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.

Bass Pro Shop – Fort Myers, Fl

Our vacation was quickly coming to an end but we still had a few days left.  Unfortunately it was time to say goodbye to South Beach and start the trip back up to Central Florida.  But we had decided to take a little detour along the way.  When I was young we had taken a trip along the famous Alligator Alley (Highway 75) and I wanted to do the same trip this time around.  I had these memories of alligators lining the sides of the highway as we drove mile after mile through the Everglades.

To my dismay after driving along this stretch of highway those memories must have been larger than life.  There were fences lining both sides of the highway and as my wife and kids kept vigilant watch out through the windows we didn’t see one single alligator.

After we drove west on 75 we eventually found ourselves in Fort Myers.  This was where I had planned to stop for the day/night and stay over to break up the trip home.  Just off the highway we found the Gulf Coast Town Center which was like a big box store shopping area.  There were a couple of hotels with plenty of vacancies so we checked in.  Once in the hotel we opened the curtains and were face to face with a Bass Pro Shop.  I’ve been to a few of these in past adventures and even a few Cabela stores which are similar.  These huge hunting and finishing super stores are really just amazing to me.  My wife and oldest daughter were a little tired so they decided to stay in the room and rest, but my youngest was on board to check out the store.

I’ve mentioned this in previous posts that I’m not a hunter or fisherman, and if left along out in the woods I would probably starve to death.  But these outdoor superstores are really intriguing to me.  I could spend hours just wandering around checking out all the finishing poles, camouflage gear, and barbecue equipment.

We spent a good amount of time just going up and down all the aisles in the fishing section.  The selection of poles, lures and other tech is really amazing.  The fish don’t seem to have a chance.  My daughter was fascinated with the large “aquarium” tank behind the counter that was filled with all sorts of fish.

Did I mention hot sauces?  There is an entire area of this store dedicated to hot sauces of all kinds.  They range from supposedly mild, to bottles with big black cross bone warring signs on them.  Some are more unique like a white hot sauce, and even some made with moonshine.

The second floor gave a nice overview of just how big this store is, and the selection of merchandise in stock.

This second floor is also where I found the barbecue section which I always enjoy.  I’ve been working on my BBQ and smoker techniques for a few years and have gotten pretty good.  All these different grills and smokers, wood chips, thermometers, and other gadgets has me in heaven but my wallet won’t be so happy.

Back down on the main floor towards the back of the building is a huge replica mountain that is decorated with stuffed animals, but does have a real fish tank in it.  This seems to be a favorite of the kids as they all seem to congregate around this area.

Lucky for me right next to this tank was the pressed penny machine.  While my daughter watched the fish I quickly pressed a set of coins.

Usually these designs at Bass Pro Shops are all very similar but they do always have the specific city location listed on each of the designs.  This set included the standard Bass Pro Shops logo, a Sailboat and beach, an Alligator, and a Crane.

After dragging my daughter away from the fish tank, we made our way to the check out area so I could buy my new BBQ equipment and loaded it up in the car.  We met up with my wife and other daughter for dinner, and spend the early evening in the hotel pool relaxing.  Our vacation was almost over and we only had one more day to get  back home.  But our trip had time for one last stop before going home.

Zoo Miami – Miami, FL

The next day of our Miami Vacation we wanted to be a little more laid back.  We tried not to get up too early, and didn’t rush down for breakfast.  But eventually we did make it out the door of our hotel, into our car and over to our adventure for the day.

Zoo Miami was a bit of a drive from where our hotel was in South Beach, but since we were visiting during the week traffic wasn’t too bad.  I had visited this zoo back in the 80s when I was a kid but didn’t remember much.  We had some old home videos I watched but other than the monorail (yes they have a monorail here) not much else seemed to look familiar so I’m sure there had been extensive renovations since then.

After we got through the main entrance we were greeted by a flock of Flamingos in all their pink glory.  Our two daughters love pink and by association love Flamingos.  We kept to the main path and eventually came to a bike rental stand but we skipped right by it.  They offer pretty big tandem bikes that your entire family can ride thought the zoo.  When we first saw them we kind of laughed, but I will admit by the end of our trip we kind of wished we had rented one as it was a LOT of walking.

This zoo was really nicely designed, and the exhibits were really beautiful.  They had all the standard animals that most zoos have.

We will eventually get to some penny machines, but we did come across a whole bunch of these Mold-A-Matic machines.  I remember these from when I was a kid.  You put in a couple of dollars (or swipe your credit card now a days) and two halves of the metal mold move together, are injected with wax, and then after a minute or so the wax mold drops into the collection bin.

Just for fun we created one of these souvenirs and our kids loved them.  I have them pretty well-trained to help spot penny press machines, but they now had a new mission and would holler out as soon as they found another wax machine.  By the end of the day I think we had accumulated about 7 or 8 of these figures.

The zoo also had a very nice aviary.  Usually I’m not a huge fan of these as the birds always flying over my head is a little unnerving.  But this one was pretty nice and peaceful.  They were quite a few birds but they were mostly in the trees eating and the little pools of water were filled with all sorts of fish and turtles which was fun.

The sun was blazing down by this time of day so it seemed like a good time to take a break and get have a bit of a rest with some drinks.  We found the Critter Connection area that is like their kids section.  When you first walk in there are a set of restrooms, a snack bar, and a playground out back with a carousel.

Also in this area just outside the restrooms was the first penny machine.  The cabinet was nicely decorated for the zoo.  I’m not a huge fan of these type of manual crank machines as always find they don’t press very well.  Either the designs don’t line up, or they roll long or short.  It’s kind of hit or miss.  Also a strange thing with this machine was if you zoom in on the above picture only 3 designs were shows on the cabinet.

But you know me I’m always going to try and see if that 4th design is still available.  Sure enough I was able to press 4 designs in total and as you can see above they all came our really nicely.  The camel one was a little long but much better than most of my experiences with this type of machine.  The set included images of the Zoo Miami Logo, A tree front with a peace sign, a Giraffe, and a Camel.

After we rested in the shade for a bit with some bottles of water and a couple soft pretzels our daughters raced off towards the carousel.  We took a few trips around since there was no line the attendant just let us stay on a couple of times.  Eventually we dragged our girls off as they kicked and screamed about wanting to keep going.  The zoo path we were following wound back and forth in a slalom pattern between exhibits.  There weren’t too many people at the zoo this day, but the path just seemed to be endless.  Eventually we found the elephants which is always just one of those animals we have to see every time.  The trainers were out feeding them and had them put on a bit of a show.  This wasn’t a circus type show, but instead they were trying to show off some of the things they would do in the wild.  At one point they had them “speak” which was just them blowing air out of their trunks machine the well-known honking sound.  I tried to think whether I had ever heard an elephant do this in person, and it was really interesting to witness first hand.

With the elephants fed we headed off to the next place which had giraffes.  They were also being fed at this time of day which kept them a little further away from where we were standing to watch.  They just seem like they should tilt forward with those long necks, but are so graceful when they move.  Really amazing to see in a large open area.

Our youngest daughter had been calling our for the Gorillas all day, and we thankfully found them.  They weren’t doing much other than just sitting on the grass and enjoying the Florida sun.  If you look real close in the picture above there was a really big iguana just in front of the tree stump to the left of the Gorilla.  I’m not really sure how he got in there, but the gorilla didn’t seem fazed by it.  Just another fun odd couple at the zoo.

Eventually it was time for another pit stop.  But this time we figured it was probably a good idea to get some lunch and sit in the shade before we passed out from the heat.  We found the covered area shown above which was called the Oasis Grill.  They had the usual pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and basic garden salad.  Pretty standard park food but our kids enjoyed it, and my wife and I were just happy to sit for a little bit.

As we sat at our table eating I noted across on the other side in among a few of the tables was the second penny machine.  Same type of machine as the first one with a similar cabinet design but different animals printed at the bottom.

Again these pennies actually pressed pretty nicely.  The set includes images of another Zoo Miami Logo, an Elephant, a Rhino and a Gorilla.

Once lunch was done and we had rehydrated with plenty of water we headed back out into the sun for the last leg of our zoo trip.  Unfortunately by this time everyone was getting pretty tired and a little cranky.  There was definitely a lot of walking.  I was hoping we could make it back to the front of the park seeing everything from ground level, and then take a round trip tour in the sky on the monorail.  But after visiting with a large tortoise, and some familiar Florida animals in the “local” section of the park everyone was ready to head back to our hotel and just chill.

Something to note on these designs is they all said Miami Metro Zoo along the bottom which was the previous official name of the zoo.  Does this mean the designs will be updated soon?  Probably not, but still makes for a fun set of coins to press.

Miami Seaquarium – Miami, FL

Our first full day in Miami started with an early start.  We always go into vacation saying it won’t be too scheduled with things to do, and let’s sleep in.  But with two young kids they seem to wake up even earlier on vacation.  The afternoon was going to be saved for another trip to the beach, bu that gave us the morning to go do something.  We grabbed some breakfast at a nearby diner and then headed to the Miami Seaquarium.

Located on Key Biscayne out in the Bay, it’s a very unique location and makes for a beautiful background for this indoor/outdoor Seaquarium (aquarium).

The front area was under quite a bit of construction.  We saw some concept art of the future grand new entrance and it does look like it will be impressive when done, but for now it was a lot of construction equipment and torn up concrete.  After we had our tickets scanned there was a bit of a walk to the main building and first gift shop.  Just inside this gift shop I found the first penny machine.

The machine was in pretty good shape and worked well.  As with so many of these machines it was also located just outside the bathroom area which makes them a little awkward to use sometimes due to the high traffic area.

This first set of pennies all said Miami Seaquarium Florida on each coin.  The designs included images of a Sea Turtle, a Manatee, Shark and a couple of Dolphins.

We headed through the gift shop into the next part of the building which surrounded a large tank that housed a couple of their dolphins.

If you head upstairs you eventually end up outside on the top of the building where you can get a bird’s eye view of the dolphins.

You can get right up to the edge of the tank but you are still out of reach of the dolphins.  This is more of a viewing area and they do have feeding shows you can watch periodically through the day.

Back downstairs on the main level there was a little side hallway.  Initially I saw just medallion machine which I have not caught the collecting bug on yet.  As I got closer I noticed the penny machine in the distance.

This was a bit of a unique machine.  I have seen models like it from time to time but I have found them to be unreliable when pressing unfortunately.  On this visit it was no different.  There was no out-of-order sign on the machine but when I tried to press the coins it just ate the change and didn’t press anything.  On my way out later in the day I mentioned it to a manager and they credited back my change.  A couple of weeks after we got home from this trip I wrote a letter to the Seaquarium explaining what happened and included some quarters and pennies asking if they could press them when the machine was fixed.  It did take another few weeks but eventually they showed up in the mail.

The designs all say Miami Seaquarium USA, and had images of a couple Manatees, a Whale, a Dolphin and a Seal.  As you can see from the above picture the seal design still pressed pretty short.  Whomever pressed the coins for me did include a few other copies of the seal coin in an attempt to get a better final outcome which was very nice of them.  The above was the best one of the batch.

Eventually after we checked out the rest of the inside aquarium tanks along the wall and another large tank in the middle behind the dolphin one had a lot of various sea creatures inside.  Then we made our way outside to see some of the other exhibits.  They had the usual aquatic life such as seals and sea turtles.

Of course since we were in Florida there had to be some Manatees which I always find fun and relaxing to watch.

From 1963-67 the TV show Flipper had been filmed at the Seaquarium and they have areas designated with signs and historical info on the show and its famous star.

There is also an area that you can walk through (but don’t touch) some parrots and other beautiful birds.  Just be careful as you walk around because there are some large iguanas walking around as well with free roam of the property.

Near the Parrot area is a Sting Ray touch tank which have become a staple exhibit at all aquariums.  My kids love this and we always have to drag them away eventually.

Speaking of kids, towards the very back of the property is a kids area with a playground and other things they can enjoy.  I wished there was more shaded areas for the parents to sit and rest but instead we were out in the blazing Miami sun.

Nearby the kids area was the third penny machine available at the Seaquarium.  It was hiding just around the side of this little covered stand used to house some soda machines.

The machine worked fine, but a note on this as it was located in that sun I was just talking about.  Because of that the handle and cabinet were extremely hot to the touch.

This last set of pennies had images of an Orca Whale, a Penguin, a Ray, and a Seal.  They also had the Miami Seaquarium Florida listed on all the pennies.

The Seaquarium was larger than we had anticipated but were able still able to see everything in a few hours.  Some of the exhibits are a little dated, and all the sea life are common to most aquariums.  The Flipper information was cool, that show was a little before my time but I am well aware of it and plan on re-watching some episodes to see if I can recognize where we visited.  The pressed penny sets were a nice addition to my collection and the first and last machines are obviously newer and work fine.  But that second machine is definitely an older model that probably doesn’t get much regular maintenance.  However if you do run into any issues with the machines don’t hesitate to let someone know.  I’m my experience they are more than happy to help be either refunding your money or sometimes helping to get a set in the future when the machine is fixed.  Never hurts to ask.

Disney Clothiers – Magic Kingdom Main Street USA *NEW*

Tonight I was having dinner at the Contemporary Resort with some friends in town for the week.  During a break in conversation I took a look at my phone and I had some notifications from Instagram (@davidscointravels in case you want to follow along).  Another reader (@followustodisney) had mentioned me in a post about a possible new penny machine.  I took a look and sure enough I didn’t recognize the machine and the designs looks unfamiliar.  After getting some additional details about the location of the machine I checked the Disney park app on my phone to see when Magic Kingdom closed.  Thankfully it was open until 11pm so I had plenty of time to enjoy the rest of our dinner before I bolted over to the park.

Needless to say by the time I got into the park a little around 9:00pm there was quite the crowd trying to leave the park.  It was raining a little bit, but the Happily Ever After fireworks show had finished just a short time before so this was most of the guests cue to leave.

Can you believe they have Halloween decorations up already?  Technically they have started having the Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween parties back in August which seems nuts but people love getting dressed up so Disney knows how to cash in on that. I love these Mickey Jack-o-latern lights and wish they sold them in the gift shops.

After swimming up-stream (Main Street USA) against the crowd I passed the Emporium and after that is another store called Disney Clothiers.  This is connected with the Emporium so if you are instead you probably have walked right through it not realizing it’s actually a separate store.  If you do enter from Main Street through the doors pictures above the penny machine is just inside by the drink cooler.

This area of the store deals primarily in children’s clothing, filled with plenty of Princess dresses, Minnie ears, and anything your young one would probably want to dress up in.

As for me I headed right over to the penny machine.  Well that is after I took a lot of pictures, and video which I will admit was quite the task in this store at this time of night.  The amount of people walking and shopping in here at night is crazy.

This is another 8-Design automatic touch screen machine.  As usual the cost is $1 for 1 design, or $5 for all 8.  The images are a cute set that includes Baby Mickey sitting, Baby Minnie sitting, Baby Donald, Baby Daisy, Baby Goofy, Baby Pluto, Baby Mickey crawling, and Baby Minnie on her back.  This seems to fit right into this store (even though the clothes are not strictly for young babies) but still a fun set and I’m sure it will be popular.

While I was using the machine one of the cast members actually came over to watch how I used it.  I guess they don’t get any special training from Disney on the machines.  She mentioned that the machine was brand new and had only been there for a day or two so hot off the production line.

Thanks again to my friends @followustodisney for the heads up on this new machine.  Be sure to follow them on Instagram as they have a lot of fun Disney adventures over there.  As I always say keep an eye open for new machines you never know when they will pop up.