2016 WDW Trip Day 3 – Magic Kingdom

After long night out at Epcot the following morning we got up early and headed over to the Magic Kingdom.  This was also our daughter Hanna’s 4th birthday and we had a special lunch scheduled for her but I’ll get into that a little later.  We hopped on one of the Transportation buses and it dropped us off just outside the main gates.  We made it through the new security lines but unfortunately were just a little too late to see the classic opening ceremony for the park.  But that’s okay just means we get to head right inside.  One thing I love is that as soon as I scanned my magic band I headed over to the Newsstand that is located to the left side of the main entrance to use the first machine of the day.

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This machine has designs of Cinderella, Tinker Bell, and Peter Pan.  As I finished using this machine the rest of my family had already headed towards main street.

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What walk down main street would be complete without a picture of the castle.  I have hundreds of these pictures but just can’t stop taking more each visit.  My family is definitely creatures of habit and every time we visit this park we always go clockwise through the different lands.  I’ve mentioned starting with Tomorrowland but to us it just seems weird and we always head to Adventureland first.  Jungle cruise is always a must, and our kids insist on riding Aladdin’s magic carpet ride.  After hitting up these two attractions I needed to make two quick stops.  First was the Verandah Breezeway (Also knows as the restroom area by the Island Supply shop) which has two machines available.  These used to be separate machines but have recently been combined into one large cabinet.

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The machine on the left presses quarters and has designs of Nala, Simba, and Timon & Pumbaa all from The Lion King.  The machine on the right presses pennies and has images of The Adventureland Logo, Olaf from Frozen, and the Jungle Cruise attraction.   An interesting update on this machine, the Adventureland Logo design was removed shortly after I had visited the park.  Disney was slowly removing all pressed coin designs that had image of guns in them.  As you can see below this design included Mickey above the logo with a rifle.

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This coin was replaced with one of the 2016 designs which had been relocated from the Splash Mountain Splashdown Photo Preview area.

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This makes for a perfect transition into the next few machines which include one underneath the Frontierland Railroad, and the two machines at the exit of Splash Mountain.  I wrote about these in a previous separate post which you can check out here.  Taking Hanna on Splash Mountain may have emotionally scarred her, but our niece Ava loved it and by the end of our trip probably rode it a half-dozen times.  As we left the Frontierland area it was just about time to turn in our Pirates of the Caribbean fastpasses.

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This is another favorite of ours, and all the kids seemed to enjoy it.  As we exited the ride you always end up in a gift shop somewhere in Disney and as everyone picked out some pirate swag I used the next machine shown above.  The pennies here were of Pirate Mickey with a Treasure Chest, Pirate Micky with a Parrot, and a Pirate Ship.  Next on our list was to take a chance to cool down and rest by watching the Country Bear Jamboree show.  We headed back towards the Aladdin Magic Carpet ride to use the little bypass that sneaks you over to Frontierland.  This was done on purpose because I felt it was about time for a snack.

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Aloha Isle Refreshments is where you can find the magical Dole Whip.  I have come to really love the Dole Whip floats that have pineapple juice added.  My entire family has joined into this obsession so I had a large order to place and did a fantastic balancing act to ensure I didn’t drop or spill any of them.

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Here’s my Dole Whip float which didn’t last too much longer after this picture.  With our internal temperatures now a few degrees lower thanks to this refreshing treat we headed over to the Country Bears.

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In the waiting lobby of this attraction is a penny machine.  Technically you can just go in use the machine and exit without watching the show, but we always thought this was a cute show and a nice way to take a little break.  The pennies here were of Little Ole Tennessee Bear, Big Al Bear, and the Frontierland logo.  Check out this last penny design below.

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Another gun included in the design.  As with the penny I mentioned above at the Island Supply store this was also removed shortly after our trip was over.  It was replaced with a penny showing the Big Thunder Mountain Train.  I could have sworn I had this design in my collection, but the only one I have doesn’t match what is listed online at the CTM Group’s (The Penny Men) website.  Below is a picture of the design they show was added to this machine.  Guess I’ll just have to make a trip over to the park and get myself a copy.

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Now that we were over near Liberty Square it was time for our next favorite ride the Haunted Mansion.   After our escape from the mansion it was time for a pit stop and I knew just where to go.

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You may recognize this as Rapunzel’s Tower from the Disney movie Tangled.  Now before anyone complains this is also technically considered Mother Gothel’s tower where she kept Rapunzel locked up.  Whatever you want to call it this is a pretty cool little area of the park.  This is about as close to the tower as you can get, but be on the look out for hidden Pascal (Rapunzel’s chameleon friend).

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I’m showing it for assistance, but will not explain exactly where to find him (what fun would that be).  Hint: there is also more than one to find.  Good luck!  Now that we were over in the Fantasyland area there were a lot of attractions we visited all in a row.  It’s a Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Hanna’s favorite the carousel.

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Our special lunch for Hanna’s birthday was quickly approaching so we needed to head towards the castle.  I had one stop to make before checking in for our reservation.

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The above machine was located in the Sir Mickey’s shop.  This is where you end up after visiting with the Princess meet and greets in the castle.  The pennies here have designs of 2016 Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, Snow White, and Elsa from Frozen.  Now it was time for lunch.  Our reservation was at Cinderella’s Royal Table which we have never experience before.

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When you first enter you are greeted by the famous princess herself Cinderella.

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There is then an elevator you can take upstairs, but to be honest it’s worth it to walk up the winding staircase as the architecture and design is incredible as you head upstairs.  We were sat at a large table that looked out through large stain glass windows overlooking Fantasyland.  Throughout our meal various princesses came by to say happy birthday and of course take lots of pictures.  Here’s one of our favorites Princess Jasmine.

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The other princesses that came by included Snow White, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Ariel.  Once our lunch was over I had requested before our visit that a special dessert be sent for Hanna.

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There was a dark chocolate Cinderella slipper filled with chocolate mousse, fresh berries, and a nice birthday with written in chocolate sauce.  Everyone was really surprised and impressed with this really wonderful place to have a special occasion.  The food was good, the princesses were fantastic, but knowing we were experiencing all of this inside the castle was just the cherry on top.  It was sad to say goodbye but we still had places to visit.  We headed over to Tomorrowland so the kids could try the Tomorrowland Speedway and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger spin.  Both of these places had penny machines that I wrote about earlier and I included links to both by clicking on the attraction names above.  By this time everyone was starting to get tired, and our pace through the park had started to slow.  We decided it was time to head back towards Main Street and get some final souvenirs for the day.

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About half way down (or up) Main Street is the Hall of Champions clothing store.  They have two machines her but is kind of out of the way if you aren’t looking for them you may go right past them.  The machine on the left had pennies with Goofy wearing Mickey ears, Mickey Minnie Donald & Goofy, and Scrooge McDuck.  The second machine on the right is more sports oriented and has pennies with designs of Baseball Mickey, Tennis Goofy, and Soccer Mickey.  A nice feature of this store is that it’s interconnected with the other shops along the one side of Main Street.  Just a few steps (in Air conditioning yay!) and you find yourself in the huge emporium.  This place has three machines but there was only one I needed to visit.

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This machine is located by the set of doors closest to the front of Magic Kingdom.  This machine had the 2016 Castle design, Let the memories begin, and Anna & Else from Frozen.  We had quite the selection of souvenirs collected as we wandered through the stores.  After checking out we headed towards the exit but I had one last stop to make at the Main Street Train Station.

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This machine had quarters with a similar 2016 castle design, Pinocchio & Jimmy Cricket, and Mickey in the Train Engine.  I met back up with my group as we exited the park and headed over to the bus area so we can get back to our resort for a much needed rest.  After a nice late afternoon break we headed over to Epcot for dinner at the China Pavilion’s Nine Dragons restaurant which was really nice.  The crowds were getting a little crazy at night due to the Food and Wine festival so we didn’t stay long, but were able to catch a beautiful sunset before heading back to our room.

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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.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner – New York, NY (Update)

Awhile ago I had visited Manhattan (New York City) to visit with my cousin who was in town.  He had his own agenda for that day so I took the opportunity to visit some penny machines that were new, or some old friends that I hadn’t visited in quite a few years.  I wrote about all the different places I visited that day in numerous posts which you can view in the archives.  However one of the places I visited that day had a broken machine and I wasn’t able to get the coins.

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Ellen’s Stardust Diner is located at 1650 Broadway right in the heart of Times Square.  You can read my short post about my quick visit to this place here.  As I mentioned when I visited this location the machine was jammed and I wasn’t able to use the machine.  When I got back home I waited a couple of weeks and wrote a quick letter to the Diner explaining what happened, and asked of someone would mind pressing a set of pennies for me when the machine was repaired.  I send these letters from time to time when I’m unable to get the coins, and in most cases there is always someone kind enough to help me out.

As I always do I included a little bag with the appropriate number of quarters and pennies along with a self addresses stamped envelope for them to ship the coins back to me.  I appreciate their assistance but would never expect them to pay for the return shipping.  I find the easier you make this on these places the better results you will get.

I visited this place back in November 2015, and here it is June of 2016 and I had pretty much written these coins off at this time.  But I came home from work today and found the familiar self-addressed envelope sitting in my mailbox.  I quickly tore into it and was surprised to see the Stardust Diner pennies, along with a very sweet hand written note by one of the staff.

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As you can see from the picture above there are four designs at this location.  The designs are of Ellen’s Stardust Diner famous singing and dancing wait staff, NYC Times Square, I Love New York / Statue of Liberty, and We Will Never Forget World Trade Center.

It’s nice to finally be able to complete this set of New York City coins from that trip.  However I check on pennycollector.com from time to time for any changes and already see new machines are available in the area.  Looks like I’ll be making a trip into the City real soon.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – New York, NY

Even though it was November and with a slight chill in the air I still had the urge for some ice cream.  After finishing my lunch I walked around the corner and hit up the next place on my list to complete to tasks at once.

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Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream was founded in 1978 in Burlington Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.  Their ice cream is known for being very chunky and having very unique combinations.  I don’t have their ice cream all the time as I find it’s pretty rich with all the things mixed in but every so often it just hits the spot.

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As soon as I walked in there was a display cooler filled with Ice Cream cakes, and the smell of fresh waffle cones was intoxicating.

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This location did also offer some fresh-baked goodies like chocolate chip cookies, brownies and chocolate covered pretzel rods.  But I was here for one thing, the biggest Cherry Garcia I could get my hands on.  It’s their edible tribute to guitarist Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.  It’s cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes coursing throughout.  With my waffle cone in hand I sat by the window and indulged.  After cleaning myself up I headed towards the door where there was a penny machine.

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A few years ago my wife and I took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend and visited the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory.  They also had a penny machine with similar designs but as you can see below these did have a nice New York touch to them.

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The pennies included images of the New York Skyline, Peace Love and Ice Cream NYC, Rockefeller Center NYC, and the Statue of Liberty holding an ice cream cone.  With my craving satisfied I headed back out into the busy New York street and headed towards my next destination would help work off the ice cream and let me be a kid in a huge toy store.

Bubba Gump Shrimp – New York, NY

Times Square New York what an amazing place.  Anything you can think of is most likely available here, from restaurants, shopping, art, and fake Rolex watches who needs a mall when Times Square is the true one stop shop.

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My stomach was starting to gurgle which meant it was time to stop and grab some food.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a sucker for a fun themed restaurant and this is one I stop at pretty often.

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Located right on Broadway is Bubba Gump Shrimp.  For anyone that is a fan of the Forest Gump movie this is a really fun place to visit.  The entire place is filled with memorabilia from the movie, the wait staff will also ask you trivia about the movie, and there are signs on the table that say “Run Forest Run” or “Stop Forest Stop” which you can use to let your server know you need them to stop by for something.

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After successfully passing my trivia test I had my lunch of what else…a Shrimp boil, I headed back downstairs and visited the gift shop.  Located near the stairs that take you up to the restaurant was a penny machine.  Unfortunately my picture of the machine didn’t come out due to the poor lighting inside but the machine pressed the designs without any issue.

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These coins were obviously Forest Gump inspired and included designs of the Bubba Gump logo, Life is like a box of Chocolates, My momma says I’m special, and Run Forest Run.  I felt better and a little energized from my lunch but can always go for some desert.  Thankfully my next stop specializes in sweet treats oh and of course they have a penny machine.  What a fantastic coincidence.