I’ve mentioned this numerous times in the past but I absolutely love visiting aquariums and zoos. If I’m out traveling around and there is one nearby I’ll go out of my way to check them out. Some are huge, and others are much smaller but it just doesn’t matter. I enjoy the different exhibits, animals and of course they more often than not have a pressed penny machine somewhere on the property.
A few years ago I found out about the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford which is about an hour north of Orlando. Above some further research they also were listed on pennycollector.com as having a penny press so I packed up my kids and headed out to visit. Unfortunately at that time the zoo was under some pretty heavy renovations and many of the exhibits were unavailable. An even further travesty was that the penny press was no where to be found. We finished up our day and headed home a little disappointed.
Fast forward a few years and I get a message from a fellow collector that was visiting the Orlando area and checked out the Central Florida Zoo. His report back mentioned the construction was all done and the penny machine was back and fully operational. That was all I needed to hear to know what we were doing that following weekend. I packed up my family on a Saturday morning and we headed back to Sanford to check out the new and improved zoo.
The front part of the zoo was pretty much the same, and most of the elevated wooden boardwalk paths throughout the zoo were also unchanged but had received some much needed repairs. But as we headed further back into the zoo we found many of the new exhibits and all of it’s residents seemed to be enjoying their new surroundings.
I also found there was a nice flow to the park. Nothing bugs me more than having to retrace my steps in a park when a certain area just kind of dead ends.
Inside the reptile house were many Florida local creatures which always scares me a little bit. I’m definitely not a snake person but always feel I should make sure I know as much about them incase I find one on my lanai at home.
Lemurs are one of my favorite animals to visit, they always look so interested in everything that is going on. Most of the zoos I’ve visited seem to prefer the white and black ring-tailed lemur, but here they had a beautiful red and black friend that was really amazing.
Located right about in the middle of the property is a petting zoo. This was pretty standard and had the usual animals to visit with like goats and sheep, but we also found an alpaca in the back. He didn’t come close enough for us to visit with, but he was showing off his pretty cute haircut from a distance.
In the same area as the petting zoo was the ZOOfari Outpost, basically the zoo gift shop. Outside under that covered awning was a mold-o-rama machine which I’ve seen more and more around the Central Florida area. Even Universal Studios now has a few of these inside their parks.
The gift shop was pretty small inside and didn’t have a huge selection of items for sale. Plenty of t-shirts and photo frames but a far cry what what we are used to seeing at the larger theme parks. As you walk in through the main door the penny press machine was located straight back.
This machine immediately caught my eye when I walked inside. It has a nice bright paint job and the animal artwork on the cabinet was really beautiful.
The pennies rolled out really nicely, only one ended up rolling a bit long with a tail but the images were all nicely pressed. I always really like when they have the zoo location listed in the design as opposed to just generic animal designs. The River Otter, Rhino, Giraffe and Alligator designs were fairly standard and I’m sure we have seen similar at other locations but I was still happy to finally have this set for my personal collection.
The Central Florida Zoo has come a long way from that first time I visited and we had a really fantastic day. This is not a huge zoo, but you can definitely spend a good portion of your day here if you really take your time exploring all the exhibits and different activities available throughout the day. They do also have a few places to purchase food so you can really make a day of it. Don’t forget to visit the Outpost and press a set of these pennies for your own collection and as always be sure to Keep on Pressing!