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.

2016 WDW Trip Day 3 – Resort Crawl

Day 3 had come to and end for my family, but my daughter Hanna and I were still hopped up on Goofy Carmel Corn and Mickey Rice Crispy treats.  With all this energy to work off  we decided to jump in the rental car and visit some resorts.  As you can assume the primary visit to each of these reports was to get pressed coins, but it’s always fun to just wander around the different resorts and see what they have to offer. They are all so different from each other and a lot of fun to spend some time at each one.  My plan was to start with the resorts furthest away from our resort and work my way back.  First up was the All-Star Sports resort.

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Located across from the food court is the Game Point Arcade and just before you enter the Arcade is a nice wall of four pressed coin machines.  The first machine pressed on quarters and had designs of 2016 Minnie Mouse, Mickey Golfing and Pooh looking in his Honey Pot.  The second machine has pennies with Baseball Mickey, Tennis Goofy, and Minnie with Roller Skates on.

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The third machine has images of Dory, Pluto on a Soccer ball, and Tigger with Pooh in a Row boat.  The last machine here also presses pennies and has designs of Captain Hook, Hades, and Cruella De Vil all from the Villains set.  Technically we could have walked to the next resort, but I really didn’t want to be out all night so we drove over to the All-Star Music Resort.

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Similar to the previous resort the All-Star Music has an arcade called Note’Able Games, and right before you walk inside is a mother nice collection of three machines.  The first has images of Mickey in a Tux, Jasmine, and Aladdin.

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The middle machine has some nice Alice in Wonderland themed pennies.  They include the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar, and Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum.

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The last machine here had another of the 2016 coins with Daisy Duck, Stitch, and Mike & Sully from Monsters, Inc.  One perk I forgot to mention previously was that there has definitely been more change machines available throughout the parks and resorts.  I’ve mentioned in the past I always go through exhaustive preparations before these trips, but it’s nice to know these change machines are close by for those times a new machine pops up you may not have been expecting.  Another short drive and we were at the last All-Star resort Movies.

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This resort changing things up a bit and has this wall of four machines inside the World Premier Food Court.  Even through it was getting a little late these machines were jumping with people of all ages trying to use them.  I always take the opportunity to help if anyone needs it or just talk about pressed coins in general.  Machine #1 pressed the designs on quarters and included Lilo & Stitch, Mickey with a Camcorder, and Bambi Thunder & Flower.  The second machine uses pennies with designs of Quasimodo, Three Dalmatian puppies, and Beast & Belle.

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I always think the set available at the third machine is a cute one to have if you’re a Winnie the Pooh fan.  The designs are of Tigger & Piglet in a Flower patch, Tigger with Mickey ears, and Tigger carrying Honey Pots.  The last machine available at the All-Star Movies resort has some nice images of Mickey in a Tu, Rex from Toy Story, and Buzz Lightyear.  Hanna wanted to some ice cream to go so we grabbed a mickey bar and headed out to the car, and towards the Coronado Springs Resort.

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I stayed here once years ago and remember really liking this resort at night when it was all lit up.  Because this is a convention resort it can get busy, but it’s quite large so the layout helps to spread out all the guests.  There were two machines located here that a work friend of mine had picked up for me, but I was in need of new pictures of the machines.  You can read about it by clicking here.  Our final stop this night was going to be over at the Pop Century Resort.

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This resort is similar to the All-Star resorts but the layout of the main building is a little different.  You walk in the main entrance and can then walk into the gift shot which has a path right through the middle of it leading to the food court.  This area is known as the Everything Pop Shopping & Dinning.  There are four press machines here located in-between the gift shop and food court area.  This can be a heavy traffic area but there are some nice sets available here.

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I always like when the designs include the name or logo of the resorts.  Unfortunately over the years these are not as common as they used.  The first machines has one of these designs Mickey with a Yo-Yo and the Pop Century Logo, Lady & the Tramp, and Snow White Cinderella Belle Sleeping Beauty & Jasmine all together.  The second machine was right nearby and has images of Mickey & Minnie Dancing with the Pop Century Logo, Kaa, and Bagheera from The Lion King.

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The third machine is located right near one of the check out desks for the gift shop and was located in pretty awkward area to use when people are paying for their souvenirs right beside you.  The pennies included Sully Sullivan, Mowgli, and Mowgli & The Girl from The Lion King.  The last machine has one design available and presses on a quarter.  The image is of a Nostalgic 80’s Mickey Mouse.

I’m not sure how we did it but we managed to visit all the resorts on my list for that night.  Hanna was losing her sugar rush and I was ready for some much needed sleep.  We headed back to our resort, quietly entered our room and got ready for bed.  Tomorrow was another big day and we had lots to do.

2017 Walt Disney World Pressed Coins – Follow Up

** See below for contest to win a free set of 2017 WDW coins **

For those of you that read my original post with the concept design pictures of the new 2017 pressed coin designs this is a quick follow-up.  Shortly after that post I was contacted by a representative at CTM Group (The Pennymen), and we traded a few messages back and forth.  They were nice enough to offer a copy of the entire set of coins fresh from the machines throughout the resort so I could post pictures of the actual coins.

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Above is a picture of all the coins together.  There are the same number as last year but I think the designs this year have definitely gone up in detail.

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Here I have a picture of all the penny designs together.

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Next are all the quarter designs.

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The picture above shows a close up of a cool little sub-set within the 2017 dates set.  Each theme park had one design with Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey in the middle, and an icon from each park above his head.  For Epcot there is Spaceship Earth, Animal Kingdom has the Tree of Life, Hollywood Studios has The Tower of Terror, and the Magic Kingdom of course has Cinderella’s Castle.  These four designs are a numbered set which is listed directly on each coin.

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All of these designs are really nice this year, but I must say the one listed above is my personal favorite.  When I first saw it I just thought it was fantastic.  This design is located in the Magic Kingdom at the Main Street Railroad Station.  It’s cool that all four of the park iconic symbols are all on one coin along with the 2017 year.  This is really a great way to start off the new year.

Obviously these will be around for the entire year, but do not hesitate to get yourself a set.  These are a great addition to any collection and will be gone before you know it.

**Thank you to the CTM Group team for all their work on these new designs, and for taking the time to reach out.  It was very much appreciated!

CONTEST:
This is a chance for you to get a complete set of the 2017 Coins listed above.  This will include all 15 coins (8 Pennies and 7 Quarters).

All you need to do is post a comment below with any ideas you have for the 2018 annual set that you would like to see for next year.  This can be a set of movies, characters, ride or attractions, food (Mmm…Dole Whip Penny), let your imagination run wild.

Post as many times as you like.  Then at the end of the month (3/31/2017) I’ll randomly select a winner and will contact you for your mailing information.

Good luck!!

2016 WDW Trip Day 2 – ‘Ohana and Monorail Resorts

I wanted to take the chance to review our night-time side trip on Day 2 of our vacation. We had spent the day checking out every corner of Epcot, and with our stomachs crying out for some food we had reservations at one of our favorite places.  We had to take the monorail from Epcot over to the Ticketing and Transportation Center, then transfer to the resort line for one quick stop.  The Polynesian Village Resort is where my sister and her family were staying.  This is a resort I have always wanted to stay at but haven’t not yet had the chance.

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I can’t remember a visit to WDW without us going over to ‘Ohana for dinner.  In years past we were even able to just walk up without a reservation, but those days are long gone.  The foods it always really filling, and the Lapu Lapu drinks always reminds me that we are on vacation.

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This tropical drink is made up of Myer’s original dark rum, Bacardi 151 Rum, and tropical fruit juices all served up in a hollowed out Pineapple.  While I enjoyed 2 or 5 of theses we always enjoy the endless skillet of Pork stickers, and awesome sticky chicken wings with mounds of Polynesian noodles.  Then to top it off there are skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp constantly being dropped off on our plate.  Every so often the entire restaurant prepares for the young guests to partake in the famous coconut races.

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I needed to try to work off some of my dinner so I jumped at the chance to try to keep Hanna and her two cousins from knocking someone out with their coconuts.  Music is played while the kids try to use the broom to push the coconuts around the restaurant.  It’s not really a race just a fun way for the kids to entertain the crowd of onlookers.  After another few rounds of food we finally had to wave the white flags.  This was another great experience for us but it was time to let the next group of gluttons in to enjoy their dinner.  We headed back out to the main lobby area of the resort.  My wife, youngest daughter melody and my parents all decided they were ready to head back to our resort.  Hanna and I had other ideas and decided to hop on the Monorail and visit a few resorts.

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For those of you that are familiar with the Monorail loop you can visit the Contemporary Resort, Polynesian Village Resort and the Grand Floridian Resort with the TTC (Ticketing and Transportation Center) and Magic Kingdom squeezed in among the resorts.  This is actually a fun free attraction to do when visiting, and if you haven’t ever taken time to just wander around some of the resorts you are definitely missing out.  We started at the Poly so our first stop would be the Grand Floridian Resort.

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Once you step off the Monorail you enter the Grand Floridian on the second floor.  Just inside the sliding doors of the resort is the first of the penny machines located here.  This machine is home to the 2016 Goofy penny, Classic Mickey’s Face and Pearl from Finding Nemo.  This resort is really gorgeous and I would spend hours just looking at all the details of this place.  We were headed down to the first flood but instead of just taking the boring old elevator we take the grand staircase.  At certain times they actually have Cinderella make a grand entrance down these stairs with an entourage of young guests with her.

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Across the lobby over towards the exit area of 1900 Park Fare restaurant is where we were headed.  We ate here later in our trip and I’ll go over it in more detail than.  On this stop we were just here for the two machines.  The one on the left used quarters and had designs of Mickey Donald & Goofy, Mulan & Mushu, and Timon & Pumbaa.  The second machine pressed pennies with Cinderella’s Mice friends Jac & Gus, Alice, and Cinderella’s Prince Charming.  The last machine is in kind of a strange spot, you actually have to go outside, and down a pathway to the resorts Bus Stop.

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It’s located right near where guests get on and off the buses for the different parks.  If you end up trying to use it while a bus is emptying out you may get run over as this is right in the middle of the exit area.  The pennies here are of Mickey in a Tuxedo, Winnie the Pooh & Tigger, and the Siamese Cats from Lady & and the Tramp.  After visiting all he machines here at the Grand Floridian it was time to head back up to the Monorail.  We jumped on the next one that arrived and just a couple stops away we got off at the Contemporary Resort.  This in my option is one of the coolest resorts, not necessarily the most up to date or fanciest, but where else do you have a Monorail driving straight through the middle of your resort.  We got off the Monorail and headed down the escalator one floor to the main 4th Floor concourse.  If you are a pressed coin collector this is one of the must do stops to make.

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Look at this wall of awesomeness.  There is even a change machine nearby which is great because otherwise your shorts would probably be falling down with all the quarters and pennies it would take to press all of these in one trip.  As you can see from the picture there are six machines in total, three penny and three quarter machines each with three designs.  That’s 18 designs in total at all one place and you don’t have to wonder around the entire resort.  Let me take you on a tour of these machines.

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Starting from the far left side of this wall there are the first two quarter machines.  The first machine has designs of Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder from The Little Mermaid and all have the Contemporary Resort Logo.  The second machine has designs of Aladdin & Jasmin, Peter Pan, and Tinker Bell also with the Contemporary Resort Logo.

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The third quarter machine has images of Walt Disney World 2016 Where Magic Lives, Snow White, and Dumbo.  The fourth machine changes to pennies and has designs of Winnie the Pooh & Eeyore, Buzz Lightyear, and the Contemporary Resort.

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Almost there.  The fifth machine has designs of Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort, Mickey in a Tux, and Marlin & Dory from Finding Nemo.  The last machine had another 2016 Music Magic Memories design, Mickey Minnie Donald Goofy & Pluto all one penny, and Stitch from Lilo & Stitch.  Phew!

By this time it was getting late and we still had a way to go to get back to Epcot and then over to our resort.  This was definitely a fun little side trip to take and Hanna always looks forward to riding the Monorail whenever possible.  This is a quick way to acquire a lot of pressed coins in a relatively short period of time.  It probably took us about an hour or so to do these resorts but that also included a little wandering around and souvenir shopping.  By the time we got back to Epcot things were getting ready for Illuminations and the crowds were getting a little heavy around.  We made a quick stop back over at the France Pavilion for some snacks and decided on the Macaroons and Chocolate Croissants.

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I could barely wait to dig into these, but forced myself to wait unit we got back to our room.  Once there my family tore into these pretty quickly.  The macaroons were good, but the chocolate croissants were fantastic.  My wife took advantage of our close proximity to Epcot and had me go over to France a couple more times during our trip for more croissants.  I was always more than happy to oblige.

2016 WDW Trip Day 2 – Epcot

I mentioned previously that our Resort this time was the Beach Club.  Due to our party size we were assigned one of the villas which are primarily for the Vacation club members.

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The villas include two bedrooms, a living room area and dine-in kitchen which made for plenty of room since we were a group of six.  The villas were a little bit of a hike from the main lobby and we actually got lost the first time trying to find them.  But ran into a very nice cast member that was more than happy to walk us over and make sure we found it.

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There was actually a private pool for villas guests which was just a quick elevator ride down to the main floor.

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The resort was under a bit of construction but we really didn’t run into any inconveniences.  One of the really nice perks of the villas was a pathway that lead right over towards Epcot and in about a 10 minutes walk we could be in the park.  On our second day we took advantage of this and had planned to spend the day here.  When we arrive at the back/side entrance to Epcot we scanned our MagicBands but had to wait a few minutes for the park to open.  As you would assume Disney has this area strategically setup with a gift shop called the World Traveler.

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We decided to spend a few minutes wandering through this store and I came across the first machine of many this day.

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This machine’s cabinet struck me a quite unique.  It wasn’t overly flashy or themed but was just a nice looking piece of hardware.  It worked very well and gave me a nice set of pennies.  The images on the coins were of Mulan, the China Pavilion, and Elsa from Frozen.  We saw people starting to move around outside and realized they were about to drop the rope.  Now something to remember is that the International Gateway opens up later in the morning so you are somewhat ushered towards the front part of Epcot where Spaceship Earth and Test Track are located.

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One of our guilty pleasures at Epcot is Spaceship Earth.  It’s not the most thrilling ride but always entertaining and reminds me of visiting this park as a child.  We then headed over to the Land Pavilion for our Soarin’ Fastpass.  This year Hanna was tall enough to ride this with us and this was also our first time seeing the new Soarin’ Around the World experience.  I have heard a lot of negative things about it but I just try to enjoy it for what it is and not be overly critical.  Some of the in your face transitions between scenes are obviously heavily CGI, but it’s still enjoyable and Hanna was really amazed with it and talked about it for the rest of the day.  Some of our group needed a pit stop so I always take these opportunities to find nearby machines.

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Just outside the Garden Grill revolving restaurant are three machines.  I had documented all three last year, and this year only one of the designs had changed.  This is one of the locations that has the new yearly designs.  This machine pressed the images on quarters and shows 2016 Donald with a Tuba, Merida with her Three Bear Brothers, and Mickey Donald & Goofy Soarin’.  Just a short walk from the Land Pavilion is the Journey into Imagination with Figment attraction.  I know I had been on the original version back when I was a child, and to be honest don’t think I’ve been on it in over 10 years.  I thought this would be fun for the kids this time around and they really seemed to like Figment.  After the ride was over we found ourselves checking out the Image Works store.

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I had used this machine about 5 or 6 years ago and I must have been desperate for pennies because the ones I had used were almost completely black and the images were next to impossible to make out.  This time around I made sure to use much better quality coins and they came out great.  The designs had Imagination Institute Logo, Figment, and an Epcot Logo.  By this time the World Showcase had opened and we were on a missing to hit as many of the Pavilions as we could before the kids needed a break back at the resort.  One event we weren’t prepared for was that the Wine and Food Festival was going on and the crowds were crazy, at least crazier than we were used to.  To try to bypass the bottleneck of people flooding into this area of  the park we immediately jumped on the ferry from the Friendship port that transported us over to the France Pavilion.  We stopped inside for a quick-lunch and I went to find the penny machine located in Les Halles Patisserie.

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This machine is located in the back of the gift shop.  The designs are of Mickey with the Eiffel Tower, and the France Pavilion.  Wait only two pennies?  I’ll let you in on a secret, there is a hidden third coin available here.  But as you can see from the picture above of the machine there is no button for a third design.  There is actually an in park game called Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure.  Agent P is a secret agent platypus from the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb.  You get an interactive phone that gives you clues taking you around the World Showcase trying to catch the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz.  One of the locations you go to is the France Pavilion and you use the phone on the penny machine to press the hidden design.  Now another quick tip, the game is random and you may not get the France clue so sometimes it takes a few games before you can get the coin.  Below I have a picture of this secret penny from my collection.  Kind of a cool way to make a special souvenir.

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Right next door to France is Morocco,  sorry not geographically just Epcot Pavilion wise.  This is a really cool pavilion that I enjoy wandering through as the shops are really unique and the details of the architecture are really intriguing.  Hidden away in one of the side shops is their penny machine.

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The penny available here have pictures of Mickey wearing a Fez hat, the Morocco Pavilion, and Mickey with a Suitcase and Globe.  A little further around the lagoon we stopped into the American Adventure.

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In the gift shop (as with pretty much all of the pavilions) the penny machine was just inside the main door.  These pennies had designs of Uncle Same Mickey, Baseball Mickey USA, and Duffy Bear wearing a Baseball uniform.  Next up was the Italian Pavilion which has a nice wine shop that you cut through to the main gift shop.  They do have a very nice wine selection of imported Italian vino.

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The penny machine in the Italy pavilion has very similar designs to many of the other pavilions.  These included Mickey with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Italy Pavilion, and Mickey’s Face / Italy.  The next stop has always kind of seemed out-of-place in the World Showcase, it’s not a full pavilion but is knows as the African Outpost.  There are some carts along the walkway with things for sale and a little shack/shed type building with some more items for sale.

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This place has one of the few 4 design hand crank machines available.  The images are of Rafiki’s drawing of Simba, Pumbaa Simba & Timon, Safari Donald, and Tracker Mickey.  Another short walk away was the China Pavilion which is always fun to check out.  We actually ate dinner here one night at the Nine Dragons restaurant.  I had heard mixed reviews about the food and service, but on our visit everything was really wonderful and my family said it was one of the more memorable meals we had on this trip.  Make sure you stop by and give it a try.

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I had written about these new designs earlier in 2016 and you can read about them here.  This stop just gave me the change to take some pictures of the new machines I wasn’t able to get previously.  Now we were at the big one, Norway.  I only say that because this pavilion has gotten crazy with the recent opening of the new Frozen Ever After ride that replaced the fan favorite Maelstrom.  We actually had Fastpasses to check out the ride but just as we got there all our phones started buzzing with notifications.  Apparently the ride was temporary down (broken) and we could either try coming back later and use our Fastpasses or we could experience any other attraction instead.  Not knowing exactly when this ride would be operational again we opted to ride Test Track once we were done with the pavilions.  So for now we just checked out the gift shops now filled with even more Frozen merchandise.

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The first machine is located in the Puffin’s Roost shop and has designs of Mickey with a Viking Hat, the Norway Pavilion, and Mickey Holding lot of different Country Flags.  The second machine is an 8-design touch screen that was moved here recently.  This machine used to be located at the Once Upon a Toy Store in Disney Springs.  The images haven’t changed and it’s still a numbered set all with Frozen characters.  Feel up for a Margarita?  By this time of day we definitely were in need of some tequila and luckily the Mexico Pavilion was right next door.

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This penny machine is right in the middle of the pavilion and this place is pretty dark inside.  I’ve tried on various occasions to take pictures of this machine and they always come out terrible.  This time was a little better, but I included a photo of the marquee so you can see the designs a little better.  You can see they have Mickey with a Sombrero, Duffy Bear wearing a Poncho, and the Mexico Pavilion.  We were almost done with the pavilions but wanted to head over to use our Fastpass for Test Track I mentioned earlier.  Hanna wasn’t a fan of this ride but it’s still one of our favorites.  I quickly headed over to the Mission Space attraction gift shop.  Years ago I rode this ride and it was pretty intense for me so I haven’t ridden it since.  But that doesn’t stop me from heading into the gift shop to press the pennies here from time to time.

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This machine has a nice themed cabinet but I find the coins press a little short every so often.  The pennies have pictures of Mickey and his team in Space Suits, the Mission Space Logo, Mickey Minnie and Pluto in Space Suits.  With an upcoming dinner reservation at the Polynesian Village Resort’s O’Hana we needed to get moving towards the front of the park to hop on the Monorail.  Cutting through the huge Mouse Gears gift shop was our next stop.

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Interested in more of the 2016 annual designs?  Good because this is where to find one.  This machine has Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey with Spaceship Earth, Anna from Frozen, and Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey 2016 all pressed on pennies.

I’ll review our dinner at ‘Ohana and our trip to all the Monorail resorts to get more coins in the next post.  For now we will just skip forward a few hours and we are cutting through Epcot heading back to our resort.  Along the way through there were a few final machines I needed to visit.  Right where Future World and the World Showcase meet are two gift shops.

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The machine on the left is from the Disney Trader’s store.  I’m not really sure what is going on with the design of this machine, but it pressed pennies perfectly so I’m not going to complain.  The images on these coins are Jessica Rabbit, Jack Jack from The Incredibles and a Large 2016 with Sorcerer’s Hat.  The machine on the right is from the Port of Entry store, and has coins with Tourist Mickey, Uncle Sam Mickey, and Duffy with a Chinese Outfit on.  We made a quick stop by the Canadian Pavilion (a must for us former Canadians) and finished our trip around the world at the United Kingdom Pavilion.

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As far as I know this machine has never moved in all the years I’ve been visiting.  But it always is the hardest one for me to remember where it is located.  Most of the gift shops here are all interconnected but it’s in one towards the back of the pavilion.  If you ask the cast members here will be more than happy to show you where it is.  These pennies have pictures of Mickey with Big Ben, the UK Pavilion, and Duffy wearing a Kilt and Hat.

I’m sure you can image that by this time our little ones (and big ones myself included) were pretty exhausted.  Thankfully we only had a short walk back past the World Traveler store, over the bridge (and through the woods, just kidding) back to our resort room.  Everyone crashed pretty quickly without much complaint.  We had more parks to visit and a whole lot more machines to check out.

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.

2017 Walt Disney World Pressed Coins

We are just a couple of days away from a brand new year and just this evening I was browsing some websites and came across an early surprise.  On one of my trips to WDW last year I noticed that a lot of the pressed coin machines had a website address listed to get the most up to date locations of all the machines across property.  I took a picture so I wouldn’t forget about it when I came home.

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This website has become just another routine I go through a few times a week.  I check out the website to see if anything has changed, moved or best of all a new machine is available.  Just a short while ago I was checking out the website and almost fell off my couch when I started to see new 2017 coins all around the parks.  Unfortunately I am not currently near Orlando and won’t be for a few weeks so I cannot actually confirm that these machines are up and running.  But I’m sending out requests to friends in the area to try to get pictures but most importantly press these beautiful new coins.  As I acquire the coins I’ll update this post with the actual pictures, but for now I wanted to share the images that are available on the above CTM Group website.

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These first two coins are available in the Magic Kingdom.  The penny on the left is in the Emporium Store, and the penny on the right is at the Sir Mickey’s Gift Shop.

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The next three coins are located in Epcot.  The penny on the left is from the Disney Traders Gift Shop, the penny in the middle from the huge Mouse Gears Gift Shop, and the quarter on the right is from The Land Pavilion near the Garden Grill Restaurant.

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Over at Hollywood Studios there is just one coin listed at this time.  It’s available at what I call the Muppet’s Gift Shop but is technically referred to as the Stage One Company Store.

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Located in Animal Kingdom are the next couple coins.  The penny on the left is at Chester and Hester’s in Dinoland USA.  The quarter on the right is at the Wildlife Express Train Station.

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The last batch of coins are available at various resorts.  However the resort locations have not changed from last year.  At the Contemporary Resort are the above two coins and are right near the Monorail station.

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A quick Monorail trip over to the Grand Floridian will get you to the next machine.  It’s still located on the second floor just inside the doors that lead to the Monorail station.

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Finally the last two quarters are over at the All-Star Resorts.  If you aren’t staying at these resorts they can be a bit out of the way to get.  The quarter on the left of Goofy is over at the All-Star Music resort just outside the Note’Able Games Arcade.  The quarter on the right of Donald is at the All-Star Sports resort outside the Game Point Arcade.

UPDATE:

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Found images of the “last” two 2017 designs that will be available.  I’m just assuming they are sticking with the 15 designs but we can always hope for more.  The above penny on the left is located at Hollywood Studios in the Rock Around the Shop, and the quarter on the right is in the Magic Kingdom at the Main Street Train Station.

Happy collecting, and have a great New Years!!

Coin Collecting Packages for my Friends – Follow Up #3

Earlier this year I was aware of some friends and family making some trips to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and I wrote about some packages I put together and you can read out it here.  My pressed coin collecting hobby is so well-known among friends that anytime someone goes on vacation they always ask if there are any coins they can get for me.  I’m a truly lucky guy to have some amazing friends.  In the past I have also mentioned that I do really appreciate them going out of their way to get these coins for me but I never want to take away from their own holiday enjoyment.  So I try to make collecting these coins as easy as possible with these little packages.

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Just recently a co-worker of mine let me know they were taking a very last-minute trip to Disney and were going to be staying at the Coronado Springs Resort.  This is a location I have visited in the past to acquire the coins there, but it has been a few years and I always jump at the opportunity to get a fresh set.

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Years ago when I had graduated high school my parents sent me to Disney and I stayed at this resort.  I remember it being a nice place to stay with a really cool pool, but it was huge and there was lots of walking.

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There were numerous bus stops inside the resort and it always seemed we were either the first picked up (last to the parks) or last to be dropped off at the end of the night.  Then there was more walking to the room.  But I was young and walking is always good for you so I shouldn’t complain.  My co-worker did mention the walking so that hasn’t changed, but I still think this is a nice Moderate resort to check out.

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Located in the main building of this resort where the check-in area is, and the main food court and restaurants is a place called Panchito’s Gift’s and Sundries.  This is the main gift shop for this resort and from what I remember this is pretty big.  Just outside the main entrance is where the two coin press machines were situation.

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The first machine is a 3 die electric model that presses the designs on pennies.

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The set includes Cinderella, The Fairy Godmother, and Dopey Dwarf.

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The second machine located right beside the first and has one image that presses on a Quarter so the over cost is $1.25 for this one.

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The image is of Jose Carioca who you may recognize from the Three Caballeros movie.  Even though these weren’t new designs it was nice to get a fresh set for my collection.  The resort is really beautiful and if you are in the area it does make for a nice place to wonder around.  Just make sure you bring some comfortable walking shoes.

Samoa Snacks – Polynesian Village Resort WDW

On our various trips to Walt Disney World we always make sure we book a reservation to eat at O’Hana in the Polynesian Village Resort.  It is just one of our all time favorite places to eat, with fantastic entertainment, wonderful food and we have (knock on wood) always had excellent service.  On a sad side note we have yet to actually stay at the Polynesian and end up having to settle for staying at another resort and making the trek over just for dinner.  But it’s absolutely worth it to us.

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Being the obsessed pressed coin collector that I am I have acquired the 3 machines located at this resort many years ago.  Sadly these designs have rarely changed.  However I’m sure yo can guess that since I’m writing and entry about this place that must not be the case any longer and you would be absolutely correct.

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On the second floor (same floor you are already on if you take the monorail over) which also is where O’Hana is located there is a nice little place called Samoa Snacks.  As the name implies this is a convenience store of sorts that has drinks, candy, snacks, and since it’s Disney some themed merchandise.  Just outside this little store is one of the machines that presses quarters.  For years this machine has only had 1 design to be pressed on a quarter but no longer.

Polynesian Quarters 2016

This machine has been upgraded to now have 3 separate designs still all pressed on quarters.  The machine does require $1.25 in quarters for each design.  These images are very similar to existing ones, but have been enhanced in detail and two of them now have a dotted border.  All of these are Lilo & Stitch themed and also have the Polynesian Village Resort Logo included.

Of course knowing there were new coins available I had to pick these up as soon as possible, but if the previous machines are any indication here these are probably going to stick around for a while.  But I never say never so make sure to pick these up just on your next trip over to the Poly, and since you’re there check out O’Hana you won’t be disappointed.