Disney Quest & Emporium – Disney Springs, FL

On a recent very quick trip down to Orlando I made sure to take a stroll down Disney Springs to see the ongoing changes there.  Even just from my last visit in November there had been some new opening like the overhauled Planet Hollywood, and The Edison restaurant is coming along nicely.  But on this trip I was really here to get some pennies.  I was about to say new pennies but these have been around for a while just not in a place that was easily accessible.

Disney Quest is one of the few places on Disney Property I have never actually experienced or even gone inside.  For those of you that don’t know it’s basically a large Arcade with all different types of interactive games, classic arcade style games, Virtual Reality (VR) experiences and supposedly more.  This place never really interested me and with the fairly high entrance cost was always what kept me away.  The downside for my obsessive pressed penny collection is that two machines were placed inside on the third floor a few years ago.  You were only allowed inside if you paid the entrance fee which I just couldn’t justify.  Recently I had heard that these two machines were moved down to their lobby so I could finally get a chance to use them.  However, when I got there and walked in there were no machines.  I couldn’t believe it, my online community had been wrong for once.  After spinning around a few times to make sure I didn’t miss them I decided to walk next door to the Disney Quest Emporium.

Boom, right inside the doors were the two machines I was looking for.  Check these beauties out, as I’m hoping you recognize them from the Wreck-It Ralph movie.  Really cool theming.

Machine number one on the right has images of the Wreck-It Ralph Logo, Fix It Felix Jr, and Sgt. Calhoun.

Machine number two on the left included images of Ralph, Vanellope, and King Candy.  After I walked outside I passed by the ticket window for Disney Quest and saw two more penny machines.

These two machines used to be inside the Disney Quest Emporium but were moved out here when the above Wreck-It Ralph machines were placed inside.  Hope that makes sense.

The machine on the left had designs of the Disney Quest Logo, Aladdin & Jasmine, Reclining Space Goofy, and Space Mickey.

The second machine shown on the right (in blue) had designs of Cyberspace Mountain Logo, Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, a Pirate Skull, and another Disney Quest Logo.

Now please be aware if you are going to try to get any or all of these coins that you may only have a limited amount of time.  It was announced earlier this year that Disney Quest will be closing for good in July 2017.  The Wreck-It Ralph machines could just get placed somewhere else on property, but the other two machines have Disney Quest designs and I would doubt these will stick around after the closure.  Time is ticking so be sure to get these before they are gone.

Merchant of Venus – Magic Kingdom, FL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 WDW Trip Day 5 – Animal Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epcot China Pavilion Penny Machine #3 – Just released

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

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

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

2016 WDW Trip Day 4 – Hollywood Studios

With two young daughters we don’t get to sleep in too much, especially not on vacation.  We were up early as usual and had planned to visit Hollywood Studios.  With all the changes going on at that park we weren’t planning on being there for more than half a day.  First we decided to get some breakfast at our resort and there was a place nearby that would allow us a few character interactions at the same time.

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The Cape May Cafe is located right near the main lobby of the Beach Club Resort.  Our reservation was for the first available time so the restaurant wasn’t even open yet when we arrived.  There was a short wait while they got things setup, but it was nice to have the place almost completely to ourselves.  This was also a nice perk for when the characters started coming by and we got to spend a nice extended amount of time each of them.

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Minnie Mouse was of course the favorite for our girls.  Since we were at the Beach Club each character was dressed appropriately in beach attire.  We also got to visit with Goofy and Donald.

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Unfortunately Mickey isn’t here for a visit, but the three we did get to visit with were really great with the kids, posed for lots of pictures and of course we couldn’t let them go without signing our autograph book.  The food here is a buffet style and had most of the standard Disney breakfast items, but there were a few more unique items available.  After breakfast we headed out to the water front and hopped on one of the boats that transport guests between Epcot, Yacht & Beach Club resorts, the Boardwalk resort, Swan and Dolphin and finally Hollywood Studios.

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There is no “express” option to take you directly to the Studios, so it can take a little while to visit the other resorts first but it’s actually a very nice method of getting to the park.  Once we arrived we got off the boat and headed inside, and right down the main boulevard.  We had no fastpasses booked and nothing particularly planned for this day so we wanted to just wander around and see what we could find to do.  Just outside the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular were the first couple penny machines.

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The first machine is near the exit to the Stunt show, but can be accessed without having to sit through the show (but who could pass up a chance to see Indy).  The four designs here include the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Logo, Silvermist Fairy, Indiana Chip, and Indiana Mickey with a Whip.  The second machine is located nearby at the Indiana Jones Outpost.  The pennies here have images of Mickey with an Old Time Camera, Merida from Brave, Agent P, and Buzz Lightyear.

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We were heading towards Star Tours but I needed to make a quick stop at a relatively new gift shop called Frozen Fractal Gifts.  I had written about these coins before and you can read out it here.  But this was the first time I was able to use check out the machine in person.

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This is another one of those 8-design touch screen models becoming more popular throughout the parks.  This is not a numbered set, but as you can assume it’s a Frozen themed set.  The designs include Anna & Olaf, Olaf & Elsa, Kristoff & Anna, Sven, Kristoff Olaf Sven Anna Elsa, Olaf, Anna, and Elsa.  Now it was time to get our Star Wars on.  This was Hanna’s first ride on Star Tours and it was a little too jerky for her.  She didn’t complain much but we may need to wait another year or so before trying to get her back on it.  Since we are on the topic of Star Wars, we couldn’t see anything behind the construction walls about the new Star Wars land, but they did have some concept art up on the wall.

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This wall is up along the walkway you take towards the Muppet’s courtyard.  The kids didn’t seem interested in the Muppet Vision movie attraction, but instead we checked out the Stage 1 Company Muppet Shop.

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There are three machines available here, but two of them hadn’t changed so I only visited one of them.  The designs here included the 2016 Sorcerer’s Hat logo, Minnie in a Costume, and Belle with the Hollywood Studios Logo all pressed on quarters.  Due to the construction areas the Muppet’s Courtyard has turned into a dead-end, and you need to head back towards Star Tours to be rerouted towards the rest of the park.

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Over in the Animation area we checked out the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction but wait times were already beyond 90 minutes and our kids wouldn’t last that long.  We were able to distract Hanna with the opportunity to get her face painted which she jumped at the change and forgot all out the Midway Mania ride.  While she got her face painted I used the nearby Toy Story penny machine.  The pennies have images of Hamm, Wheezy, Rex and the Toy Alien.

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We were getting close to the Star Wars Launch Bay which was new from the last time we had visited.  But in the Animation Courtyard there was a store called the In Character Shop with a 12-Design touch screen machine.

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I’ve written about this machine a few times and won’t go into details at this time, but I did post recently about a change to the coins this machine was pre-loaded with.  Check out my post here that gives a comparison of the coins I pressed in 2015 vs 2016.  Right next door is another shop called The Studio Store.  While the kids checked out the wall of plush characters I used the machine hidden inside.

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The pennies in this machine had designs of Chick Hicks from Pixar’s Cars, Donald Goofy & Mickey with Mickey Hats, and Luigi from Pixar’s Cars.

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Now it was time for more Star Wars.  Unfortunately the wait time for the Launch Bay and visited with some of the characters was just way too long.  Instead we headed in to the Launch Bay gift shop which is still pretty cool.  They are some nice movie memorabilia inside to check out, and some Star Wars toys and souvenirs I just haven’t seen anywhere else.  As you exit the store there is a new penny machine right outside.

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The theming of this machine is really cool and fits in perfectly with the Launch Bay.  It’s another touch screen model and has 8 designs available.  Technically you can get just one but why would you do that.  The designs here are of Kylo Ren Fighting, BB-8, Kylo Ren holding his Lightsaber, Finn, Star Wars The Force Awakens Logo, Rey holding a staff, Stormtrooper, and Rey with a Lightsaber.  We now headed towards the Sunset Boulevard area of the park and came across two machines in a location known as Hollywood Junction.

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The first machine on the left had pennies with designs of Phineas Flynn, Carl from the movie Up, Doug & Russell also from the movie Up, and Ferb.  The second machine on the right had images of Mike Wazowski, Sully Sullivan, Boo, and Randall Boggs all from Monsters Inc.  Sunset Boulevard is always a busy place with crowds heading down towards the two big attractions which we will get to shortly.  Partway down the street we came across the Sunset Ranch.

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The four pennies you can press at this machine include Guido holding a set of tires, Movie Producer Mickey, Singing Daisy, and Mater & Lightning McQueen.  Next we headed towards the Rock n Roller Coaster courtyard for the next set of machines.

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Both machines have four penny designs.  The first one on the left has images of Mater, Lightning McQueen, Radiator Springs, and Mater & Lightning McQueen together.  The second machine includes pennies of Mickey playing a Guitar, Rock n Roller Coaster Limo, Singing Goofy, and the Rock n Roller Coaster flaming guitar logo.  We are not fans of the Aerosmith ride, but the shop at the end of the ride has a penny machine so I just headed inside to check it out.

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The store is known as the Rock Around the Shop and it a pretty unique place.  Even the penny machine shown above has the cabinet designed like a piece of concert equipment.  The pennies here have pictures of Rock n Roller Coaster Logo, Mickey riding the Coaster, and The Walt Disney Studios Logo.  Back through the courtyard and across Sunset Boulevard is the other big attraction here the Tower of Terror.  Again this is something that makes my stomach drop just thinking about it.  But my brother in-law and niece Ava were all about going on this.  I followed them to take some pictures but let them go one without me once they got to the queue.  While I waited I headed into the gift shop.

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Inside the Tower of Terror shop is a machine pressing quarters.  The designs on these coins include Goofy with a Microphone, The Hollywood Tower Hotel, and Stitch dressed as a Bellhop.  Back outside just near the beginning of the queue for the ride is a newer machine that was placed here earlier in 2016.

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This machine has more Tower of Terror themed designs including Bellhop Mickey, Bellhop Minnie, Bellhop Goofy, and Bellhops Chip & Dale.  I headed back to meet up with the rest of my family while we waiting for our brave Tower riders to finish up with the ride.  When they were done Ava seemed to enjoy the ride but was in no rush to go back on.  We had pretty much seen everything there was to do at the Studios due to all the construction and current closures.  As we headed back towards the front of the park I made one last stop in the Legends of Hollywood store.

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For those Star Wars fans out there this is another nice set of coins.  The images are of Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens, R2-D2, and Yoda.  After that we finished heading out of the park, back to the dock, onto the ferry and back to our Resort.  We took a nice break in the room, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool.  It had been a quick day at the park but very enjoyable none the less.  After seeing some of the areas blocked off that will be transformed into the new Star Wars and Toy Story lands we can’t wait to see how they turn out.  Hopefully we don’t need to wait too long, and I’m crossing my fingers for a lot of new (highly themed) penny press machines.

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.

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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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!!