The Dino Institute NEW Pressed Pennies – Animal Kingdom

One area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that seems to get overlooked a lot is Dinoland USA.  Most of this area is set up like a carnival with cheap carnival games, face painting, and a Dumbo style knockoff ride with flying Dino’s.

A few years ago there were rumors that this area was going to be changed to an Indiana Jones theme but nothing seems to have come of that.

But recently we did finally get something new in the form of a pressed penny machine.

Situated in the back corner of Dinoland is the Dinosaur attraction.  This is probably the only real reason to come to this area of the park.  However, if you don’t have a Fastpass for this ride you may be waiting in line for quite a while.

This ride is based on the computer-animated Disney movie Dinosaur released in 2000. You are loaded onto a jeep-like vehicle and taken back in time to try and locate a dinosaur.  But you don’t have much time due to a meteor about to hit earth to kickstart the dino extinction.  Thankfully you do manage to make it back and as you exit the ride you are placed inside The Dino Institute gift shop.

Inside is pretty typical with all the standard gift shop items.

The shop is not very wide but pretty long.  Situated about halfway through the store along one of the walls is where I found the penny machine.

As you can see from the nearby wall this place can use a little TLC.  It looks like a new coat of paint would do wonders.

The machine is an 8-design touch screen model.  The cost (for now) is still $1 per penny or $5 for all 8 pennies.  The machine is also pre-loaded with zinc pennies and you cannot use your own coins.

Above is a close up of the internal gears and penny dies.  They also have samples of the entire set on display.

The set at this machine is really cute with some fun designs from the Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur.  I understand the underlying theme here is dinosaurs, but it does seem a little strange to mix movies in this location.  One movie for the ride and a different one in the gift shop.  But I’ll try not to overthink this one as I really do like the designs on these pennies.  I guess since they are sticking with the Dino theme this land is going to stick around for a while.  Hopefully, we can get some updated attractions sometime in the near future or at the very least a new coat of paint in the gift shop!

Celebrating The Lion King Pressed Pennies – Animal Kingdom Mombasa Marketplace

With only a couple weeks left before the new live-action version of The Lion King is released in movie theaters, it appears Disney is starting to Celebrate.  I recently took a trip over to the Animal Kingdom park to see what was going on.

Before I even got near the Tree of Life I noticed banners and signage all over the place about Celebrating the Lion King.

They even had quite a detailed photo op with Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa.  There were some special food items like cupcakes and slush drinks themed around the Lion King but I was on the hunt for pennies.

Back and to the left of the Tree of Life is the African area of the park with lots of great live music, or shows always going on throughout the day.

In that area is an interesting store called Mombasa Marketplace.  On previous trips into this store, I’ve seen African musical instruments for sale or some really fantastic artwork.  But for now, it seems to have been taken over by the Lion King.

There were plush animals, t-shirts, and artwork.

This extended pretty much through the entire store.

There were a few of the musical instruments still around but far less than they usually have in stock.  There were quite a few Hakuna Matata t-shirts available as well.

I will admit I almost had to give in and ask a Cast member where the penny machine was located as I just couldn’t find it.  But eventually, I did spot it all the way in the back corner.

The machine was an 8-design pre-loaded penny machine with a touch screen.  The now standard payment options of cash, credit card or Apple Pay are available.

There cost of these machines has not changed (yet…fingers crossed) and is still $1 each or $5 for the entire set of 8 pennies.

The set includes images from both the original Lion King animated movie and a few from the newer Lion Guard tv series.

This is another great set of pennies and I’m glad to see Disney releasing some new designs from their older movies and even a tv series which is very unusual.  I’m getting used to these new machines and even though I would prefer to have the option to use my own pennies I think we can assume by now that is not going to happen.  Disneyland out on the West Coast is in a bit of a dry spell with new penny machines, so I’m not going to complain too much as we have definitely been getting a lot of new and fun designs at the Walt Disney World parks even if they do press on zinc pennies.

Walt Disney World Theme Parks “Coin Set”

One evening I was over at Disney’s Magic Kingdom with nothing in particular on the agenda.  I always feel very fortunate to be able to visit the parks as often as I do, and sometimes go just to walk through the parks and take in the magic.  Whenever possible I offer to help families take pictures, or help guide someone that looks a bit lost.

Of course, as I wander around the parks I’m also keeping an eye our on the pressed penny machines.  Trying to keep up to date on if new machines have shown up, or existing machines have been changed or removed.  I walked over to Storybook Circus to check on the penny machine in the Big Top Souvenir shop (which FYI was removed and we think being changed into a $1 per penny machine click here to read more).

While I was inside I took a look at some of the new items and on this spinning rack fixture something caught my eye.

This was a package of what they titled a “Coin Set”.

It also had the official “Authentic Original Disney Parks” seal of approval.

The cost for the coins was $12.99, so that’s $3.25 per coin not including tax.  I also received a passholder discount which helped reduce the cost a bit.

Once I got home I took them out of the package to get a better look.  Each coin is a different color.  I don’t think they are actually made out of different metals, but rather just a different coating.  Each coin represents the different theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom.  The coins also include the year that each of the parks was originally opened.

On the back of each coin is the corresponding park name and logo.

These coins are pretty hefty and do have some weight to them.  I tried to take a bit of a profile picture above so you could see how thick they are.  They are pretty cool and I just couldn’t resist picking up a set for my collection.  I doubt this would be an ongoing series with new coins being released periodically but with Disney, you just never know.  So far the Big Top Souvenir store is the only place I’ve seen this coin set available, but I’m sure they can be found in other stores on property you just have to keep your eyes open for them.

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.

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.

2019 Dated Walt Disney World Pressed Coins Set

Here we are in 2019 and as we all knew was going to happen, the new dated pressed coins have made their appearance all over Walt Disney World property.  But first let me go over how I first found out the new designs were being released.  My daughter and I were over at Epcot just enjoying a day at the park and we decided to head over to The Land pavilion where Soarin’ is, however my daughter prefers the Living with the Land boat ride through the greenhouse.  As we walked inside and back towards the Garden Grill restaurant I noticed the penny/quarter double machine was pulled out from the wall and being worked on.

My daughter was anxious to ride the boat attraction but I asked her to hold tight for a bit.  I knew the 2019 designs were going to be released at any moment, but was amazed that I may have walked upon this actually happening first hand.  Once the machine was put back together and moved against the wall I leaned in and sure enough saw the new quarter design.  The woman who was changing out the design was very nice and spoke with me for a bit about the machines she had already changed out.  She mentioned that more would be out over the next few days.

And so it had begun and I made it my project over the next week to visit all the machines and document the new designs.

   

That first design at The Land near the Garden Grill was in the same location as last year.  The design has Chip and Dale on it and as I mentioned above is on a pressed quarter.

   

I didn’t forget to take my daughter on the Living with the land ride so we did enjoy that, but I was antsy the entire time just thinking about all the new designs around property that I couldn’t wait to find.  With the ride over we quickly headed to the other side of Future World and into the Mouse Gear Shop where we found the first new pressed penny with Spaceship Earth on it.

Something I’m not sure I ever noticed in previous years is that near all these new pressed coin machines was a large selection of 2019 merchandise like photo albums, cups, mugs, t-shirts and more.  I usually stay away from the dated t-shirts, but the one pictures above is calling my name.  I really like the colors this year and may just have to pick one up.

   

We then headed into the World Showcase to the Disney Traders gift shop and found the next penny machine.  The image is of the year 2019 and Mickey is jumping out of the Zero.  (Note: there was a new penny machine over at the Mexico pavilion we found but I’ll review that in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned!)

Those were all the 2019 coins available at Epcot.  Using the intel I had received from the penny machine attendant earlier we headed back to our car and drove over to Hollywood Studios.

   

Once in the park we headed right now Sunset Boulevard towards the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and went in to the Rock Around the Shop to find the above machine.  The penny design was of the Fantasmic Dragon.

   

Just across the courtyard underneath the Hollywood Tower Hotel is the Tower Hotel Gift shop.  Towards the back of the store where the Tower of Terror exits is where the next machine was found.  This was a nice design with the Hollywood Tower Hotel pressed on a quarter.  Unfortunately that was all we had time for on Saturday and had to head home which worked out well anyways as I was running low on spare coins I always bring “just in case”.  Sunday we got up early and headed to our first stop.

   

The All-Star Sports resort has a whole wall of pressed coin machines just outside the Game Point Arcade.  The first machine had the new 2019 design of Goofy pressed on a quarter.

   

Just a short drive away we headed into the All-Star Music resort for the next pressed quarter with Minnie Mouse.  This machine can be found just outside the Note’Able Arcade.

   

The third resort is the All-Star Movies and the machines are all in the World Premier Food Court.  This resort had another pressed quarter design, but this time with Donald and a box of popcorn.  I will admit that I screwed up at this resort.  I just pressed the quarter design and left for our next stop.  After I got home I found out online that there was also a new 2019 penny design here.  So I had to go back the next night after work to get it.

   

Here is that pressed penny of Plus that I completely overlooked.  This should have planted a seed in my mind that maybe this year some of the locations would change (some in fact did) but I wouldn’t realize that until a few days later.

   

Next we drive over to the Animal Kingdom park (it’s not a zoo) and found the new penny in the same spot as last year at Chester and Hester’s Dino Treasures store.  The design is of the Tree of Life.

   

We then walked almost to the far opposite side of the park into Africa near the Harambe Railroad Station.  Currently the train is not operational as they are renovating Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and the pathway back to the train station is now where you can find a handful of Wilderness Explorer tables to earn badges (a free activity you can do in the park).  The cast will question why you are heading back to the train station that isn’t working, but just let them know you are using the penny press machines and they will let you by without any issue.  Thankfully the machine is now outside the station so it can be easily used.  The design is of Pluto on a pressed quarter.

   

A few days passed before I heard about the next machine which was at a new location, the Art of Animation Resort.  This resort has a pretty good food court so I headed over after work for some dinner and to check out the machine.  It’s located right as you walk into the Landscape of Flavor food court.  This is also a bit of a unique dated design.  Not only does it have the year 2019 with Daisy Duck but it also has the Art of Animation resort logo on it.  Guess this one won’t be relocated any time this year.

   

The next pressed penny was also at a  new location this year the Polynesian Village Resort.  On the second floor of the Grand Ceremonial House just outside the Moana Mercantile store.  The penny has an image of Minnie Mouse.

   

As you can probably guess the last three designs were in the Magic Kingdom.  First was in the Main Street Emporium the same place as last year.  The image on this penny is of Chip and Dale.

   

The second machine is about halfway through the Main Street emporium which is another new location for a 2019 design.  This is a pressed  quarter machine and the image is of Mickey in the Zero of 2019 just like the penny design in Epcot at Disney Traders.

   

This last penny machine was found in Fantasyland behind Cinderella’s Castle at the Sir Mickey’s gift shop (same as last year).  However this machine proved to be quite a pain for me to acquire.  The first time I visited it was jammed, so I went back a couple of days later and it was out-of-order again.  I waited a few more days and finally on my third visit I was relieved to find it quite operational.  The pressed penny has Mickey Mouse strutting his stuff over the year 2019.

So that makes for a total of 7 pressed quarter designs.

and 9 pressed penny designs.  For you math wizards out there that is a total of 16 press coins for 2019 which is one more than last year.  I’m not going to lie, I was actually hoping they may release 19 designs for 2019 but I’m happy with what we did get.  Plus with a few of the designs at different locations this made finding them a bit more challenging that I actually enjoyed.

Here is a picture of all 16 of the pressed coins for 2019.  There are a few designs that are the same on a penny and quarter, but I think it’s still a really nice set for this year.  At the time of this posting all the 2018 designs have been removed and retired so if you were missing any you will most likely have to check out eBay.  I say this every year with these dated sets, but make sure you get them before they are gone.

We have almost a full year but you never know what could happen.  Plus 2019 is going to bring us Star Wars Land (Galaxy’s Edge) and I’m hoping maybe I can use the force or a light saber to press some new coins but we will find out later this year when that new land opens.  Last year was a record number of new pressed coins released in WDW and I’m hoping 2019 will be even bigger.  Stick around and I’ll be sure to share news of all new pressed penny machines through the year and of course we will go on some other adventures along the way.

Riverside Depot – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Just this past weekend we have news of a new penny machine.  I was surprised by this as I figured Disney was preparing to release the new 2019 dates sets which usually happens around this time of yer.  But instead we were given an early Christmas gift with a new machine.

The machine was released over at the Animal Kingdom park.  There are some holiday decorations up but the other parks are definitely more decked out.

The huge tree is just past the security check at the front of the park, but before the ticket windows.  There are quite a few photo pass photographers around the tree offering to take your picture.

If only they had a way to get some lights up in the Tree of Life that would be really cool.  They do have a projection show on the trunk of the tree at night, but from what I remember it’s not holiday themed this time of year.

When you enter the park and cross over the bridge to see the big Tree of Life in front of you, there is a store on your right hand side called the Riverside Depot.  This is connected to the Discovery Trading Co. store which already has three penny machines.

Discovery Trading Co is more t-shirts, sweaters and other apparel you can wear.  The Riverside Depot however is where you can get some plush characters, holiday ornaments, candy, pins for pin trading, and a wide selection of items.

Towards the back of the store is the new and only penny machine in the Riverside Depot.  As you can see from the above picture it a 8-design multi machine.

This is the first machine of this style located in the Animal Kingdom, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

A nice feature of this machine is that a portion of the purchase amount goes towards the Disney Conservation Fund.

This set has some of your favorite Disney animal characters from  various movies.  The designs include Abu from Aladdin, Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Squirt from Finding Nemo/Dory, Terk from Tarzan, Rhino Guard from Robin Hood, Hathi Jr from The Jungle Book, Bruce from Finding Nemo, and Heimlich from A Bug’s Life.

Another great set of designs.  I especially like the Rhino Guard from Robin Hood.  That is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies as it’s one of the few videos we had on tape that my sister and I would watch endlessly.  If only they would release some of the other characters like Robin, Little John, Maid Marian, the Sheriff.  Oh I could go on, that would be a great set but maybe someday my wish will come true.  Stay tuned for next week as I have something a little unique setup for Christmas.  For anyone traveling this coming week please stay safe.

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary – WDW Florida

Update at the bottom (4/18/18)
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In just over a week it will be April 22, 2018 also known as Earth Day and my birthday.  However around here in Florida this is also known as the day Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates it birthday.  Back on April 22, 1998 the park first opened and as the cast members say “It’s not a zoo it a jungle out there.”

Now for anyone that can do some simple math next Sunday will mark the 20th anniversary of Animal Kingdom.  As Disney is known to do they are celebrating this big achievement in style.

A lot of the gift shops have all sorts of 20th anniversary merchandise including pins, t-shirts, mugs, magic bands and lots more.

Plus a nice special treat for us pressed penny collectors, six new special penny designs.  Now these are spread out in three different machines in the park.  The first one is located back in Rafiki’s Planet Watch at the Conservation Station.

To get here you need to take the Harambe Railroad on a short trip, and then a long walk back to the conservation station.  Please note that this place is not open the same hours as the park.  On my recent trip I was just able to get on the last train which left the station at 4:30pm and it was closing at 5pm.  Make sure you check the hours before trying to collect these coins as it may not be open if you are visiting later in the day.

Inside the conservation station you can meet Doc McStuffins, and sometimes Rafiki himself.  Towards the back of the building in the corner is where the penny machine is located.

This machine has been here for a year or so with other designs which have now been replaced.  In this machine all three of the designs have been changed and are of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King.  All designs say “Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary.”

After taking the train back to Harambe Station in Africa you can head towards the icon of the park The Tree of Life.

Sorry I really like this tree and the details of it when you get up close are really amazing.  If you stay late enough once it gets dark there is also a new projection show on the tree where the animals all come to life.  The next set of pennies is actually located outside the park at The Outpost Shop.

This shop is right near the tram loading area just before the security check at the entrance to the park.

As with the other stores inside the park you can also get some 20th Anniversary merchandise.

This store has two penny machines inside.  The first machine has three images but only two of them have been changed.

For you Up! fans out there you can get new designs of Doug and Russell both with “Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary” included in the image.

On the other side of the store is the second machine, but this has only one design that was changed.

Keeping with the Up! designs this machine has a new image of Kevin also with the “20th Anniversary” as part of the design.  Kind of a strange way to disperse six new designs over three machines but who am I to complain.  I love these special sets and hope they do more.  I was at Epcot’s 35th anniversary last year and was sad to see now special coins were available.  Hopefully if this is a success they will continue to offer more like these.  When I pressed these coins earlier today they were definitely popular and lots of people were waiting in line to press their own.

Here is a shot of the complete set of six designs that are currently available.  I’m not sure if these will be permanent or only available for a limited time.  If you get a chance to press these make sure you do just in case they don’t stick around and it’s a really great set of pennies.
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Updated 04/18/2018:
I’m not sure if this was an unintentional mistake but the set of pressed pennies listed above from the Pixar movie Up! were just recently combined into one machine.  Initially as I had listed above two of the designs were in one machine and the third was in a separate machine both located in The Outpost Shop.

As you can see from the marquee picture below the designs have not changed they were just combined into one machine.

This does seem to make a little more than having the set split up among two machines, but both machines were in the same store so you didn’t really have far to go to find them initially.  In any case for now if you are interested in this 20th Anniversary set you just have to find the one machine.

2018 Dated Walt Disney World Pressed Coins Set (Completed)

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on all these coins
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They’re here!!  It’s that time of year again and the 2018 dated pressed coins have started showing up all over property.  I spent the good part of my weekend driving to all the parks and resorts in an attempt to get all these new coins.  But unfortunately not all of them have been made available.  Just like the last few years there will be a total of 15 designs.  I was able to get 11 of them, and will be updating this post as I acquire the last 4.  I’m sure these final few designs will be made available in the next couple weeks at the latest.  So let’s get started.

My trip started early Saturday morning at the Animal Kingdom.  To my surprise the large crowds were there to visit Pandora and not get these brand new coins.  But I guess that works out better for us collectors.

   

Located in Dinoland USA in a store called Chester & Hester’s Dino Treasures.  The penny at this machine has 2018 with the new slogan “The Year to be Here” and a small Tree of Life.

   

The second machine in the Animal Kingdom is at the Harambe Railroad Station platform.  This train will take you to Rafiki’s Planet Watch but is not required to use the machine.  This machine pressed a quarter of Pluto and the year 2018.

After leaving Animal Kingdom my next stop was over at the All-Star Sports resort.  Located just outside the Game Point Arcade is where the machine is found.

   

This machine had 2018 Donald Duck pressed on a quarter.  Thankfully the next machine wasn’t too far away and just down the street in the All-Star Music resort.

   

Spending more time just outside the Note’able Games arcade to use the machine and press a quarter with 2018 Minnie Mouse.  I grabbed a quick snack in the food court and hopped back in my car for the next stop.

I was making pretty good time heading all over Disney property and found myself at Epcot for the next three machines.  First was in the Mouse Gear gift shop.

   

This penny design is similar to the one I collected earlier at the Animal Kingdom except it has Spaceship earth and 2018 The Year to be Here.  Somehow I managed to leave this store without buying anything which almost never happens, but my wallet definitely thanked me.  After leaving the store I headed towards the World Showcase and into the Disney Traders store.

   

Every time I use this machine I think it should do more than just press pennies as it looks pretty fancy.  But alas is just pressed pennies which is still fine with me.  The design from this machine is on a penny and is the main mouse himself Mickey leaning on the 2018.  With the penny safely stored away I checked my Disney Parks app and was able to grab a fastness for Soarin’ which is one of my favorite rides.

Over at the Land pavilion I headed in to use my fastness, but once done I headed upstairs towards the Garden Grill which is a revolving restaurant where you can meet Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale.  Right beside the restaurant is also where I found the next machine.

   

Just like in the restaurant this pressed quarter has the dynamic duo of Chip and Dale underneath a Mickey ears hat and 2018.  For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to leave my car in the Epcot parking lot and take the monorail over to the next two stops.  Once back at the Ticketing and Transportation center I switched monorail and decided to check out the Contemporary Resort first.

For anyone that has taken the monorail over to the Contemporary you exit onto a planform and then need to take an escalator down to the fourth floor concourse.  This is where you can find Chef Mickey’s or the Contempo Cafe for something to each.  But this is also where the Game Station arcade.

   

The first machine here had a design of Goofy with 2018 The Year to be Here.

   

A few steps to the left and I was face to face with the second machine offering a 2018 design.  This machine had an image of Minnie Mouse and The Year to Be Here pressed on a quarter.  I left the arcade and headed back up to the monorail platform so I could head into the Magic Kingdom.

   

Immediately upon entering the kingdom I headed underneath the Main Street Railroad station.  There are two machines down here but only the quarter machine had a new 2018 Cinderella’s Castle design.  A little further up main street I headed into the Emporium for the last available 2018 design.

   

This one is probably my favorite this year.  It has 2018 with the soon to be famous tag line for this year (I promise not to type it down again).  But the big winner on this penny is the image of Walt and Mickey holding hands.  This is based on the famous Partners statue that is a reminder to all how this all started.

Update 01/09/17:
I made it over for a quick follow-up visit to Disney’s flagship Grand Floridian Resort & spa.  About a week ago I visited here and the design hadn’t been updated, but on this visit the change had finally been made.  It’s on the second floor concourse right near the doors that led out to the monorail platform.  This design is of Chip & Dale under a Mickey Ears hat and the year 2018.

   

Update 01/10/17:
After work I took a quick drive over to Hollywood Studios to try to get the penny that was released in the Rock Around the Shop.  This is the gift store at the exit to Rockin’ Roller Coaster.  However, if you are a chicken like me and don’t want to ride the coaster, you can just walk in the “Exit” and up the ramp into the store.  The design is of Mickey’s face with 2018 and the new slogan.

   

Update 01/13/17:
Since we are just out of the holiday season I don’t want to say this is a slow time at the parks but it is a little less crowded.  Due to this the parks all have much shorter operating hours during the week so it was hard to get into the Magic Kingdom after work.  However I was finally able to get over there today and get the pressed penny at Sir Mickey’s

Updated 01/24/2017:
The last pressed quarter finally showed up today but it wasn’t where we were anticipating it to be.  It was rumored that this coin would be available in the same location as last year which is the Stage 1 Company (Muppets) gift shop in Hollywood Studios.  But due to this location being partially under construction and the machine mysteriously behind a construction wall this design was moved (temporarily?) to the All-Star Movies Resort.  Right alongside the other 3 machines in the World Premier Food Court is where you can find this last design.

 

This design may not be here all year and potentially could move over to the Muppets store in Hollywood Studios once construction is completed, but only time will tell.

Here’s a look at the eight pressed penny designs.

and the seven pressed quarter designs.

These new 2018 pressed coins are really nice again this year.  This has become one of my favorite times of year for collecting pressed coins.  It’s exciting to see the new designs and of course a lot of fun to trek around property collecting them all.  Make sure to grab a set or two for your collection before the year ends.

Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jiko / The Mara / Pumbaa’s Fun & Games

When my wife and I first got married we were in the middle of buying a new house, and having a our first child so we didn’t get to have a honeymoon.  We had always planned on taking a honeymoon at some point but kept pushing it off.  Finally I decided it was time to do something and as if we don’t already get enough Disney fun, we booked a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas.

I’ll get into this a little more in a future post, but we arrived a day early for our cruise to Orlando so we could do some shopping for our new house (Spoiler) that we are having build in Florida.  We had a very early flight from Jersey to Orlando and spent the entire day shopping.  Even though we were pretty exhausted from the day I had booked a dinner reservation at Jiko which is a signature restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  This was a place we have wanted to try in the past, and today was the day to go and we weren’t going to miss it.

I’ve said it before but this is really am amazing resort to visit.  We haven’t stayed here yet, but have visited a few times during a down day just to walk around.  It’s really a treat for the senses when you come to visit this resort.

Of course there are the Savannah’s towards the back of the resort that let some of your favorite exotic animals roam around.  Some like the giraffes have feeding times you can go and watch or help with if you are lucky enough.

We were running a little late for our reservation, and the maps for this resort can be a little confusing.  But after heading outside by the pool, then back inside we eventually found Jiko.

Jiko stands for The Cooking Place which is a central location where people would gather to enjoy each others company and community dining.  In the middle of this restaurant is a cool area you can sit at a high bar type table and watch the chefs create the starter courses available on the menu.

We were seated at a table towards the back in a nice quiet area.  The wait staff was very attentive and explained all about Jiko, the decorations and art inside, the cooking styles and always wanted to ensure all our questions were answered.  For a started we decided to try the Taste of Africa.

This was a similar bread and dip sampler to what we had a few months ago a Sanaa also located in the Animal Kingdom.  However this one had fewer options but was still very good.  It included unique “breads” like Pappadum, Sesame Fatir, Flax-Seed Naan, and also came with a variety of African inspired dips.

For my main course I went with the 7 oz oak-grilled filet that I had heard a lot of good things about.  It was service over top of bobotie mac and cheese, asparagus, and a South African red wine sauce.  The spices used on the steak and in the mac and cheese were from a different spice palette than what I’m used to but was a nice change and very unique and tasty.

My wife had a Moroccan Lamb Tagine which was basically a huge lamb shank with parsnip and root spinach.  It was fall apart tender and very juicy but a huge portion which would have been difficult for most to finish in one sitting.  We were offered dessert but were so stuffed by that time that we chose to pass (Yikes!).  Instead of just heading right back out to our card we decided to try to walk off a bit of our dinner by wandering around the resort a bit.  Just outside Jiko towards the main pool we ran into the quick service cafeteria style eatery called The Mara.

As with all the other resorts this place includes various stations with different types of food at each.  Your standard flatbread pizzas, salads, and chicken nuggets are all available here.  We went inside to get a small dessert I had heard about called Zebra Domes.

So what exactly is a zebra dome?  Well the explanation is as follows: An Amarula cream liquor mousse covered with a panna cotta like white chocolate, drizzled with chocolate stripes and chocolate shavings.  These come in a nice to-go package of four so you can snack on them as you walk.  Please note that these do have liquor in them so you may want to avoid letting your little ones try them.  I believe they do offer non-alcoholic versions but didn’t see any when I was there.  Before heading back outside I found two coin press machines just near the main set of doors.

   

The first machine had three penny designs available including Shenzi (Hyena leader from The Lion King), Terk Tantor & Young Tarzan, and Pleakley from Lilo & Stitch.

   

Right next to the penny machine was a second machine that had one quarter design available.  This machine would press an image of Pumbaa and Simba from the Lion King with the Animal Kingdom Lodge logo on it.  We headed back outside and just a short walk away found the next stop.

Pumbaa’s Fun & Games is the resorts arcade.  It has your standard air hockey table, and classic arcade games.  Just outside the door to the arcade was the third coin press machine at this resort.

   

The cabinet design on this machine was really fun and reminded me of the machines they have over at the Animal Kingdom theme park.  This machine also had three designs which included Safari Mickey, Safari Minnie, and Mike from Monsters, Inc.

By this time our long day had finally caught up to us and we were ready to head back for some sleep before our cruise started the next day.  The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a bit out of the way, and if you don’t have a rental car may be tough to get too on the Disney bus system.  But it is doable (I’ve done it in the past) and is well worth the trip over to experience it in person.  Don’t forget to get the pennies located here, and with the layout of the resort can be like a treasure hunt to find them.  Happy hunting!