel.  Disney Springs has really been turning into a great new place to experience and they aren’t done yet.  I’ve heard some great things about the new stores and restaurants located in the recently opened Town Center, and can’t wait to check it out on my next trip.  I’m crossing my fingers for some new machines.

Super Hero Headquarters – Disney Springs, FL

Has anyone gone to see the new Captain America Civil War movie?  If not you may be one of the few that hasn’t seen this huge blockbuster.  Marvel is certainly a huge commodity and Disney is cashing in on that investment.  I had visited Disney Springs a few weeks ago and one of the new stores I found was called Super Hero Headquarters.

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This place was filled from corner to corner with everything to fill Marvel needs.  T-Shirts, plush, posters, figures, you name it they have it.

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 Unfortunately for me I found out afterwards that they had recently placed a new touch screen multi-design penny machine in this store only a few days after I had been there.  Thankfully a Florida friend of mine was able to visit the store and press a set for my collection.

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This is an 8 design set all themed around Marvel’s Avengers.  Each design is numbered and includes images of: Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, the Avengers Logo, and Loki.  On a side note after you go pick yourself up a set of these be sure to go check out the new Town Center at Disney Springs.  This brand new shopping and dining area just opened on May 15th and looks really nice.

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I’m excited to check this place out the next time we are in Florida later this year, and hopefully there will be some new penny machines by then.

New Marketplace Fun Finds – Disney Springs

Out with the old Downtown Disney in Orlando, and in with the new revitalized Disney Springs.  When I had visited back in April much of this area was under construction and behind the magical walls forcing us to use our imagination as to what Disney was creating.

Now I believe the official grand opening isn’t until early 2016 but some of the new restaurants and shops have started to open.  I’ve got a few on my list for the next time we visit.  But in the meantime a new set of pressed pennies became available at the Marketplace Fun Finds.  This little store has seen quite a bit of action with their machines this year.  The original machine located here had four designs all that included “Downtown Disney”.  Well naturally with the name change to Disney Springs these old coins had to go.

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Similar to the previous set all four of these designs says “Disney Springs” and included images of the Disney Springs Logo, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.  A friend of mine from Orlando was able to stop by and get these coins for me, but his phone was dead by the time he got to the store and wasn’t able to get a picture of the machine (I’m sending a phone car charger for Christmas).  But as always I’m very thankful he didn’t mind going out of his way to pick these up for me so I’ll forgive the dead battery (this time hint hint).

If you’re in the area make sure you stop by the new Disney Springs and see what’s new.  Check out Iron Chef Morimoto’s new restaurant or take an amphibious car for a tour of the lake from the new Boathouse restaurant.  Then before heading home wonder by the Marketplace Fun Finds and get a set of these coins, it’s the first new set for Disney Springs and hopefully won’t be the last.