Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – WDW Florida

Our annual Disney passes were coming up for renewal and I asked our daughters if they enjoyed the water parks last year.  They almost popped my eardrums as they screamed yes they wanted water parks again this year.  Once our passes were renewed we decided to celebrate by heading over to one of those water parks.

We had visited Typhoon Lagoon last year but it had rained for most of the day and we didn’t get to enjoy the full park.  So this time we made sure the weather was going to be in our favor and headed in for some fun in the sun…and water.

As we walked in we were greeted by Lagoona Gator.  This is always a popular photo spot but a little hint if you visit this later in the day it will be less crowded.  Everyone seems to want this picture first thing in the morning.

Here is a bit of an overview of the water park.  It’s really beautiful and has plenty of areas with shade or out in the sun if you are looking to work on your tan.

We always prefer a shaded area and were able to find some lounge chairs run under a bunch of large palm trees giving us plenty of cover.  Then after we loaded up on sunscreen it was time to check out the wave pool first.  The story of this park is that a typhoon wreaked havoc on a pristine tropical paradise.  Ships, surfboards and all sorts of other items were all thrown about as the storm hit.  All the way in the back of the wave pool is the centerpiece known as Miss Tilly.  This was a shrimp boat launched during the storm and impaled atop Mount Mayday.

After spending some time in the wave pool my youngest wanted to check out the kid’s area known as Ketchakiddee Creek.  There are plenty of little slides, and water spraying from all different areas.

Eventually, we decided to walk around more of the park and just do some exploring.  We found this bridge that takes you back closer towards the Miss Tilly.  You also get a bird’s eye view of the lazy river.

This pathway also takes you behind the wave pool giving an interesting perspective of it.  As you can see we definitely lucked out with a beautiful day to visit.

Of course, there are also a few places to get food as well as a couple bars.  This was my favorite bar and thought the theming of it was really well done.

We did hop in the lazy river a few times.  But unfortunately, when the park is busy this can be anything but lazy or relaxing.  Sometimes it takes a while to find an available tube to use, and some of the areas get quite bottlenecked with all the tubes crashing into each other.

Our girls were a little too small for the water coasters Crush n’ Gusher but I headed on them and they definitely take water slides to the next level.  In most water slides you are just slowly making your way downhill, but in these water coasters, there are jets that actually propelled you uphill a bit before you start coming back down.  They really are a lot of fun and hopefully, I can get my girls on them at some point in the future when they are a little bigger.

The main gift shop is called Singapore Sals.  It’s located near the entrance/exit to the park and has beach towels, swimming goggles, and even bathing suits if you forgot one.  Plus lots of souvenirs and sunscreen if needed.

Towards the left side of the store when you are walking inside is where the penny machine was located.

I was happy to see that the designs were themed for the water park which makes them a little more unique.

Years ago this was a machine I needed to complete my WDW Pressed penny set and I remember trying to write a letter asking if a cast member would be able to press my coins that I had included in the envelope.  It took a couple weeks but sure enough, I got the pennies back in the mail with a very nice letter from the staff.  They really do go above and beyond for their guests even when you aren’t there visiting.  The designs haven’t changed since then, but I went ahead and pressed a new set anyways.

By the late afternoon, we had a full day of swimming, sliding and just enjoying the bright Florida sunshine.  Everyone was starting to get a bit tired and cranky so we knew it was time to head home.  We did really enjoy this park, and now that we have our newly renewed annual passes we will be back again soon.

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – Pressed Penny Design Changes

This small change to one of the penny press machines over at Disney’s All-Star Sports resort almost went unnoticed due to all the other new machines on property.

I took a quick drive over to the All-Star Sports resort which is one of the value resorts on Disney property.  When I was younger and taking trips down to Florida on my own, these were the resorts I stayed at most.  The majority of my days were spent at the parks or resort hopping as I tried to press all the pennies and quarters on property.   So I spent very little time in my room and it seems like a waste to spend more on a resort with better accommodations that I really wasn’t going to be using.  They are still a lot of fun to stay at, but they are no frills and fighting the crowds in the food court style eatery is not a great experience.

After parking my car I headed into the main building of the resort.  Past the check-in area towards the back of the building is where the End Zone food court is found and across from that is the Game Point Arcade.  Just outside the arcade is the above group of penny press machines.  There is one pressed quarter machine, and the other three are penny machines.  A nice addition here is the change machine which is a nice way to load up on quarters if you didn’t get enough before your trip.

The machine located all the way on the right is the one that received some new/old designs.

I say as they are new to this machine, but these designs were actually located at Hollywood Studios a few years ago and had been retired.  Or so we thought.  The two Beauty and the Beast designs were originally at the Once Upon a Time store along Hollywood Boulevard, and the Mickey Film Strip design was at the Pizza Planet restaurant near Muppets Courtyard.

It just goes to show you just when you think something may be retired and no longer available they may surprise us and bring them back.  Although it’s probably just a good idea to try and get them the first time around just in case.

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.

Lunar New Year Pressed Penny Set – China Pavilion in Epcot

Chinese New Year commonly known as the Lunar New Year is a festival celebrating the new year on the traditional Chinese calendar.  For 2019 the first day of the Lunar New Year will be on February 5th initiating the Year of the Pig.

Previous years have included the Year of the Rat, Sheep, Ox and a few others as these are on a 12 year cycle and will repeat.  Year of the Pig happens to be the 12th in the cycle and will not be celebrated again until 2031.

Over on the West Coast in Disney California Adventure they have a Lunar New Year festival with food booths and special entertainment to celebrate.  However on the East Coast in Epcot there is an ever rotating cycle of festivals going on all throughout the year.  At this time the Festival of the Arts is in full swing.

The Festival has plenty of food booths and also some tents setup with Disney artwork for purchase.

Oswald has become a new favorite of mine.  Hopefully he appears a little more often in the parks.

On a recent visit to check out some of the food options at the Festival of the Arts we made our way over to the China Pavilion.  The line for the food booth here is always busy as they usually some very popular items.  We decided to head back into the pavilion instead as I had heard about a new penny machine.

Past the Nine Dragons restaurant and quick service Lotus Blossom Cafe is the main gift shop called the House of Good Fortunate.

Just inside the doors used to be a 3 design penny machine but that has been removed.  Now in its place is a new 12 design penny machine.

The cool thing about this machine is that the designs are all of the different animals representing the 12 year cycle of the Chinese / Lunar New Year.  But with a slight twist.  Each animal is represented by a Disney character of the same animal.  Year of the Rat has Remy from Ratatouille, Year of the Tiger has Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, and Year of the Monkey has Abu from Aladdin.  What a really fun set of designs.

Please take notice of the cost for this set.  The cost is still $1 for an individual penny, but if you are like me and want the full set it will run you $10 (yikes!).

The machine does have samples of each pressed penny inside so you can see what the finished coin will look like in person.

Photo credit: parkpennies.com

Something I found out after I got home and was cataloging these new coins is that they had already been available in the Shanghai Disney Resort.  Above is a picture from the parkpennies.com which is a great resource I use for my Disneyland collection.  The images are the same but obviously the park name has been altered to Walt Disney World.  Now I feel like I need to collect some of these Shanghai Disney pressed coins as they really have some nice designs available.  But that will be a project for another day.

Back at the Festival of the Arts.  I will say that I really enjoy all the art work, and some of the food items are really pretty to look but none of them really stood out as a favorite.  I’ll have to go back another day and try some different food booths and see if I can find something else a little more enjoyable.  The Flower and Garden Festival will be here soon and that is one of my favorites, and maybe a new pressed penny machine will make an appearance as well.

Coco Pressed Pennies – Mexico Pavilion in Epcot

In Epcot’s world showcase one of the more popular pavilions is Mexico.  Whether this is due to the tequila bar La Cava, Mexican food which I personally enjoy, or if like my daughters it’s the slow-moving boat ride attraction.

When the pavilion initially opened the boat ride was called El Rio del Tiempo (The River of Time), and took visitors through various scenes in Mexican history.

Then in 2007 the attraction was changed to the Grand First Tour featuring The Three Caballeros.  For those of you that may not have seen the 1944 Disney animated movie the Three Caballeros are Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistoles.  It’s still a slow-moving boat ride, but the Three Caballeros are supposed to perform a concert but Donald is off on his own exploring Mexico.  It’s a cute little ride and my kids absolutely love it.  On most visits to Epcot we hop on at least 2 or 3 times.  But we will get back to the ride shortly.

The part I always loved about this pavilion is how you are inside, but it’s designed to look like you are outside in a Mexican market.  There are building exteriors around the perimeter of the pavilion, and various carts selling all sorts of beautiful art, as well as t-shirts, sombrero and plenty of Disney merchandise.

I brought up about the change to the boat ride in 2007 for a reason.  With the popularity of the 2017 Pixar animated movie Coco, there have been rumors swirling around that the Grand Fiesta tour ride would be changed / updated to revolve around the Coco story and characters.  So far nothing has been confirmed by Disney, but maybe one step in that direction has to do with a new pressed penny machine that was just released inside the Pavilion.

Located outside La Tienda Encantada store (also by the exit to the boat ride) is where there used to be a 3-design penny machine.  That was removed and replaced with a new 8-design touch screen machine.

The designs on these new pennies are all characters from the Coco movie.

The images include Miguel with his Guitar, Ernesto del La Cruz, Hector, Abuelita, Mama Coco, Dante the Dog, Abuelita pinching Miguel’s cheeks, and Miguel sitting with his face painted.  The details on these coins are really nice and made me want to watch the movie again.  These characters were really great and the story in the movie is fantastic.

I mentioned that there used to be 3-design penny machine here that initially I thought had been removed completely.  However after we wandered around the pavilion a bit and contemplated eating at the San Angel Inn we found the machine.

It’s now located just outside restaurant near the check-in area.

The designs have not changed, but it’s nice to still have this machine available.

I guess only time will tell on whether we will get an updated Coco boat ride inside the Pavilion.  But until then this is still a fun place to visit and just spend some time checking out all the details.  Plus there’s free air conditioning inside which is a blessing in the middle of the Florida summer.

Main Street Confectionery – Magic Kingdom

As we got closer to Christmas and the new year we had family in town which is always a great time but very busy.  Plus my job has its busy time of year leaving up to January 1st so there was a lot going on.  To top things off I was anxiously waiting for the new 2019 pressed coin designs (detailed post coming soon!), so I was surprised when a new machine made an appearance in the Magic Kingdom.

My sister and her family didn’t need much convincing to visit the Magic Kingdom that evening after I was done with work.  But we knew that being this close to the holidays the crowds of guests was going to be pretty crazy.

I always think the Magic Kingdom looks beautiful at night with all its lights on, and Main Street seemed even more magical.

If you are familiar with the current location of the penny press machines along Main Street, most of them are along the left side (when you are facing the castle).  This new machine though was in the Main Street Confectionery on the right side and maybe starting a new set of machines along that side.  There are quite a few shops along that side that have plenty of room for some machines.

Inside the Confectionery is like being in a candy factory.  All the shelves are stuffed with candy apples, popcorn, cotton candy and bags of all kinds of sweets.

In the back you can see some cast members working on a fresh batch of caramel apples.

Each of these stores connect to one another so you don’t need to go outside and back inside.  Rather there are just connecting doors in the wall, and on the far side of the Confectionery by this door was where the penny machine was located.

The cabinet of the machine is a plain white design.  I was hoping it would have candy themed designs on it, but the theming of these new machines doesn’t seem to go into that amount of detail unlike some of the older style machines.

Thankfully the store wasn’t too busy.  I think mostly because everyone was outside on Main Street were preparing for the fireworks.  I walked right up to the machine and pressed my coins.

The designs on the pennies in this set are really cute, and do fit in with the location of the machine.  The set includes images of your favorite Disney characters enjoying some sweet treats.  Mickey and Donald with Candy Apples, Goofy with some Candy Canes, and Minnie with Ice cream just to name a  few.

I have only been in this store a handful of times.  Usually with my kids on visits to the park we avoid candy stores whenever possible.  But it’s really a fun store, and if you have a sweet tooth it’s a place you can load up on some enjoyable treats.

I walked outside just in time to see some of the fireworks above Cinderella’s Castle.  We live close enough to the parks that most nights we can hear the fireworks, but there’s nothing like being there in person to see them high in the sky.

Now it was time to hit up some rides and maybe find a savory snacks, I think I had enough candy for one day.

Blizzard Beach Water Park – WDW Florida

Yes it’s December, and Yes I’m going to talk about a water park.  But this was actually a visit my family made a couple of months ago that I’m just getting around to writing about.  Hopefully if you are somewhere with snow on the ground, and cold temperatures this gives you a bit of a reprieve from the winter.

As a child I loved water parks, but unfortunately up in Canada we didn’t have too many and they were only open for short periods of the year in between all the snow and cold weather we would encounter.  Now that we are down in Florida our daughters like spending time in the pool but I didn’t know how they would do at the Water Park.  When our Disney annual passes came up for renewal I upgraded to the option that included the Water Parks as a test for future years.  Well after just one trip to Blizzard Beach it appears we will be keeping these passes.

Our girls absolutely loved it.  They were a little small for some of the bigger water slides, but the lazy river, wave pool and the family tube rides were things they continue to talk about weeks after we visited.

The story behind this park is that there was a freak snow storm in the area which led to the opening of Florida’s first ski resort.  With the usual Florida temperatures the snow didn’t last long, and the ski resort was transformed into a water park.  Due to this there is a chair lift that takes you up mount gush more to some of the water slide attractions, including the flagship slide Summit Plummet a 120 feet tall reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour.

In the middle of the park is the giant wave pool known as Melt-Away Bay.  Surrounding the wave pool is a large area filled with lounge chairs and cabanas.

Running around the perimeter of the park is Cross Country Creek the 3,000 foot long lazy river.  Be careful when you float through Mount Rushmore as the glaciers are melting which makes for some icy cold water dripping down on your head.

They also have water slide racers called Downhill Double Dipper where you can see who the fastest is in your family.  A little competition is always fun to watch as some families really get into this one.

After you have had your fill of water attractions you may be looking to do a bit of souvenir shopping.  The main gift shop here is called the Beach Haus.

Inside you can buy bathing suits in case you forgot one, or towels, flip-flops and more.

You can see the parks mascot Ice Gator had a bit of a skiing accident and crashed right into the side of the building.

The store of course sells t-shirts with the water parks logos on them, and they also have a penny press machine near one of the side entrances.

The machine is a three design electric model.  It’s a plain cabinet which I kind of wish was more themed.  It would be cool to have the insides look like a water slide for your penny to go down when being pressed, or the whole machine would look like it’s a melting block of ice.  Oh well they can’t all be overly themed.

The penny designs available at this machine include Daisy sun tanning, Goofy Mickey & Donald tubing, and Mickey just lounging on the beach.  All of the pennies include the Blizzard Beach logo that makes for a nice souvenir of your visit.

Not only was this our daughters first visit to the water park, but it was mine as well.  In all the years I’ve visited Walt Disney World I never made it over.  It was a lot of fun, and since our kids are now obsesses with water parks this will not be our last visit.  Thankfully in the Orlando area we have quite a few Water parks so we should have plenty of options, and I’ll be sure to keep an eye open for their penny machines.

Newly Renovated World of Disney Store – Disney Springs Florida

Over the last few years we have witnessed the transformation from Downtown Disney to the new and fresh Disney Springs.  The changes have been really unbelievable.  Years ago when I would visit Florida on vacation I always headed to Downtown Disney on my travels days.  The restaurants were never great and the shopping was for the most part just a bunch of Disney gift shops.

But now it’s a destination that I visit quite often, and enjoy all the new restaurants and shopping options.  With this fresh new design, and brand new theming there was still one place that seemed like it needed a refresh.  Thankfully Disney thought the same thing and put their flagship store the World of Disney through a refurbishment that took almost a year to fully complete.

Even after the update the big Stitch came back with a fresh coat of paint.  He does still “spit” on unsuspecting guests below, and is now located on top of the new World of Disney logo.

Inside the store looks much larger than it did before.  The above picture was taken before the entire store had been completed which is why you could see the black curtain at the back of the store.

Just inside the middle set of entrance doors to the store is the first of three new penny machines.  Previously there were three machines with only four designs per machine, but they have been replaced with these new 8-design touch screen machines.

This first set of 8 pressed penny designs include Mickey and all of his famous friends.

One section of the store is all about plush and it was amazing to see in person.  Look at that wall of Mickey’s against the back.  I’m sure they have no problem going through all of those on a frequent basis.  The number of people in here at any point is staggering.  I visited the store a few times after it had the grand reopening and it’s always packed no matter what time of day you go.

In the side of the store closed to the Lego store or the Town Center is set up as their seasonal area.  This time of year it’s filled with Christmas and all sorts of holiday merchandise.  Of course ornaments are a huge part of this and the selection seems to get bigger each year.

Over on this side of the store is where the second penny press machine is found.  It’s stashed in the corner near the front set of doors.

This is another great set that I was surprised they released.  This has designs from some of their famous animated movies like Aladdin, Up, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland plus a few others.

The back section of the store that was originally behind the black curtain was eventually opened and is my daughters favorite area.  This is where all the Princess things are.  They even project some of the Princesses up on the wall in scenes from their movies.  All of their dresses, accessories, and dolls can be found in this area.

The third and final machine was one that I uncovered on the pennycollector website before it was actually placed in the store.  I had found a concept drawing of the designs for the location and knew it would be arriving before too long.  It was eventually placed in this back section of the store near the Marvel and Star Wars sections of the store.

The designs in this set are all Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  It seems a little strange to put this machine in the Marvel and Star Wars sections but I guess we have enough of those penny designs already so nice to see Pooh bear getting some love with a set of coins.

If you visit this store be sure not to just walk around with your eyes towards the ground or on all the merchandise.  This store is beautiful and there are so many magical things going on all over the place.  I mentioned the princess projections on the back wall, but they also have animated sketches on the wall that come to live and change periodically.  Tinker Bell also shows up on the wall behind some of the check-out areas and she dances around some bottles of paint and helps animate picture frames with images of some Disney classics.  The store is almost an attraction in and of itself which is a lot of fun.  Plus you can get 24 pressed pennies all in one place.

Nightmare Before Christmas Quarter Set – Disneyland, CA

This new pressed Quarter set actually came out a couple of weeks before Halloween but I was having some difficulty getting my hands on it.  Usually I can reach out to some fellow collectors in California but everyone seemed to be on vacation or out-of-town all at the same time.  However after some patience and perseverance I was finally able to get a set shipped to my home.

I haven’t been to Disneyland in quite a few years and am looking forward to going back hopefully in the next couple years.  Due to this I’m not as familiar with the park layout as my home parks in Florida.  This new machine is in New Orleans Square at the Port Royal Curios and Curiosities gift shop.

As previously mentioned this is a set of pressed quarters which is a nice change from all the pennies we usually find throughout the parks.  The images on these coins are of Jack Skellington, Zero and Oogie Boogie all with the Nightmare Before Christmas logo.

Keep in mine these are not part of the usually Holiday dates coin sets that Disneyland and California Adventure release.  Those are still to come (and hopefully soon).  This is a really fun set of coins from a great movie that has definitely been getting more attention within the parks.