Lego Movie World – Legoland, FL

Any time I hear about a new “land” opening up at a theme park somewhere nearby I always get excited that there may be new penny machines.  To be honest unfortunately most of the time this is not the case, like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal … no penny machines.  Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom … not at first but there is one there now.  Toy Story land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios … Nope!  But I heard about the new Lego Movie World opening at Legoland in Winter Haven Florida about 45 minutes from Orlando so I figured why not go see if we get lucky.

After we got inside the park and figured out where the new land was we headed over and I was really surprised with what we found.  First off the crowds were not too bad considering this land just opened about a month ago.  But in fact we were really surprised by how themed this area was.  Going to Disney and Universal theming is a big key word for fanatics about how immersive an area of the park is.  To be honest with Legoland since they acquired the park from another company, most of the attractions were just retrofitted with faux Lego pieces and called a Lego ride.  Not too many brand new attractions built from the ground up.

This really did make you feel like you were in a Lego city.  The buildings were all designs like they were made out of Lego.  There were some great easter eggs from the Lego Movie every where you looked.  I actually came home from the park and watched the movie immediately to see if I recognized anything as I felt like I must have missed some things the first time I watched it.

Some of the theming may have gone a bit too far like the above, but my two girls thought this was hilarious.

I did like the crazy cat lady and her cat.  If you click on the picture above to get the larger version you can even see cat hair on her sweater.  Thankfully this is the kind of pet hair that won’t bother your allergies.

There was also plenty of places for photos with the different characters and objects from the movies.

One of the new attractions was this Masters of Flight ride.  I will admit we did not get to experience this as there was a 90 minute wait pretty much the entire day we were visiting but I’m going to make sure I get back there to try it out.  For anyone familiar with Soarin’ at Epcot it’s a similar idea but I’m sure Legoland doesn’t want me to referencing it like that.  Basically you get into a row of seats that spin around to face a giant movie screen and your seat moves around slightly as you watch the movie giving the feeling of movement when you really aren’t going anywhere.

Above is the outside of the main part of the Flight attraction.  Pretty cute!

My daughters favorite by far was Unikitty’s Disco Drop.  This was your standard drop ride.  You sit in a seat, it goes up to the top and then drops you down, takes you back up and drops you again all to some “disco” music.  The kids loved it, and I will admit it was pretty fun.  Not too intense, but if you don’t like that stomach drop feeling I would skip this one.

Inside the Everything is Awesome store was as you would guess plenty of Lego sets, and other toys.  But they definitely were focused on the Lego Movie for most of the items.

They even had some plush dolls of Emmet…

and Wyldstyle which actually looks pretty good.  They were a little stiff but I think that was by design to try and help keep their Lego-like shape.  We spent a good portion of our day in this one area of the park and pretty explored every little corner but unfortunately I had to admit defeat that there was no new penny machine here.

However there was a bit of good news.  My daughter actually found the above new Collectible Coin (penny) album.  At first I almost dismissed it but noticed this was a 3rd edition and did look like a new design.  I checked my online collection and saw that I only had the 2nd edition from a couple of years ago.  Bingo!! A new pressed penny booklet with a pressed penny on the front.  I’ll take it.

Overall this was a fun trip back to Legoland.  My two girls are getting to the age where this is almost too young for this type of park, but we all really enjoyed the new Lego Movie world.  I wish they would have had a new pressed penny machine but I’m okay to come away with the new booklet for now.  We did check out the rest of the park and I noticed that most of the other penny machines were not available.  This seems to be something Legoland does often at this time of year, and I believe is only temporary while they do some maintenance on the machines.  They used a unique machine type that I don’t see too often and seems like may be prone to some mechanical issues.  You can check out my other post about all those machines here.

We have Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening up soon in Disneyland (West coast) and Hollywood Studios (East coast) so I’m crossing my fingers that those will have plenty of new penny machines on the way.  Happy collecting!

Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa – Orlando, Fl

This was a penny machine I had heard about a few months ago but wasn’t sure I would be able to visit.  The Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa is located in Orlando on Turkey Lake Road not too far from the Universal Studios parks.

Westgate resorts are part of a timeshare company.  I’ve been through a timeshare presentation it was not really something I wanted to go through again.  At first I thought maybe I would just pay full price for a room for a staycation with my wife.  But before shelling out that kind of money I thought I would just head over and see if I could visit without actually staying there.

There is a security area that you check in with.  They were very nice and I said I was just looking to check out the resort.  That was no issue and they gave me some detailed instructions on where to park.

The parking garage had no fee to park during the day.  Not sure if this is different if you are staying at the resort, or if you visit at night.  However the garage was pretty full and we ended up parking almost at the very top.  From up there got a nice overview of the resort and it did look really nice.

Down on ground level there was an arcade, a gift shop / souvenir shop / deli that had pretty much anything you could want on your stay.  There was also a sports bar that wasn’t opened yet when we got there but looked like a lot of fun.

I’m not sure how many pools they have in total, but this one seemed to be the largest we could find.  It was behind a locked gate so you do need to be staying at the resort to access the pool.

After we had walked around most of the property we headed into the main reception building.  There was a larger front area to the building that had valet parking available, but we entered in through the back near the above pool.

Inside was a nice large lobby area with lots of things going on.  People were checking-in, or getting help with park tickets.

Along one side of the lobby was a little gift shop, and a cafe with some grab and go food items.  Just outside this cafe was where we found the penny machine.

The machine only had one design available.  It was the standard $0.50 plus your penny.  As soon as you push your change into the machine it automatically comes to live and pressed your coin.

The image on the penny is the Westgate Resorts logo, and the machine pressed it really nicely.

So after this experience I will say a few things.  Timeshare companies have a bad reputation for those high pressure sales meetings.  I did not sit through one at this resort so I don’t know how it would compare to others, but I was worried that I may get dragged into one while here but that wasn’t the case.  Whenever I visit places looking for pressed pennies with all my cameras and other equipment I’m always very up front with what I’m doing.  This resort was very welcoming, many of the guests and staff were friendly and I didn’t have any security escorting me off property for taking my pictures.  Sometimes when there is someone wandering around taking pictures it raises some concern.  In any event this resort was very accommodating with my quick little visit so don’t be afraid to try and stop by yourself sometime.

I was hoping the penny design would be location specific and actually say Orlando on it which would make for a nice collection when visiting other Westgate Resorts. The coin was still a nice addition to the collection and I may actually try staying at the resort in the future.

TEC Recruiter Coins 2018

Just recently I receive a nice surprise in the mail from The Elongated Collectors (TEC) club.  It was a very nice note with certificate and some great special pressed coins for recruiting some new members to the club.

The coins are different each year and can make a fun way to try and help find new members to join.

I was very happy to receive these and know that I was able to help some fellow collectors join TEC.  The members are great and always willing to share their knowledge and stories about their adventures pressing coins.  The newsletter is filled with great articles and you get plenty of unique coins throughout the year.

I’ve said this in the past but if you aren’t a member already be sure to join.  The membership fee is very reasonable but worth every penny.  Then you can start sharing your stories with the rest of the members by writing articles, and try recruiting some new members on your adventures.

There are a lot of pressed penny fans out there and I don’t think many of them know about TEC.  Thank you for everyone that comes back week after week to read about my collection, and be sure to leave a comment or any questions you may have as I always enjoy responding to everyone.  Happy collecting!!

Disney’s Boardwalk NEW Pressed Penny Machine

I’ve mentioned in the past that I used to live in New Jersey and we had our fair share of Boardwalks at all the different beaches by the Atlantic shores.  During visits to Walt Disney World one of the last places we would have thought to visit was the Disney Boardwalk Inn (Resort) since it’s themed around Atlantic City New Jersey.

But now that we have moved out of New Jersey I find myself visiting the Boardwalk more often as I kind of miss it, and the Disney version is much cleaner and safer.

There are a few ways to visit the Boardwalk if you aren’t staying at the actual resort.  Probably the easiest would be if you are over at Epcot you can use the International gateway between France and the UK pavilions, and is about a 10 minute walk.  Or you can take the Friendship boats from Epcot or Hollywood Studios.  When I heard that a new penny machine was available at the Boardwalk I was over at the Swan and Dolphin resort for lunch and just walked over.

The boardwalk during the day is pretty quite, and most of the restaurants aren’t open yet.  But later in the day this place really picks up.  They have carnival type games along the water, a dueling piano bar called Jellyrolls, and buskers performing all along the boardwalk.

On this visit to the boardwalk it was still a little early in the day before the real fun begins, but I had another mission any ways.  Down near where the Friendship boat dock is located you can find the Screen Door General Store.

This is actually a couple of stores all connected inside.  We started in the Screen door General Store that was just that  and is where you can find bottles of soda, snacks and other miscellaneous food items.  The next store has some t-shirts and your more common Disney souvenirs.

This is was the area that the penny machine was found just inside the middle set of doors.

This store is called the Character Carnival gift shop.

The machine has 8 designs and cost $1 for 1 design, or $5 for all 8.  Pretty standard right now for these new style machines.

The designs on these pennies are off Classic Mickey and his friends including Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale.  I was hoping they would have the Boardwalk logo on then, but that was not the case and just have the Disney logo.

After collecting this new set I was headed back to the Swan and Dolphin for a bit but was definitely happy I had the chance to visit the boardwalk for a bit.  If you haven’t visited here be sure to check it out.  There are some nice places to eat and plenty of entertainment for a relaxing day on vacation.

Curtain Call Collectibles – Magic Kingdom

I got a little behind on posting about this machine that came out a few weeks ago.  So many new machines have been released it getting harder to keep up.  But I shouldn’t be complaining about all these new penny machines as it really is fun to find them and share information on each new set.  On this trip we were headed back into the Magic Kingdom, however before that I needed to make a quit stop over at the Polynesian Village Resort.  A family member had asked me to check on a souvenir they had seen at that resort and regretted not picking it up during their visit so I was stopping by to help out.  With that little task over I headed out back of the resort which is always really beautiful with the lake as a backdrop.

I decided to take the boat over to the Magic Kingdom just to try something new.

The boats are too big but it did make for a nice little trip over to the park.  Once inside the Magic Kingdom we didn’t have too far to go.  The new penny machine was located right on Main Street, but first my daughter wanted to visit with her favorite fairy Tinker Bell.

Just past the main street train station is the Town Square Theater.  This is where you can meet the big guy himself Mickey Mouse, but also Tinker Bell.

This is always a really great meet and greet that my daughter absolutely loves.  Tinker bell always get down on the ground and has a great time with the little ones.  We took a bunch of pictures and then headed towards the exit which as you know always takes you into a gift shop.

This store is called Curtain Call Collectibles, but for those of you that may want to visit this store without seeing Tinker bell you can come in directly from Main Street.

To be honest I don’t think I even realized this was here at first and have walked past it a many times without going inside.

There is a bit of a walk back to the store, but you can see some very pretty gardens along either side.  This area can get busy during parade times.

Once inside you can see it’s a long narrow store that has all the usual items like pins, plush characters, t-shirts, and so much more.  About halfway through the store (regardless of which direction you go) the penny machine is up against the wall opposite the check out area.

The machine was a nice dark blue cabinet that blended in well with the surrounding area.  When I first got there it had been slid out and the back was opened undergoing a bit of maintenance.  Thankfully it was nothing major and the machine was back in working order after about 10 minutes.

This set was primarily themed around Peter Pan with designs of Tinker Bell, Wendy, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tick Tock Croc.  But also included designs of Mickey, Minnie and Pluto to round out the eight designs.

Another great set of pennies for a movie that hasn’t had a big representation in the pressed pennies across property.  We still had a big day ahead of us at the park, but made sure to visit Peter Pan’s Flight to finish off our visit.

Just takes a little pixie dust to make for a magical day.

Pandora World of Avatar NEW Penny Machine – Animal Kingdom

Back in 2009 a little movie you may have heard of called Avatar was released and became the highest grossing movie of all time with over $2.7 billion at the Box office.  The movie takes place in the mid-22nd century on a habitable moon called Pandora in a far away star system.  The moon was inhabited by a local tribe called the Na’vi that were tall blue creatures.  The moon also had a diverse collection of other creatures both tame and hostile.

With such a popular and highly profitable movie it seemed only a matter of time before more movies would come out.  However before those new movies come out (we are still waiting) Disney announced they were going to develop part of the Animal Kingdom park into Pandora.

Construction began in early 2014 and was going to be a huge expansion.  Then on May 27, 2017 the new land officially opened to the public with two marquee attractions that to this day still have up wards of 2-3 hour wait times to ride.

I was not there on opening day, but did get to first experience Pandora about a month after it opened and was just completely blown away.  As you walk over the bridge into Pandora the sounds of the Animal Kingdom slowly fade and new ambient sounds are heard instead.   I remember just wondering around for a couple of hours taking in all the details of Pandora.

I had a fastpass to ride the slow-moving water attraction called Na’vi River Journey, and eventually was able to experience the highly coveted Flight of Passage which is really amazing and I would do it no justice trying to explain what it is like.  But one thing that caught me a bit by surprise was that there was no pressed penny machine to be found anywhere.  I guess maybe the Na’vi don’t use money so that could be keeping with the theming, but was something many collectors hoped would show up at some point.  Well that day finally showed up almost 2 years after Pandora opened.

I was at work when I heard the news about this new machine.  I did the responsible thing and waited until the work day was over before taking my two daughters with me to Animal Kingdom on the hunt for the new pennies.

The floating mountains are always a sight to see and things keep changing in the land.  Plus the crowds are still as busy as ever.  They even have a cast member in a utility suit (for the science team) come out and walk around giving some history and detail on the world we are visiting.  It’s all done in character but still a lot of fun and helps keep you immersed in this amazing place.

There is only one gift shop in Pandora that is called Windtraders.  If you experience the Flight of Passage ride you actually exit through this gift shop.  But you do not need to go on the ride to check it out.  Inside there is a rookery where you can be matched with your very own Banshee, or be scanned into a computer and have a 3-D Na’vi toy created of yourself.  Plus of course lots of t-shirts, magic bands, and toys.

Then all the way in the back corner that blends in almost too well is the penny press machine.

This is another of those 8-design touch screen machines that supplies the penny sized tokens to press.  There was a line of about 5-6 people in front of me when we found it so this will probably be another very popular set of coins.

The set includes various designs from the two attractions in Pandora and the land itself including the Shaman, Viperwolf and even the Utility suit plus some other things I’m not 100% sure what they are but they look cool which is important.  Each of the coins also say Pandora the World of Avatar.

I’m so glad to see they finally released as set of coins for this area of the park.  Not sure exactly why it took so long, but I’m sure there is all sorts of licensing legalities that need to be ironed out before they can release them.  Hopefully with the new Star Wars Land….sorry Galaxy’s Edge, that we will get some new machines and maybe you will even need a droid to start it up.  We’ve waited long enough for the Star Wars area to open, hopefully they don’t make us wait until 2 years after that for some new pressed pennies.

Showcase of Citrus – Clermont, FL

Just a short drive away from Walt Disney World property is a town called Clermont.  One of the main highways through Clermont is 27 and is where countless new housing developments have been popping up.  I know this as my family lives near here and we spend a lot of time driving up and down Highway 27.  However one place that we have driven past a hundred times is called Showcase of Citrus.

From a distance this place just looks like a large fruit stand along the highway selling Florida fresh Oranges and other citrus.  But after a friend had visited and raved about a Monster Truck tour through the Citrus grove it was something we had to check out.

We made the drive down from Clermont along 27 until we arrive at the location and were greeted with a Great White Shark hanging from its tail in the parking lot.  Just to set the record straight I’m sure you can guess that this is not real, but does catch you eye as you drive by which I guess is the point.

Inside the main building we were greeted by an alligator with a bag of oranges.  This place we definitely interesting, but filled with lots of fun things including local honey, hot sauces and of course fresh citrus.  Plus I even saw a sign for gator meat if that is something you are looking for.

However first we were here for the main even which was the 4×4 Monster truck tour.

This thing was huge and they actually have three of them so I’m guessing business has been good.  Thankfully we didn’t need to climb up that ladder leaning against the side of the truck.  Instead there are some ramps at the back that make getting up into the truck much easier.

Our tour guide was fantastic and had a lot of knowledge about the citrus grove.  They actually grow over 40 varieties of citrus in these fiends.  Only a small portion are sold in the roadside store, and the majority is sent to a processing plant near Miami for companies like Tropicana.  The ride on the truck can get a little bumpy but wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

There are some swampy areas that the tour goes through and if you are lucky there can be some local wildlife around.  On our trip we saw the above gator, and a few turtles but not much else.

One interesting part of the tour was that we headed into a cow pasture that was just filled with lots and lots of cows.  They immediately recognized the truck we were in and came running over.  The reason is that the cows are obsessed with oranges.  The tour guide had a large basked of oranges and he handed them out so that we could toss them over the side of the truck for the cows to eat.  Who would have thought cows liked citrus?

The tour was about 45 minutes or so and was a lot of fun.  Our daughters had a great time on the truck but really liked feeding the cows.  When the tour was over we headed back to the main building.  In the back was a large play area for the kids and a petting zoo with a few animals like a Donkey, and Pig.

We also tried some of their fresh citrus slush that was nice and tart but very refreshing on this sunny Florida afternoon.

Before we left for the day we had to check out the store in a little more detail.  There were lots of old product signs in the rafters, and lots of classic Florida gifts like “grown your own orange tree” or a lucky alligator foot for your key chain.

There was also a wall filled with all sorts of hot sauces, and fresh local honey.  They did offer some samples to try before buying, but be careful some of those sauces were extremely hot.

They also had a wine tasting bar that had a lot of Florida wines for sale.  You could get a free sample of any of the wines and some where very interesting.  We tried a Key Lime wine and a Guava wine which were actually pretty good.

The above Swamp Juice wine was not my favorite but would make for a fun bottle to bring out with dinner for your out-of-state friends.  With a few bottles of wine ready to take home just as we were checking out I noticed something around a nearby corner.

Pappy’s pressed coin machine.  These machines are not very common a least in my travels so far, but I have come across a few and they are definitely unique.  Pappy will talk a bit to try and entice you over to use the machine, and he also talks while he pressed your coins.  If you look closely you can see his hand is on a handle that turns as the penny is pressed.

Each design was $1 and the machine supplied the penny so there was no guarantee of the type of penny that you would get.

The designs on each penny were all about the Showcase of Citrus which is nice.  Sometimes in these type of roadside attractions the penny machines have generic designs like “My lucky penny”.  But these were nice unique designs with the Monster Truck, and the Showcase of Citrus logo.  One rolled a bit short, but the others came out pretty nicely.  You can see in the above image the difference in pennies since I couldn’t supply my own.

With our wine, bag of oranges and some new pressed pennies we were ready to head home.  This was definitely a lot of fun and I’m glad we tried it out.  As I mentioned at the beginning we had driving past it a lot and never stopped in which should teach us a lesson as you never know what you may find.

NEW Pennies Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard – Hollywood Studios

Only someone with sharp eagle eyes was able to find these new pennies.  Over in Hollywood Studios outside the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is a large courtyard with some snack stands, a pin cart, face painting and two penny machines.

These two machines have been here for quite a while and their designs haven’t changed.

But just recently someone noticed that on one of these machines had two of its designs changed.

One was a completely swamped out, but the second only had slight changes to the design.

The first design is of Pluto blowing a horn.  This has replaced an old design of Goofy singing.  The second design is of the Flaming Guitars with the Roller Coaster logo.  At a quick glance  this design looks to be the same as it was before, but upon closer review the guitar and flames are a slightly different size.

Not a big change, but I’m happy to see some new designs in the four hand crank machines as those don’t change too often.  Now it will make our jobs a little harder knowing that these machines may start having designs replaced throughout the parks as well.  I’ll keep you posted if we find any others.

Mickey’s 90th Celebration Pressed Pennies

Back on November 18, 1928 Mickey Mouse made his debut and things have never been the same.  Walt Disney has a famous quote “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing…that it was all started with a mouse.”  If only Walt could see what has become of his little friend now I’m sure it would have exceeded even his expectations.

Now here we are celebrating his 90th birthday, and Disney has extended this celebration to all aspect of the park.  There are special merchandise, cupcakes, and even some special costumes for the characters.  But the most exciting release (at least for me) was that they had released five special Pressed Pennies.

I just happened to come across the first penny as I was visiting Disney Springs.  My daughters have become obsessed with Pin Trading so I usually visit the Pin Trader store to see if there are any new pins they may like.  This is also a place that currently has 5 penny machines.  As I walked by one of the machines I noticed a new design.

 

I immediately pressed a few copies of the penny, took my pictures of the machine and posted them online for the collecting community.  Then we found out that there were other sightings of similar new designs popping up all over property.  So we now had a new plan for the day.

We then drove over to Epcot and into the Mouse Gear store which is where another collector mentioned they had seen one of the new designs.

 

Sure enough the new design was added to the machine that has the dated 2019 penny from earlier this year.  This was another nice design with Mickey inside the Zero of the 90 for his celebration.

The next stop was just a quick Monorail ride over to the Magic Kingdom.  Rumors were there had been two new designs released here.  First was just after the main entrance to the park at the Newsstand.

 

This is probably my favorite design of the new set.  I always liked Steamboat Willie Mickey and we don’t get many pressed designs with him on it.  After using this machine we headed down Main Street and over towards Adventureland.

Just past the Skipper Canteen restaurant there is a store called the Island Supply.  Just before that is a place known as the Verandah Breezeway but this is basically where the restrooms are located in this section of the park.

 

Inside this area is always packed with people but along one of the walls is where the penny machine can be found.  The penny here had a new 2019 design with Mickey in the Zero.

The fifth and last penny was found the next over at Hollywood Studios.  Unfortunately the studios closes early  so it took a few days before I was able to get over there and visit the machine.

 

Back near the Disney Junior and Star Wars Launch Bay area of the park is a little place called The Studio Store.  This penny has both Mickey and Minnie looking like they are ready to Celebrate.

We have all kept our eyes open for any additional designs, but so far it’s only been these five.  They make for a nice set, and as always was fun to hunt around property looking for them.  As with the other 2019 coins these were located in some unusual machine locations, but that was all part of the adventure.

These pennies will definitely not be around too long so make sure you try and get a set before too long.  Over the next couple years there are lots of special anniversaries at the Florida parks so hopefully this is something they continue releasing to help Celebrate the magic of Disney.

Replaced Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Penny Designs

In 2018 Disney’s Animal Kingdom was celebrating its 20th anniversary and had released some special pressed penny designs.  Well now that it is 2019 the anniversary has come and gone which means those 20th anniversary designs are also no longer available.

At the Outpost Shop located at the entrance to the Animal Kingdom before even the security checkpoints is where the first machine was found.

The machine cabinet has remained the same, only the penny designs inside and the marquee have been changed.

I should rephrase that a bit.  The penny designs are actually still the same but now without the 20th anniversary banner on each.  Now the designs just say Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Disney Conservation Fund.

The pennies have images of Russell, Doug and Kevin from the movie Up!

The second set of pennies that have changed was relocated at the Mombasa Marketplace.

This store has lots of unique African inspired artwork and even some instruments that my two daughters always enjoy creating music with.

Just like the other set, these designs are the same main image as before but the 20th anniversary banner has been removed.

This set is from The Lion King and includes images of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa.

As you can see these are not major changes, and the casual pressed penny collector probably wouldn’t notice.  But for some any one interested in trying to acquire all Disney pennies the 20th anniversary set may be a little hard to find now.  Hopefully you were able to pick up a set before they were retired.