Legoland Florida – Winter Haven, FL

A few years ago I took it upon myself to digital a whole bunch of old home videos my parents had made of my sister and I growing up.  There were a few family vacations which were fun to go back and experience, especially the ones where we visited Florida in the early 80’s.  During one of these videos we had visited a place called Cypress Gardens that I had no recollection of but figured it had to be pretty close to the Orlando area as we never wondered too far from there when on vacation.  To my surprise it was still around but had changed quite a bit in the 30 plus years since my last visit.

What did it turn into?  Legoland of all things.  I decided to take my youngest daughter with me to check it out as I’ve never been to one of these parks.

This place was amazing.  I have always loved Lego but my building skills are pretty rudimentary.  Simple square buildings with walls not structurally sound and fall over whenever I tried to move my creation from one place to another.  But the sculptures they have here are really unbelievable.

Two familiar friends we found were Emmet and Wyldstyle from the Lego Movie.  Nearby was a store called the minifigure market and is where I found the first penny press machine.

The penny machines found through this park were pretty unique.  The machines were almost silent when used, but did take a little more effort than usually to press the coins.

   

The pennies did roll a little short, but most of the design was visible.  This first set of pennies included images of Cypress Gardens, a Carousel Horse, Lego Duplo and some Lego people faces.

This park is huge and there is quite a bit of walking to do but the theming changes with each area.  There are sections like Duplo Valley pictures above.

The World of Chima is where an interesting water attraction can be found.  You ride in a boat with a water cannon in front of each seat that allows you to shoot streams of water at targets throughout the ride.

It was a little chilly when we visited and this ride looked like you got pretty soaked so we decided to skip this visit.  But will be checking this out again the next time.

The next area we headed into was the Lego Kingdoms which is themed around Kings and Queens, Castles, Knights and of course Dragons.

There is a ride called the Dragon, and the exit to the attraction takes you right by the King’s Market.  This is where I found the second penny machine.

   

These pennies pressed much better than the first.  The designs included images of a Knight’s Horse, a Lego Jester, the lost Kingdom Adventure, and The Dragon.

A short walk away was the next area called the Land of Adventure.  This area was kind of all over the place.  It started out like we were in Egypt with a Pharaoh and hieroglyphics, then to a jungle safari with Lego animals all over the place.

The area then ends with a dinosaur themed coaster called Coastersarus and is where the third penny press was found.

This was an interesting location for a penny press.  I’ve used machines inside restaurants, near bathrooms, and up at the top of the Empire State Building but this was a first.  The coaster actually had part of the track running right overtop of this machine.  So as I used it I could near people screaming as they coasted just a few feet over my head.

   

The pennies from this machine had images of the Legoland water park, the Statue of Liberty, an Elephant and the Coastersaurus.

Did I mention this place was big?  Next we found ourselves in the Lego City section.

The fun thing about this area is that it’s just like a mini town.  There is a Lego firehouse, police station and ice cream parlor.

There is even a Lego version of the DMV.  Well technically not, but it’s actually the Ford driving school.

Just outside the driving school shop is a Lego Ford Mustang that is pretty awesome with some realizing engine noises.  Right behind the mustang was the last penny machine we found.

   

The designs available at this last machine included Jet Ski, a Lego person driving a Lego car, Skipper School, and a Ride Vehicle.  Nearby was the water park but due to the cold weather it wasn’t open this day.  I’m not sure if there are any additional penny machines there but I’ll definitely be back to confirm.

Instead we headed over to the area that started this whole thing Cypress Gardens.

I was hoping to see some of the same locations I saw in the old home videos but nothing really looked the same.  It was still nice to walk along the trails through the gardens and hoped that maybe I had walked this same trail as a child.

We did spend a good amount of time walking around the gardens, but eventually made out way to the center piece of Legoland call miniland USA.  This was really cool to walk through.  They recreated US cities all made entirely out of Lego.

There was the Las Vegas strip with all the different casinos.

Even part of International Drive in Orlando with the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Aquarium.

I even came across the Daytona 500 with racing cars flying around the track.

We had spent a long day at the park and done a lot of walking so we decided it was about time to head out.  On our way back to the front of the park we checked out The Big Shop.  Basically this was one big Lego store with Lego sets, t-shirts, candy, and even some Disney stuff.

Near one of the check out registers I found a pressed penny booklet for Legoland which I had to pickup for my collection.

This theme park was a lot more fun than I had anticipated.  I’m not really sure what I thought it would be like but my daughter loved it.  There were a lot of rides for her age which was nice and made the experience a lot more fun for her.  So many times at the other parks she ends up not being tall enough and has to watch from the sidelines.  The Lego creations and details they have all around the park are really incredible and you could spend and entire day just looking at those.  They even have Lego birds in some of the trees.  If you haven’t tried Legoland and are looking for something different be sure to check this place out, and remember to bring some pennies!

2018 Nickel Set – Trolley Treats California Adventure, CA

Ask and you shall receive.  I had just finished writing the previous post about the Main Disneyland 2018 nickels and I received a message that the California Adventure nickels came out.  Unfortunately I can’t fly out to California as often as I would like so instead I called in a favor and was able to have a work associate stop by and press a set.

Photo credit: Disney Parks

The machine is located over at the Jolly Trolley Treats candy store which is the same location these coins were found last year.

As you can see from the picture above the designs on this second set of dates coins includes Mickey, the Trolley, and Grizzly Peak.

Flipping these coins over you can find a really nice backstamp of Walt and Mickey.  It seems that these will be the only two sets of 2018 dated coins this year which follows the same trend as the last few years.  The designs on all these coins are really amazing and each year seem to get better and more detailed.  Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long before some more new designs are released at the Disneyland parks.

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary – WDW Florida

Update at the bottom (4/18/18)
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In just over a week it will be April 22, 2018 also known as Earth Day and my birthday.  However around here in Florida this is also known as the day Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates it birthday.  Back on April 22, 1998 the park first opened and as the cast members say “It’s not a zoo it a jungle out there.”

Now for anyone that can do some simple math next Sunday will mark the 20th anniversary of Animal Kingdom.  As Disney is known to do they are celebrating this big achievement in style.

A lot of the gift shops have all sorts of 20th anniversary merchandise including pins, t-shirts, mugs, magic bands and lots more.

Plus a nice special treat for us pressed penny collectors, six new special penny designs.  Now these are spread out in three different machines in the park.  The first one is located back in Rafiki’s Planet Watch at the Conservation Station.

To get here you need to take the Harambe Railroad on a short trip, and then a long walk back to the conservation station.  Please note that this place is not open the same hours as the park.  On my recent trip I was just able to get on the last train which left the station at 4:30pm and it was closing at 5pm.  Make sure you check the hours before trying to collect these coins as it may not be open if you are visiting later in the day.

Inside the conservation station you can meet Doc McStuffins, and sometimes Rafiki himself.  Towards the back of the building in the corner is where the penny machine is located.

This machine has been here for a year or so with other designs which have now been replaced.  In this machine all three of the designs have been changed and are of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King.  All designs say “Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary.”

After taking the train back to Harambe Station in Africa you can head towards the icon of the park The Tree of Life.

Sorry I really like this tree and the details of it when you get up close are really amazing.  If you stay late enough once it gets dark there is also a new projection show on the tree where the animals all come to life.  The next set of pennies is actually located outside the park at The Outpost Shop.

This shop is right near the tram loading area just before the security check at the entrance to the park.

As with the other stores inside the park you can also get some 20th Anniversary merchandise.

This store has two penny machines inside.  The first machine has three images but only two of them have been changed.

For you Up! fans out there you can get new designs of Doug and Russell both with “Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary” included in the image.

On the other side of the store is the second machine, but this has only one design that was changed.

Keeping with the Up! designs this machine has a new image of Kevin also with the “20th Anniversary” as part of the design.  Kind of a strange way to disperse six new designs over three machines but who am I to complain.  I love these special sets and hope they do more.  I was at Epcot’s 35th anniversary last year and was sad to see now special coins were available.  Hopefully if this is a success they will continue to offer more like these.  When I pressed these coins earlier today they were definitely popular and lots of people were waiting in line to press their own.

Here is a shot of the complete set of six designs that are currently available.  I’m not sure if these will be permanent or only available for a limited time.  If you get a chance to press these make sure you do just in case they don’t stick around and it’s a really great set of pennies.
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Updated 04/18/2018:
I’m not sure if this was an unintentional mistake but the set of pressed pennies listed above from the Pixar movie Up! were just recently combined into one machine.  Initially as I had listed above two of the designs were in one machine and the third was in a separate machine both located in The Outpost Shop.

As you can see from the marquee picture below the designs have not changed they were just combined into one machine.

This does seem to make a little more than having the set split up among two machines, but both machines were in the same store so you didn’t really have far to go to find them initially.  In any case for now if you are interested in this 20th Anniversary set you just have to find the one machine.

Crayola Experience Visit #2 – Orlando, FL

Last summer I had gone over to the Florida mall in Orlando and found a few penny machines inside.  Two at the M&M Candy Store, and another machine in the Crayola Experience.  You can check it out here.  During that visit I only used the 8-Design machine located in the crayola store but I knew there was another machine there but a paid admission ticket was required.  I knew at some point we would need to go back.

 My daughters love to make a mess especially when it comes to arts and crafts.  We decided to take another trip over to the mall but this time specifically just to check out the rest of the Crayola Experience.

If you park in the right area of the parking lot you can walk right inside, or if you are already in the mall shopping there is a separate entrance from the mall as well.  Once inside we bought our tickets and headed up to the second floor.

My girls fell in love with this place as soon as we got upstairs.  Everything is painted really bright and colorful.  The whole area is pretty big and have various sections where kids and adults can try different types of art.

There are areas with plain old crayons, and paint, or more interesting things like melted wax or digital coloring.

There are stations where you can create your own crayon which really means you just design a custom label that gets stuck on a stock crayon from a machine.

There is also a small cafe inside.  We just checked out the snack bar area that had soda, candy and fresh made fudge.

There are also a couple different indoor play grounds for the kids to expel some energy after eating candy and fudge from the snack bar.  We had spent a good part of the day and had a bag full of custom crayons and fresh new artwork for our refrigerator at home.  On the way back towards the stairs and elevators there is a desk where you can view some of the digital artwork created during your visit.

Right beside this desk was the second penny machine which was a four design hand crank model.

As with the rest of the building this machine was bright and colorful.  I wish I had thought to take pictures of the side of this machine as there was some cute artwork of crayons people melting in the Florida sunshine.

The designs on these pennies are of some crayon people experiencing some of Florida fun activities like a roller coaster, playing gold, the water skier pyramid, and building sand castles on the beach.

After pressing the pennies we headed back downstairs and over to the food court for some lunch.  The crayola experience is a great place to visit if you have children that really enjoy creating artwork.  The staff is very nice and helped show us what to do at each station.  I don’t think there is enough there to spend an entire day, but you can definitely enjoy a few hours here.  The cost seems a little pricey but after seeing all the art work we came home with which was included in the admission price it seems to justify the cost.  It was a lot of fun here and our kids are already asking when we will be heading back.

2018 Nickel Set – Main Street Opera House Disneyland, CA

Will all the new 2018 pressed coins released at Walt Disney World in Florida I knew that the new dates coins would be coming soon to the west coast parks.  Thankfully that day has finally arrived.

Just released in the Disneyland Park is the first set of 2018 pressed nickels.  The machine was located at the exit to the Main Street Opera House which is the same location it’s been at for the last few years.

The designs included in this years dated set are of The Walt Disney Store, Main Street Penny Arcade and the Main Street Cinema.

The backstamp on each of these coins is the Disneyland Main Street U.S.A. logo.  Having these dated coins pressed on nickels is really cool and I look forward to them each year.  Hopefully the second set of dated coins over at California Adventure will be available very soon.