Pin Stand / Last Ride on Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Epcot

With all the new changes announced to the Walt Disney World theme parks, fans are still trying to digest all that is coming and changing over the next few years.

One of the parks getting a pretty huge make over is Epcot.  Older rides are closing to make way for new ones, murmurs of a new country pavilion are still going on.  But one of the biggest changes appears to be right behind Spaceship Earth (The big golf ball).  In this location there is a pretty big water fountain that put on a show every hour or so.  Based on some concept art Disney released it looks like this entire area is changing and the founding is moving closer towards the World’s Showcase.  So why am I telling you this, well it has to do with some penny machines.  In this area of the park there were two buildings Innoventions East and Innoventions West.

The interactive experiences they place inside these builders were always chasing and to be honest never really that great, but they each had a penny machine inside.  Now with these new changing coming it appears these buildings are going away.  So what does that mean for the penny machines.  Usually they may just go away and not come back, but just recently these machines were removed, given a fresh paint job and were relocated.

This may be another temporary location for these machines, but for now they can both be found at the Pin Trader Stand near the Electric Umbrella quick service restaurant.

The designs in both these machines are unchanged, just the cabinets are a different color.

The first machine has images of Mickey’s Face, Phineas & Ferb, Figment, and Agent P.

The second machine is on the opposite side of the Pin Station.

The images on this second set include Spaceship Earth with a Goofy Hat and Clothes, Agent P, Phineas & Ferb playing Guitars, and Duffy Bear.

As I mentioned these designs have not changed, so if you already have these from their original locations in the Innoventions buildings no really need to get these again.  I wanted to just give an update of where these machines can now be found.  Also I’m happy to see that Disney didn’t just do away with them but instead moved them around.  The more penny machines available the better.  As more of the parks start to go under constructions we will have to see what happens to the machines.  Hopefully this is the trend to just move them around instead of getting rid of them.  Plus with all these new attractions coming soon that can only mean a lot more new machines and designs.

While I was at the park I decided to head over and take one last ride on Ellen’s Energy Adventure at the Universe of Energy building.  During the D23 Expo this year it was announced this attraction would close to make way for a new Guardians of the Galaxy adventure.

For those of you that may not have been on this attraction, Ellen has a dream sequence where she is on Jeopardy and is losing to her arch nemesis from college Stupid Judy.  The questions are all about Energy and she is losing pretty bad until her neighbor Bill Nye the Science guy stops by to help her on an adventure through time to learn about Energy.  When you first enter the building you are in a big room with very few benches along the walls, but you are encouraged to stand in the middle of the room to watch the first part of the movie.

Eventually after the first movie segment is over you move into the next room which has these large slow-moving vehicles.  Once inside the next part of the movie starts and the vehicles eventually start moving into another room which transforms you back to the age of the dinosaurs.

This is really the best part of this whole attraction and I wish there was a fastness or something that let you skip right into this area.  The movie segments are not that great and were definitely dated.  But these animatronic dinosaurs are still awesome to see and pass by as the attraction continues.  Eventually you movie into another couple of rooms each with additional video segments completing Ellen’s dream where she comes back to the Jeopardy set and mops the floor with Stupid Judy.

As the lights came up and we exited the vehicles for the last time I was glad I got to ride it one last time but was not overly broken up about the fact it was going away.  This ride was definitely dates and with almost a 45 minute beginning to end time this can be quite time-consuming for what you get.  The rumors are going crazy about the new attraction but only time will tell.

These next few years will definitely be exiting with all the new attractions and lands coming to Florida and I can only hope this means more pressed coin machines are on the way.

Winter Summerland Mini-Golf – WDW, FL

Since I’m on the topic of Mini-Golf this month I figured why not go check out the second set of courses available at the Walt Disney World resorts.  Located near the parking lot of the Blizzard Beach water park is my favorite of the courses available here, Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf.

The story behind this course is it’s where Santa and his elves relax in their off-season.  Getting here can be a bit difficult if you don’t have a car, but you can take a resort bus to Blizzard Beach and just a short walk from the water park entrance you can get to the mini-golf courses.  It has its own separate fee to play, so you do NOT need to have water park admission.  As you walk up from the parking lot you are first greeted by Santa’s camper with a  familiar looking sleigh hitched up to it.

This camper is where you pay your admission, get your clubs and score card before deciding which of the two courses you want to play.  To the left is the Summer course with some very cool designed playing fields for each hole.

Sometime it can be link a Where’s Waldo just to figure out where the actual target hole is.  But the colors and obstacles on these courses are really just a lot of fun.

The large candy canes throughout area a nice touch, and the Christmas decorations just add to the story of Santa’s summer retreat.

Each hole gets progressively more difficult but nothing impossible and children of all ages can have a great time here.

Every time I see this sand castle I think it looks like it will just blow over in the wind or melt away in the Florida afternoon showers.  Have you ever seen a mini-golf course with this type of detail?  It’s really amazing.

Eventually both courses end in the middle which is where Santa has a big Christmas tree all decked out and lots of left over presents just lying around.  After playing the last hole you end up back at the camper to turn in your clubs.  Or if you have time why not try the second course.

To the right is the Winter course which is my personal favorite just to the unique theming.  Plus since I’m originally from Canada this is one of the few places I can see Snow and Ice in Florida.

I love the above hole on this course, it’s themed like an ice-covered pond setup for a hockey game.  Ahh takes me back to when I was young, just in 98 degree weather with 1000% humidity.

Hmm this castle looks very familiar?  Still cool, and secretly thankful this hasn’t been converted into Elsa’s Ice Palace from the Frozen movie.  Knock on wood, please don’t change it Disney!

I should have mentioned earlier but each course does have 18 holes so this is not going to be a quick round of golf.  Plus these courses can get pretty crowded in the late afternoon or early evening.

As with the first course the final few holes meet in the middle right beside the Summer course where the Christmas Tree is located.  It’s under this covered building which can get a little crowded with the two courses converging together.  As you swing your club to send the ball into the final hole you head once again to the Camper.

As luck would have it right near the camper by the Restrooms of all places is a penny machine.

There are three designs available here which are just as unique as these mini-golf courses.  The images include an Ice Gator on Snow Skis, Donald building a Sandcastle with two Snowmen watching, and Mickey with a Surfboard & Minnie on a Beach Towel.

Just as with the Fantasia Mini-Golf you do not need to play either course to use the penny machine.  But due to the difficulty you may encounter trying to get here you may as well take a break from the parks and play a round or two it will be worth your while and a lot of fun.

Fantasia Gardens Mini-Golf – WDW, Florida

Some of my fondest vacation memories from my childhood are early evening games of mini-golf with my parents and sister.  None of us were particularly good, but just having fun as a family in the cooler evening hours is something that will stick with me for a long time.  In our original home of Ottawa Canada we had a few min-golf courses around town but they were really low quality, not even consisting of the common windmill obstacle.  The ones I really remember were in Florida, we would spot them as we drove in from the airport.  My dad would somehow make a mental note of where they were and we would try a new one almost every night.  The theming of these courses was just so beyond what we were used to it just added to the enjoyment of the experience.

On those days back when my sister and I were kids we never stayed on Disney Property but instead would be at a Howard Johnson in Kissimmee.  Due to this once we were done with the parks for the day we usually headed back to the hotel to do something near there.  I don’t know exactly when the Disney Mini-Golf courses first opened, but I first tried these courses out in 1997 when I took a trip after high school graduation.

Fantasia Gardens is located near the Swan and Dolphin Resort.  Unfortunately there is no directly transportation to the mini-golf course so you have to get creative if you don’t have a car.  Once you get to the area there are actually two separate courses here, Fantasia and the Fairway.  Fantasia as you can probably guess since we are at Disney has each hole designed around the Fantasia movie.

Each hole throughout the course slowly gets a little more difficult, but nothing too crazy.  They are all very reasonable for even the most casual of player of almost all ages.

Some of the holes have simple obstacles in the middle of a curing green, where others have some very interesting water hazards like the below.

Towards the end of the course you do get to finally see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

But be careful as you walk beneath the broomsticks with their buckets, if you don’t walk quick enough you may get a little shower of water.

The second course as I mentioned above is called the Fairway.  This is the more difficult of the two  courses.

Each hole is set up to imitate a regular golf course.  As you can see from the pictures above there are no rails along the side of the course, there are sands traps, and other water hazards.  But just take your time and have fun.

After you finish playing your course and turn in your golf club there is an arcade available near the entrance/exit.  There are sometimes long waits to play these courses.  I’ve gone a few times and been told that wait is over an hour to start.  The arcade is a great way to pass the time, but it’s not a big place and only has a few games inside.  As you can see there is also a penny machine crammed into one of the corners.

There are three designs here which have moved all around the property.  The images include Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, Cinderella’s Step Mother and Sisters, and the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

I have played these courses a few times  and they can be challenging, but still fun to play.  Some younger children may find the Fairway course a little too hard, but as my mom always said it’s not weather you win or lose but how you play the game.  It’s all about having fun and making memories!

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Gone Hollywood Gifts (Marvel & Star Wars Sets) – California Adventure, CA

Back over on the west coast in Disney California Adventure there are two new pressed quarter machines.  In the Gone Hollywood Gift shop there was originally one machine that had a fairly new set of Star Wars designs which you can read about here.  I thought they may replace that initial machine, but these two are in additional to it making this quite the hot spot.

The first set is of a few popular Marvel Characters.  The images on these coins include Spiderman, Captain American and Black Widow.

The backstamp on these coins has the California Adventure logo, and the slogan Summer of Heroes.

The second set of new designs are a collection of Star Wars silhouettes.  The images include Yoda, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker & Dark Vader.

This one image of Luke and Vader is really cool and has one of the most iconic phrases in all of cinematic history.  “I am your Father”.

The backstamp on these coins is o the Star Wars logo with stars all around it, which is similar to the other Star Wars coins here.

Another fantastic addition to your collection and I like the addition of some Marvels designs.  There has been a bit of a lull in new coins coming to the California parks but I’m hoping this is the calm before the storm.  I always find new coins come in batches out here.  Keep checking back for more updates.

Changes to Once Upon a Toy Store – Disney Springs

The big toy store in Disney Springs known as Once Upon a Toy Store has been a haven in the past for penny press machines and at one point had 3 different machines.  However this store is currently going under some renovations and about two-thirds of the store is closed off.  Due to this two of the machines have moved from this location.

The first machine to move was an 8-Design Star Wars machine.  the designs are still the same but this machine is now located over at Epcot in the Mouse Gears store near the Star Wars merchandise.

The second 8-Design machine shown below was the second machine relocated just down the walkway still in Disney Springs in the World of Disney mega store.

With those two machines gone there was only one last machine still in the Once Upon a Toy store and had the same designs it’s had for quite a while.  Until just recently when these designs were changed out.

This is a 4 design hand crank machine located just inside the main entrance doors.

The images pressed on these coins included Mickey Mouse, Dory & Nemo, Buzz Lightyear, and a Little Green Man Alien.

This store has definitely been a starting point for some new pressed coins machines and I’m curious to see what happens once the entire store if reopened.  Will it get new machines or just have the other ones moved back.  Only time will tell, but I’m crossing my fingers for even more machines.

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on these new designs.

Space Mountain / Tomorrowland Light & Power Gift Shop – Magic Kingdom, FL

As a child my family took a couple of trips down to Florida and a couple to California to visit the various Disney parks.  Usually the vacations flip-flopped between a Disney vacation and what my sister and I affectionately called “Educational” vacations like the Grand Canyon, or a tiny town in upper Ontario Canada called Moosonee (check it out it does actually exist).  My sister has always loved thrill rides and I’ve mentioned in the past that they just weren’t my thing.  I already preferred It’s a Small World, or the Haunted Mansion as the most thrilling rides I could handle.  Every so often she would get me on Splash Mountain, but one ride that I always held out on was Space Mountain.

Photo credit: Disney Parks

This was for a few reasons, first was it’s a roller coaster and second it was in the dark.  As the years went on my sister kept trying to get me on, and this even continued up until a vacation together about two years ago as adults.  I still held out.

Just a few days ago a new penny machines was released in the Magic Kingdom, through Tomorrowland and right near Space Mountain.  It’s actually located in the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building which is the gift shop you exit through after riding Space Mountain.  Now if you are like me you do not need to ride this attraction in order to access the machine.  You just walk in to the gift shop and it’s towards the back of the store.  However on this trip I decided to do something I pledged I would never do, and try to ride Space Mountain.

The new machine is a touch screen 8-design model which are definitely becoming more popular within the parks of late.

As with similar machines the designs are pressed on penny sized token blanks.  This set was all themed around the coaster just next door.  Images on these coins include: Space Mountain Logo, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Mickey/Donald/Goofy in Space Mountain Ride Car, Mike & Sully in Ride Car, Mickey & Minnie in Ride Car, Mickey in Spacesuit, and Space Mountain Chip & Dale.

This is a really cute set and I always like when they incorporate an attraction at the parks.  This machine does replace the 3 design quarter press machine that used to be in this store.  The other two machines (4 Design Penny Press, and 4 Design Dime Press) are still here for now.  After pressing these coins I decided to head back home.  Oh you wanted to know if I made it on the ride?

That’s me in the middle seat.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought and was actually pretty fun.  I don’t know if I would want to ride it by myself again (the other guys with me were single riders as well) but next time my sister is in town I’ve got a big surprise for her.

Click here to see my youtube channel video on this new machine.