Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a Harry Potter fan. Not a super fan, but I do really enjoy that whole world that surrounds Harry. I remember watching the first movie and just needing to know what happens next so I ran out and brought books 2 and 3. Read those, then went back to read book 1 because the book is always so much better than the movie. Then the waiting started, for each new book in the series to be released every couple of years. I would pre-order my book and get to the start for the midnight release. Dressing up in character was not my thing, but I just wanted my hands on that new book and would have it completed in a few days. That was me trying to take my time.
Eventually, the entire story came to an end, but with Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley, I could experience it in a whole new way. Now I have visited every nook and crannies of both Harry Potter areas of the parks, drank my share of Butterbeer (Hot is my preferred version, followed by Frozen, and then Cold) drinks, ice cream, and fudge. I’ve ridden all the rides except Dueling Dragons which is now closed. All sorts of merchandise adorn our house, oh and by the way, my wife and I are both Ravenclaws in case you were wondering. Basically, I’ve done almost everything there is to do here around Harry Potter. But one thing I never thought I would be able to do is Press some special Harry Potter-themed pennies!
Years ago I remember asking someone about pressed pennies in these areas of the park but was always told it was something J.K. Rowling didn’t want in the parks. I have nothing to back that up with other than just internet rumors. But it did seem to hold true for a long time and I had pretty much given up on ever seeing them.
Then all of a sudden a few weeks ago I received a message on Facebook from a fellow collector Les G. who told me that new Harry Potter penny machines were being released at Universal. I thanked him for the info, and immediately started checking other resources for confirmation but couldn’t find anything. Then I received a message on Youtube from Kimmy M stating the same thing. Now my interest was really piqued and decided what the heck, let’s go to Universal and check it out first hand. I started over at Universal Studios and immediately went back to Diagon Alley. Walking everywhere I could think of, in every store, around every corner, in the Leaky Cauldron but couldn’t find the machine. Then I had a crazy idea that maybe the machine wasn’t in this area of the park due to that long ago rumor of J.K. Rowling not wanting them here, but maybe the workaround was to have the machines nearby.
I checked all the usual places and eventually headed into the main Universal Studios Store up near the front of the park. Inside the store are different areas for all the different merchandise like The Simpsons, Trolls or The Secret Life of Pets and of course there is a big area of Harry Potter items.
Everything was pretty standard stuff, but I didn’t see a penny machine right away but after weaving in and out of the aisles I found it.
Thankfully I had come to the park pretty early so this store wasn’t too busy, and I was able to really take in this moment.
The machine had a nice wood cabinet that fits this area of the store, but in my mind just wasn’t quite as Harry Potter-esque as I would have thought/liked. It would have been fun to see this slanted to one side as all the buildings in Diagon Alley or may be covered in wands or the Hogwart’s House Shields. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting these coins.
The designs in this set include each of the Hogwart’s House Shields (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin), a Snitch, the Nimbus 2000, a Dementor, and Fluffy the 3-headed dog.
Some of the information I had gathered prior to visiting was that there were to be three penny machines in total, one at Universal, one in Islands of Adventure, and the third in CityWalk. What better way to get from Universal to Islands than to enjoy the Hogwart’s Express.
After departing the train, I entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but knew in my mind that the machine wouldn’t be back here.
However, that didn’t deter me from walking through anyway just to enjoy this place. It’s really amazing and so much fun just like you are walking into the movies.
The machine was eventually found up at the front of the park in the main gift shop called the Trading Company.
Head inside and just make your way to the Harry Potter section.
The machine is situated near the School Robes up along one of the walls.
This second set of pennies has designs of the Nimbus 2001 Broom, The Tri-Wizard Cup, a Phoenix, a couple Dragons, the Golden Egg, and the Mirror of Erised. These are definitely images that you would need to be quite the fan to recognize. While I was pressing my pennies one of the team members came up and asked if I worked for the machine company because of all the pictures and video I was taking. I said no just a collector and she was very nice to let me know about the other machines.
I mentioned I had the Universal set already and was heading to CityWalk next but she informed me that the third machine wasn’t available yet. I thanked her and headed out but wanted to double-check CityWalk just to make sure, and she was absolutely correct.
Skip forward a week or so and I come across a post on Facebook in a Universal Passholder’s group mentioning the Harry Potter pennies. In the comments someone mentioned that only 2 machines were available, but as the comments kept rolling in suddenly someone posted that the third machine was just released that day. Well, that’s all I needed to hear and headed over after work. Once I passed through security I headed directly to the Universal Store.
The Harry Potter section of this store kind of takes over about half of it.
Near the check out register area is a wall of Wizard Wands and the penny machine was just tucked away in that area.
As you might have guessed the wands are a hot item and this little area of the store got quite crowded shortly after I started using the machine. This machine had the same cabinet design as the other two but in a lighter color.
As much as I liked the pennies with the Hogwart’s School Shields on them, this set overall was my favorite. It just had a great selection of designs including Harry’s Glasses and Scar, the 9 3/4 Platform, the Deathly Hallows, the Sorting Hat, a Wand, the Firebolt Broom and of course Dobby the (Free) Elf.
I truely never thought I would see the day when Harry Potter pressed pennies would be released, and not just one set but three intotal. That’s huge! Of course I wish the machines were a little more themed, I would have loved to use my wand to active the machine, but I really don’t want to complain. I’m so happy they were able to get these released and I know collectors and just casual park guests are going to love these. Hopefully if they are as popular as I’m assuming they will be, we may see more in the future.
Have a great week and Keep on Pressing!