Hotel Plaza Boulevard – Disney Springs Area, FL

First off I’ll apologize for the delay in getting around to writing about these new penny press machines.  These were released weeks ago while I was out-of-town on a Family vacation.  It’s amazing how just a week away can put everything so far behind.  I’m still trying to time to write about our trip.  But in the mean time I figured I needed to try and catch up on some of these “newer” machines.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about these hotels that are located on Walt Disney World property but are not Disney owned.  They are usually referred to as “Good Neighbor” hotels.  You get most of the same benefits (fast passes, early park hours, and transportation to the parks) but usually at a much lower price which is nice.  Located to the east of Disney Springs right along Hotel Plaza Boulevard are these seven hotels.  Each of these hotels does have a Disney gift shop located inside, but in the past none of them ever had a pressed penny machine.  Then all of a sudden five of these hotels received machines and I had to head over as soon as I was back in town to check them out.

Since I had never visited these hotels before I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be like and was worried about high hourly parking rates.  So instead I parked (for free) in one of the Disney Springs parking garages and walked to each of the hotels.  I walked through the Marketplace and just beside the Once Upon a Toy Store is a walkway that allows you to cross the busy Buena Vista Drive.

These walkways were actually pretty nice, and my daughter had a great time watching the cars pass by underneath our feet.  Eventually we ended up on the far side of Hotel Plaza Boulevard and headed into the first hotel.

The Hilton Orlando Buena Vista was out first stop.  Heading inside through the main lobby area we hung a right and down the hallway we saw the familiar Disney Store sign.

There is nothing unique about these stores.  After visiting all of them they pretty much carried the same items, standard souvenirs, plush character, drinks, snacks and toiletries.

   

Just inside the store on the right side was the penny press machine.  The cabinet was painted the classic Mickey red which was a nice surprise.  The designs available in this machine were of  Mickey & Pluto, Lilo with a  Camera, and Stitch playing a Ukulele.

The hotels are next to each other, but there is still quite a walk in between each one.  It was a nice walk although this time of year the Florida sun and humidity can get to you pretty quickly.

The second hotel was the Holiday Inn Orlando.  We headed inside past the check-in area, hung a left and just near the lounge area was the gift shop.

As my daughter checked out the souvenirs (although I think by now she has pretty much all of them) I found the machine along the sidewalk and pressed my coins.

   

The designs at this machine were of two new designs: Chef Minnie with a Cake, and Goofy fishing, but the third design was of Lumiere & Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast.  This last design used to be available at the Once Upon a Time gift shop in Hollywood Studios.  It had been removed back in July 2017 when two new 8-design touch screen machines were located there instead.

Still on the same side of the boulevard the next stop was at the B Resort & Spa.  Strange name, but this was a beautiful looking hotel.

I was only able to check out the lobby and gift shop but from what I could see this looks really nice and I’d be interested in checking it out in the future.

As I walked into the gift shop I noticed a large mural behind the check out area.  I’m sure it was just an interchangeable piece of wallpaper but it was still fun to look at with the Magic Kingdom and it’s landmarks depicted in the image.

Plus the penny machine was right beside it so while I used the machine I took a closer look at it.  I’ve seen some t-shirts and other merchandise in some of the park stores with this style drawing so I’m sure this is the new 2018 design.  I may have to pick something up the next time I’m in the parks.

   

The designs at this machine were of Minnie with her hands together, Pluto jumping on Mickey.  Both of which were brand new images.  The third design is of Anna & Elsa from Frozen.  This used to be at the Puffin’s Roost in Epcot at the Norway Pavilion but had been removed a year or so ago.

The last hotel on this side of the boulevard was the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton.

This was an interesting designed building, but the lobby area was not very big.  As soon as I walked in the check-in desk was to the right, and the Disney store was to the left.  Pretty easy to find.

   

While I used this machine to press the pennies the cast member in the store came by to  talk.  She mentioned the machine has just been brought in a few days prior.  I asked if she knew whether all the “Good Neighbor” hotels were getting them and she wasn’t sure, but more on that in a bit.  The designs in this machine were of Minnie Mouse, Donald in a Tuxedo, and Jiminy Cricket.

Once I had left the DoubleTree suites it was time to cross over the boulevard.  This is a very busy street so be careful crossing.  I didn’t want to risk just running across especially with my young daughter along for the visit.  So we waited, and waited and waited for the traffic light to change.  But made for a much safer crossing.  On the other side were a couple of hotels but we had to head all the way back towards Disney Springs.

At this intersection of Hotel Plaza Boulevard and East Buena Vista Drive is where the overhead walkways where that we had initially taken to cross the street.  On this side of the boulevard there was a sidewalk so we just headed to the right down East Buena Vista Drive.

After a bit of a walk we found the last hotel on this trip the Hilton Palace Buena Vista.

This Disney store is a little more difficult to find.  If you come in through the front main entrance of the hotel you need to take the elevator down a floor.  In this area is where the food court section is and the gift shop is just nearby.

This was yet another beautiful looking hotel and I was really surprised.  I’m not sure why I just assumed these would be a little run down or outdated but they were definitely not what I was expecting.

   

This was the last machine to use and unfortunately it was a little temperamental.  It seemed like the slide the finished pressed penny uses to eventually end up in the cup at the bottom wasn’t lined up correctly.  The machine seemed to press the coins fine, but once they slide down they apparently ended up in the bottom of the cabinet.  I asked the cast member for help but they said they didn’t have the key to open up the machine.  Thankfully I had a few extra sets of quarters and pennies for just this type of situation.  After a few test runs I found that if I kept my hand just inside the bottom cup it would help keep the pennies from dropping inside the machine.  Hopefully this has been fixed as the cast member said they would bring it up with their manager.

With all these new pennies stored away in my pocket we decided to make our way back over the walkways to Disney Springs.

Now I did mention that I had asked the cast member at the DoubleTree Suites about other machines in the area.  As you can see from the picture of the area map I found along the sidewalk there are seven Good Neighbor resorts.

As of this visit I made there were only five of these resorts with penny machines.  However I have read online that rumors are swirling about the remaining two hotels (Best Western and Wyndham) will be getting machines in the near future.  Fingers crossed!

   

Plus you can read here about the Hilton over at Bonnet Creek that got a new machine that I had posted about earlier.  It definitely seems like Disney has been releasing a lot of new penny press machines in locations they never had before.  I’m hoping this is due to the popularity of these machines and they realize people really enjoy them plus of course they make the resorts some money.

This was quite a bit of walking to start in Disney Springs, and make the long trek to each resort.  But it took about an hour and a half at a leisurely pace.  We tried not to rush and once I was inside these hotels I did want to spend a bit of time checking them out.  I didn’t see any of the guest rooms, but if they are anything like the lobby’s and mail hotel areas I would absolutely keep these in mind when visiting the area.  Plus they have penny machines so that’s always a plus in my books.

Amazing Spider-Man Ride Queue – Islands of Adventure, FL

Over the past few months I’ve visited the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks on a regular basis to keep up to date on any changes with the penny press machines.  They don’t release very many new machines or designs especially when compared to Disney but it does happen from time to time.

However on each trip I remembered a machine that was still listed online as being active and available, but I hadn’t been able to find it.  I’m usually pretty good at sniffing out machines wherever they are.

The machine in question was a 3 design electronic model located somewhere near The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride.  There is a decent sized gift shop at the end of the ride which is the standard location for attraction press machines.  Currently this tore has an 8-design touch screen machine, and a 4 design hand crank model however the third machine was just not there.

That all changed about a week ago when I got some intel from some friends that are new annual pass holders.  They have been visiting the parks quite often and experiencing all the rides since these are new parks to them.  They for years have primarily been Disney guests.  After they had spent an entire day at the park recently they mentioned in passing if I knew about the penny machine in the standby queue for the spider-man ride.  Blam, mind-blown.  I had to find out for myself if this was true.

The first opportunity I had to get over to the park I took it and decided to wait in whatever line length there was to try and find this machine.  As luck would have it there was a 15 minute wait time posted which was going to make things a little easier.  Once inside the building the design of the queue is pretty cool.  It’s setup like you are walking into the Daily Planet newspaper.  As you can see from the above picture I walked past some of the reports desks, and the detail all around were really cool.

Then as I turned the corner into the next room I was the familiar glow of a penny press machine marquee sign.  I’m sure you can tell by my picture that there wasn’t anyone in here which made using this machine pretty simple.  However, this seems to be a very poor location if the wait line was long because the queue turns back and forth right near where the machine is.

While I stood here pressing my pennies, and taking pictures and video of the machine there were a few people who walked past.  It was a little awkward to let them by while I used the machine so if you plan on using this during a busy time of day just be aware of that fact.

The designs on each penny included the Spider-Man symbol, Doctor Doom, and Spider-Man.  After I finished documenting this machine I headed through the rest of the queue.

Above is a picture I took of the ride vehicle.  It’s not a roller coaster, instead you get into the above vehicle and put on your 3-D glasses.  Then are driven through various scenes that change from practical design to large screens that project the 3-D movies of the attractions.  The vehicle moves around and gives the sensation of swinging from building to building just like Spider-Man as he tries to save the day.  The ride is really great and I’m glad I finally got to ride it.

Usually on my trips into the parks my youngest daughter Melody is my partner in crime.  She’s only 2 years old so she’s not tall enough to ride these larger more intense rides.  Hopefully when she’s a little older she will enjoy those rides so we can go on them together.  There are no other mysterious machines I haven’t been able to find so far so I don’t think any other machines may be located in the other ride queues but you never.  I still think this is a very strange place for a machine, and if you aren’t into this type of attraction it would make accessing the machine a little difficult.  I’m sure you could always wait in line, use the machine and then back track without riding.  There’s no shame in that as some of these rides really do seem pretty intense, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting the pressed coins you want or need for your collection.

Legoland Florida Second Visit – Winter Haven, FL

A few weeks had gone by since our first trip to Legoland Florida, and this past saturday we found ourselves with nothing schedule and thought we would head back.

After entering into the park my kids headed right for the carousel which is their favorite go to ride right now.  While we were enjoying the ride on one of the revolutions I saw the Lego Studio Store and there was a penny machine near the door.  Once the carousel ride was finished we headed over to check it out.

At first I took this to be a new machine, but after I got home it seems these designs have been available in the past.  So my assumption is the machine was just out for refurbishment during the off-season.  There was another machine I found on this day but we will get to that in a little bit.

   

The designs that were available at this machine included Fabulous Lad Vegas, The White House, Kenny Space Center, and San Francisco.  Next we started making our way through the different sections of the park, and eventually found our way back to minifigure world.  This trip we took a lot more time to take in some of the details they put into these really amazing scenes.

Of course we checked out the Kennedy Space Center shuttle launch, and watch a bit of the Nascar race which always seem to generate a big crowd.  Then we headed towards the back area where we found good old New York City.

This eventually lead us around into a side area that was all about Star Wars.

The different sections in this area had a scene from each movie.

There was even a Millennium Falcon that would take off every few minutes.

My personal favorite The Empire Strikes Back was represented with the battle on the ice planet Hoth.  There were a few more scenes that were really impressive but I don’t want to switch over to Star Wars fanboy mode.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the rest of the park and even went for another stroll through Cypress Gardens.  On the way out we did make a stop in The Big Store.

Near the middle set of doors to the store I saw a second penny press machine that wasn’t there on our first visit.

While my family was inside looking for new Lego sets to bring home I headed over to check out this additional machine.

   

This machine did roll the pennies a little short.  I tried adjusting a few of the rolls and the above are about the best I was able to do.  The set includes images of the Legoland Florida logo, the Legoland Entrance, Minifigure Blake, and Minifigure Sunny.

When I met back up with my family they had picked out a few new Lego sets and were anxious to get home and start working on them.  We headed out of the park and drove back home.  In total so far I’ve found a total of 6 penny press machines throughout Legoland.  We have not go into the water park yet and I’m hoping maybe there is another machine back there, but I’m not sure when we will be back to check that part out.  I have some family coming into town in a few weeks and they mentioned maybe taking a break from Disney (Gasp!!) so we may suggest Legoland so I can see if any additional machines show up.

(Closed) Contest – Win a Set of 2018 Walt Disney World Pressed Coins

** Thank you to everyone that entered.  The contest has closed and the winners have contacted by email.   Check back for future contests.

Congratulations Hannah for being one of the lucky winners.

————————–
FREE CONTEST:

This is a chance for you to get a complete set of the 2018 Pressed Coins that I had written about in a previous post.  Click here to read all about them and get more details on each coin.  This will include all 15 coins (8 Pennies and 7 Quarters).

We did this last year or maybe the year before and got some great suggestions, so I wanted to try it again.  All you need to do is post a comment below with any ideas you have for the 2019 annual set that you would like to see for next year.  This can be a unique set of movies, characters, ride or attractions, or food (Mmm…Dole Whip Penny).  Last time we had suggestions of Disney Snacks, Yearly Festivals and Holiday Parties like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Let your imagination run wild.

Post as many times as you like, and be sure to spread the word.  This is always a lot of fun when there is lots of participation.  The contest will end on July 31st, 2018.  At that time I’ll randomly select a winner and will contact you for your mailing information.

Good luck!!

**Please note this is just for entertainment purposes.  This contest is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company and this contest does not mean these coins will actual be implemented.  As I mentioned this is just for fun, but you could get a free set of coins.

Orlando Science Center – Orlando, FL

I’m sure at some point in the next few years my daughters school would probably have a field trip to the Orlando Science Center.  But when I noticed online that there was a penny machine located here I just couldn’t wait that long.  Even though she is probably a little young to understand most of what we were going to see, I figured she would still have a lot of fun with some of the exhibits.

The Science center is made up of multiple floors that you can access by either a central located elevator, or by a spiral staircase that winds around a big tree.  I have been an avid visitor of science and history museums all my life and can say with certainty this was a first.

Starting on the bottom floor has another interesting exhibit which was an indoor nature trail.

The walkway was even formed like a mud trail you would find out in the woods.  It was solid and safe to walk on obviously but was uneven in areas if you weren’t paying attention.

There was an area with some small alligators, turtles and fish all commingling nicely.  As we kept walking there was an alcove to one side with some snakes and reptiles.  Just beyond that was a large fish tank with some coastal sea creatures swimming about.  Did I mention snakes?  There seemed to be quite a few different snakes on display that were all displayed as being native to Florida and “non-venomous” which was only a little reassuring.

Eventually we came to the turtle area which was a little more my speed.  I will also say these exhibits all had a lot of great information on pollution and there were a lot of staff around trying to engage with the kids and explain how to keep things clean and safe for our wildlife friends.

With the first floor done we headed upstairs to the next floor and the first area was called the KinecticZone.  This was classic science museum and I always loved this stuff as a kid.  There were tons of things to touch and my daughter even though she is only a few years old had a great time playing and not realizing she was actually learning.

What kid doesn’t have fun playing with static electricity?  My daughter had a great time zapping me and seeing my reaction.  How could I get mad when I’m pretty sure I did the same thing when I was young.

After we had tried out all the science experiences with magnets, electricity, centripetal forces and much more (sorry can’t think of any other science-y words) we needed a bit of a break.  Just outside the KineticZone was a hallway with some restrooms and a small snack bar.  Just beside the snack bar hidden in the shadows was the penny press machine.

See I told you it was in the shadows.  The machine worked fine and I had recently used a machine similar to this at Old Town in Kissimmee.

However this machine didn’t accept pennies as you can see from the picture above.  This was a machine that would supply the penny to be pressed for you which we have gone over in the past is not my ideal situation, but that wasn’t going to stop me from using the machine.

When the pennies dropped out of the machine into the collection cup I grabbed them out and took a closer look.  The images included Triceratops, T-Rex, and Brontosaurus dinosaurs and a Trilobite fossil.  Now I will say these seemed strange to be in a science museum as usually in my experience dinosaurs are associated with natural history museums.  But I would soon find out differently.

We finished our little pit stop with a bathroom break and snack from the concession area.  Then headed up to the next floor and found DinoDigs.

This room was huge and very spacious.  I wasn’t sure if maybe this was a temporary exhibit here or not, but the dinosaur fossils they had were amazing as always.

There was also a few areas where fossils were buried in these little sandbox type contains that kids could get in and search for.  Thankfully there wasn’t any sand just shopped up plastic or tires maybe but it made the experience thankfully much cleaner.

After digging up our fair share of bones my daughter was looking like it was about time for a nap.  I figured it was a good opportunity to head back to the car and make our way home and the car ride is always a guaranteed way to ensure she sleeps.  The Orlando Science Center was a great mix of standard science exhibits which in my book never get old, and some fun new stuff not usually found at a science museum.  There were a few sections of the museum we didn’t get to see so I know we will be back to check out the rest.  It doesn’t seem like the penny designs change too often but that’s also another reason to stop by in the future.

Hilton Orlando at Bonnet Creek – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Everyone is pretty familiar with all the Disney owned resorts in Florida like the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, POP Century and so many more.  However there are also some non-Disney resorts on property that are known as Good Neighbor resorts.  They have a lot of the same benefits as a Disney resort but usually without the Disney price tag attached.  For years to my knowledge there has never been pressed penny machines at these Good Neighbor resorts but that has started to change.

As you drive on Buena Vista Drive towards Disney Springs there is a sign for Bonnet Creek Resorts.  Then there is a long winding road that takes you past a Wyndham Home, and then a slight turn for the Waldorf Astoria, and Hilton of Bonnet Creek.

In between these two hotels is a parking garage.  There is a fee for parking however on my trip I was in and out in less than a half hour and there was no charge.  Just be aware that this fee does depending on your length of stay.

This is a very nice hotel.  The grounds are well-kept as you would expect.  I’m sure Disney keeps a close tab on things like that for appearance.  Out back there is a large pool, and even a lazy river which on this hot day did seem like a nice idea.  Too bad I was only visiting and not actually staying here.

When you enter through the main entrance you are on the second floor of the hotel.  This is where the registration area is located, as well as bar / lounge, a few restaurants, part of the conference center as the Disney store.

The Disney store is actually down a long hallway just off of the main lobby but not too hard to find.  If you look closely at the above picture you can see the penny machine just to the left inside the door to the gift shop.

As with most hotel gift shops on Disney property the items inside are pretty standard.  Soda, juice, beer, snacks, t-shirts, mugs, plush toys, pins, etc.

Then just to the left of the checkout area and inside the main entrance is where the penny machine can be found.

The machine is in a plain black cabinet and has just three designs.  It’s almost strange to see this type of machine since lately the fancy touch screen 8 design models have been popping up everywhere.

The designs on these pennies are of Mickey & Minnie with two Mickey Balloons, the Mad Hatter, and Simba from the Lion King.  I really like this set and that first design of Mickey and Minnie is really cute and during my visit was the popular design most people were pressing.

So far this is the only hotel at Bonnet Creek that has a pressed penny machine but hopefully that will change in the near future.  There are some other Good Neighbor Hotels on Resort Boulevard that have new penny machines that I’ll be reviewing very soon.  There has been a lot of new releases and I’m still trying to get caught up after being out-of-town a few weeks ago.  Happy pressing and make sure to try some of these non-Disney resorts they are becoming a nice alternative for your vacation stay.