Disney Quest & Emporium – Disney Springs, FL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elmwood Park Zoo – Norristown, PA

Up here in Jersey we have had a pretty easy winter.  It’s been cold, but not much snow this year.  There have really only been two big snow storms hit our area and the snow is usually all melted away within a week or so.  Since I originally came from Canada I will say we have had it pretty good this year.  But regardless since the temperatures have been cold, and the wind making it very hard to stay outside for any length of time our daughters have been getting cabin fever staying instead all the time.  This past weekend it was a little more on the milder side (with more cold on the way) so we decided to take the opportunity and spend a day out at the zoo.  I’m always on the look out for new penny machines and this gave us the opportunity to visit a zoo we hadn’t visited before, and for my own selfish reasons get some new pennies.

About an hour from our house on the PA turnpike we were in a place called Norristown and found the Elmwood Park Zoo.  This is not a huge zoo, but much bigger than I had anticipated.  Unfortunately since we were visiting during their winter season a lot of the animals were not available to see.  Many of the attractions were also closed so we didn’t have much to look at.  The entrance fee was significantly less due to the limited things to see and do, but I will definitely want to come back when it’s warmer to see all they have when it’s completely open.

Their outdoor exhibits were very nicely put together, and the birds and other winter creatures were out and enjoying the warmer than usual weather.

One of the buildings we came to was called “The Bayou”.  Inside there were some frogs, snacks, an alligator and some monkeys (not sure why they were in the Bayou).

This was also where we found the first penny machine.  As you can see from the picture above it’s a four design hand crank machine.  The only issue I have with these machines is that the finished coins drop out at the bottom but there is no holding cup or tray for them.  They just hit a little piece of wood and more often than note go flying onto the floor.  My daughter Hanna has fun running around trying to catch them, but sometimes they do go missing if you aren’t paying attention.

The coins did press very nicely and only had a slight curve to them.  This first set included images of a Jaguar, an American Alligator, an American Bison, and a Flamingo. With the coins stored away we finished checking our The Bayou and headed back outside.  We visited the few remaining exhibits that were open that day.  As we headed towards the front of the zoo we went to check out their gift shop and found the second penny machine.

I’m sure you noticed the sign on the machine that said, “Out of Order”.  This always is a bummer when you visit from a distance and come away empty-handed.

The penny designs at this machine were of a Red Panda, a Giraffe, an Eagle, and a Zebra.  Once I got back home I did what I usually try whenever I come across a broken machine.  I wrote a quick letter to the zoo and included enough quarters and pennies for all four designs, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to return them.  There have only been a few instances where I never received anything back, but it’s pretty rare and most places are more than happy to help a collector in need.  My advise when doing this is make it as easy for them as possible, and there really isn’t a reason for them not to help.

With our faces getting a little frozen we headed back to our cars and over to a diner for some hot chocolate and lunch.  It was a fun little trip and I was disappointed there weren’t more animals to see.  But this just gives us an excuse to come back when it’s warmer.

UPDATE 12-21-2017:
It took about 6 months but I finally received the pennies from the zoo.  I have a feeling it was more due to our recent move down south as the envelope still had our old address on it.  So after making its ways through the postal system the pennies arrived earlier today.  It’s always nice to finalize a set that’s been incomplete.  Below is a picture of the pennies, and thank you to the staff at the Elmwood Park Zoo for pressing these and sending them back.

TEC 2016 Recruiter Penny

Just recently I received a nice surprise in my mail from our fantastic club The Elongated Collector (TEC).  This is a special recruiter coin that is given out to all active members that helped recruit a new member.

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I try whenever possible to share my knowledge with people about the hobby, and for those that seem really into it I always explain out TEC.  In recent years I have also started carrying around copies of the membership application so I can hand them out to anyone I think would be interested.  It’s hard not to come off like a sales person sometimes, but more often than not they sign up.  The membership fee is really quite reasonable, and as I’ve mentioned in the past you get a nice set of coins each quarter, and access to all our wonderful members.  They have some great stories to tell in the quarterly newsletter, and the various meets throughout the year are fun to attend.  Be sure to join if you haven’t already, and start recruiting new members yourself so you can get a unique coin just like I did.

Valley Forge National Historical Park – Valley Forge, PA

One day this past weekend I was out running errands with my youngest daughter Melody.  She had been a little cranky and in-between stops she fell asleep and I knew that I had to do whatever I could to ensure she got a nice long nap.  I just started driving and eventually found myself on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  I really was just trying to find someplace nearby that I could set the cruise control and not be stopping at a red light every one hundred yards.  Since I was heading out towards King of Prussia I knew that the Valley Forge park was nearby and was always on my to-do list.  As I get older I find myself more and more interested in American History (where you when I was in high school).  You can check out a previous visit to Gettysburg, PA here (Part 1 and Part 2).  As luck would have it just as I was pulling into the parking area Melody woke up and seemed ready to stretch her legs a bit, and what better place than a park.

Valley Forge was the camp where the American Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-78 during the American Revolutionary War.  More than 2,500 American soldiers perished here due to starvation, disease, and exposure to the harsh winter.

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I’m no historian so I won’t go into much more detail about what happened at Valley Forge since I will most likely quote something incorrectly.  Instead be sure to stop by the Historical park and check out the visitor center.

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I will say it’s always nice to be greeted upon arrival by the great General George Washington.

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There are some very detailed exhibits throughout the Visitor Center museum detailing what Valley Forge.  What the conditions were like, how the soldiers spent their down time, living conditions and more.

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There was also an interesting collection of weapons on display and detailed descriptions of each.  If you take your time visiting each exhibit you could easily spend an afternoon here, but there are many other places to see and things to do.  There is also a theatre showing a movie about the events at Valley Forge.  It’s not long only about 20 minutes or so but well worth the price of admission (did I mention this is all free? yup free).  After we finished checking everything out we headed back down to the main area of the visitor center for their gift shop.

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Named the Encampment Store there is plenty of T-shirts, Christmas ornaments, shot glasses and books just like you would find in most of these little shops.  Over to one side of the store I came across one of the other reasons I had always wanted to visit this park.

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It just wouldn’t be a weekend trip without coming across a penny machine somewhere. My family always laughs when I try to play it off like I didn’t know the machine was here.  Ahh they know me all too well.

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The designs available here include The National Memorial Arch, a Revolutionary Cannon, America’s First Army, and Dogwoods.

I would have loved to spend even more time here, and we didn’t get to wonder around the park.  The wind was really making it hard to stay outside for too long and as I saw Melody’s cheeks getting red I knew she was ready to head back to our car.  Hopefully I’ll get back here in the near future when it’s a little warmer so I can really experience all there is.  Be sure to stop by and get a bit of a history lesson, a nice walk through the park and of course don’t forget to press a set of pennies before you go.