Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure New Pressed Pennies 2019-2020

Back in 2019 I had visited the Universal Studios Orlando parks around Easter Weekend and noticed that some of the penny machines had stickers on them notating that some of the designs would be retiring.  You can read about that here to catch up.  Then I waited patiently and checked back at the parks about every two weeks waiting for these new designs to appear and it did take a long time.  The last few final pennies didn’t show up until earlier this year, and I’m finally able to share them all with you.

First up was a machine that used to be found out in one of the parking structures and had the Fantastic Four as designs on the pennies.  Those have been retired and now this machine was relocated to the Universal Store in CityWalk.

I really like this set with some fun designs.  They include a class King Kong, and E.T. images, plus a new Jaws designs, and my favorite is the Back to the Future penny with Doc Brown’s DeLorean License plate “Outatime”.

That was the only change out in CityWalk, so we then headed inside Universal Studios Park first as they only had 2 machines with changes.  Just as we walked inside the park we headed into the Universal Studio Store.

This store has 4 machines in total available, but only one of them had received new penny designs.

With this machine, not all of the designs were replaced.  The Kong design stayed which I thought was a bit strange.  The two new designs are of Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon and Mel from the Secret Life of Pets.

Next, we walked over to the San Francisco area of the park and into the Candy Factory.

This machine always had a fun cabinet and fit in nicely with the “Factory” design inside.

I was pleasantly surprised to find another Back to the Future design here with Marty and Doc together, then there was Max from the Secret Life of Pets, and my Daughters’s favorite Princess Poppy from the Trolls movie (she had me press a few extras for her own collection).

That wrapped up the designs at Universal Studios, although I will note that with the closure of the T2 3D Stunt show and the soon to open Bourne Spectacular set to replace it.  In the gift shop for that attraction, the penny machine was recently removed so I’m crossing my fingers that a new one will return.  Maybe with some Jason Bourne designs.

With Universal Studios done we headed over to the other park Islands of Adventure for quite a few changes.  The first was in the Island Market & Export store.

 

Initially, this machine had a sticker on it stating all three designs were to be retired, but then the sticker was eventually removed with no changes.  As you can see above the designs have been kept the same.  Guess they changed their mind.

The next location was over in Seuss Landing at the Cats, Hats and Things gift shop.

Ok, so this one was a bit strange.  The sticker that was on this machine showed the design on the left side of the marquee with the Cat and the Hat with his fingers intertwined was to be retired.  But you can see above that was not the case, instead, the design on the right of the Cat and the Hat full-body design was removed from this machine and relocated to the Gertrude McFuzz store (see below for that machine).

This machine did receive a new design of Fish in his Bowl.

Now we will skip over to the Gertrude McFuzz store and go over the rest of this Dr. Seuess design changes.

When this machine was updated it was around the Holiday season and this area of the store is used for the Grinch meet and greets so it does get a bit busy and hard to access during that time.

Above is a picture of the two “new” designs at this machine.  The one on the left is just “new to this machine” and was originally in the Cats, Hats and Things store.  The penny on the right of The Lorax is brand new.

Passing through Seuss Landing you arrive in The Lost Continent.  There is a store near the Mythos restaurant called Treasures of Poseidon.

Unfortunately, the machine that was here just inside the doors was completely removed, but…

Shortly after that machine was removed and failed to return I did find a new machine over in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center.  You can read more about it here.

The machine cabinet is different but I had a feeling this may have been the same machine just redesigned for this location.

Continuing through the Jurassic Park area the next set of new pennies was in the Jurassic Outfitters store.  You just need to walk all the way into the back near where the Jurassic Park River Adventure boat ride lets out.  It’s easy to find, just follow all the soaking wet people.

This is another cool cabinet design.  I like how it appears to be carved out of stone which is perfect for the Jurassic themed store.

The new designs here are themed around Jurassic World and include the Movie Logo, Blue the Raptor and the Indominus Rex.

The last few machines are over in Toono Lagoon.  First, we headed into the Betty Boop store.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this machine.  I had visited here years ago and the machine broke after I rolled two of the three designs.  Then I made a special trip back a couple years later to get the missing design and the machine was broken.  I eventually found the missing penny on eBay to complete my collection and thankfully haven’t had to use this machine since.  But that all changed when these new designs were released.  Thankfully the machine worked perfectly and I got my new coins without any issue.  The new designs are of Betty winking, and her dog Pudgy.

Across the walkway is the Toon Extra gift shop.  They have lots of Scooby-Doo, Betty Boop, and Popeye merchandise in here along with other cartoon favorites.

I thought he speech bubble on this machine was fun.  “A Penny for your Thoughts.”

All three designs in this machine were replaced.  They are all themed around Popeye and include the Spinach eating man himself, Olive Oyl, and Bluto.

That completed all the new pennies released in Universal Orlando.  In total 20 new pennies were made available and I think most of them were fun new additions.  It is nice to see some of the new Dreamworks animated movie characters getting coins, plus some of the classic franchises like Back to the Future.  Universal does not usually change out their designs as frequently as Disney so this may be it for a while.  But I’ll be sure to visit when I can for any new machines or designs.  Hopefully, they continue with those stickers on the machines, which makes it much easier to know which designs retiring.

Hollywood Studios Machines Converting to $1 per Penny Design

At the time of writing this, Walt Disney World Theme parks currently closed due to the Covid-19 virus and the social distancing going on throughout the United States we are all pretty much confined to our homes.  But this does give us some time to catch up on things like cleaning up the house, or maybe spending some time outside weeding our garden…however, in my case, those still sound very boring and I’d rather write about pressed pennies.  Thankfully we had so many new pennies released, and I still have our family vacation from last year to write about that this may just be the time I need to get all those adventures posted.  First, though I wanted to continue reviewing the next park at Walt Disney World to convert their 4-design penny machines over to $1.

Hollywood Studios has had an exciting year, with 2019 bringing us Star Wars (Land) Galaxy’s Edge, then in December we got the new Rise of the Resistance ride which is unbelievably amazing, and now just a few weeks ago the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened.  This has finally completed (for now) the park’s transformation and part of that was swapping out these penny machines.

Let’s get started by heading straight up Hollywood Boulevard to where it intersects with Sunset Boulevard.  There is a little building here called Hollywood Junction.  On the backside of this building, there used to be two machines.

  

But unfortunately one of these machines has not returned.  It’s been weeks since these machines were all changed so I’m assuming that the second machine has been retired and not coming back.  Maybe it was to make room for the new ATM placed in this area, but in the picture above on the right, there still looks to be plenty of room for that machine.

I’ll say this just once at this time but please note this is the same for all the other machines I’ll review today.  After the conversion, the machine(s) have returned with the new $1 per penny price tag.  It accepts cash, credit card or digital payments like ApplePay.  The machine also supplies a pre-loaded zinc penny.  You can no longer use your own preferred pennies.  Also, the designs have not changed and are exactly the same as they were before the change.

Next, I headed over to the Muppet Courtyard into the Stage 1 Company gift shop which is all Muppet’s Themed.

 

This machine is located in the back of the store where they usually have most of the plush toys but of course, that can change.  This store does have two other machines, but this is the only 4-design model available here.

I had to kind of backtrack a little bit towards the Echo Lake area.  Near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show is a little shop called the Adventure Outpost.

 

The first machine at this location is right out front before you even enter the store.  The cabinet of the machine has changed slightly but still is pretty similar to what it was before.

 

The second machine is inside the store.  As I mentioned above this store is small so it isn’t hard to find this machine but it can be a little difficult to use if the store is busy.

If you do decide to go and watch the Indiana Jones stunt show one of the exits brings you out near the Backlot Express quick-service restaurant.  There is also a little outdoor gift shop here that has the next penny machine.

 

The machine has moved slightly after the change but is still in the same general area of that outdoor shop.

 

Next, we headed to the other side of the park and started heading down Sunset Boulevard.  About halfway down you will come to the Sunset Ranch which has a couple quick-services places to eat, plus a pin store, and a little stand called Anaheim Product with churros, pretzels, frozen lemonade, and other snacks.  Right out from of this stand is the above pictures penny machine.  I always liked this machine with the cabinet designed to looks like crates of produce.  When the machines get themed like that it always just seems to add to the fun.

If you spin around 180 degrees you will see a little alleyway in between some larger stores.  At the back of this alleyway are a set of restrooms and a penny machine.

 

I always dislike when penny machines are placed outside restrooms but that seems to be a very common location for them.  Guess people need something to do while waiting for their family members.

 

At the end of Sunset Boulevard, we took a left into the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard.  Just beside the face painting tent is the penny machine.

Past the entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is an area of the park that was previously only open for certain events, but now is open all the time with a new attraction at the Sunset Showcase Theater called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

 

The penny machine in this area is located just outside the exit to the theater.  You do not need to sit through the show to access the machine as it is outside for anyone to see.  But the show is cute and has a really cool Lightning McQueen animatronic inside.  Originally this machine was located back in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard near the previous machine but was relocated here once the show opened premiered.

Finally, we come to the last 4-design machine in this park.  It’s over near the Tower of Terror, outside the Hollywood Tower Gift Shop in the courtyard.

 

You do not need to ride Tower of Terror to use this machine (thankfully).  That ride is not one of my favorites so I’m glad I can just walk over to use this machine with the screams of the attraction riders hollering out in the background.

Hollywood Studios had the most 4-design machines of all the parks.  They were changed out over the course of a month or so.  It’s interesting to watch how they handle this by removing about half of the machines first, then once those are changed out they remove the second half.  However, these definitely seem to take longer than the other locations to get all the machines back.  As I mentioned way back at the beginning we did lose one of the machines that still has not returned and I don’t think it will.  But the park still has lots of other machines and plenty of penny designs available to keep you busy.  Oh and if you have some time in between pressing your coins, make sure to try out some of the new rides you won’t be disappointed.

Stranger Things Pressed Penny Set

With the rise of so many streaming services like Disney+, Hulu and of course Netflix, there is a massive amount of new shows and content available to us.  I will admit that my Netflix binging has gone down with the recent release of Disney+ which just seems to be playing on our TVs 24/7.  But there were still a few shows outside of Disney that I was just drawn into and continued to watch.  The first was Game of Thrones which finished up the services in 2019.  So that only left one show that I truly enjoy, and it just so happens to be on Netflix.

Stranger Things was initially released in 2016.  I was not one of the first people to watch it and actually held off at first worried that it was being overhyped.  Friends were saying it was like Goonies (one of my favorite movies) with a Sci-fi / Horror twist.  I was definitely intrigued but decided I would just hold off for a while to see if the buzz continued.  Eventually, I had run out of other shows to watch so I figured I would give it just a couple of episodes to see if I was drawn in.  Sure enough, it was a hit with me and I quickly binged through the entire first season.

For those of you that may not be familiar with this show I’ll grab a description I found online to try and help explain a general overview of the show.

The series is a mix of investigative drama alongside supernatural elements portrayed with horror, science fiction, and childlike sensibilities. The series is based in the 1980s and infuses references to the pop culture of that decade, and also took inspiration from strange experiments that took place during the Cold War and real-world conspiracy theories involving secret government experiments.

I don’t want to give too much away in case you decide to check it out, or maybe you aren’t up to date on all the episodes.  They currently have completed 3 seasons, and the 4th is scheduled for (hopefully) later in 2020.

As I’m sure most of you are familiar with we get plenty of junk mail and spam each and every day.  I’m on so many mailing lists that some of them I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually sign up for.  But every so often I do get one that piques my interest.  I primarily use the pennycollector.com website for research when I’m visiting new cities or trying to find penny machines in my area.  Every so often I have purchased items from their online store and I guess that’s how I got on their mailing list.  In a recent newsletter, they were offering a special set of pressed pennies themed around Stranger Things.  Unfortunately, these sets they offer are usually in a limited quantity so I headed over to their website as quickly as possible to place my order.

It didn’t take too long for my pennies to arrive in the mail and I was very happy with this fun set.  There are images of the Stranger Things logo, their tag line “One Summer can change Everything”, a silhouette of the main cast on their bikes, and a nice design of the Eleven “El” who is the young girl with telepathic and psychokinetic powers.

Of course, I do have to leave some bad news here.  As I was writing this post I did double-check the pennycollector online store and this set is completely sold out.  You may be able to find a set on eBay or another reseller.  I do not work for pennycollector but do use their site very often and think it’s a great resource for collectors.  My recommendation if you are interested in having the ability to get future limited sets like this would be to visit their site and join their mailing list.  It’s free and they really don’t send out too many emails.  Hopefully, this is something they will continue to offer for popular tv shows or maybe even movies.  Maybe they will be open to some suggestions!

Cocoa Beach Pressed Pennies – Florida

Are you tired of Winter yet?

To try and help bring some sun and warmer temperatures this past week I had some family in town that really wanted to visit a Florida beach.  Not wanting to head too far from our home we decided to visit Cocoa Beach.

We arrived early enough in the morning that there were plenty of parking spots in the paid parking lot available near the Pier.  But I was told by some employees that the parking lot does fill up quickly and is not always available if you come later in the day.

As an added perk of paying for parking, we also got vouchers that allowed us access to the Pier for free.  But I’ll review that later on.

I was pretty impressed with this beach.  It appears clean and had plenty of places to set up your beach towel for a fun day.  We opted to pay for a covered canopy that gave us close access to the pier and other available activities nearby.  This is not required, but we liked the option of having the shaded canopy overhead.

Coming from New Jersey I’m used to my beaches having long boardwalks with vendors and food options, but that is not the case here at Cocoa Beach.  As you can see in the above picture after you leave the parking lot you basically are right on the beach.  There are some stores and places to eat and drink up on that long pier in the distance.

But before we headed towards the pier, near the parking lot was a place called Trader Rick’s and was kind of like a general store.

The outside of the building was decorated with all sorts of sea creatures and my favorite some Manatees.

Inside they sell all sorts of things to help with your day at the beach.  They have towels, bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, soda, snacks and tucked away in the back a Penny Pincher machine.

I always think these Penny Pincher machines are unique from the standard machines we usually find at popular attractions.  The design is a little different, and they always seem to run really quiet without the familiar clinking sound you may be used to from other hand-crank versions.

The only issue I have with this type of machine is they almost always roll short for me.  I guess I should try to adjust how I press the pennies to account for this, but on this visit, I actually ended up with some nice final pennies on my first try.

With my pennies pressed and a nice cold soda in hand, I headed back outside and started my tour of the Pier.

The pier is not very wide but does have some fun stores along the one side, and plenty of seating on the opposite side.  The stores have all different souvenirs with Cocoa Beach printed on them.

About halfway down the pier, there was a pretty large bar with some high top tables around.  They did offer food service here along with the full-service bar for all your favorite tropical mixed drinks.  I grabbed a seat along the bar and had a wonderful view of the entire beach.

Once I was done with my food and drink I headed back towards the Pelican Bar & Grill. But just before the main doors to the restaurant there was a hallway off to the left.

This had access to the restrooms and a couple employee-only areas, but of course, this is also the perfect place to have another penny machine.

This machine was in a pretty bad location with people coming and going from all different directions.  It was a little hard to use and even harder to try and take pictures of the machine.

After a few attempts to use the machine, I was able to press a full set and the designs came out really nicely.  I do like that they are labeled with Cocoa Beach on them which always helps make them special in my collection so I can remember my visit and where they came from.

The Pelican Bar and Grill is located about halfway down the pier.  But as you can see from the picture above there is plenty more pier beyond that and something else right at the very end.

This second half of the pier is only available with a small paid admission fee.  Out here you can do some fishing right off the elevated pier.  As I mentioned at the beginning with my paid parking I was given a voucher that gave me access to this part of the pier for free.

All the way at the end of the pier is the Rikki Tiki Tavern.  It’s interesting to be out there as you are way out in the water.

There was live music playing out here, and plenty of seating but it was a very popular place and I had to wander around for quite a while before a seat opened up.

The bar also gave a great view of the beach in both directions and really made for a nice place to enjoy some drinks and wonderful sea air that always just seems to make me feel like I’m on vacation.

After a long day of fun on the beach, in the water, and on the pier it was eventually time to head home.  I had a couple new sets of pressed pennies to catalog once I got home, but for now, the slight sunburn I had and relaxing disposition was just what I needed.  The Central Florida Theme Parks are always near and dear to my heart, but sometimes it’s nice to just get away and put your feet in the sand.