Busch Gardens Tampa – Part 2

Just as a quick recap we were visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa Florida and had made our way about halfway through the park before we needed to stop for some lunch in a nice shaded area.

That Florida sun can really get to you if you aren’t careful.  But after our nice little break and we were ready to explore the rest of the park.

We found ourselves in the Pantopia section of the park which was very colorful and had some interesting looking buildings.  This is actually where we had stopped for some lunch at a food court style restaurant with different stations depending on what you were in the mood for.  They had Italian, American, Asian and Tex-Med which was a nice wide array of options.  But it was extremely busy inside and was hard to find a place to sit once we have our food.  After lunch, we explored this area a bit more, and there are quite a few rides for kids including a Carousel.

After we had walked through Pantopia we headed up some ramps to a higher ground level which was the Congo section.  There was a Train Station here but it was not open for some reason.

Nearby the Train Station was a set of Restrooms with a penny machine nearby.  The most common location for penny machines.

 

This machine has penny designs of a couple Giraffes, a Zebra, SheiKra and Kumba Roller Coasters.

Nearby this area were some interesting attractions like Ubanga-Banga bumper cars, the Congo River Rapids which from what I saw you get completely soaked on, and Kumba a pretty intense looking roller coaster.

The next area of the park is known as Jungala where they have a great area for kids called the Treetop Trails, then you can visit the Tiger exhibit and an area with Orangutans.

When you are visiting the Orangutans there is a building with large glass windows that will give you an up-close view of them.  My personal favorite was the larger platform surrounded by netting where you get a more wide angle of their exhibit.

Under here is also where the two penny press machines are found and are located diagonally from each other under this covered area.

 

The first machine I came across had Pantopia listed on its marquee so I’m guessing these machines tend to move around periodically.  The penny designs for this machine were fun with images of two Gorillas, a Giraffe, the Falcon’s Fury ride, and a couple Elephants.

 

Just on the other side of this platform is the second penny machine.  The designs here are of a Tiger and cub, the Jungle Flyer, an Orangutan, and a Tiger face.  After we said goodbye to the Orangutans there was a nice little pathway with not a lot going on but led us to the Stanleyville section.

This area had quite a bit going on as well, with a Skyride station, the Stanley Falls Flume ride (another one you get quite soaked on), and the SkeiKra coaster.  Be careful around this part of the coaster pictured above as they have some nice benches and shaded areas but you will notice the ground is pretty slick.  This part of the coaster goes through a pond of water and sprays it up into the air behind it as it zooms by.  Of course, your kids will love it, and I did find it a bit humorous to see the adults quickly running for cover when they realized what was about to happen.

Not too far away from the entrance to SheiKra is a gift shop called the Kariba Marketplace.  Part of this store is inside, and part is outside under a covered canopy and that is where you will find another penny machine.

 

This machine seems to be in its proper location as the cabinet is designed for the SheiKra coaster.  The images available at this machine include a family of Tigers, an Iguana, Ring-tailed Lemur and the SheiKra Coaster.

By this time of day, we were definitely starting to drag a little bit.  The hot Florida sun had taken its toll and we were ready to find the exit, but there was one last area to visit before we were back at the entrance/exit.  I’m sure you can guess by the picture above that it’s all about Sesame Street and is called the Safari of Fun.  This is really a great place for young children.  The buildings and rides are all themed around Sesame Street, there are meet and greet areas to visit with your favorite pals like Elmo, Cookie Monster or Grover.

As you enter and leave this area you will see a gift shop completely filled with Sesame Street merchandise.  The store is called Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Hunt and was so much fun to explore with my 3-year-old daughter.  Of course, the plush toys are what she headed for with their bright colors and cute designs, but they also had t-shirts, coffee mugs and so much more.

 

This store is also the location for the last available penny machine and had designs of some popular Sesame Street characters like Zoe, Cookie Monster, Abby and Elmo.

We waved goodbye to Elmo and my daughter decided it was time to crash.  She fell asleep shortly after in the stroller as I headed down the last section of the pathway heading towards the entrance.  I passed by a very beautiful area filled with bright Pink Flamingos but didn’t have the heart to wake up my daughter to see them.  We had such a great time that I know we will be back as soon as we can.

I get the impression it’s similar to SeaWorld (same company) in that the penny designs probably don’t get changed out too often.  But they do have some new coasters and attractions opening up soon, so hopefully, some new pennies may appear.  This was a really great park and far exceeded my expectations.

Busch Gardens Tampa – Part 1

I never get tired of visiting the parks we have near out neighborhood like Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld, but every so often it’s fun to explore a new park we haven’t visited before.  Thankfully about an hour away in Tampa is Busch Gardens and gave me the opportunity to try something new.

Before I left on this visit I honestly thought that this would be similar to a Six Flags Theme Park which we had in New Jersey and various other locations around the country.  But after visiting I can say it’s so much more than that.  Sure it has some pretty advanced Roller Coasters and attractions, but they have shows, great food, and animals.  It’s almost like you combined a zoo and theme park together which is right up my alley.

Part of my SeaWorld annual pass granted me access to Busch Gardens as well so that was a nice perk I don’t think I realized when I had initially bought my pass.  You do have to park on one side of the street and then can either walk or take a tram over to the park.  Out front is the guest services buildings to help with your ticket purchases.  But to the left and right of this center walkway I encountered the first set of 4 (yes four) pressed penny machines.

The first two machines on the left side when facing the security area.

  

One thing I immediately noticed about these machines is the designs that were really unique.  The penny designs at this machine include an Alligator, Prairie Dog, Parrot, and Cheetah.

  

Just a couple steps to the right is the second machine.  The penny designs here were of the Sand Serpent logo, a Snake, a couple Apes, and a Toirtous.

If you spin around 180 degrees you find the second set of machines across the walkway.

  

The third machine has penny designs of a couple Elephants, Montu, Busch Gardens Logo, and Falcon’s Fury.

  

Finally the last machine out in this area has designs including Kangaroos, a Hippo, Peacock, and an African Dog.  Since these machines are located outside of the actual park you could access them without an admission ticket.  Although you would need to pay for parking or have someone drop you off while you used them.  Unfortunately, the rest of the machines are inside the park and would require paid admission.

After passing through security and scanning your park ticket you are transported into a Moroccan market.  The theming here was really great, and they also had performers walking around interacting with guests as they passed by.

As I mentioned at the beginning this is kind of like a zoo with a theme park mixed inside.  As we wandered through the Morocco area we came across a big area filled with some huge American Alligators.

We continued our tour through the park and came to the Cheetah area.  This was really interesting as they were doing a demonstration with the big cats and how they do specific exercises with them to encourage their natural hunting instincts.  It was amazing to see the Cheetahs get up to some pretty high running speeds.

Nearby is the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster which is pretty impressive.  A little too advanced for me, but I did sit on a bench and watch it for quite a while.

Inside the gift shop for the coaster was where I found the next penny machine.

  

The penny designs here are all themed around the Cheetah Hunt coaster.  I thought this was a really great set.

As we continued following the pathway we found ourselves in the Egypt section of the park.  This area was filled with a couple different coasters, Cobra’s Curse and Montu.

Across from the entrance to the Cobra’s Curse coaster was a quick service area called Serpent’s Snacks and was where the next penny machine was found.

  

The designs available at this machine were themed around the Cobra’s Curse coaster but did have one design for V.IS.E. (Viper Int’l Survey & Excavation) which is a fictional archeological group as part of the attractions back story.

Above is a picture of some of the track from Cobra’s Curse.  It’s another pretty amazing coaster with an elevator that brings the coaster cars up into the air and then attaches back to the track.  At one point the cars start to spin on the track and there are plenty of screams coming from the riders.

The next area we headed through was where more of the animal attractions started to appear.  Above is a picture of the Serengeti Plains that has quite a few different types of animals.

There is also a train that you can ride through that area for a closer look at the animals.

We were able to see quite a few different animals like Giraffes and Zebras.  They don’t get too close to the train, but it does give you a pretty close up view of them.

The train has a couple different stations around the park so it makes for an easy way to get around the large park.

We had decided to take the full tour around the park on the train so we had started and ended at the same point which was the Nairobi Station.  Just outside the station near the railroad crossing was a Mold-O-Rama machine that my kids love and we have quite a collection of them.  Right beside that was the next penny machine.

  

This machine had designs of the park Train, a Rhino, an Elephant, and a baby Gorilla for the Animal Care Center.

Not too far away was the Elephant section with quite a few of them.  By this time of day, it was well beyond lunchtime and we needed to find some food and rest for a bit.  We were about halfway through the park, but there was still plenty more to check out.  Stay tuned for Part 2 and the remaining penny machines.  Keep on Pressing!

Florida Theme Park Maps – Now Available

Over the years since I started posting about my pressed penny collection, and trying to keep everyone up to date on new Disney coins I receive quite a few comments and emails from all our wonderful readers.  The questions range from tips about starting or storing a collection to my guess on new coin designs.  But one question I do get quite often is if I have any maps of the Theme Parks that show the locations of all the coin press machines.

Years ago if you visited Walt Disney World you could head over to guess services and they would have printed maps showing where the machines were, but those quickly became outdated and are no longer available.  Then a few years ago I remember seeing a sign on one of the WDW machines listing a web address to maps that were being maintained by CTM Group, Inc (The Pennymen), they worked pretty well but that also quickly became outdated a year or so later.  Currently Disney has added the Coin Press machines to their myDisneyExperience mobile app which is a nice feature, but I find it lacks in information about what type of machine is there (Penny, Quarter, Dime), how much are the coins to press, and even if there is more than one machine in this location.

So in an effort to try and help fellow collectors, I have taken it upon myself to try and help with a series of updated maps.  These will be updated each time I visit the parks (which is on a pretty frequent basis right now).  I have been working on these for a few weeks now tweaking the layout and the information available that I feel would be most beneficial to anyone looking to press some coins.

First I want to review what maps are available.  Of course, there will be all of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Disney Springs:

We will also have maps of all the Disney Resorts:

 

Disney Water Parks, Mini-Golf Courses and even the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

There are also maps of the Universal Orlando Resort (Parks and Citywalk areas):

SeaWorld, Legoland, and even Busch Gardens.

 

Basically, we are going to try and keep updated maps for all the big Central Florida theme parks.  As you can see from the sample pictures above we are using updated maps directly from the parks, and we created a special legend to help review the cost per coin at each machine, whether a credit card can be used to pay, and whether you need to supply your own coin to be pressed, or if the machine supplied a preloaded zinc penny.

These maps have been added to its own area of the blog.  Located right underneath the main banner at the top of the page there is a menu option for “Penny Maps”.  Click here for a quick review of how the legend on each maps works, definitions used on the maps, and of course links to each available map.  The maps are all in standard PDF format and are completely FREE.  Please feel free to download, print, share and use these on your penny pressing trips and visits to the park.  If you have any comments about any changes you feel may be helpful in future revisions of the maps please let me know.  Happy Collecting!