Pressed Penny Minted Date Comparison

In past posts, I’ve gone over how Pressed Penny Collectors usually prefer to use what are known as Pre-1982 pennies.  This is due to the larger percentage of copper used in those older coins.  Starting in 1982 the United States Mint changed the metals in the penny to 97.5% zinc with only a 2.5% copper coating.

A common complaint among collectors is that when using these new pennies that thin copper coating can stretch and tear while being elongated to reveal streaks of the zinc core.

Years ago after learning more about this from fellow collectors I quickly changed over to pre-1982 pennies and of course had to go back and replace quite a few pennies in my collection.  Recently I was working on a video for Youtube and decided that I wanted to do a massive comparison between pennies with different minted dates.

First I had to figure out which pressed penny machine to use.  I wanted the design to be fairly simple but also needed to ensure that the machine (hopefully) would be around for years to come.  This is because I’m hoping to continue with this in future years to keep the comparison up to date.  Also due to many of the theme parks around Orlando being closed this did limit what machines I would have access to.  After going through my options I decided on a machine in Disney Springs at the Pin Trading store.

The design I chose was of Classic Mickey Mouse.  I don’t see Disney retiring this machine or design any time soon.  Mickey is here to stay for a long time.  Hopefully, I didn’t just jinx things.

A few weeks before my visit I had placed numerous orders with many coin merchants to get as many Brilliant Uncirculated pennies starting with 1950 all the way through 2020.  I had each penny stored in a separate little baggie with the date printed on the outside so that after I pressed each of them I would know which was which.  I think the Cast Members in the store thought I had lost my mind as I pressed the exact same design 71 times.  But they seemed happy just to have guests back in the store, and I actually kind of enjoyed being able to press some pennies again after being cooped up in our house for the last couple of months.

1950 1981 1982 2000 2020

Above is just a sampling of the pennies I pressed for this comparison.  You can click on the images to get a larger image for more detail.  At a glance, they don’t actually look too different.  But when you zoom in is where you start to see some differences.


The image above on the Left is a 60x zoom of the 1950 penny, and the image on the Right is the 1988 penny.  That 1988 penny clearly shows those stretch and tear marks on the right side along the dot border.

However, this is not a hard and fast rule.  Above I zoomed in on the 2020 penny and there are none of those tear marks.  The penny machines for the most part have been calibrated to try and press with pressure and die configuration that hopefully will work for a wide range of pennies to try and ensure the final product is as good as can be.  For the most part, I do find the pre-1982 pennies work the best and are what I’m sticking with for now as long as I am able to obtain them.

If you would like to check out the full comparison of all pennies from 1950 to the Present year just scroll up to the top of this page and click on “Penny Comparison” from the menu just under the main banner.  Enjoy and keep on smashing!!


SeaWorld Orlando New Penny Booklet

On June 11th SeaWorld Orlando reopened after being closed for an extended period of time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  When I heard about the reopening date I wanted to go over and check on their new processes and of course, see how those precious pressed penny machines were doing.

Shortly after I got into the park I noticed that many of the penny machines were missing.  It then became apparent after I eventually did come across one of the machines that SeaWorld was converting their machines over to pre-loaded penny versions that cost $1.  We’ve reviewed this change with Disney Parks and now it seems like SeaWorld is the next park to make the conversion.  Prior to the park closure, they had a total of 25 pressed penny machines, but on my first visit back only 10 were available.  Stay tuned as I’ll be going back in a few weeks to check on the rest of the machines when they come back so we can review those new machines.

But all was not lost on this trip.  In one of the gift shops I wandered into just to see the special reopening merch, I actually came across a new pressed penny booklet.

Since I don’t use these booklets for my own collection I often forget to look for them at different attractions or parks.  However, I do still purchase them as a separate collection and have way too many of these in large totes I keep in my office.  This one just ended up catching my eye as I walked by the display and after referring to my booklet collection I confirmed it was at least new to me.  I don’t know exactly how “new” this is, but it can’t be much more than a year old at the most since the last Seaworld booklet I purchased was in 2018.

The booklet also had a nice pressed penny design on the front cover.  It is similar to other designs throughout the park but is unique for the booklet.

Even though I don’t store pennies in these booklets I still couldn’t resist picking this up and added it to my collection.  I will be interested to come back in a few weeks and hope all the machines eventually return.  In the Disney parks, none of the designs were changed after their conversion but I’m hoping that SeaWorld decides to release some new designs.  They haven’t really had anything new in quite a while, and I’m also kind of surprised they never released one of the larger 8-design touch screen machines somewhere.  But I’ll be sure to check back and share whatever changes take place.

Universal Orlando Theme Parks Reopening Preview

It’s been a few months since the last time we walked through the Universal Orlando Theme Parks, but that has all started to change.  On June 5th, 2020 the Universal Parks was reopening with some new procedures and guidelines.  However, I was able to get a preview the day before to check out the parks and see if anything has changed.  Plus I wanted to visit all the pressed penny machines.

For this preview, I had to go online about a week before and try to secure a reservation and then had to choose a specific entry time into the parks.  I believe this was their way of trying to spread out the guest entry so everyone wasn’t there all at once.  My entry time was 10am, and once I had parked by in the garage around 9:00am there was no wait to have my temperature checked, and little to no line through the security checkpoint.  Before I knew it I was back in CityWalk and decided to visit Islands of Adventure first.

Unfortunately, the weather throughout the day was pretty crappy.  It rained most of the day, and the humidity was pretty high.  But being back in the park I wasn’t going to let mother nature ruin my adventure.

First up I do want to say that I was able to visit almost all of the pressed penny machines in both parks.  There were a couple that was in areas no open on this day.  I’m not going to review all the machines here since most of them have not changed and you can check out my previous post on the parks here if you are interested.

Crowd levels were pretty light on this day so I used the opportunity to hop on some attractions I don’t always get to experience.  One of my favorites is the Adventures of Spider-Man ride and I literally walked right on with no wait in the queue.  There was a team member at the end of the queue dispensing hand sanitizer to everyone before you get into the ride vehicle.  I was the only guest in the vehicle and had a nice private experience through the ride.  Afterward, I exited into the gift shop and the two penny machines are still here.

I passed through the rest of Superhero Island and then into Toon Lagoon.  Nothing much going on here.  Most of the machines were still available, but the Betty Boop store was not open for some reason so that machine could not be accessed.

Did I mention low crowds?  As you can see from the above picture there were some areas with absolutely no one around.

The Jurassic Park area was a little busier.  The River Adventure attraction was open, but with the rain, I didn’t feel the need to get even more soaked on that ride so I just passed through.

There were a few new additions since my last visit, like the new entrance to the Raptor Encounter which I thought looked like it was right out of the movies.

Also down near the lagoon in the middle of the park was lots of track for the new Raptor Coaster coming later this year…maybe?!?

Over in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was were most of the crowd seemed to be, but this was also far from normal levels.

 I had plenty of room to walk around and really was able to enjoy this area of the park.  Even the Butterbeer carts had small lines.

Nearby in the Lost Continent, they had a nice section called a U-Rest Area.  Each park has 2 of these areas for guests to use.  It allows you somewhere to go and remove your mask for a bit of a breather.  You can sit anywhere you like in the area as long as you are socially distancing from other guests.

The last section of this park was Seuss Landing which I always really enjoy.  Probably from my childhood filled with reading all those famous books.

This area was almost completely deserted as I headed through.  Very few people here, and seemed like most were just passing through as they headed back towards the  Harry Potter area.

On my way out of Islands of Adventure, I did stop through the Trading Company and all the pressed penny machines were unchanged but still available for use.

I cut through CityWalk over to Universal Studios and they had a float vehicle out front for some unique photo ops.

Hollywood Boulevard was really empty.  I think back to this area during Halloween Horror Nights and the comparison is just night and day.

I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to ride the E.T. Adventure attraction.  The posted wait time was 20 minutes which is not too bad.  However, the line extended well out into this courtyard due to everyone standing 6 feet apart.  My wait time was closer to 30 minutes in total but had a great ride on this classic attraction.

Springfield from The Simpsons was a little busier.  It did seem that the Duff Brewery bar was quite a happening place.  I guess people were really having withdrawal of Duff beer and needed a refresher.

Over in Diagon Alley, the crowds were noticeably lighter.  This area would normally be packed shoulder to shoulder with people taking pictures and waiting for the Gringotts Dragon to breathe fire.

The longest line back here was for Butterbeer which of course is a necessity when visiting the parks.  I couldn’t turn one down so I hopped in line and waited about 10 minutes for my frothy drink.

Just outside King’s Cross Station was a nice homage to the Jaws attraction which was removed and replaced with Diagon Alley.  Which is a nice segway…

I usually try to check in with Bruce the Shark when I’m in this area.  I still wish they would make him move periodically as that would be fun to watch unsuspecting guests get a little too close.

In past posts, I’ve reviewed the Pressed Penny machine that is near Bruce the Shark.  I’ve even shown how it made a guest appearance in the movie Sharknado 3.  The machine has been untouched for quite a while, but on this visit, I noticed that two of the designs had changed.

Do you notice the two new designs on the marquee pictured above?

If you are a Hello Kitty fan you may notice one right away.  In the Hello Kitty store in the park, I’ve seen this design on some t-shirts and posters, and each time I’ve got to work on my willpower to not buy it.  But it’s so darn cute.  Thankfully now I have a cool pressed penny with the image instead and it only cost me 50 cents.  The second design is also a fun one with Amity Island Jaws listed on it.

In my review of the CityWalk reopening, I mentioned that none of the machines had hand sanitizer dispensers nearby.  But worry not, Universal has you covered if you need by selling little bottles for $3.  I picked one up just to make sure I always had some available and promptly used it after finishing up with the penny machine.

At this time of day all of a sudden the skies opened up and the rain really made itself known.  I got stuck under the cover at Mel’s Drive-In which I then used as an opportunity to get some lunch.  Unfortunately due to the limited capacity inside I had to wait about 45 minutes for a table which then required you to use their Mobile App to place my order which was eventually brought out to my table.

Eventually, the rain held off for a little while so I could try and make my way back towards the entrance/exit of the park.

Before heading out I did stop in at the Universal Studio Store and confirmed all the penny machines were still here.  I quickly cut through the store and headed out the exit, through CityWalk and to my car just before more rain decided to come down.  Well, that’s Florida for you!

Let me go over a few things after this trip.  I did notice the above Stickers were on almost all of the pressed penny machines throughout both parks.  It reviews the Treatment that is being used in the parks and even the machine vendor had a sticker about Health & Saftey precautions.  I was glad to see these show-up and at least acknowledge that the penny machines are high use items that need to be cleaned frequently.

Unlike my visit to CityWalk a couple weeks prior, on this day I did notice on numerous accounts Team Members cleaning the penny machines.  They did not do this after each person used them, but I was happy to see that they were being cleaned at all.  In the past on all my visits to the parks, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a machine being cleaned so this is definitely a plus.  I’m happy with how my visit went and the low crowds were a definite perk.  How long this will go on for I just don’t know but I think Universal has done a great job so far and just hope they continue to keep it up.

Disneyland Pressed Tokens Experiment – Flashback 2013

Every few years the conversation starts up about whether the U.S. will finally remove the penny.  I’m sure you have all heard the rumors and they seem to be picking up again.  The reason for this always comes down to cost, and it’s really quite amazing when you find out that back in 2018 the cost to mint a 1 cent penny was about 2.06 cents.  It costs more than double face value.  Canada for one removed their penny back in 2012 and many other countries have also removed their lowest denomination coins due to similar costs.  But for some reason, the U.S. is still holding on to its penny at least for now.

Of course, this does bring a bit of concern to pressed penny collectors.  What would we do without pennies available to squish at our favorite Theme Park or roadside attraction?  This is something I’m sure the vendors have already been thinking about.  Places like Tokyo Disneyland use Planchets or coin blanks and they result in pretty nice final designs.  Plenty of penny presses in the U.S. have started to switch over where the machine supplies the penny.  Currently, they are still using pennies, but I could see this easily being converted over to coin blanks instead.

While I was thinking about this recently I remembered back in 2013 that Disneyland out in California had tried something for a short period of time.

Inside the park at Tomorrowland was the Starcade near Space Mountain.

This was kind of like a gift shop mashed up with a classic arcade.

The arcade games required a special token, and these tokens cost $0.25 each.  Their physical size was slightly larger than a quarter as you can see from the comparison above.

Photo Credit:

Starting in May 2013 three of the penny machines were converted to press these Starcade Tokens instead.  The cost to use these machines was 3 tokens, 2 were the cost to use the machine, and the 3rd was the one to be elongated.  Costing you $0.75 per pressed token.

The first set was from Tron and included the Light Runner, Flynn, and a Light Cycle.

The second set was themed for the Space Mountain attraction.

The last set was from the Animated movie Wreck-It Ralph.

Above is just a quick comparison of the tokens again the same designs pressed on pennies.  You can see that with the larger size of the tokens there was more room for the design and they pressed pretty nicely.  Unfortunately, this change only lasted for a few months and was eventually removed in August 2013 due to refurbishment of the Starcade and just never returned.  It’s too bad as I actually kind of liked this option and thought it was a nice alternative to using pennies, plus the Tokens were already available here for the arcade.  Now the issue would be if all machines in the park were converted to press tokens then you would either have to install more token change machines throughout the park.  Otherwise all pressed coin collectors would have to head over to the arcade first and load up on tokens before exploring the rest of the park.

Will this option return?  I guess only time will tell.  It didn’t last long and I haven’t seen any other places try this same option so I kind of think it’s not going to come back.  My assumption is that we will see more pre-loaded machines released and eventually if the U.S. penny does go the way of the Dodo bird then we will more than likely just see coin blanks instead.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we can get copper blanks but that may be asking too much!