Legoland Florida Second Visit – Winter Haven, FL

A few weeks had gone by since our first trip to Legoland Florida, and this past saturday we found ourselves with nothing schedule and thought we would head back.

After entering into the park my kids headed right for the carousel which is their favorite go to ride right now.  While we were enjoying the ride on one of the revolutions I saw the Lego Studio Store and there was a penny machine near the door.  Once the carousel ride was finished we headed over to check it out.

At first I took this to be a new machine, but after I got home it seems these designs have been available in the past.  So my assumption is the machine was just out for refurbishment during the off-season.  There was another machine I found on this day but we will get to that in a little bit.

   

The designs that were available at this machine included Fabulous Lad Vegas, The White House, Kenny Space Center, and San Francisco.  Next we started making our way through the different sections of the park, and eventually found our way back to minifigure world.  This trip we took a lot more time to take in some of the details they put into these really amazing scenes.

Of course we checked out the Kennedy Space Center shuttle launch, and watch a bit of the Nascar race which always seem to generate a big crowd.  Then we headed towards the back area where we found good old New York City.

This eventually lead us around into a side area that was all about Star Wars.

The different sections in this area had a scene from each movie.

There was even a Millennium Falcon that would take off every few minutes.

My personal favorite The Empire Strikes Back was represented with the battle on the ice planet Hoth.  There were a few more scenes that were really impressive but I don’t want to switch over to Star Wars fanboy mode.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the rest of the park and even went for another stroll through Cypress Gardens.  On the way out we did make a stop in The Big Store.

Near the middle set of doors to the store I saw a second penny press machine that wasn’t there on our first visit.

While my family was inside looking for new Lego sets to bring home I headed over to check out this additional machine.

   

This machine did roll the pennies a little short.  I tried adjusting a few of the rolls and the above are about the best I was able to do.  The set includes images of the Legoland Florida logo, the Legoland Entrance, Minifigure Blake, and Minifigure Sunny.

When I met back up with my family they had picked out a few new Lego sets and were anxious to get home and start working on them.  We headed out of the park and drove back home.  In total so far I’ve found a total of 6 penny press machines throughout Legoland.  We have not go into the water park yet and I’m hoping maybe there is another machine back there, but I’m not sure when we will be back to check that part out.  I have some family coming into town in a few weeks and they mentioned maybe taking a break from Disney (Gasp!!) so we may suggest Legoland so I can see if any additional machines show up.

Contest – Win a Set of 2018 Walt Disney World Pressed Coins

FREE CONTEST:

This is a chance for you to get a complete set of the 2018 Pressed Coins that I had written about in a previous post.  Click here to read all about them and get more details on each coin.  This will include all 15 coins (8 Pennies and 7 Quarters).

We did this last year or maybe the year before and got some great suggestions, so I wanted to try it again.  All you need to do is post a comment below with any ideas you have for the 2019 annual set that you would like to see for next year.  This can be a unique set of movies, characters, ride or attractions, or food (Mmm…Dole Whip Penny).  Last time we had suggestions of Disney Snacks, Yearly Festivals and Holiday Parties like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Let your imagination run wild.

Post as many times as you like, and be sure to spread the word.  This is always a lot of fun when there is lots of participation.  The contest will end on July 31st, 2018.  At that time I’ll randomly select a winner and will contact you for your mailing information.

Good luck!!

**Please note this is just for entertainment purposes.  This contest is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company and this contest does not mean these coins will actual be implemented.  As I mentioned this is just for fun, but you could get a free set of coins.

Orlando Science Center – Orlando, FL

I’m sure at some point in the next few years my daughters school would probably have a field trip to the Orlando Science Center.  But when I noticed online that there was a penny machine located here I just couldn’t wait that long.  Even though she is probably a little young to understand most of what we were going to see, I figured she would still have a lot of fun with some of the exhibits.

The Science center is made up of multiple floors that you can access by either a central located elevator, or by a spiral staircase that winds around a big tree.  I have been an avid visitor of science and history museums all my life and can say with certainty this was a first.

Starting on the bottom floor has another interesting exhibit which was an indoor nature trail.

The walkway was even formed like a mud trail you would find out in the woods.  It was solid and safe to walk on obviously but was uneven in areas if you weren’t paying attention.

There was an area with some small alligators, turtles and fish all commingling nicely.  As we kept walking there was an alcove to one side with some snakes and reptiles.  Just beyond that was a large fish tank with some coastal sea creatures swimming about.  Did I mention snakes?  There seemed to be quite a few different snakes on display that were all displayed as being native to Florida and “non-venomous” which was only a little reassuring.

Eventually we came to the turtle area which was a little more my speed.  I will also say these exhibits all had a lot of great information on pollution and there were a lot of staff around trying to engage with the kids and explain how to keep things clean and safe for our wildlife friends.

With the first floor done we headed upstairs to the next floor and the first area was called the KinecticZone.  This was classic science museum and I always loved this stuff as a kid.  There were tons of things to touch and my daughter even though she is only a few years old had a great time playing and not realizing she was actually learning.

What kid doesn’t have fun playing with static electricity?  My daughter had a great time zapping me and seeing my reaction.  How could I get mad when I’m pretty sure I did the same thing when I was young.

After we had tried out all the science experiences with magnets, electricity, centripetal forces and much more (sorry can’t think of any other science-y words) we needed a bit of a break.  Just outside the KineticZone was a hallway with some restrooms and a small snack bar.  Just beside the snack bar hidden in the shadows was the penny press machine.

See I told you it was in the shadows.  The machine worked fine and I had recently used a machine similar to this at Old Town in Kissimmee.

However this machine didn’t accept pennies as you can see from the picture above.  This was a machine that would supply the penny to be pressed for you which we have gone over in the past is not my ideal situation, but that wasn’t going to stop me from using the machine.

When the pennies dropped out of the machine into the collection cup I grabbed them out and took a closer look.  The images included Triceratops, T-Rex, and Brontosaurus dinosaurs and a Trilobite fossil.  Now I will say these seemed strange to be in a science museum as usually in my experience dinosaurs are associated with natural history museums.  But I would soon find out differently.

We finished our little pit stop with a bathroom break and snack from the concession area.  Then headed up to the next floor and found DinoDigs.

This room was huge and very spacious.  I wasn’t sure if maybe this was a temporary exhibit here or not, but the dinosaur fossils they had were amazing as always.

There was also a few areas where fossils were buried in these little sandbox type contains that kids could get in and search for.  Thankfully there wasn’t any sand just shopped up plastic or tires maybe but it made the experience thankfully much cleaner.

After digging up our fair share of bones my daughter was looking like it was about time for a nap.  I figured it was a good opportunity to head back to the car and make our way home and the car ride is always a guaranteed way to ensure she sleeps.  The Orlando Science Center was a great mix of standard science exhibits which in my book never get old, and some fun new stuff not usually found at a science museum.  There were a few sections of the museum we didn’t get to see so I know we will be back to check out the rest.  It doesn’t seem like the penny designs change too often but that’s also another reason to stop by in the future.

Hilton Orlando at Bonnet Creek – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Everyone is pretty familiar with all the Disney owned resorts in Florida like the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, POP Century and so many more.  However there are also some non-Disney resorts on property that are known as Good Neighbor resorts.  They have a lot of the same benefits as a Disney resort but usually without the Disney price tag attached.  For years to my knowledge there has never been pressed penny machines at these Good Neighbor resorts but that has started to change.

As you drive on Buena Vista Drive towards Disney Springs there is a sign for Bonnet Creek Resorts.  Then there is a long winding road that takes you past a Wyndham Home, and then a slight turn for the Waldorf Astoria, and Hilton of Bonnet Creek.

In between these two hotels is a parking garage.  There is a fee for parking however on my trip I was in and out in less than a half hour and there was no charge.  Just be aware that this fee does depending on your length of stay.

This is a very nice hotel.  The grounds are well-kept as you would expect.  I’m sure Disney keeps a close tab on things like that for appearance.  Out back there is a large pool, and even a lazy river which on this hot day did seem like a nice idea.  Too bad I was only visiting and not actually staying here.

When you enter through the main entrance you are on the second floor of the hotel.  This is where the registration area is located, as well as bar / lounge, a few restaurants, part of the conference center as the Disney store.

The Disney store is actually down a long hallway just off of the main lobby but not too hard to find.  If you look closely at the above picture you can see the penny machine just to the left inside the door to the gift shop.

As with most hotel gift shops on Disney property the items inside are pretty standard.  Soda, juice, beer, snacks, t-shirts, mugs, plush toys, pins, etc.

Then just to the left of the checkout area and inside the main entrance is where the penny machine can be found.

The machine is in a plain black cabinet and has just three designs.  It’s almost strange to see this type of machine since lately the fancy touch screen 8 design models have been popping up everywhere.

The designs on these pennies are of Mickey & Minnie with two Mickey Balloons, the Mad Hatter, and Simba from the Lion King.  I really like this set and that first design of Mickey and Minnie is really cute and during my visit was the popular design most people were pressing.

So far this is the only hotel at Bonnet Creek that has a pressed penny machine but hopefully that will change in the near future.  There are some other Good Neighbor Hotels on Resort Boulevard that have new penny machines that I’ll be reviewing very soon.  There has been a lot of new releases and I’m still trying to get caught up after being out-of-town a few weeks ago.  Happy pressing and make sure to try some of these non-Disney resorts they are becoming a nice alternative for your vacation stay.

The Royal Wedding 2018

I’m not sure if my curiosity with the British Monarchy is due to my Canadian background, being born and living there for 18 years.  Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Game of Thrones.  Whatever the reason I had a bit of Royal Wedding fever, and along with millions of other viewers I got up early Saturday morning and watched the extravagant event.

A week or so before the wedding I had seen online that over in Epcot the United Kingdom Pavilion was going to have some Royal Wedding gifts and souvenirs.

This area of the park is one that I don’t spend a whole lot of time in, which is really a shame because it’s a beautiful area.  The buildings look like they are straight out of Downton Abbey, and the British accents from the Cast Members always seems so friendly.

In the store called The Queen’s Table is where the special souvenirs were supposed to be found.  However I was apparently a few days too late.  Upon my arrival I walked through all the stores but couldn’t find anything.  Eventually I asked a Cast Member and was told that everything they had was sold out and they were not anticipating any more stock.

Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

The above and below are pictures of some of the items that were available in the Epcot store.  I don’t know if I actually would have bought any of these items, but I was still a little disappointed that everything was gone.

Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

There was one other thing I wanted to check out before I left Epcot.  In the UK Pavilion there is a pressed penny machine.  I was pretty sure they would not have changed the designs but wanted to make sure.  As I had suspected the images were unchanged, but that would have been a really cool special penny to have available.  Eventually I headed home empty-handed, but that was about to change once I got home.

It wasn’t long after I got home when my phone buzzed that I had an email.  It was a promotional email from Pennycollector.com that they were offering special pressed coins commemorating the Royal Wedding.  I quickly hopped online and placed my order.

A week or so later my package arrived in the mail with the above two coins.  The design is really nice and quite detailed.  The design is the same on both coins, just one pressed on a zinc and the other silver.  Unfortunately these were the only two options (no copper option) but they still made a nice addition to my collection.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – Orlando, FL

This week I headed back over to International Drive in Orlando to visit another roadside attraction.  I had visited a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! back in New Jersey on the Atlantic City Boardwalk years ago.  All I remember is being more disturbed than anything just due to some of the very strange things Mr. Ripley supposedly found along his world travels.

Since this is located right on I-Drive it has to stick out somehow from all the other tourist attractions so the building was designed to look like it was sinking into the group.  It’s a fun little optical illusion, similar to the upside down building at WonderWorks.

As soon as you walk inside there is a small lobby area where you can buy your admission tickets if you didn’t pre-purchase online.  In this area you can find the penny press machine.  Little disclaimer, I have heard that from time to time this machine moves inside the attraction and paid admission is needed.  But for now the machine is right out front and no ticket needed to use it.

For some reason I always find that these style machines tend to roll short more often than not but this one wasn’t too bad.

The designs included in this set were of the Ripley’s Orlando Building, the Two-headed Calf, a Tiny Car, and a Shrunken Head.  Even though I had the pennies already I figured since I was here may as well head inside and see what they have to offer.

When you first get inside you are shown the original Ripley desk.  There is a spooky hologram they project of Robert Ripley sitting behind the desk giving some anecdotes of his travels.  As I mentioned above there are some distributing things in this museum that deal with animal birth defects, to tribal rituals including pretty graphic piercings and other things I’m just going to skip over.  Some people find it fascinating but wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I skipped ahead to a large artifact room that had some more PG items on display.

Such as this cute Wall-E sculpture.  I stood there for a few minutes hoping it would move or talk but it doesn’t.  Just a nice piece of artwork.

After visited with Wall-E I found myself in the Medieval torture section, and I’m pretty sure you can guess the crazy contraptions they had on display in here.  They aren’t too graphic, but just looking at some of these devices can set your imagination wild.

Since we have been living in Florida for about a year and still getting used to all the thunderstorms I thought the above sign was a fun fact.

Eventually I headed into an area with some fun little interactive exhibits like seeing how flexible you are.

Or try your hand at a giant Operation game but for some reason the infamous funny bone is missing.

There was also a room with a large piece of the Berlin Wall, and also a room with some wax figures of Ripley’s famous human attractions so you can take selfies with.

As a last test for some reason before you exit into the gift shop you get to walk down this hallway that spins around you.  Of course you get dizzy and you have trouble walking straight through.  There is a bypass but this is fun to watch people experience.  Once you pass through this area you exit into the gift shop which is very small and hard to get through if there are even a few people in there.

This is a place that is just a little too weird for me, and I’m usually into that kind of stuff. I’m glad the penny press machine is outside so you don’t necessarily have to go through the museum if you are a little squeamish or just not interesting in this type of museum.  I probably won’t be back any time soon unless someone from out-of-town really want to check it out.  There is a lot of stuff inside and you could spend a few hours if you take your time but I would recommend checking out their website first to sample what’s there before you venture inside.

2018 TEC Member Coin

It’s always exciting to get new pressed coins.  Even so often I would buy coins from eBay to help fill missing designs from my collection, but I usually prefer to press the coins myself.  The general exception to this are the special coins I get every three months just for being a member of The Elongated Collectors (TEC).

I know I’ve gone over this in the past but if you are even a casual collector of elongated (pressed) coins this is a club you need to join.  The membership fee is very reasonable and worth every penny (pun intended).  The members are fantastic and always there to assist with any questions or inquiries you may have.  There is a lot of coin trading and special member meet ups throughout the year.

Plus as I mentioned every quarter a newsletter is released in either a hard copy or electronic version, and along with that comes special pressed coins donated by members of the club.  My favorite coin each year is always the membership coin which you can see the 2018 version below.

If your interested in learning more about TEC please check out the website www.tecnews.org.  You can even fill out a membership form directly on the website.  Feel free to list that you were referred by TEC Member #4237.  This won’t get you any special treatment (sorry) but TEC always likes to keep track of how all the members find out about the club.  Keep on pressing!

SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival – Orlando, FL

In some past posts I’ve reviewed the different festivals that have gone on over at Epcot, but just recently I tried something new.  My youngest daughter has really enjoyed SeaWorld lately and we have found ourselves over there more often than I had anticipated.

On a recent trip we found ourselves visiting the park in the middle of their Seven Seas Food.  I had heard some advertisements on the radio and TV about the festival but to be honest it has started to seem like every park and town are having their own food festivals now.

However since we had been to SeaWorld quite few times in the last month I was looking for something different to try.  As much as I like the Food and Wine or Flower and Garden at Epcot they can definitely get pricey after while.  At the Seven Seas Food Festival you can buy everything al la carte, or they do offer special lanyard.

These lanyard can be purchased for a set price depending on the total number of samples you would like.  As an annual passholder they also had special bonus samples offered for free when you buy a lanyard.  Then when you visit the different booths you can get any of the food or beverage options and each will only cost you one punch on the lanyard regardless of the item price.

The food options were overall pretty good.  As you enter the main festival area there are passport booklets that review the festival, and the food/beverage options.  There is also a map inside showing you where all the booth locations are throughout the park.

I didn’t want to go too crazy with the food, but figured we would at least sample a few things as we walked around.  First we stopped by the Cocina Criolla booth and tried the Pincho de Cerdo con Tostones which was skewered flame grilled pork with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce which I have pictured above.

Next we headed over towards the Brazilian Market and sampled a few things.

Above was the Brazilian Churrasco which was grilled skirt steak with chimichurri and garbanzo frito.

There was also an interesting Brazilian chicken salad with chicken, ham, raisins, carrots, apples and olives topped with shoestring potatoes.

My daughter likes the Arctic Encounter so we always make sure and check that out so we can visit the beluga whales and polar bears.  As we exited there was the Polynesian Market where I sampled a Lumpia which was a spring roll filled with pork and served with a Thai pineapple sauce.

There were a few additional items I sampled while we walked around the park but we actually had a surprise encounter.  Over near the Mexican Market we ran into Executive Chef Hector Colon.  He oversees the menu development for not just SeaWorld Orlando, but also Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park.  I had recognized him from a behind the scene documentary on SeaWorld.  It was really fantastic to meet him and we appreciated the time he took out of his day to chat with us and take a picture.  We thanked him for all his work on the festival and the food throughout the parks as they really have raised the bar.  I felt that was a great way to top off our day at the park and decided it was time to head out.

As we headed towards the exit we passed by the Shamu Emporium.  It’s still under construction right now, and a whole bunch of penny machines from around the park are now temporary located here.  I took a quick review of each machine in the area and found one that was either new or somehow missed on my previous trips.

The machine was working nicely but I did have an issue pressing one of the designs.  I tried it a couple of times and each time rolled a little short.

The designs look to be some classic SeaWorld images of Shamu the famous Orca whale.  When I was back home I checked my collection and didn’t see these included so I think they may be new designs or at the very least new to me.

The Seven Seas Food Festival was a lot of fun, the live music was great and the food was really fantastic and different.  Unfortunately the festival concluded at the end of April but I will definitely be back next year.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – New WDW Penny Booklet

To start off I’ll say that post doesn’t include any new pressed coins.  Instead this week I was going to go over a recent visit to the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot that ended with a new pressed penny booklet.  I’m still hoping that one of these years Disney decides to put out a special pressed coin design with the Festival logo which I think would be a fantastic collectible.  But for now let’s take a stroll around the World Showcase.

Epcot has become known for all it’s festivals and they seem to have very few days during the year where there isn’t a festival going on.  The biggest is the Food and Wine in the fall, but the Flower and Garden in the Spring has been getting pretty popular.  The festival for 2018 runs from February 28th through May 28th.

Each year there is usually a passholder giveaway, and for this year they are offering some new magnets.  You do have to show up in person with your passholder card and ID to get your magnet and it’s limited to one magnet per pass.  After picking up our magnets my wife and I headed towards the main area of the festival around World Showcase.  The festival included topiary of your favorite Disney characters, a butterfly tent, more flowers than you can imagine, and my favorite the foods booths.

I’m not sure if it’s because I originally was from Canada or not, but for some reason we always seem to head towards the Canadian Pavilion.  The first food stand we tried out was the Northern Bloom.

The line at this location is always long which is usually a good sign the food is good.  Each stand has usually about 3 food items and 3-4 beverages both with and without alcohol.  I’m not a food critic so I’ll leave the reviews to the professionals but did want to share some pictures of what we sampled.

First up were some Seared Scallops with fresh green beans, butter potatoes, brown butter vinaigrette, and applewood smoked bacon.

We also decided to try the Beef Tenderloin Tips with a mushroom bordelaise sauce and whipped potatoes with garden vegetables.

Just before the UK pavilion we found one of our favorite stuffed bear friends with his favorite hunny pot and balloon.

In front of the France Pavilion was a really cool topiary of Beauty and the Beast.  We  continue on to the next food stand that was in-between France and Morocco called Florida Fresh.

We tried one entrée here and we both thought this was probably our favorite from everything we tried this day.

Above is the Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro.  We continued our way around the World Showcase and relayed enjoyed the other topiary and food options.

Over near Japan they had the above pictured item called Frushi.  This was as you can probably guess a fruit sushi filled with strawberries and pineapple with coconut rice.

Woody from Toy Story was located right in from of the Smokehouse in the American Pavilion.  The food here was already really good.

Lady and the Tramp in front of the Italy Pavilion.  This is always one of my favorite animated Disney movies.

Then over by the African Marketplace was Rafiki and Simba in their famous pose from the movie.  By this time we had done a lot of walking, a lot of eating and looked at more flowers than I thought possible.  Even thought we are locals and come to the parks on a regular basis I’m still a sucker for the gift shops and this was no different.  On our way out of the park we stopped in at the Mouse Gears store to see if there was anything new.

We did decide to pick up a few items and as we waited in the queue to check out the above caught my eye.  A new pressed coin booklet.  As you can see the price was $11.99 which is pretty pricey for these but the Disney booklets do hold quite a few more coins than the standard booklets found at museums and zoos.

This booklet was really cute and I liked the design on it.  The front cover has the Magic Kingdom with Mickey and Minnie.

Inside there is Hollywood Studios with Goofy and Pluto, and Epcot with Donald and Figment.

On the back cover was the Animal Kingdom with Daisy duck.  I will admit that I don’t actually use these booklets to store my pressed coins in, but am still a sucker for anything pressed coin related.  I have quite the collection of these types of booklets and picked this one up as well to add to that collection.

The Flower and Garden festival is really fantastic and seemed to set it up a bit this year.   The beautiful colors of the flowers and the fun of walking around and trying different foods is something we have really come to enjoy.  The festival ends soon on May 28th so if you are in the area be sure to go check it out, or at the very least maybe you just need a new booklet for your pressed pennies.

Grand Floridian Resort NEW Pressed Pennies

As luck would have it I go out-of-town for a week and when I get back home there was a bunch of new penny machines released.  I’m not complaining but it did make for a busy few days as I tried to get caught up on what I had missed.

For this first stop I headed over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  If you aren’t staying at this resort or have a dining reservation parking here is usually off-limits.  Depending on who you get at the security booth sometimes they let me park for 10 minutes to run in and use the penny machines.  But don’t bank on this every time as I’ve only been able to do that a couple of times.  In most instances I park over at the Ticket and Transportation Center and take the monorail over.

To access this new machine that was just released you need to head up to the second floor of the main building.  However, as mentioned above if you take the monorail over you will enter the resort already on the correct floor.

Just inside the doors to the monorail station is where the new 8 design machine can be found.

The plain white cabinet of this machine fits right in with the style of this resort.

All of the designs say “Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort” on them which is already nice to have included.  The images included in this set are of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Mickey & Minnie, Pluto, Tinker Bell and Bambi.  This was a nice new set to have released and I’m curious to see if more of these 8 design machines start showing up at other resorts.  They definitely seem to be the machine of choice at Disney lately.

Before we go, some of you eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that this machine is located in the same place a previous 3 design machine was.  Well as part two of this adventure I headed over to the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts which is where that machine had been moved to.

The machine can be accessed from either the Yacht Club or Beach Club resort as it can be found outside the Lafferty Arcade which is pretty much in between both resorts.  This is also just a short walk from the famous Beaches and Cream Soda Shop.  As you can see in the picture above to the far right is Beaches and Cream with the original penny machine found at this resort.  In the middle is the Arcade and on the left side is the penny machine relocated here.

The machine is the same, and the three designs are also unchanged.  For those of you still trying to collect the 2018 dates pressed coin set this is where the 2018 Chip & Dale penny can now be found.

This was an interesting choice of locations for this machine, but it does kind of fit with the design of these moderate resorts.  I’m just happy they didn’t make this disappear for a while as it would be inconvenience to lose out on the 2018 penny.

As I mentioned before there are still some other new machines out there that I’m working on visiting and documenting.  I should have details on those shortly, and will be sure to share with everyone what the new coins looks like and where they can be found.