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.
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!