Date Night in Canadian Pavilion – Epcot

It’s been a few months since our move down to Florida, the moving boxes have all been put away and we are getting comfortable with our new surroundings.  We have taken little adventures around our area to try to get familiarized with our locale, and of course finding new doctors and a vet for our cats is always an adventure.  My wife and I both work for the same company and they allowed us to continue working remotely from our home after the move which was a big help.  But spending so much time in the same house can drive you a little batty.  With our two young daughters, getting some time just to ourselves can be a bit of challenge.  We decided as a lot of couples do to start having date nights every so often so we can just get out of the house for a few hours.

With so many options it can be a little daunting to figure out where to go.  We had recently visited Epcot and I saw a restaurant I hadn’t been to in years so I checked the myDisneyExperience smart phone app and was able to get a reservation for about 7pm.  Before that we did have some time to waste so I grabbed a fastness for one of our favorite attractions.

The new Soarin’ around the World movie is a nice update.  I was really hoping to get a purely Florida version but flying over the Great Wall of China, and the Eiffel tower is still a pretty cool experience.  Once we were done with Soarin’ we headed outside so we could make sure we arrived in plenty of time for our reservation.

I was originally born in Canada so the Canadian Pavilion was always a stop my family would make on vacations when I was young.  In the lower area of the Pavilion is the very popular Le Cellier steakhouse.  You could try just walking up for a table but be prepared to wait.  Reservations would be highly recommended to ensure you get a table.

As the name suggests the restaurant is themed like you are in a Wine Cellar.  It’s a little dark inside and usually very noisy, but on this trip it was still dark but actually kind of relaxing inside.  Even though we were only two for dinner, we were sat at a larger table for four.  This allowed us to spread out a bit as some of the Disney restaurants do crowd you in together with all the other guests.

For an appetizer my wife and I split a Canadian favorite poutine.  This has become quite the phenomenon in a lot of areas through the US with each place putting a bit of a spin on it.  The classic is french fries, covered with a thick beef gravy and squeaky cheese curds (yes squeaky that’s how you know they are authentic).  The version we had this time was called the Montreal Poutine.  It included fresh-cut french fries, Montreal style smoked brisket, french onion gravy, Gruyère cheese with a mustard cheese sauce.  This far from a classic version but was very tasty.  The brisket was also nice, but was layered on top in long slices which made it a little difficult to each with the fries.  I would have preferred it was cubed up and mixed in a little better, but still very nice.

For our main course we both got the Signature Filet Mignon, which was a AAA Canadian Tenderloin, Mushroom Risotto, Asparagus-Tomato relish and a Truffle Butter sauce.  I’m not a big mushroom fan but this was really tender and fantastic.  For dessert my wife got the Maple Creme Brûlée, and I tried their Maple Sugar-Pecan Doughnuts with a Coffee mousse.  The doughnuts were okay, but my wife’s Creme Brûlée was definitely the winner.  With our wonderful meal complete we headed outside.

The Canadian Pavilion at night when it’s all lit up is really pretty.  The native decorations and totem poles are a nice touch as well giving some details on the rich history of the country and its people.

Of course there is also a gift shop located here called the Northwest Mercantile.  These gifts shops around the world showcase are fun to walk through as they have items directly from those countries.  Inside the mercantile I saw candy and other items that I haven’t seen since my last trip to visit family in Canada.

I always like to talk with the cast members working in these stores as they are usually on the college program and are from the country you are visiting.  I visited with Nick who was from the Toronto area and chatted about how my father’s side of the family were all from that area.  It always makes the world seem just a little bit smaller.

Tucked away in the back by all the shirts and sweaters is a penny machine.  There is some native decoration on the cabinet which was cool.

The machine was electric and pressed three designs The Canadian Pavilion, Mickey wearing a Mountie Hat, and Canada Duffy Bear.  As we continued looking through the gift shop we hear an announcement from outside in the park that the fireworks show would be starting shortly.

Thankfully the park was actually not that busy and we were able to just walk right up to the fence surrounding water where the show takes place.  It’s called IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, and is a Fireworks and laser show.

Some of the show pieces move around on the water, and the lasers  can be seen from all around the showcase.  The fireworks are some of the best on property.

This was a great way to end our date night, and we had a great time just spending some time together at the park.  Dinner was great and of course I was still able to squeeze in a penny machine.  Now I just have to figure out where we are going next.

Goofy’s Candy Company – Disney Springs

With all the changes that have gone on over at Disney Springs it has really turned in to a great place to visit.  Most of the new “outlet” style retail stores are not really my scene, but the restaurants are right up my alley.  Of course sometimes when you are walking around you need a quick fix and what is better than a Candy Store.

Over on the Marketplace side of the springs right near Rainforest Cafe is a fun place called Goofy’s Candy Company.  I have visited this from time to time especially when my daughters are with me.

Inside this place is like Wonka’s factory.  The walls are covered with bags of candy, and the center of the store is where some cast members create all types of chocolate covered treats.

Once you have chosen what candy to indulge in (if nothing you are a stronger person than I), right beside one of the check out registers is a new penny press.

This may come as a shock to some, but Disney is a very busy place and Goofy’s Candy Co is no different.  The unfortunately layout of this place with the large area in the middle with the hand-made confections makes walking around in here very difficult.  Having this machine near one of the registers doesn’t help, but with a little patience you can press your set without too much difficulty.

The machine has four designs all themed around Goofy.  The images include Goofy with some Balloons, Goofy eating a Sundae, Goofy tossing popcorn into his mouth to eat, and You Friend! Goofy.

When I first hear about this new set I couldn’t get over to the candy store fast enough.  I thought this was a fantastic place for a machine (even though it’s busy) and each design is really fun and unique.  I look forward to having even more new penny press machines show up in Disney Springs.  It will allow me more time to visit Disney Springs allowing me to get a little exercise walking around, and then sitting near the waterfront with a Ghirardelli ice cream, or a chocolate covered Rice Krispie treat from Goofy’s Candy Co.  Thankfully they have some cheaper versions than the ones pictures below.

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

Old Town – Kissimmee, FL

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on these machines
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Continuing my journey down Highway 192 I came across another interesting little place called Old Town.  It’s a little back from the Highway, but not hard to find.  The side street kind of winds around a bit before you find a parking lot.  This place does get busy on weekends, but I was here pretty early on a Saturday and Old Town seemed to be just getting going for the day.

With my daughter Hanna along for the trip we started at the far end furthest from Highway 192 so we could make sure we didn’t miss anything.

There appear to be old roads running through the middle, but no actual cars can drive here so its open for just the pedestrians.  Buildings line both sides of these walkways and have shops of various types selling anything you can image.

One of the first places we stopped into was the Black Market Minerals which was a place I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Inside the shop sold all types of rocks, and minerals, jewelry made from these beautiful stones and a lot of very unique gifts.

Just inside the main door was a four design electric penny machine.  I’ve only come across this style of machine in a few places and think the last time I found one like this was in North Carolina at a zoo.

These designs are actually kind of a great set for this type of store.   They include images of different dinosaurs: A Triceratops, Pterodactyl, Brontosaurus, and a T-Rex.

My daughter Hanna was fascinated by the large bins of very colorful stones.  You could sort through them and pick out the ones you liked to fill a bag for a set price.  I convinced Hanna to just pick a few as a souvenir before we headed back out to the street.

You can also find some restaurants, and a few bars here which seem like they would be quite the hang out after dark.

There was even a Haunted House attraction if you dare.  It was closed when we passed by, but Hanna didn’t like the looks of it so we crossed to the other side of the street to be on the safe side.

We kept walking and eventually came across a Leather Shop at the far end of Old Town.

They sold bags, and wallets, belts, and all sorts of products made from genuine leather.  Most could be customized if you had the time to wait or come back.

I will admit I didn’t come her to buy and leather, I’m not particularly fond of it myself but decided to check it out as they had two penny machines inside.

The designs from the first machine seem to be more of the generic rest stop variety.  I’m still new to the area so these are still new to my collection, but get the feeling I’ll be seeing more of these along the way.  The designs included an Alligator, My Lucky Penny, I Love You, and a Florida Sunset over the Water.

On the other side of the door was the second machine which is always nice to have close by.  This was a hand crank model with 4 additional designs.

This set included another design of an Alligator, The Lord’s Prayer, an American Eagle with USA Map and Flag, and finally another cool Florida Beach Scene.  Hanna didn’t seem to impressed with the leather shop (not enough bling she mentioned) so we headed outside and back towards where we parked.

Along the way we did pass by Tiki Jim’s which sounded right up my alley.  I love all that Tiki stuff and would decorate my house like the Polynesian Village Resort if I could just figure out how to convince my wife.  One last stop was for Hanna to get some Strawberry flavored popcorn from the Kissimmee Popcorn Company.  FYI they give out free samples of all their many different flavored popcorn so be sure to try it out, they have some really fun flavors.

This was a really cute little area to just leisurely walk around and so some window shopping.  I can definitely see how it can get busy and crowded as it’s not a very big area.  Plus with the bars around it may get a little rowdy, but when we visited before lunch it was very peaceful, and worth a visit.

Moved – Big Hero 6 Pressed Penny Set now at Epcot

Flashback to 2014 when Disney released a new animated movie  called Big Hero 6.  It is not one of my favorite movies, but the story is interesting and who doesn’t like Baymax.  That same year there was a set of pressed pennies placed in the Magic of Disney Animation building at the Hollywood Studios theme park.

I remember years ago there used to be a show where an animator would walk the audience through how to draw certain Disney characters.  At the end of each show there was one lucky audience member that would get the drawing from the animator, but I was just never that lucky.  More recently this was a meet and greet area where at one point you could meet Baymax and Hiro from Big Hero 6.

Near this meet location was where the original penny press machine was located in a nice wood grace cabinet.

A short time after this machine was made available the Magic of Disney Animation building closed down as it was being redesigned as the Star Wars Launch Bay.  During this closure the Big Hero 6 penny machine was nowhere to be found.  Then in 2015 the machine showed up.

This time it was back in the Muppet’s Courtyard at the Pizza Planet quick service restaurant.  During this time Pizza Planet was a bit of a dumping ground for penny machines and I believe the Big Hero 6 was the fifth or sixth machine there.  But that wouldn’t last long as Pizza Planet got closed down not too longer after.  This closed down so it could be redesigned as PizzeRizzo’s, and this penny set disappeared again for almost two years.

Flash forward to 2017, and I read online that this missing machine thought to have been retired shows up in Epcot of all places.

In-between Spaceship Earth and the Fountain if you head towards The Land pavilion where Soarin’ is located you pass two Character Spot’s with meet and greets.

Once of these locations is where Innoventions West used to be and is now where you can meet Joy and Sadness from Pixar’s Inside Out.  Also in here is Baymax (no Hiro anymore for some reason).

   

Just inside the doors to this Character Spot is where the penny machine can be found.  The cabinet has been repainted.

But the designs are still exactly the same.

The images on these coins include Baymax, Hiro, and Fred all with the BH6 logo on them.  It’s took bad they didn’t issue different designs when they brought back this machine.  But with all the movement this machine has had I’m sure there are a lot of people who weren’t able to press these coins the first few times it was available.

I hate to mention this but, there are a lot of changes coming to Epcot over the next few years.  This character spot is in a location that seems to be unrecognizable in the concept art that Disney has released.  This is a nice place for the machine, but who knows how long these designs will be here.  Go get them before they disappear again.

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on this move and the designs.

Main Gate Flea Market – Kissimmee, FL

Highway 192 is a pretty touristy main drag running just south of the Disney World property, and straight through the neighboring town of Kissimmee.  There is just something about that name that sticks in your head.  Even as a child I remember numerous vacations staying at a Howard Johnson in Kissimmee as we never stayed on Disney property.  Coming down from Canada, as much as we wanted to spend an entire week at the parks, there was just so much more to do in Florida we had to keep moving.  But Kissimmee was a name I never forgot.  Now that we are down in Florida we have slowly been trying to find our way around and go further and further from our house to see what’s out there.

I will admit up front that I have been checking pennycollector.com to try to collect some new coins around town, but there’s been so much to do with the new house that I don’t have as much time as I want to go on penny collecting trips.  This past weekend I had some errands to run and the stores I needed to head to just happened to be in Kissimmee right along Highway 192.  This is where I knew there were some penny machines I needed to check out.

The Main Gate Flea Market was one of these stops.  It’s right along Highway 192 surrounded by Hotels and over the top souvenir shops.  The flea market consists of two buildings A and B.  Both are very similar just obviously with different vendors in each.  We really weren’t looking for anything specific, and really was just here for the penny machine but I figured we may as well see what’s available.  We headed into Building A to start walking around.

There are a few kiosks with boiled peanuts, and “fresh” made candy, but most of the other stuff is the classic souvenir items.  T-Shirts as far as the eye can see, snow globes, orange tree starter kits and tons of cheap sunglasses and umbrellas as must for Florida visitors.

Down one of the aisles we found the restrooms and for some reason the penny machine was located.  I guess this ensures a lot of traffic past the machine but who knows.

This was an interesting machine.  It was an electric model but in a very dates looking cabinet.  But I don’t mean it was beat up, rather just looked kind of link an antique which was pretty cool.

The designs here are ones I’m sure I’ll get used to seeing throughout Florida.  These seem very similar to ones I used to find along the Jersey Turnpike or other roadside rest stops.  The designs included Orlando FL – World’s Vacation Center, Souvenir of Florida The Sunshine State, My Lucky Penny with Horseshoe & Shamrocks, and A Penny For Your Thoughts.

With the pennies safely stowed away we finished walking around the Flea Market but didn’t buy anything this time.  As much as I say the stuff is pretty standard it’s still hard to resist some of it.  This was a nice little stop and they do have some cheap souvenirs if that’s what you’re looking for.  Plus the pressed pennies are some of the cheapest souvenirs you can get, and will last a lot longer than the knockoff Mickey plush.

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

Secret Pressed Penny at Epcot

A few years ago during a family vacation to Walt Disney World I had been spending a lot of time in Epcot repressing a lot of pennies to update my collection.  As a kid I always hated our days in Epcot as they were too “Educational”, but as I got older I appreciated Epcot a lot more.  Just this past weekend was the 35th anniversary of Epcot and the crowd fans really showed some love for this sometimes under appreciated park.

Now on this trip I found myself in the France Pavilion and noticed a strange thing about the penny machine that is located inside the Souvenirs de France.  This is where the Patisserie and gift shop are located in the back of the pavilion.

Notice anything strange about the marquee above?  It only shows two designs as being available.  On another trip prior I knew there had been three designs so I knew something was up.  I pressed the two designs, and watched closely to the design die in the machine as it slowly spun.  Sure enough I could see three designs, but how could I get the machine to press this mysterious design.

I tried asking around but didn’t get anywhere.  Once back home after our trip was over I reached out to some fellow collectors and searched google of course but couldn’t find anything.  Then eventually on one of my eBay searches for Disney coins (I do this from time to time to see if any older coins become available) and found a design I hadn’t seen before.  The description of the item said it was from the France Pavilion in Epcot and I realized this was the Secret Penny.  Thankfully I won the auction and filled the hole in my collection.  But even thought I had the coin in my possession I still wanted the change to try to acquire this coin in person.  After even more research I found out just how to do it.  Would you like to play a game?

On the walkway leading into the World Showcase you will find the above Headquarters for the Agent P World Showcase Adventure.  Who is Agent P?  Well there was a show on Disney Junior called Phineas and Ferb, two smart young boys that don’t want to waste their summer vacation.  They create some crazy schemes with their friends that always work out for them, but drive their sister Candace crazy as she is always trying to bust them.  The family also has a pet Platypus named Perry, who they are unaware is actually a Spy named Agent P that is always up against the evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

After you speak with the cast member at the game headquarters they will let you know that the game is played on your smart phone (or they will supply a classic flip phone if you prefer).  There are different missions available at various country pavilions in the world showcase.  For the secret penny as I mentioned above you need to play the mission that takes place in France.

   

I headed over to France and stood by the fountain outside the Chef de France restaurant and clicked “ok” on my phone to start the mission.  Each mission has various assignments that need to be completed in different areas of the pavilion.  These assignments you need to complete and even the order they happen can change each time you play.  So be prepared as the specific assignment for the secret penny may not always be part of your mission (but you can keep playing until it does).

The task that you need to be on the look out for is called “A Penny for your Evil Thoughts”.  As soon as I saw the assignment codename I knew I was on the right track.  The story of this task is that Dr. Doofenshmirtz has a secret hide out and wants to give you the code to access it.  But first he needs your help, as he is on a date and wants to impress his date by leaving a large tip.  He has created a machine called the Pennyinator that takes pennies and turned them into larger currency.  Time to head into the gift shop.

Once inside he then tells you to speak with the cast member standing at the nearby counter and tell them “I’m from maintenance; I need a penny to test the Pennyinator”.

The cast member will happily give you a free penny to use in the machine (or if you are like me and keep pre-1982 pennies in your pocket you can use that instead).

   

Next the game will tell you to find the machine in the back of the store, your phone will energize the machine and you can insert your penny.  No quarters required.  The machine will start rolling and before you know it your Secret Penny drops out.

The design is of Agent P, and says Doofenshmirtz Evil, Inc 3390.  The 3390 is the code needed to access the secret hideout and eventually finish the game which also has a really cool ending.  After I had the coin in hand I really thought this was a unique way to use the penny press machines.

As I mentioned previously you can find this coin for your collection from time to time on eBay as that’s what I initially did.  But the Agent P game is really pretty entertaining if you have the time to play during your vacation.  Each mission takes about 30-45 minutes depending on how quickly you complete the assignments.  Sure you can just buy one, but it is a cool little in park easter egg that is fun to uncover for yourself.

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on this Secret Penny.

Princess and the Frog NEW Penny Sets – Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

This has been a busy weekend.  Saturday night I was getting myself prepared for a Epcot’s 35th anniversary the following day, hoping the crowds would be light, but knowing deep down they would be crazy.  During my prep for what march I wanted to pick up, or what ride I wanted to visit for nostalgia purposes when I suddenly got notification of not just one but two new penny machines.  It’s been a slow few weeks with no new pressed coins being released so when I found out about these new designs I hopped in my car to press some pennies.

My destination was the Port Orleans French Quarter resort.  When I showed up at the resort it was early evening but the Florida sky had opened up and was raining down some of the biggest drops I’ve ever seen.  I parked in the guest lot right outside the main lobby building, and once inside headed towards the registration area.

On the opposite wall from where you would check-in as a guest of the resort (and also next to the bell service desk) was the first machine.

This was a three design electric machine with images of Princes Tiana, Prince Naveen, and Ray the Firefly.  After pressing my set I walked across the lobby, past the water fountain and towards the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (cafeteria).

As mentioned above this is the main cafeteria / food court for this resort.  It’s always a busy place, and the smell of beignets floating through the air is intoxicating.  Just as you enter this area the second penny machine is just around the corner.

To change things up a bit this is a four design hand crank machine.  The set available here is a continuation of the set I had just collected.

The designs are of Princess Tiana, Tiana & Naveen as Frogs, Louis the Alligator, and a couple Mardi Gras Masks.  I really enjoyed these new Princess and the Frog pennies as this is a movie that I think is a little underrated.  Being released back in 2009 right in the middle of all the fancy CG Pixar movies, this was a refreshing change back to my childhood and the old hand drawn animation.

As I sit here thinking about any other coins from this movie there is only one that comes to mind from Castle Couture in the Magic Kingdom of Tiana.  It’s about time some more designs showed up for this entertaining movie.  Before leaving I fell for the siren song of beignets and picket up a few for the road.  My Princess and the Frog experience was complete for tonight with mouth full of powdered sugar.

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