Lowry Park Zoo – Tampa, Fl

The summer is over (although you wouldn’t know it in Florida), and the theme parks saw a slight drop in visitors as school went back into session for most of the country.  Unfortunately that never lasts too long and now the holiday season is quickly approaching.  Just before Halloween we took a drive out-of-town down I-4 to Tampa and checked out a place we had been interested in visiting for a while, the Lowry Park Tampa Zoo.

The zoo is a bit outside of the downtown area of Tampa, but not hard to get to.  A nice perk was that they offered free parking which is something becoming more and more rare around the Orlando area lately.

After buying our tickets and entering inside the park splits into a few different pathways.  They all connect with each other eventually in a main central area of the park where you can also find a pretty big carousel.  We let the kids decide where to go and we were off towards Africa.

Just before the path that led towards Africa was the first penny machine we came across.  This machine was not level on the group so as we turned the handle to press the pennies the entire machine kind of rocked back and forth a bit.  I wasn’t worried about it falling over, but the rocking did make it a little difficult to use.

All of the designs have Lowry Tampa Zoo on them along with a variety of zoo animals.  This set had an Manatee, Ray, Tiger and a wild Dog.  After using the machine we headed towards the Africa Tunnel.  This was an interesting park of the park where you actually walk under a roadway, through a tunnel to the next set of exhibits.  We found out afterwards this is due to the Safari rides they offer where you can get a little closer to some of the animals.  The wait time was more than we wanted to incur on this hot autumn Florida day so we just kept walking.

My girls were intrigued by the large tortoise we found along the way.  They had just been fed some lettuce leaves and he was going to town on them.  The zoo had a nice little cut out of the fence with a piece of plexiglass that made it easier for the younger / shorter visitors to get a nice look.

The rest of the afternoon we visited with some elephants and giraffes.

There were also some rhinos enjoying the shaded area of their exhibit and a few zebras were found nearby.  Eventually we headed back towards the Africa Tunnel but stopped near the Savanna Oasis for some lunch.

After our lunch we found the second penny machine just across the pathway.

This second set of designs included some of the animals we had visited with earlier which my kids always get a kick out of.  The set included an Elephant, Giraffe, Cheetah, and Rhino.  We headed back through the tunnel towards the carousel.  Our daughters always request a ride on the carousel so we took a break for one ride which eventually turned into two rides.  The next area we headed into was the local Florida wildlife which included some birds and alligators of course.  There was also a touch tank with some sting rays inside that had a large crowd.  This is always something that seems to get a lot of attention.  Unfortunately a few of the areas here were also under construction and made for some long periods of walking with nothing much to see.

By this time we had spent a good part of the day at the zoo, and the blazing sun was starting to take its toll on us as it usually does.  The kids were getting a little cranky and my wife and I were about ready for a nap ourselves.  The pathway we were on eventually came out by a set of restrooms near the exit of the park.  This was also where we found the third and final penny machine available at that time.

This machine was in much better working condition and rolled the pennies nicely.  The set had images of an Orangutan, Koala bear, Parrot and a Tiger.  We made one last stop in the gift shop for some souvenirs.  Our kids picked out new plush toys which I’m pretty sure we already had from another park but it makes them happy.  I also found a penny booklet for the zoo that I just had to have.

It was a bit of a slow walk back to our car due to everyone being pretty tired.  They fell asleep almost immediately after I started driving home.  This zoo was a lot of fun, but we are suckers for these types of places and love seeing the animals.  I’ll be curious to see how this place looks next year after they have finished with those exhibits that were under construction on this visit.  Plus of course I have to keep tabs on these penny machines.  You never know when new designs will appear.

Polynesian Village Resort – NEW Pressed Penny Machine

These 8-design penny machines are taking Walt Disney World by storm.  I received word that one of these new machines was put out over at the Polynesian Village Resort.

This is a resort that I visit whenever possible.  Not only does it have one of my favorite restaurants (Ohana) but the island vibe you get just from walking around the property is a lot of fun.

Once inside the main ceremonial house the friendly staff greet you with a flower lei, and the beautiful flowers all around just put you in the vacation mood.  Something else I usually do when visiting here is walk straight back through the rear doors to the Pineapple Lanai for a dole whip.  But on this trip I had a quick pit stop first.

Previously just to the left of these rear doors was a 3 design penny machine, but as you can see it has been removed.  Now there is a new touch screen machine.

The designs available here are all themed around the movie Moana which makes perfect sense at this resort.

The penny designs include Moana herself in a few different poses, Maui, HeiHei, Pua and even a couple of Kakamora.  I think this is a really cool little set for such a great movie.

Before heading outside for my Dole whip I went upstairs to see if those two machines were still there and they were.  Just outside the Moana mercantile are two machines (one has 3 penny designs, and the other has 3 quarter designs).  The designs on all of these coins have remained unchanged…for now.

With the new coins pressed, and the previous machines checked up on it was time for my treat.  I made my way back downstairs and out the back of the ceremonial house to the Pineapple Lanai.  Amazingly there was no one in line so I got right up to the counter and ordered my Dole whip.  I walked it over to the beach along side the seven seas lagoon and just enjoyed a little bit of island time with my feet in the sand before heading back home.

Halloween Horror Nights 2018 Token – Universal Studios Florida

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  Something about the fall season, the cooler weather, leaves changing colors and jack-o-lanterns lighting up the neighborhood houses has just the right amount of spooky.  As I got older the horror movie genre became a guilty pleasure and then visiting local haunted house attractions and hay rides was a must each year.  Then about 15 years ago I visited Florida during October and saw commercials in my hotel room about Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.  It looked amazing and I knew I had to squeeze it into my vacation plans.  To this day that was one of the greatest Halloween events I have ever been to.

Since relocating to Florida this was something I wanted to revisit as soon as possible.  Our daughters are a little too young for this as it can be pretty scary even for adults.  But my wife was interested in going so we got some tickets and a babysitter so we could head over and check it out.  Above is a picture I took of the Universal arches about a week before we actually went to HHN (Halloween Horror Nights).

Above is a picture I took of the line we were in the middle of just to try and get into the event.  It usually starts sometime between 6-6:30pm.  This was taken around 6pm and it took almost an hour to actually get inside the park.

Once inside, since it hadn’t gotten dark yet I wanted to check out the souvenirs first and see what they had to offer.

The logo for this years HHN included the above creepy disfigured pumpkin and it could be found all throughout the park.  As you can also see one of the HHN houses this year was themed around the popular Netflix show Stranger Things and there was a ton of merchandise with that on it.

In the middle of the Universal Studios Store was a collection of vintage arcade games.  Including Pac-man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong and some other popular games.  Now these machines do not take quarters, but instead can only accept special tokens.  The above machine is where you can purchase those tokens.  They were $1 for 2 tokens or discounts if you bought in larger quantities.

Being a pressed penny collector I obviously wished these designs were in a pressed penny format, but I was still happy to see these special tokens.  This is something I always wished Disney would do for their events and parties.  I didn’t want to spend time playing the arcade games (although it was tempting) but I did pick up a few of these tokens for my collection.  They had the creepy pumpkin on one side, and the HHN 2018 logo on the other.

It was now starting to get a little dark out and we met up with some family friends to head over to our first haunted house.  Our strategy because of the huge crowd for this event was to visit the houses at the back of the park first and then move towards the front.  This seemed legitimate in theory but seems lots of other guests has the same idea.  First up we visited the Trick ‘r Treat house which is themed around the cult classic movie of the same name.  Unfortunately for the safety of the guests and scare actors there is no video or photography allowed inside the houses.  If you are interested there are plenty of “media preview” videos inside the houses on YouTube.

The detail inside these houses is really amazing, and with Universal behind the make up and costumes you really get sucked into the houses.  The pathway weaves around sharp corners and through narrow hallways with the scare actors jumping out at you every few feet.  They are not allowed to intentionally touch or grab you, and it all makes for an amazing adventure.

The second house we visited was called Seeds of Extinction.  This is an original house theme based in a post-apocalyptic wasteland overgrown with invasive vegetation.  Basically scary plant creatures jump out at you as you walk through the house.

In between the houses along the main walkways are areas called Scare Zones.  Some of these are IP (intellectual Properties) or original theme zones just like the houses.  One of the more popular scare zones was the Killer Knows from Outer Space zone.  The uber creepy clowns just slowly stalk around you as you try to get through to the next house.

The fog, and lighting in these areas really add to the ambiance and creepiness factor.

Another scare zone was called Vamp 1985.  In this area about every 20-30 minutes the ball drops to celebrate New Years eve.  The only problem is that when the ball drops the vampires storm into the crowd looking for victims.

Up next we visited another original house called Scary Tales.  This was my favorite house we visit this night.  By this time it was around 10pm and the lines for the houses were getting pretty crazy.  The line for this house was posted as being 35 minutes but I’m pretty sure we waited at least 50 minutes, but it was worth it.

The story behind this house is that the Wicked Witch of the West has cursed the land of the fairies, twisting beloved stories beyond recognition.  This just means that all your favorite fairy tales have been turned into horror themed nightmares.  One of the rooms was the witches house from Hansel and Gretel and there was an amazing smell of gingerbread as you walked through.  The scares in here were not too over the top, but the theming was really detailed and amazing.

The Stranger Things house was definitely the longest one all night and it didn’t get much better.  We checked the wait times for this house numerous times during the night and it was always around 60-90 minute wait which was just too long for us.

One of the last scare zones we headed through was called Twisted Traditions.  The description was that an ancient evil had reawakened and transformed Halloween into an abomination.  There were a lot of scary pumpkins, and things handling from trees along this path.  Plus lots of creatures jumping out to see why we were walking through.  One of the coolest features of this zone were all the lit pumpkins decorating the tree tops.

The HHN night we visited was on a Wednesday.  We chose that day as it was supposed to be a lower attendance day, but as you can see from the wait times above it was still pretty busy.  We ended up getting into four houses out of ten that are available, and all the scare zones.  If we can figure out how to visit again before these events are done for the season we will definitely be back.  The houses were amazing, the scare actors were fantastic and it was just a lot of fun.  The night would go on until 2am but we headed out around midnight since we had work the next day.  The souvenir tokens were a very nice surprise and will make a nice addition to my collection.  Hopefully this is something they will continue doing annually.  We are definitely going to visit again next year and this would be a fun little souvenir to get year after year.

Happy Halloween!!!

Pressed Penny Jewelry and unique Art

There was quite a few new penny machines released this past week on Walt Disney World property and I promise to review those within the upcoming weeks.  But I came across a few things online that were pressed penny related that I thought were really interesting and wanted to share.

I’m sure you have seen the rubber pennybandz that you can buy at a lot of places where penny press machines are located.  They are just plastic wrist bands you can wear that allow you to insert a pressed penny into it for display.  I’m not sure how popular these are as I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one.  However I was browsing through Etsy the other night and came across something that seemed more jewelry-like.

The Etsy store is called JustCharmsByPam and she has some charm bracelets that have a full set of pressed pennies on them.  The pressed pennies have a hole punched in the top and threaded onto the bracelet with some other fun charms included.  The above is a Nightmare before Christmas theme and she has a few other styles as well.

Another version I found in her store had the Pirates of the Caribbean penny set.  These bracelets do see pretty hefty but look to be a fun gift for any pressed penny enthusiast.

Just a day or two ago I was up late cataloguing some new pennies when I decided to browse my Reddit account and see if there was any new Disney news.  Of course there are always tons of rumors, and people posting about their vacations, but then something really beautiful caught my eye.

There was not a lot listed in the post other than the above picture but I was stunned by this.  I went into the comments to find more details and was able to get the artist’s website.  Her name is Bry Marie and her website is brymariearts.com.  She is an artists that paints these beautiful designs on pressed pennies, but also non-pressed penny (just a regular penny).

I found another one of Alice in Wonderland on a pressed penny and was almost speechless.  The colors are really fantastic and being able to paint on such a small canvas is really intriguing.

The above is the Alice coin just at a slightly different angle.  You can see a little more of the pressed penny detail below the paint.  She does sell these through her website, the price can seem a little high but when you take into account the detail and work that must go into these I think they are worth every penny (ha).  Unfortunately at this time her painted pressed pennies are out of stock, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on her site so I can pick some up when they are available again.

I hope you enjoyed the hard work these artists put into their products.  These are not paid advertisements.  I came across them online and wanted to share them with all of you.  Be sure to keep your eyes open when surfing online as you never know what you may come across that is pressed penny related.  If you do find any other unique uses for pressed pennies please be sure to commend below so I can check them out.

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Recently Renovated

Over the past few years it has seemed like the majority of the Walt Disney World Resort property has been under construction.  The roads are being rerouted, new attractions being built, and some of the resorts have been under renovation.  This is not going to change any time soon, and from the sound of it most of this won’t be done for another 3-4 years.  But one of these places that has started to see the finish line is the Caribbean Beach Resort.

I visited this resort about 8 months ago to see how things were going and it was a mess.  Guests had no actual restaurant to eat at, instead there was a tent put up with a buffet inside, or some temporary food trucks near the pool.  However just this past week that all changed when the newly renovated Old Port Royale opened.

In case you aren’t familiar with how this resort is laid out, there are groups of resort room buildings named after different Caribbean locations like Aruba, Martinique, Jamaica and a few others.  This resort is huge and was in need of some TLC.  The main reception area used to be on the outskirts of the property in the Custom House, but that has closed.  Now that has been relocated to Old Port Royale along with some new places to eat.

The new check-in area is wide open with some minimal theming but this seems to be the direction Disney is going with its resorts.

Just inside the main set of front doors is the new penny machine available at the resort.  In years past this resort had quite a few penny machines, but those have all been removed and retired.  This is now the only machine available here.

I wonder if we will ever seen any of the old three design coin press machines anymore?

All of the penny designs have our favorite Disney characters as Pirates.  For some reason all of the pennies also say “Pirates of the Caribbean” which I think is a little strange.  It’s the same logo from the attraction in the Magic Kingdom but now over at this resort.  I get that the Caribbean Beach resort does have a pirate theme at the main pool and in some of the rooms, but this seems like a bit of a stretch.

The rest of Old Port Royale is set up for the new Centertown Market the quick service options.

Walking out the back of the Old Port Royale building you are right next to the main Pirate themed pool, and the new Banana Cabana bar / lounge.  I stopped by here later on at night and they have live music, but there are not many seats available so you may need to get there early or expect to wait for a table.

Beside the lounge is the new table service restaurant called  Sebastian’s Bistro.  This place has received quite a good reception so far in its first two weeks of being open.  I will also admit I have actually eaten here twice in that time period and have been thoroughly impressed.

I’m sure you all remember Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.  First off the inside is really clean and bright, but there are some light fixtures that have not been installed yet so at night there are areas that can be a little dark.  The service I had on both my visits was superb.  They knew that menu inside and out, making some great suggestions.

We tried the Pull-apart bread as an appetizer which came with three accompaniments, Guava butter / Mango Salsa / Jerk favored Oil.  The guava butter was unbelievable.

For  my main course I tried the Jerk chicken, which  are boneless chicken thighs marinated in a Jerk season and served over Cilantro rice and black beans.  This was really flavorful and we really liked it.  We also tried a few other main dishes and they were really fantastic as well.  This is a place I would highly recommend and if you get a chance be sure to head over and try it out.  Plus you can take a nice stroll around the resort afterwards and see what they have to offer, or press a set of the pennies in the lobby.

One last thing you can see when you visit this resort is the nearby resort that should be opened in a couple of years.  It’s going to be called The Riviera and from across the lake looks like it’s going to be huge.  Not sure how it will look inside but I’m anxious to find out.  Plus you know they must have a penny machine inside.

davidscointravels Office Tour

A few years ago when I first got this blog started I had someone reach out asking for me to post about my collection.  From time to time I have posted some info about how I store my collection, or how to scan pennies onto your computer but I’ve never done a full tour of my office.  Lately this seems to be a topic quite a few people are interested in but to be honest I never thought it would be all that interesting.  However now that we have moved to Florida the office has become a place for not just my collection, and where I write the articles, or edit the videos but now it’s also where I keep all my Disney collectibles.  Hopefully this sheds a little insight into where all the magic happens.

I do have a full-time job and the blog and penny collecting are just hobbies.  Thankfully I’m able to work remotely and when we were having our house built we took that into account when we designed the office.  This allowed for additional electrical outlets and network connections for not just the work equipment but all the personal hardware too.  The office is at the front of our house which gets a lot of the Florida sunshine beaming in.

  As you walk into the office my wife found me a print of Hipster Mickey enjoying a Dole Whip float which makes me smile each time I walk in.

When we made our move from New Jersey to Florida along I-95 just over the border into South Carolina is the famous South of the Border.  They have gift shops, restaurants and all stores of other things to do.  We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and check out the gift shop.  I came across this wall mounted Tiki art and just had to have it.  This is also where I hang my ‘Ohana leis.

Over top of the storage closet I have some large prints of some historic Walt Disney World construction images.  I always thought it was interesting to see a Monorail train being listed onto the track, or Epcot’s spaceship earth empty inside.

Along the far wall are some vintage WDW attraction posters like Pirates, or the Monorail / Contemporary Resort.  There are more on the other side that we will get to shortly.  Then I have some floating shelves for my Magic Bands, POP Figures and other miscellaneous collectibles.  If you have a sharp eye you may notice the famous “Chosen One” red cards hanging from one of the shelves, this is actually a replica I got off Etsy that I just had to have.

Continuing on this side of the office is my iMac that does all the heavy workload of the blog and video editing for YouTube.  The dual screens in the corner is part of the hardware for my non-penny related job.  I am also a proud member of Disney’s D23  and have my membership certificate framed for display.  My cork board had my calendar, TEC member cards, and our magic bands that we use primarily at the parks.

One year for Christmas I was given a set of coasters that were themed after the Haunted Mansion.  Each one has a different Tombstone poem from the park attraction.  The one I use most of the time is “Dear departed brother Dave, he chased a bear into a cave.”  Also along the windowsill is where I have my Disney Transportation collection.  There is a scale model of the parking lot Trams, Monorail, different Bus designs, and even a small matchbox car of the Test Track vehicle.

On the opposite wall are more attraction posters for Epcot, Tomorrowland, the Haunted Mansion and the Tiki Room.  The larger cork board over here is where we keep a lot of our pins and lanyards from parks like Universal, Legoland and Disney Pin Trading.

There are two bookcases here that store my frequently used equipment and supplies.  There are more of these bookcases in the closet with more binders filled with pressed coins.

The case on the right side had my Hitchhiking Ghosts figure by Jim Shore.  There is also a model of the Disney Dream cruise ship which my wife and I went on a couple of years ago.  I got this model in the onboard gift shop and ended up meeting the Captain who signed it for me.  Below that is where I store the 2×2 plastic binder pages that hold all my pressed coins.  Next are some coin roll boxes for pennies and quarters, this helps ensure I always have plenty of change for my trips.  Then there are the small plastic bags I use for temporary storage of coins I collect, a flat cinch stapler with staples, and my travel case that is usually in my car.

Below that is my Yesterday’s Elongated guide which is a great resource for some older pressed pennies.  There is my main camera the Sony a6000, and my daughters Wilderness Explorers guidebook from the Animal Kingdom.  On the bottom shelf are the 4 and 5 inch three-ring binders for all my Walt Disney World coins, Disneyland coins, a separate binder just for retired WDW coins.  On the right side is my Disney Pin Trading binder, and a book that has all the Disney park maps since the park opened.

The bookcase on the left has my Harry Potter Elder Wand, and my basic magic band collection.  I actually found an acrylic watch display on eBay which works perfectly for these bands.  On the next shelf down I have the small labels I use for each coin, and packages of the 2×2 elongated coin cardboard holders.

The bottom has some of the binders that store my pressed coin collection.  This is my attempt to keep them as organized as possible.  This is an ever-growing collection that I’ve been working on for years.  I prefer to collect coins at places I have actually been to and pressed in person.  But I do have a lot of friends around the country that know of my obsession and love to send me their local coins as gifts and I cherish each one of them.

See what did I tell you not too exciting, but it’s where I do all the work to share this hobby with everyone.  It’s my sanctuary where I can enjoy the things I love, and help keep my collection organized and from getting too out of control.  Now it’s time to pull the curtain back across the room and get back to work.

Hall of Champions – Magic Kingdom Main Street USA *NEW*

The weekends in our house is usually what we call our park days.  Usually by Wednesday or Thursday I try to come up with a plan of what parks we will visit that coming weekend, but there are always asterisks with those selections.  The options can change depending on weather, special events, or more often than not due to a new penny machine.  That was the situation that happened this past weekend.  I had everything setup to check out Universal Studios so we could see some of the Halloween Horror Nights areas in the safety of day light.  But then I heard about a new penny machine and I dropped that plan like a bad habit and instead we headed into the Magic Kingdom.

After a quick trip on the run down Monorail (hopefully new ones are on the way according to rumors), we were found ourselves surrounded by pumpkins and other really cute Halloween decorations.

I was told this new penny machine was in a store down Main Street USA.  My fingers were crossed that this wasn’t mistaken for the machine recently released in the Disney Clothiers store.  Thankfully this was not the case.

Instead this new machine was just a few doors down at the Hall of Champions store.  This place used to house sports themed clothing and merchandise with the usual Disney spin, but now it just seems to be another extension of the Main Street Emporium with pretty standard shirts and clothing.

In this store kind of jammed into a corner between two racks of merchandise were two 3-design penny machines.  Those have been removed and replaced with a new 8-design touch screen machine (the new Standard).

This new machine is literally in the exact same location as the other 2 machines but now has a little more room to stretch out.  This is over against the wall closest to Casey’s Corner the famous hot dog quick service restaurant.

The machine cabinet is a plain wood grain, that looks nice but I do miss some of the fancy cabinet designs or theming that the old 3-design machines would sometimes have.

I pressed a few sets for some fellow collectors, but found that a few of the designs rolled a bit short.  The images in this set are of your favorite Disney character playing various sports.  Baseball Mickey, Tennis Minnie, Golfer Goofy, Golfer Daisy, Mickey & Donald playing Basketball, Baseball Tigger, Soccer Mickey and Football Donald.

This side of Main Street USA currently has a total of 5 pressed coin machines which is great, but these stores from the Emporium to the Hall of Champions gets extremely busy.  It makes trying to use these machines a little difficult from time to time.  After we finished using this new machine and headed outside I glanced across the street and realized that there are a lot of stores over there with no penny machines.  There is the Confectionary, Uptown Jewelers, the Main Street Bakery, Crystal Arts, and the Chapeau store.  These would all make for great locations and hopefully some fun themed designs for store.  I’m crossing my fingers this may be part of their plan.

It’s always fun to have an excuse to visit one of the Disney parks.  This is something I never want to take for granted and feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to visit as often as I do.

2018 TEC Presidential Merit Award

Shortly after we got back from our recent vacation to southern Florida I received a nice big envelope in the mail.  I had not idea what it could be but upon opening it I was ecstatic.

Inside was a TEC Presidential Merit Award and a special pressed coin created just for this award.

This was completely unnecessary but very much appreciated.  Each year TEC (The Elongated Collectors) had their annual meeting at the ANA (American Numismatic Association) convention.  Our club is always trying to raise money and they have a fantastic auction at the annual meeting of items that are donated by the members.  I donated something this year and am sure it found a good home.

This blog and my YouTube channel is really a passion for this hobby that I have and I love sharing with everyone.  Anything I can do to help spread the word about TEC and pressed pennies I will do.  Thank you to Cindy Calhoun the current TEC President for this award and wonderful pressed coin.  I met Cindy quite few years ago at a TEC annual meeting in Philadelphia and she is a wonderful person and another big advocate of our hobby.

If you haven’t already please visit http://www.tecnews.org and become a member.  The fee is very reasonable (for 2018 it’s $11 a year for a digital subscription or $15 for a printed hard copy subscription).  There is a great newsletter issued each quarter, and lots of pressed coins are donated and distributed out to all the members with each issue.  This club has been a great resource to meet fellow collectors, trade tips and tricks or just read some great articles about pressed coins.

Keep on pressing!

Glazer Children’s Museum – Tampa, Fl

The day had finally come, our last day of vacation.  My wife and would be heading back to work, and our kids back to school and their daily routine.  We checked out of our hotel in Fort Myers and jumped back on Highway 75 north towards Tampa.  There was no real rush home, and we all had such a good time that we asked the kids if they wanted to visit one last place.  Their options were either the Tampa Zoo or the Glazer Children’s Museum.

To my surprise they picks the Children’s museum, but at this time of year it was probably the best option since it was entirely indoors and air-conditioned.  It’s located right downtown near the bay, not too far from the Florida Aquarium he had visited last year.  There is a big parking garage right beside the museum and it was free when we visited, but this may change depending on the day you visit.

I say this all the time, but I knew this place had a pressed penny machine (actually the zoo had a couple of machines but we will visit that place another day).  To my surprise the penny machine was actually just inside the main doors.  I always enjoy a good hunt for penny machines, but every so often it’s nice to have it served up on a platter and then I can leisurely enjoy the rest of the museum.

This was a standard 4 design hand crank model.  The cabinet was nicely designed for the museum and was in good working condition.  Also there is no admission needed to use this machine.  You may have to pay for parking though as I’m not sure of how that works on weekends.

The sets of pennies from this machine included designs of 1914 Pilot Tony Jannus, R M & V Alphabet blocks, a Veterinarian, and a Fire Truck from the Fire House.  With the pennies pressed and stowed away, we bought our museum tickets and headed in.

The first floor didn’t have much.  Other than the ticket area, there were a set of restrooms, a Subway restaurant, a birthday party room and then the largest area had a big water exhibit.  This thing had a lot of “science” involved but it’s another of those famous things that kids don’t realize they are actually learning.  It was setup like a canal and docks system with toy boats the kids could float around.  There were pulleys and levers, and buoyancy tests and even a weather machine that simulated rain.  All in all this was a nice detailed area for the kids to play (and learn).

Eventually we made our way upstairs which is where things really got fun.  This was setup like a main street and there was a Global Cafe with fake food items from all over the world kids could pretend to cool and serve.  There was also a mock theater that they could dress up, and then put on a play.  This area even had a sound board that could trigger sound effects during the performance.

The middle section of this area had a large Lego wall that you could design things up against the wall.  It seems that each day there is a different challenge posted.  On this day it was to display your name in Lego.  Next was a farmhouse, that had a garden out front with vegetables to be planted and harvested.  Inside the farmhouse the walls were covered in clear plexiglass so you could see the support beams, insulation and wiring that makes up a house.  The second floor also had a hands on exhibit where you could try to wire up a door bell by connecting different pieces of wire together.

Our kids favorite was the grocery store.  This place had little shopping carts or baskets you could use.  They also had different shopping lists to go through the store and collect all the items on the list. Then there was a check out and bagging area.  They also had a deli area where they could take orders for submarine sandwiches unfortunately made out of plastic.

The back area of the second floor had a mock veterinary clinic, a hospital emergency room, a pizza restaurant and a fire house.  The fire house even had a fire pole they could slide down onto a padded mat.

We spend a good part of the day here, actually much longer than we had anticipated.  Our girls had such a good time we actually made a trip back a couple of weeks after this visit.  For anyone that has driving I-4 from Tampa to Orlando you know that if you aren’t on the road early the hour-long drive could take a lot longer. With that in mind we dragged the kids out of the museum as usual, got in the car and made the final leg of our trip back home.  It’s always sad to end your vacation, but I always made sure to take lots of pictures and video so we could watch and remember all the things we did on this years trip.  Plus I have a lot of pennies to catalogue, and document.  I’ll take a few days off before I start trying to figure out what we will do next year for vacation.  For me planning is always part of the fun.

Collectible Medallions – Art of Disney Store in Disney Springs

This is not quite pressed penny related, and I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t usually collect the Medallions that are found at zoos and theme parks.  But just released in the last couple days was the first Disney themed Collectible Medallion machine.  I couldn’t resist so I raced over to Disney Springs to check it out and get a set for myself to investigate this new possible collectible.

In the Marketplace area of Disney Springs just beside the Rainforest Cafe and Days of Christmas gift shop is The Art of Disney store.  I visit this location almost every time I’m in this area as it’s filled with things I can only hope to own some day.

The items found inside range from paintings, to sketches, figurines, prints and a whole lot more.  The selection is always changing so you never know what you may find inside.

They also usually have quite a nice selection of Haunted Mansion items that I have been slowly acquiring whenever I can.

In the back corner past the huge wall of art work is where I found the Souvenirs Medallion machine.

Since these are not pressed the inner works are pretty simple.  All the medallions are already pre-loaded and just drop into the collection cup at the bottom.

The biggest difference you may notice is the cost, these are pretty expensive.  They are $5 for one medallion, or you can get 3 for $10.  So for those math majors out there if you wanted to get all 4 designs it will run you $15.  Similar to the 8-design press penny machines you can use cash, a credit card or ApplePay.  However, if you are using a Credit Card or ApplePay those payment types are only available for the 3 designs $10 option.  Individual medallions have to be paid for with cash and the machine does not offer change.

Above are the 4 designs that are currently available.  There is a 2018 Mickey, the Partners Statue (Walt & Mickey), the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto), and the Frozen sisters Anne, Elsa and their snowman buddy Olaf.

You may notice the first design of 2018 Mickey is the same image that was released earlier this year as part of the 2018 Dated Set of pressed coins.  Above is a picture of the medallion next to the pressed quarter and pressed penny for comparison.

Another nice feature of these medallions is that the back of all the coins has the Disney Springs logo.

These are a fun new collectible but I’m still not really sold on the cost.  These coins are roughly the size and weight of a US Silver Dollar so they do have some heft to them, and I’m sure the manufacturing cost is higher.  But $15 for 4 medallions is still a bit steep especially if some of the designs are going to be duplicates of pressed pennies or quarters I may have already collected.  I’ll be curious to see if any more of these machines appear around the parks or any of the resorts.