Pandora World of Avatar NEW Penny Machine – Animal Kingdom

Back in 2009 a little movie you may have heard of called Avatar was released and became the highest grossing movie of all time with over $2.7 billion at the Box office.  The movie takes place in the mid-22nd century on a habitable moon called Pandora in a far away star system.  The moon was inhabited by a local tribe called the Na’vi that were tall blue creatures.  The moon also had a diverse collection of other creatures both tame and hostile.

With such a popular and highly profitable movie it seemed only a matter of time before more movies would come out.  However before those new movies come out (we are still waiting) Disney announced they were going to develop part of the Animal Kingdom park into Pandora.

Construction began in early 2014 and was going to be a huge expansion.  Then on May 27, 2017 the new land officially opened to the public with two marquee attractions that to this day still have up wards of 2-3 hour wait times to ride.

I was not there on opening day, but did get to first experience Pandora about a month after it opened and was just completely blown away.  As you walk over the bridge into Pandora the sounds of the Animal Kingdom slowly fade and new ambient sounds are heard instead.   I remember just wondering around for a couple of hours taking in all the details of Pandora.

I had a fastpass to ride the slow-moving water attraction called Na’vi River Journey, and eventually was able to experience the highly coveted Flight of Passage which is really amazing and I would do it no justice trying to explain what it is like.  But one thing that caught me a bit by surprise was that there was no pressed penny machine to be found anywhere.  I guess maybe the Na’vi don’t use money so that could be keeping with the theming, but was something many collectors hoped would show up at some point.  Well that day finally showed up almost 2 years after Pandora opened.

I was at work when I heard the news about this new machine.  I did the responsible thing and waited until the work day was over before taking my two daughters with me to Animal Kingdom on the hunt for the new pennies.

The floating mountains are always a sight to see and things keep changing in the land.  Plus the crowds are still as busy as ever.  They even have a cast member in a utility suit (for the science team) come out and walk around giving some history and detail on the world we are visiting.  It’s all done in character but still a lot of fun and helps keep you immersed in this amazing place.

There is only one gift shop in Pandora that is called Windtraders.  If you experience the Flight of Passage ride you actually exit through this gift shop.  But you do not need to go on the ride to check it out.  Inside there is a rookery where you can be matched with your very own Banshee, or be scanned into a computer and have a 3-D Na’vi toy created of yourself.  Plus of course lots of t-shirts, magic bands, and toys.

Then all the way in the back corner that blends in almost too well is the penny press machine.

This is another of those 8-design touch screen machines that supplies the penny sized tokens to press.  There was a line of about 5-6 people in front of me when we found it so this will probably be another very popular set of coins.

The set includes various designs from the two attractions in Pandora and the land itself including the Shaman, Viperwolf and even the Utility suit plus some other things I’m not 100% sure what they are but they look cool which is important.  Each of the coins also say Pandora the World of Avatar.

I’m so glad to see they finally released as set of coins for this area of the park.  Not sure exactly why it took so long, but I’m sure there is all sorts of licensing legalities that need to be ironed out before they can release them.  Hopefully with the new Star Wars Land….sorry Galaxy’s Edge, that we will get some new machines and maybe you will even need a droid to start it up.  We’ve waited long enough for the Star Wars area to open, hopefully they don’t make us wait until 2 years after that for some new pressed pennies.

Showcase of Citrus – Clermont, FL

Just a short drive away from Walt Disney World property is a town called Clermont.  One of the main highways through Clermont is 27 and is where countless new housing developments have been popping up.  I know this as my family lives near here and we spend a lot of time driving up and down Highway 27.  However one place that we have driven past a hundred times is called Showcase of Citrus.

From a distance this place just looks like a large fruit stand along the highway selling Florida fresh Oranges and other citrus.  But after a friend had visited and raved about a Monster Truck tour through the Citrus grove it was something we had to check out.

We made the drive down from Clermont along 27 until we arrive at the location and were greeted with a Great White Shark hanging from its tail in the parking lot.  Just to set the record straight I’m sure you can guess that this is not real, but does catch you eye as you drive by which I guess is the point.

Inside the main building we were greeted by an alligator with a bag of oranges.  This place we definitely interesting, but filled with lots of fun things including local honey, hot sauces and of course fresh citrus.  Plus I even saw a sign for gator meat if that is something you are looking for.

However first we were here for the main even which was the 4×4 Monster truck tour.

This thing was huge and they actually have three of them so I’m guessing business has been good.  Thankfully we didn’t need to climb up that ladder leaning against the side of the truck.  Instead there are some ramps at the back that make getting up into the truck much easier.

Our tour guide was fantastic and had a lot of knowledge about the citrus grove.  They actually grow over 40 varieties of citrus in these fiends.  Only a small portion are sold in the roadside store, and the majority is sent to a processing plant near Miami for companies like Tropicana.  The ride on the truck can get a little bumpy but wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

There are some swampy areas that the tour goes through and if you are lucky there can be some local wildlife around.  On our trip we saw the above gator, and a few turtles but not much else.

One interesting part of the tour was that we headed into a cow pasture that was just filled with lots and lots of cows.  They immediately recognized the truck we were in and came running over.  The reason is that the cows are obsessed with oranges.  The tour guide had a large basked of oranges and he handed them out so that we could toss them over the side of the truck for the cows to eat.  Who would have thought cows liked citrus?

The tour was about 45 minutes or so and was a lot of fun.  Our daughters had a great time on the truck but really liked feeding the cows.  When the tour was over we headed back to the main building.  In the back was a large play area for the kids and a petting zoo with a few animals like a Donkey, and Pig.

We also tried some of their fresh citrus slush that was nice and tart but very refreshing on this sunny Florida afternoon.

Before we left for the day we had to check out the store in a little more detail.  There were lots of old product signs in the rafters, and lots of classic Florida gifts like “grown your own orange tree” or a lucky alligator foot for your key chain.

There was also a wall filled with all sorts of hot sauces, and fresh local honey.  They did offer some samples to try before buying, but be careful some of those sauces were extremely hot.

They also had a wine tasting bar that had a lot of Florida wines for sale.  You could get a free sample of any of the wines and some where very interesting.  We tried a Key Lime wine and a Guava wine which were actually pretty good.

The above Swamp Juice wine was not my favorite but would make for a fun bottle to bring out with dinner for your out-of-state friends.  With a few bottles of wine ready to take home just as we were checking out I noticed something around a nearby corner.

Pappy’s pressed coin machine.  These machines are not very common a least in my travels so far, but I have come across a few and they are definitely unique.  Pappy will talk a bit to try and entice you over to use the machine, and he also talks while he pressed your coins.  If you look closely you can see his hand is on a handle that turns as the penny is pressed.

Each design was $1 and the machine supplied the penny so there was no guarantee of the type of penny that you would get.

The designs on each penny were all about the Showcase of Citrus which is nice.  Sometimes in these type of roadside attractions the penny machines have generic designs like “My lucky penny”.  But these were nice unique designs with the Monster Truck, and the Showcase of Citrus logo.  One rolled a bit short, but the others came out pretty nicely.  You can see in the above image the difference in pennies since I couldn’t supply my own.

With our wine, bag of oranges and some new pressed pennies we were ready to head home.  This was definitely a lot of fun and I’m glad we tried it out.  As I mentioned at the beginning we had driving past it a lot and never stopped in which should teach us a lesson as you never know what you may find.

NEW Pennies Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard – Hollywood Studios

Only someone with sharp eagle eyes was able to find these new pennies.  Over in Hollywood Studios outside the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a large courtyard with some snack stands, a pin cart, face painting and two penny machines.

These two machines have been here for quite a while and their designs haven’t changed.

But just recently someone noticed that on one of these machines had two of its designs changed.

One was a completely swamped out, but the second only had slight changes to the design.

The first design is of Pluto blowing a horn.  This has replaced an old design of Goofy singing.  The second design is of the Flaming Guitars with the Roller Coaster logo.  At a quick glance  this design looks to be the same as it was before, but upon closer review the guitar and flames are a slightly different size.

Not a big change, but I’m happy to see some new designs in the four hand crank machines as those don’t change too often.  Now it will make our jobs a little harder knowing that these machines may start having designs replaced throughout the parks as well.  I’ll keep you posted if we find any others.