Family Vacation 2015

I am excited to announce that my family has finished booking our 2015 Family Vacation.  Yeah!!  My family, my sister’s family and my parents are all going to be taking this vacation together.  This is something we have wanted to do for a few years but with all the grandchildren being born we kept putting it off.  The last time my sister, parents and I went on a family vacation was back in 1996 before I finished High School.  All I can say is we are well over due for a great family vacation.

Now you may be asking where are we all going?  What magical place would keep an entire family regardless of age entertained for an entire week?  It could only be Walt Disney World!!!  Oh and did I mention that Disney has a huge number of Penny Machines?  Like you even had to ask.

wdw welcome

As a family we have taken a lot of great trips growing up, but my sister and I were always the most excited about the trips we would take to either Florida or California to hang out with Mickey and his friends.  Over the years this has not changed one bit.  I was on a streak for a few years visiting Disney for 3 straight summers and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The last time my wife and I went was in 2011 when we took a long weekend trip down to Florida and had a whirlwind visit of the four parks in four days.  It’s only been 3 years since however to me it feels like forever.  Now the hard part was trying to figure out a time to go when the parks wouldn’t be overly crazy, but the hardest part was to try to get 3 separate families schedules all figured out so we could all visit together.  After going back and forth on dates we finally settled on April 2015 which fit right into all our schedule perfectly..

For those of you that don’t know there is a crazy schedule of things that can be booked prior to your visit to Disney.  The most important for many people is their dining reservations.  Disney lets you make these reservations about 180 days prior to your visit if you are staying at one of their resorts.  Using our trusty calendar we figured that if we were going to visit in April that we would need to make our dining reservations in October.  Our entire family met over at my parents house one Sunday and we checked out all the different resorts to figure out what would work best for us.  We decided on the Contemporary Resort which is right on the monorail line (it even comes right inside the resort) and just seemed to fit best for our trip.


With the resort booked we needed to only wait a few weeks before we could start making our reservations.  The date arrived and we were up early making some of our reservations online with the help of a concierge service that our resort offered.  Some places were very difficult to get into, but for the most part we got tables in some old favorites and even some new ones we have not previously experienced.  One place I was told about and somehow never tried before is located in Hollywood Studios called the Sci-Fi Drive In.  It’s indoors but looks like you are outdoors at a drive-in movie.  I don’t know how I ever miss this place before but can’t wait to try it.

drive in

There are still some things we can schedule as we get closer to the trip, Fast Passes, and a birthday cake for my nephew who will be celebrating his 1st birthday while we are there (Lucky kid).  But now my work begins in preparation for a massive penny collecting trip.

Walt Disney World is where it all started for me with Penny collecting.  I remember a trip to Florida with my family and grandparents who were always more than happy to give me a few quarters and pennies to press designs in the machines.  I loved it and still have those coins to this day.  When I started going to Disney on my own as an adult the first trip was a penny collecting mess.  I wasn’t prepared and had no idea what machines were available or even what designs I may have already had.  After that first trip in 1997 (A graduation gift from my parents) I decided I had to get more organized and have a plan before I went the next time.  A few years went by before I was able to go back and I had found a lot of online resources that helped.  A site I frequent now is called which is fantastic.  It took a while to collect all the coins from the four parks, all the resorts and even the water parks, mini-golf courses and other miscellaneous locations, but as of right now I do have an up to date collection.  Not every coin ever produced from Disney but complete for the last 5-6 years.  I do have some collecting friends in Florida that help me get new coins and sometimes I even resort to eBay when all other options don’t pan out.  But now that I know we have a trip coming up I usually stop collecting the new coins so that I have machines to visit during the trip.

On previous trips I have even taken an entire day to visit each resort and collect all the coins at those locations. That can be pretty time-consuming if you don’t have a car.  One trip I used the resort bus system to go from one resort to another, however the buses don’t go to multiple resorts (except the All-Star Resort), so I would take a bus from a park to a resort, then from the resort back to a park and then jump on a different bus for another resort.  Crazy I know but I loved it and would do it again if needed.

Luckily since I do have most of the coins already there probably won’t be too many new ones I need to collect.  I do really enjoy visiting the different resorts as it gives me a change to see each resort and get ideas of which ones I would like to visit in the future.  Since my last trip a new resort has opened called The Art of Animation.

art of anim

This will probably be the only resort I will need to visit during our trip.  We have already schedule a “Pool Day” half way through our stay.  This will probably be my only change to visit this new resort and check it our in person.

art of anim 2

Look at this place it looks awesome.  Not to mention it’s considered a value resort which usually are very affordable for most budgets.  They have different sections designed like The Lion King, Little Mermaid, Cars and Finding Nemo. The pictures I have seen online just look beautiful and I can’t wait to wander around and check it out.

So for now I get to watch my online account tick down the days until our trip.  I’ve been keeping a list of the new penny designs that appear on stage and will mark them on my maps.  This way as we visit each theme park I know exactly where to go and can grab the pennies as we pass them by.  Since my entire family is going I have to be a little more conscientious of everyone.  In previous trips I would just head out on my own to get the coins I needed, but with my daughter visiting for the first time I want to take in the park through her eyes.

You only get to visit Disney for the first time once and I can’t wait to see what she thinks.


Big Hero 6 Pennies Acquired from WDW

A really good friend of mine from work just this past week got back from a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida.  As I had previously posted about the craziness of my upcoming vacation, he had also been planning his trip for month.

He knew that I was an avid collector of pressed coins and asked (he probably wished he hadn’t) if there were any new designs he could pick up for me during his trip.  Wow, what an amazing friend.  I had a moral, do I take him up on the offer, or left him enjoy his vacation?  I chose the latter and explained I appreciated the offer but didn’t want to be responsible for his family wandering all over the parks looking for pennies.  But he didn’t take no for an answer and insisted that his kids would already been looking for the new Frozen pennies which have been recently been released and didn’t mind checking out the other new machines.

Now I was already feeling kind of guilt so I convinced myself that if I made it as easy for them to find the designs I needed that my conscience would be clear, and I wouldn’t be disturbing their vacation too much.  Heading over to my number 1 resource for WDW pressed coins I checked out (Check it out they are awesome).  I always keep up with their blog which lists all new designs, retired machines and any changes to existing designs.  After reviewing all the new designs I had not yet acquired I started to put together the supplies.


First I figured out which machines had new coins and created little print outs that listed the Park across the top, then the actual location within that park, and finally a picture from the website of the actual design I needed.  I then used the small jewelry bags I use for my own personal coin missions and loaded the print out and appropriate number of quarters and pennies inside.

There were only a few bags I had to put together and wanted to try and help with his own quest to find the Frozen designs for his kids.  Going back to the website I found a list of all those designs and their exact locations.  I put together my own little checklist with the locations, design descriptions and even a little picture of each penny.  It came out really well and he thanked me for doing this as it helped them know exactly where to go once inside each park.

When he got back to work after his vacation it took all my power not to just run over to his office trying to get the coins.  Luckily I didn’t have to wait long as he quickly came over to give me the run down of his trip.  He handed over the bags with the freshly pressed pennies inside and I immediately examined each one.  I’m always amazed at how much detail the designers are able to put into each penny.

I had most of the new Frozen designs collected already, but they had released some new designs I had not been able to get previously.  The above designs were located in Hollywood Studios as the Legends of Hollywood store.  The designs included Olaf, Anna, Elza and Anna standing together.


Next was a new design of Olaf from Frozen.  It was located in the Magic Kingdom at the Island Supply Store.  My friend said that the store was actually closed for renovations but a cast member saw them wandering aimlessly around and asked if they were looking for the penny machine.  When they said yes the cast member walked them over to the machine which was located by the Verandah Breezeway right beside the store.  Those cast members sure are friendly and helpful, always there when you need them.


 While at Epcot they were able to get another new design I had requested in the Mouse Gears store.  This design is of Kristoff also from Frozen.  I think they are up to about at least 15 Frozen designs by now.


I had send them with some additional coins for new designs located in Epcot near the Japan pavilion in the World’s Showcase.  Unfortunately they didn’t make it back to that area and were unable to obtain those designs.  I didn’t mind at all and was still overjoyed at what they did get for me.

There was one additional surprise they had in store for me.  One day while they were at Hollywood Studios they were waiting in line to meet the new characters from the animated movie Big Hero 6 which had just been released.  Once done with the character meet and greet they noticed a penny machine with 3 designs of each character from the movie.  These weren’t on my list since I didn’t even know they existed before they left, but they figured that since the movie had just come out these must be brand new.  They quickly scrambled some change together and pressed the coins for me.  The designs include Baymax, Hiro and Fred.


I couldn’t thank his family enough for getting all these designs for me.  I really appreciated it and hoped I hadn’t messed up their their already busy vacation schedule.  It’s always nice to have friends that even though they may not collect the coins themselves are more than happy to assist in collecting them for me.  They may be enabling the obsession, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.