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!!

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.

In Character Shop 2015 / 2016 Coin Comparison – Hollywood Studios, FL

Last year (2015) I had written about my family vacation to the Walt Disney World resorts and even had a special post about a new milt-design machine that had just been made available.  At the time this was a first of its kind offering 12 designs all in one place.  You can read out my experience with it here.

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This year we went back for a Wedding and obviously took some of our spare time to enjoy the parks.  On the day we visited Hollywood Studios I stopped back at the In Character Shop to see if the machine was still there and press another set.  When the coins dropped out I was taken back a bit.  My recollection of the first set I had pressed in 2015 was that the pre-loaded pennies were not the greatest and resulted in terrible final results.  This year (2016) however the coins that dropped out were much nicer.  I wanted to take this opportunity to compare the two and let you see the vast difference.

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First up is just a glance at the fancy machine.  The cabinet has not changed since the previous year.  As far I know this is still the only machine that offers 12 designs.  There are quite a few of these multi-design machines now available but they all have stopped at 8 designs.

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The designs at this machine are a numbered series as part of the Heroines collection.

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Pictured above is the set I had collected back in 2015.  As you can see many of the coins are tarnished, and almost impossible to see what the actually pressed image is supposed to be.  A couple of them I was only able to figure out due to the process of elimination.

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Now shown above is the set I just collected a few weeks ago in 2016.  These are much brighter, shinier, and the pressed designs came out much better.

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I tried to get all of them in one shot.  The 2015 coins are on the top and the 2016 at the bottom.  You can see there is definitely a difference between them.

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Another few close up examples.  This image shows Tiana from Princess and the Front.  Left is the 2015 press, and the right is 2016.

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This example shows Merida from the movie Brave.  2015 is on the left and 2016 on the right.

Initially when I used the machine in 2015 I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t supply my own coins.  As a pretty serious collector I always like to use pre-1982 pennies which I have written about before.  These are the coins that actually had a larger amount of copper in the coins as opposed to post-1982 coins which are mostly zinc with a thin coating of copper.  The older coins result in a much better final product, versus the newer zinc coins can have some stretching which distorts the designs.  But thinking about how these new multi-design machines work it does seem like it may be difficult or take way to long to give the user the ability to supply their own coins in this quantity.  I do wish that they had used some nicer pennies back in 2015 just due to the poor final results I had and I’m sure many other people had at that time, but I’m sure that would obviously increase the production cost and most users may not necessarily be as concerned.

I have noticed over the last year since using this machine, many more of these multi-design machines have popped up and each of them now seem to use a blank token instead of pennies.  But hopefully from the comparisons above you can see that these tokens, even though not my first choice, are at least a better option than what was initially tried in these machines.

Once Upon A Toy Store More Pennies – Disney Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waterside Stage – Disney Springs, FL

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

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

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

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

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – Magic Kingdom, FL

My back and neck were still a little stiff from my Speedway drive with Hanna, but that wouldn’t stop us from continuing on through Tomorrowland.  I’m not a Space Mountain fan but some of my family are so we made a stop for them to get their fix.  Once that was done we headed over to an attraction more my speed and enjoyable for the kids.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Now I was concerned when I first rode this years ago because the famous Tea Cups are my worst nightmare.  I hate being dizzy and with Spin in the title of this attraction had me worried.  But it’s nothing like the Tea Cups.  This is really more like laser tag but you are sitting in a ride vehicle taking you through the alien attack and you need to zap as many evildoers as you can.

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You accumulate points for each alien you zap and at the end it’s always fun to see your final score ranked against the rest of your family.  Once the ride is over you exit into a photo preview room where you can see your picture mid-ride along with your final scores.  Then just beside the exit doors is another new 8-design touch screen machine.

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This is the same price as the others, 1 design for $1 or all 8 for $5.  This machine also supplies the blank tokens that the designs are pressed on.

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This set included a lot of Buzz Lightyear with a few other characters.  They include images of Little Green Toy Alien, Buzz Flying to the Right, Buzz with his Arms Raised, Buzz Pointing to the Sky, Buzz Flying straight Ahead, Buzz Space Ranger Spin Logo, Buzz with his Arms crossed, and Evil Zurg.  Wow that’s a lot of Buzz!

It was getting dark and the kids (and adults) were starting to get cranky so it was our queue to head back to our resort to rest.  But I promise there were many more penny machines to find and I’ll walk you by all of them.