Universal Studios – Orlando, FL

After walking through the large crowds in City Walk I had my first dilemma as to which of the two theme parks I should explore first.  I’m not a huge thrill ride fan so the crazy roller coasters weren’t a deciding factor.  Eventually I decided to check out Universal Studios which I have very fond memories of visiting as a child.

I know a lot of it has changed over the past few years.  Jaws was always a favorite of mine but is sadly no more.  If anything good could come out of that area it’s the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley which was really amazing.  There was a bit of a line to get into the park, but eventually I was in and started looking for my first stop.

Just inside the main entrance on the left side was the Universal Studios Store.  It was a little early for me to get any souvenirs (didn’t want to carry them around) but they had quite a few machines available inside.

   

The first machine inside was a three design electric model.  It had images of some classic Universal movies and attractions.

   

The second machine was only a few feet away and was another three design electric model.  The images on these coins included Kong, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Gru from Despicable Me.

   

When I came across the next machine I was a little surprised to see that they also had these new 8-design touch screen versions.  The machine supplies the coin which is technically not a penny but a blank token.  The finished coins came out nice and shiny and were all themed around Despicable Me and the Minions.

   

The last machine in this store had three designs all of Spongebob and his friend Patrick Star.  There was supposed to be a fifth machine with four designs available but I searched every inch of that store and couldn’t find it.  Guess I’ll have to make another trip back soon to look again.

After leaving the store I headed over towards the exit to the park to an area called It’s a Wrap.

   

Over near the restrooms and locker area was the first machine.  This had four designs including the Universal Orlando Logo, Hulk, Spiderman and Woody Woodpecker.  A short walk over to the actual It’s a Wrap store is where I found the second machine.

   

Another four design hand crank model had images of Spongebob & Patrick, Homer Simpson, and two Marvel Character.  Now it was time to start heading further into the park.  Just up the main street I stopped in at the Silver Screen collectibles.

   

These coin designs were the same as when I visited last, but the machine had received a face lift with new signage.  The images on these coins were from I Love Lucy, and Betty Boop.  Back out on the street I saw a very interesting looking building that was from the Despicable Me movies.

Inside is where you can experience Minion Mayhem which is an interesting attraction, but if you suffer from motion sickness may want to either up your Dramamine dose or skip it.  When you exit the ride as all great theme parks do you need to pass through a related gift shop.  This store is called Super Silly Stuff.

   

Big surprise here as the machine is Minion themed and has another set of Minion coins.  They have certainly taken over.  A short walk across the street brings you to the Shrek 4-D attraction.  I’ve gone on this in the past and am not a big fan.  It’s another attraction with a large movie screen and your chair moves along with the movie and you get splashed in the face with water (Yay!).  The chair mechanisms were never very good so I skipped it this time, but still wandered around to visit the store here.

   

This machine will have designs of Donkey, Shrek & Donkey, Fiona, and Shrek & Fiona.  There used to be a second Shrek machine just outside but I couldn’t find it so I’m not sure if it’s gone completely or just out being fixed (maybe updated, wink wink Universal).  As I mentioned in the past I’m not a thrill ride fan so something like Rip Ride Rocket is not something I would ever go on, but I did walk back through the exit to access the penny machine located there.  They have staff members that will try to hold you up from going the “wrong way” but if you ask nicely about the penny machine they will let you go use it.

   

The cabinet of this machine was pretty cool and very colorful.  The coin images were themed around the ride and of course Rock n’ Roll.  Heading back out I thanked the staff member again and headed back towards the New York area of the park.  The new Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show Ride wasn’t open yet when I was there, but since has opened to mixed reviews.  I’ll have to try it out next time I’m there.  Just a short walk around the bend of the street and I came the Revenge of the Mummy coaster.  I was interested to try this one but the wait time was way too long so I just wondered into the gift shop known as Sahara Traders.

   

This was another unique design for the penny machine.  Due to the top part of the machine it was a little hard to turn the hand crank properly.  Also this machine is located in a terrible area along the only pathway exiting the ride through the middle of the store.  So as you try to use the machine there are large herds of people exiting constantly with not much room on either side to let them by.  With the coins in hand I exited and saw something that brought me right back to childhood.

I was a huge Transformers fan as a kid, watching the cartoon and having every toy I could get my hands on.  Seeing Optimus Prime standing on the building just drew me over.  The ride is pretty awesome, and is in 3-D while you are driven through a battle of Autobots and Decepticons.  When you leave of course you are ushered through the Supply Vault.

   

At first I was worried this would be the same set that I got out at the Parking HUB, but the designs were different and amazingly detailed for how small they are.  I had kind of my way into the middle of the park and lost my initial path.  When hunting for penny machines I always try to walk in a way that ensures I access every possible nook and cranny without having to double back to often.  There was a little pathway that got me back over towards the I Love Lucy store which is right where I needed to be.

Another one of my favorite movies is Terminator 2.  This ride has been in the park for years and remember going on this with my parents many times.  It’s part 3-D movie, and theater performance where the actors come right out into the audience.  After watching the show you visit the Cyber Image souvenir store.

   

This machine used to only have one design available of the Terminator 2 3-D attraction logo, but that has been retired.  Now you can get three different pennies, one with a new T2 3D image, but then there are also two Marvel’s designs with Thor and Iron Man on them.  There was a little bit of a walk to get into the next area that had penny machines, it’s unofficially the kids zone but has some fun things to do.

First up was bikini bottom and the Spongebob Storepants (Ha) shop.  Really nice design to the outside of this building.  Inside you can visit with Spongebob or use the penny machine like I was.  Note that the machine is located right behind the cash register so there isn’t a whole lot of room back there.

   

Just behind the Storepants is where you find the E.T. ride.  Another guilty pleasure of mine which I have no issue standing in line for.  I only had to wait about 15 minutes to get on my bike and travel with E.T. back to his planet to help save it.  Be sure to pick up your souvenir pennies by the doors to the gift shop on your way out.

   

There was one last stop over in this kids area, and that was to visit with Barney.  I don’t even know if he’s still on TV anymore, but he was definitely wandering around looking for kids to interactive with but there weren’t too many takers.

   

I was about to check out the Animal Actors show but was too late for the current performance so I kept on walking.  The next area of the park is really fantastic if you are a Simpson’s fan, and lets you walk right through Springfield.

You can go into Moe’s Tavern and get a Duff Beer or a Flaming Moe.  There’s a Krusty Burger for Lunch, or Lard Lad Donut for a sweet treat.  They even have the Kwik-E Mart with all kinds of Simpson merchandise.

   

Right outside the main door to the Kwik-E Mart is a four deign hand crank machine with all Simpson designs.

   

Inside they have a second machine with three designs in an electric machine.  Also with all Simpson inspired designs.  After grabbing a Duff Beer (actually really good) I was sad to say goodbye to Springfield but had a lot more places to go.

 The Men In Black (MIB) ride is another classic for me.  It’s kind of like laser tag, but you’re in a ride vehicle shooting aliens and completing against the other people in your vehicle.  After obliterating a bunch of aliens I ended up in yet another gift shop looking for a penny machine.

   

The next area after the MIB ride was part of the Harry Potter world but I wasn’t yet ready to check that out.  So I covered by eyes and walked past it quickly so I could get the last couple machines available in this park.

Who doesn’t like candy when they are walking around on a hot day in a theme park.  Over at the San Francisco Candy Factory you can get all things sugar related.  It was too hot for me to get anything but I did find the machine towards the back of the store.

   

Almost done I promise, there was just one more machine in this area and was just outside the candy store towards the water.  This is where you can get your picture taken in front of a huge shark (Jaws) hanging by his tail.  I’m always convinced it’s going to move when I go near it so I always just look from a distance.

   

With all the machines in Universal Studios collected and photographed I headed to the one area I was keeping until the end.  Over in the back corner where the Jaws ride used to be is the newest addition to the Harry Potter world Diagon Alley.  This is really really amazing.  The details they put in are stunning, and honestly could have spent the entire afternoon wandering around just looking at all the buildings and store fronts.  I had some pictures but really didn’t want to spoil this for anyone that hasn’t seen it in person.  So I’m leaving this up to you go head out to the park and see it up close and personal.  I will share one picture which doesn’t give away much.

In this area of the park there is a recreation of King’s Crossing Train Station, and yes you do get to walk through the hidden 9 3/4 platform wall.  This was a picture I took while waiting for the Hogwarts Express which is another really neat little ride over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Island of Adventure.

Are you tired?  I’m tired and I did this trip like 2 months ago and I still have one more park to review.  But who am I kidding I loved every moment of it as the pressed penny obsession continues.  There was one cool little piece of info I wanted to share with you that I found while at Universal.  CTM Group which is the company that created the penny machines and the designs has created a special link online that you can use to keep up to date on all the machines located at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and City Walk.

This little sticker was on most of the machines throughout the park.  I snapped a picture so I wouldn’t forget about it.  In case it’s too hard to read the website address is: www.ctmgroupinc.com/universal Once back at my hotel I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised to see it was up to date and accurate for what I had found that date in the park.  This is similar to the maps they also have online for Walt Disney World and is a nice tool to have when trying to collect these coins.  I saved the link on my cell phone so I could access it on future visits inside the park.

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