The American Adventure NEW Pressed Pennies – EPCOT

On a recent trip to Epcot, I was primarily looking for the new Mission Space penny machine.  If you haven’t read about that trip you can check it out here.  After finding that machine the rest of our day was set aside to try some of the Food and Wine Festival food booths, and we also did a Ratatouille Scavenger Hunt.

As we made our way around the World Showcase the crowd level was higher than I had anticipated and many of the food booths had very long lines.  That mixed with the hot Florida sun made waiting in those lines seem very unappealing.

We did periodically come across a booth with either a short or no line and we took advantage of those.  Above was from the Africa booth and was the Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous.  This was really good, the shrimp were a little overcooked but the flavors were great with just a little spice to them.

A little further along our travels, we visited the Spain booth and tried a couple items.  First, we tried the Charcuterie which was a selection of imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses, and Olives with an Herb Vinaigrette.  My wife absolutely loved this one.  I did try a bit of it and the meats and cheeses were really flavorful, but olives are just not my thing.  The second item we got was the Spanish-style Paella with Chorizo and Shrimp.  This was probably my favorite so far of the festival with lots of flavors.

By this time we were getting a bit tired and in need of a break.  The American Adventure pavilion just nearby so we headed in that direction for some downtime in the shade.

While we sat under the shaded pavilion rehydrating with some much-needed water, I spied something across the patio.

I quickly headed over to investigate and sure enough, it was a brand new penny machine.

It is a newer version of the 4-design hand-crank machine.  Each design costs $1 and you can use either cash, credit card, or digital payment like ApplePay.  The machine supplies the penny to be pressed so you are not able to use your own preferred pennies, unfortunately.

Here they are the pressed penny set.  I really think this is a cute set and love the design of the Mickey-American Flag, but they are all great new designs.  I did walk around the rest of the pavilion just to check on the old machine but it was nowhere to be found and I’m going to assume it’s been retired.

We eventually finished our visit to Epcot and had a great time.  I did check the other Pavilion penny machines but didn’t see any other new ones so far.  This is an interesting change since it’s one of the first times we have seen a 3-design ($0.50 per penny) machine completely replaced by these new 4-design ($1.00 per penny) machines.  Fellow collectors have been anticipating this change and it may be finally coming to fruition.  This would be a huge overhaul of machines since most of Disney property has those older 3-design machines.  This change over could take years and I’ll be very interested to see if we get all new designs or if they will just install the old designs back into the new cabinets.  Only time will tell but I’ll be sure to document them as quickly as I can.  Keep on Pressing!!

Mission Space NEW Pressed Pennies – Epcot

It’s been almost a month since my last visit to a Disney Theme Park.  This was partly due to my own feelings of safety and looking to ensure I kept my exposure limited whenever possible.  But another factor has also been playing a part in this decision and that is the Disney Park Reservation system.  Basically, if you want to visit one of the parks you need to make a reservation in advance.  With the parks having the limited guest capacity (currently, it’s around 30%), and that is also divided between On-site Resort Guests, Day Guests (not staying at a resort), and Annual Passholders.  Unfortunately, Annual Passholders book up these reservations pretty quickly and it’s been a bit difficult to get one.

Photo Credit: Disney

Prior to all this, whenever I heard about a new pressed penny machine or design I would just head into the park that evening or the following weekend at the latest to document the new coins.  But with this new reservation system, it makes spontaneous trips almost impossible.  I took that as a sign to just take a break from the parks.

Eventually, I was able to secure a reservation for Epcot and as my luck would have it, there was a new penny machine released.  It was very nice to be back in the parks, but since it was Labor Day weekend the crowds were definitely larger than I had anticipated.  Plus Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival was in full gear and weekends are a busy time for these Festivals.

My family was anxious to get back into the World Showcase for some rides and more importantly Festival Food booths.  But first I needed to stop by my arch-nemesis Mission Space.  Here’s a quick story.  Years ago when I still lived in New Jersey I had visited Walt Disney World for vacation and had a reservation for my favorite restaurant on property ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  That day I had decided to visit Epcot to kill time before my dinner, and my friend wanted to try Mission Space.  I’m always a bit nervous about new attractions but decided to go on with him.  Basically, it’s a centrifuge where it simulates you blasting off from Earth into Space.  Because it’s a centrifuge you are in these little capsules that spin around really fast to simulate the g-forces you would encounter on this type of trip.  Our flight was a bit delayed due to someone getting sick as they exited the ride.  That should have been my notice to skip this one but I didn’t and afterward, my stomach was upset and I was so out of it I had to just go back to our resort.  The thought of food would make me nauseous so I had to make the difficult decision to skip my ‘Ohana reservation.  It’s such a popular restaurant that I was unable to reschedule for any other time during our visit.  So my hatred of this attraction all stems back to that trip and how it made me miss dinner at my favorite restaurant.

Years have past and that scar still runs deep.  I haven’t been on this attraction since, and they even now have a “less intense” version but I’m still not ready to experience it again.  However, even though the penny press machine is located in the gift shop you do NOT need to experience the attraction if you don’t want to.   When facing the front of the building just walk over to the left and you will find the gift shop.  I always liked the above picture which is in the shop just behind the checkout desk.

Just inside the doors to the gift shop is where the penny machine could be found.  Not too long ago there was a 3-design machine here that had Mission Space theme designs.  But that was recently removed and had a Star Wars machine here instead.  I always thought that was a bit of a stretch to have Star Wars with Mission Space but hey what do I know.

I was glad to see the new designs were all inspired by Mission Space.  Above is the marquee from the machine and the price has remained the same for now.  $1 per penny or you can get the entire set of 8 for $5.

The large plexiglass window on the front allows for a fun view of the inner workings of this machine which I always enjoyed watching.  They also have pressed pennies from the machine on display so you can see what the final results will be.

This is a nice set and I’m glad we were able to get over to Epcot for them.  Eventually, I’ll bury the hatchet with this attraction and go on again but I’ll be sure to not have any special dining reservations afterward.  We enjoyed the rest of our day at Epcot and did come across another new penny machine but you’ll just have to stay tuned to read all about that one shortly.  Happy Pressing!!

Epcot Reopening Preview – NEW Pressed Pennies!!

A week after Disney reopening the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks, they were ready to open their other parks Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  Not only was Epcot reopening but they were also kicking things off with their Food and Wine Festival that will now be running longer than any previous year.  I was able to snag a Park Reservation to check out Epcot and see how things had changed.

Just like the other parks, there is a required temperature screening before you can enter the park.  It was quick and simple with no line when I had arrived.  Afterward, I headed through the security check and then up to the main entrance.

A really nice thing that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before at the parks is that all of the entry touchpoints were open.  This helped prevent any line from forming while you scan your magic band or park ticket.

As I mentioned above the Food and Wine Festival officially started July 15th and will run through the Fall.  This is also the 25th anniversary of the festival.

Walking back towards the World Showcase you can see the very light crowd level in the park.  The nice thing about Epcot is that it a large property and allows guests quite a bit of room to spread out.

One thing that I thought was interesting is that not all of the Festival food booths were open.  Quite a few of them had signs stating they will open in the “Fall”.  Also, there was next to no Food and Wine merchandise available, instead, they were still trying to sell through the Flower and Garden Festival items from before the parks had closed in March.

I decided to head towards the Mexico Pavilion and start my way around the World Showcase in that direction.

The first open booth I encountered was the Mexico booth and I just had to stop and try something.  The Ribeye Taco was just calling my name.  It was really good but the portion size was really small and at $6.95 seemed overpriced.

I continued my trip around the world by next visiting the Norway Pavilion.  The line for the Frozen Ever After attraction was around 30 minutes which wasn’t too bad compared to normal operating days.  However, I was more interested in visiting the Relaxation Station in this area that is located in the Akershus restaurant.  Previously this was a Character Dining buffet but with all the current restrictions that are not happening.  Instead, you can come inside for a break from the sun for some air conditioning and a chance to remove your mask for awhile.  I have never been to this restaurant but I was really amazed at how beautiful it was.  The decorations and theming were really great and I hope to actually eat here sometime in the future.

Next up was the China food booth with the above menu available.  The offerings do seem limited this time around.  I’m not sure if this will change as the festival continues.

They also have some variation of a Bao Bun at this booth which I’m obsessed with.  This year it was a Mongolian Beef version so I picked it up with a cup of the Happy Peach drink.  This was another winner for me, the beef was flavorful and the bun was soft and pillowy.  Even though the bun was $6.75 I felt it was a much better value than the taco I had earlier.  The peach drink was just okay and at $11.50 due to it containing alcohol was pretty pricey.

As I stood to the side of the China Pavilion enjoying my food, all of a sudden the music ramped up and I was greeted by a Character Cavalcade featuring Elsa and Anna.  I mentioned this in the Magic Kingdom review but I wanted to say again that I really think this is a great way to enjoy the characters.  These impromptu experiences are not scheduled and just happen randomly throughout the day.  They don’t last long unless you follow them around the Showcase.  But within just a few minutes they had passed by where I was standing and then everyone went back to what they were doing.  I hope they keep these up in the future.

I continued around the Showcase and as you can see the crowds continued to be really light and in my opinion very enjoyable.  All too often, I’ve visited the parks with massive crowds and it can take some of the fun out of your day.

Over in the Japan Pavilion with the Matsuriza Traditional Japanese Drummers no longer performing it was really quite.

The Morocco Pavilion was also extremely quiet.  I walked through the marketplace and think I saw only 2 or 3 people.

Next up was the France Pavilion.  My wife loves the Chocolate Croissants available in Les Halles Patisserie and I was going to surprise her with one, but unfortunately when I went inside the Patisserie was closed.  I have seen that a few days after my visit it has reopened with a limited menu.

One completely new experience for me on this trip was the ability to check out this large Pavilion building that I’ve only ever seen from a distance.  It’s located between the United Kingdom and Canadian Pavilions.

Usually, this is reserved for special events, but during the Festival it’s been opened to guests and houses a few different food booths.  This place was huge!  Plenty of space inside, lots of high top tables that were all appropriately spaced out, and live music were playing.  Plus there was plenty of Air Conditioning, always important during summertime in Florida.

The food booth all the way in the back of the Pavilion was dedicated to Macaroni & Cheese which sounded pretty good to me.

I opted for the Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese which was also really fantastic.  The Buffalo flavor was not very spicy and I would have preferred a little more spice for my taste.  Since Disney wants to make sure as many people can enjoy it their spicy level is usually pretty low.  But in any case, I reall[y did enjoy this and was on quite the roll this trip with Festival foods.

After enjoying a bit of a break in this Pavilion I headed back out to the Showcase and finished my tour.  I headed back towards Future World and visited a few areas like the Imagination Pavilion, The Land, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

Nothing new in any of those areas, so I headed to the other side of Spaceship Earth and headed towards one of my favorite attractions Test Track.  Unfortunately, this ride was not working when I got there, but I decided to go around the side to the Simporium (gift shop).

I spoke with a Cast Member who confirmed that the store was open even though the ride was down.  There usually is a 3-design penny machine inside and I wanted to make sure it was still there, but to my surprise, it was gone.

In its place was a new 8-design touch screen pressed penny machine.  First I had to do my usual photoshoot with the machine and then I went up and pressed my set.  The Cast Member told me I was the first guest (other than the tech who installed it) to use the machine.  I felt so honored to be the first!

This was a nice set of designs all themed around Test Track.  There are a few with Mickey and his friends as well as a couple with some unique Test Track logos.  I was so happy to find some new pennies on this visit and it was a great way to end my day.

My plan was only to try a few food items this time around as I really wanted to spend most of my time reviewing the pressed penny machines.  I’m planning on going back maybe in August to do a full Food and Wine Festival tour with my wife and friends which is something we do every year.  As for the penny machines around the World Showcase, they were all pretty much still in their usual locations, only a couple were not open like in Germany and Canada.  Those machines are located in the gift shops which were not open that day.  The machines in Future World were all the same and available other than the new one at Test Track.  It was definitely a great day and so much fun to be back in Epcot.  I’m looking forward to visiting again to really dive into the Food Festival and hopefully, we will see some more new pressed pennies soon.

ESPN Club – Disney’s Boardwalk

Years ago when I had been visited Walt Disney World on vacations we always spent most of our time obviously in theme parks.  Whether we were going on rides, eating snacks, or big meals, and especially when penny pressing we were more often than not in those parks.  After we moved down to Florida I was able to try and explore more of WDW property since we didn’t need to spend all of our time in the parks anymore.  Some of these trips had us find some hidden gems like the Sebastien’s Restaurant over at Caribbean Beach Resort or the secret dinner menu over at the All-Star Movie Resort.  But one place had ended up being my go-to spot when I just want a bit of Disney pixie dust without heading into a park, and that ended up being the Disney Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk wraps around about half of Crescent Lake just outside of Epcot.  Directly across from the Boardwalk is the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, the Swan & Dolphin Resorts are also just a quick walk away.  Then right on the Boardwalk is the Inn  (Resort) that you can stay at during your visit and is a beautiful place is you don’t mind the creepy clown slide by the pool.

Along the Boardwalk are some carnival-style games where you can win prizes, along with plenty of restaurants, bars, and live entertainment at night.  I have visited most of the restaurants and shops along here, but one that I had never experienced was the ESPN Club.  This place can get very during televised sporting events.  Finally it was time to go and see what this club was all about, so I made sure we went shortly after it opened on a Saturday to try and avoid the crowds later on.

They do list the upcoming games on the marquee out front so you can keep an eye out for your favorite team.  But as you will see inside there are plenty of TVs to cover any game you may be looking for.

This is not some secret club and you don’t need to sign up for anything ahead of time.  This is open to the public just like any other restaurant or bar.

As you walk inside past the check-in stand the main bar is straight ahead.  Notice all those TV screens around the bar, that’s just the tip of the ice burg.

The sports memorabilia is also in full force here and amazing to see their collection.

This was the main dining room that was set up like a basketball court which was neat, and lots more autographed items all around the walls.

They had items from all different teams among the major sports like Baseball, Football, Hockey, and Basketball.

The autographed jerseys are all nicely framed and I’m pretty sure that no matter who your favorite player is they probably have his jersey.  The amount of stuff in here is amazing.

This wall had some Hockey jerseys of some players I remember from when I was younger.  I especially liked the Chiefs one in the middle of the famous Hanson Brothers from the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot.

 

I had wondered around to see all the memorabilia while I waited for my lunch which did arrive pretty quickly (a perk of going early).  For an appetizer I tried their House Made Chili which was okay nothing I would go out of my way for.  Then as my main entree I had the Reuben sandwich.  It was fine but again nothing extraordinary and I wouldn’t rush back for it.  They did have a big menu so I would definitely come back again to try something else.

Once my lunch was done I skipped dessert and paid my bill.  This way I was able to spend a little more time checking out the decorations.  In the little hallway that connects the main entrance to the larger dining room I was seated as is where the pressed penny machine was located.

This is also part of the waiting area for guests in the restaurant.  There were a few seats along the sidewall and I would anticipate this area gets pretty crowded if all you are looking to do is use the penny press.  Pro-tip: go early!

Here is a picture of the marquee on the machine with the designs for each available penny.

My original set of pressed pennies from here were in pretty bad shape and I had used crumby pennies.  So I used this as an excuse to get a fresh new set.  The images are of Mickey playing Football, Donald playing Basketball, and Daisy playing Softball.

Overall I had a fun time here and as much as I make it sound like I want to avoid crowds, I think this would be a great place to watch an important playoff game or even the College Basketball tournament.  Having all the screens with different games, and plenty of beer on tap plus I’m sure the crowds inside would just add to the atmosphere.  I may have to try this out sometime in the future.  The food is fine and I did enjoy what I got but would be interested in trying something different next time like some Buffalo wings…mmm wings.

The pressed pennies hadn’t changed in the years since I last stopped in, and it would be nice to see some updated designs at some point.  I do like the ESPN Club logo on each design which made a unique touch to this set.  After I left the restaurant I enjoyed the rest of my morning just taking in the sights along the Boardwalk which really is a great place to visit when you need a little break from the parks.  Keep on Rollin’!!

2020 Dated Walt Disney World Pressed Coins Set

Happy New Year!!  Ok sorry I know it’s February but I have some great news, all the 2020 pressed coins have been released at Walt Disney World.  Well, most of them are available…but we will get to that in a bit.  This year was a bit chaotic, we came out of the gate early in January with a hand full of new coins, then it took some time for the rest to appear.

Just recently the last few 2019 designs were finally removed and replaced with old retired designs, not new 2020 ones.  I was trying to hold out as long as I could before writing this to keep all this information in one post.  I’ve spoken with some fellow collectors and we believe that the 2020 dated designs have all been released.  As always if anything changes I’ll be sure to update everyone.

We will star over in Epcot at the Mouse Gear store.  This is the main gift shop just behind Spaceship Earth and has been home to a dated penny design for quite a few years.

   

The penny machine can be found along a wall covered in the 2020 merchandise like t-shirts, sweaters, snow globs, picture frames and so much more.  The penny available here was of Spaceship Earth.

Remember at the beginning when I said most of the designs are available well this is the one exception for now.  I was at Epcot the day this design was released.  But for some reason about a week, later this store was closed up for a lengthy refurbishment.  As of the date, I’m writing this penny machine has not been moved and is currently unavailable.  There is a new “Temporary” Mouse Gear store behind the Electric Umbrella quick service restaurant, but the machine hasn’t been placed there yet.  This design has become a highly sought after design for now since it was only available for a few days not many people were able to get one.  Rumors are that the machine cabinet is being rethemed and will then return.  I’ll be sure to post an update if it shows up again.

   

Epcot also had a second penny design available back in the World Showcase at the Disney Trader’s gift shop.  The design is of Chip and Dale carrying what I think is Donald’s hat.  After pressing this penny I headed over to the International Gateway and grabbed the new Skyliner over to Hollywood Studios.

   

The first new design is back in the Rock Around the Shop the gift shop for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  I really like the design of this machine’s cabinet and hope they don’t change it.  It just really fits in well here.  The penny design here was of Chip and Dale in 2020.

 

Not too far away was the next coin in the Tower Hotel Gifts which is the store for the Tower of Terror attraction.  This pressed quarter has a similar design from previous years of the Tower of Terror.

With Hollywood Studios completed we headed over to the Animal Kingdom.  Back in Dinoland USA at the Chester and Hester Dino Treasures gift shop is where the penny machine is located.

 

The penny in this store is of the Tree of Life the icon of the park also with 2020 at the bottom.  Animal Kingdom used to have a dated pressed quarter located at the Harambe Train Station but this machine did not get a 2020 design.

Now we were off to check out some of the resorts for new coins.  First, we stopped at the All-Star Sports resort.

 

The machines are located in the main lobby building just outside the Arcade.  There is one-quarter machine available and the design here is of 2020 Goofy.

A little further down the road, we visited the All-Star Music resort.  These machines are also located in the main building just outside the Note’ Able Arcade.

 

The pressed quarter design at this resort is of Pluto with 2020 on it.

The last All-Star resort is Movies and ended strong with two pressed coin designs.

 

These machines are found in the World Premier Food Court and can be a busy place if you visit during common mealtime.  The pressed quarter design is of Donald Duck.

 

Just a few steps to the right is the penny machine with the new 2020 design of Pluto.  This completed the All-Star resorts so we jumped back in our car and headed over to the Art of Animation resort.

This resort has one of my favorite food courts called the Landscape of Flavors.  When you first walk in there is a pretty big gift shop, then the food court is just beyond that.  The penny machines are just past the gift shop.

 

The design available at this machine is another horizontal image of Donald Duck in 2020.  There was just one more resort we needed to visit and it probably my all-time favorite.

I love the theming at the Polynesian Village Resort, and the food options are great.  Inside the main lobby building called the Grand Ceremonial House, up on the second floor is the Moana Mercantile and the penny machine is right outside the store.

 

Of all the designs this year I think this one is my favorite, 2020 Minnie Mouse.

After a quick ride on the Monorail, we were inside the Magic Kingdom.  I headed right down Main Street, through the Castle and into Fantasyland.

Near the carousel is a store called Sir Mickey’s.  This is also the store you exit into after you experience a Princess Meet and Greet.

 

In previous years this machine has been my archnemesis.  I think in 2019 I had to visit this machine about 3-4 times before it was finally working to press the penny.  This year I lucked out and it was working without any issue.  This is another cute design of 2020 Mickey Mouse.

In previous years the Main Street Emporium had a dated penny and quarter, but not in 2020.  This year those old designs were replaced with previously retired designs from other locations.  But I did find another machine at the Main Street Train Station.

 

This was a new machine placed here in 2019 and all four of the designs were replaced with new 2020 penny designs.  This set has images of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Cinderella’s Castle.  We had just one more place to visit to finalize all the 2020 coins, we grabbed a bus over to Disney Springs.

   

In the Pin Traders store, there is a collectible medallion machine.  This has moved around a bit over the last year, but this seems to be it’s new “permanent” location.  There was a 2019 design here and it has been replaced with a new 2020 medallion.

Wow, I don’t know about you but that was quite a trek around WDW property.

This year there are only 4 pressed quarter designs.  It does seem like these pressed quarter machines are slowly being removed as quite a few of them were taken away last year and have not returned.  There were 12 pennies and 1 collectible medallion, making for a grand total of 17 dated coins.

Keep in mind that penny from Epcot’s Mouse Gear is not currently available, and is also a prime example of making sure you try to get these coins as soon as you can.  With so many things changing around Walt Disney World property these machines seem to come and go periodically which can leave holes in your collection.

Have a great 2020 and I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with any changes to this setup or if that pesky Mouse Gear penny shows up somewhere.  I think this is going to be another big year at WDW with new coin released so we will definitely be busy.

Keep on Smashing!!

(More) Frozen Pressed Pennies – Epcot Norway Pavilion

It’s 2020 and Disney has started released their dated pennies and quarters so I’ve been focused on that for the last couple weeks.  Then all of a sudden in the middle of that they decide to release a brand new penny machine in Epcot.  We are in between festivals so I was intrigued about what designs could be in this machine.  Then I got a message from a fellow collector on Instagram about the new Norway machine.  Uh oh, I think I know what this new set is going to be themed.  Wasn’t there just a new Frozen movie released?

Over in the Norway Pavilion, there are two separate sections.  If you are coming from the Mexico Pavilion, the first area has the Anna and Elsa Royal Sommerhus which is a meet and greet area.  Then if you go a bit further the second area is where the Frozen Ever After ride is located along with some shopping and the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  I, of course, headed to that main section near the Ride with all the shops but couldn’t find this new machine.  Eventually, I checked the first section and remember there was a gift shop at the exit to the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.  This store is called The Wandering Reindeer.

They even have a cute cross-stitch of a reindeer up on the wall.  Not for sale that I could tell, but give them time.

Inside is all Frozen all the time.  I don’t think I saw one piece of merchandise that wasn’t Frozen related.  But I guess that’s to be expected as you would normally just be finishing your visit with Anna and Else before exiting in here.  Please note that you do not actually need to do the meet and greet to get in here, there is a door right from the outside as I pictured above.  Once you walk inside all the way in the back left is where I found the machine.

I apologize for the picture, the lighting inside was terrible and with parts of the machine backlit it made getting a good picture very difficult.  As you can see the machine is our new standard 8-design machine.

The machine does still supply new shiny pennies for you and these came out pretty nicely.  The designs include Else, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Hans and some of the characters together.  After I got home I took a further look at these and honestly couldn’t tell if these if there were technically a Frozen II set or not.  I didn’t think Hans was in the second movie, but my daughters said otherwise so I’m not sure what to call them other than just a new set of Frozen pressed pennies.  As a collector, I’m surprised for more Frozen designs, but again with the popularity of the new movie, I guess this does make sense. Kids will be looking for souvenirs with their favorite Frozen characters, and the parents will be happy to only drop $5 for a souvenir.  Not too bad in my book.

Festival of the Holiday’s 2019 – Epcot

Happy New Year!!
Unfortunately, I had planned to write the below post a couple weeks ago but I got sick and some family events happened during the holidays.  I apologize for the delay and this festival has completed for 2019 but the next festival will be upon us before too long.
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Epcot doesn’t waste any time transitioning from one Festival to the next.  It seems like just a few weeks ago I was enjoying the Food and Wine Festival, and then just this past week everything changed over to the Festival of the Holidays.

I will admit this is not one of my favorite festivals, but it still gives me an excuse to head over to the park and try some new food items, or experience the Candlelight Processional which is actually a great show.

This year my two daughters wanted to try and complete the Cookie Stroll.

Last year I had attempted it but only got through a couple cookies before I felt sick from all the sugar and holiday spice.  This year my plan was to break up the sweetness with some savory dishes and hopefully not go home with my tail between my legs utterly defeated and embarrassed.

My two girls were excited and ready for some cookies.  After we got inside the park we picked up our Festival Passport so we knew where to go and headed for the first cookie.

 

The booth over near the Canadian Pavilion was called the Yukon Holiday kitchen, and they had the Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie.  I am not a huge peppermint fan, but this cookie was actually really good.  It was soft, moist and didn’t have an overwhelming amount of peppermint flavor which was a plus for me.

If you are going to try the cookie stroll, make sure you get your passport stamped after you pay for the cookie.

 

The second cookie was at the Fest of the Three Kings booth and was a Chocolate Crinkle Cookie.  This was just okay for us, my girls didn’t really like it.  To be it was almost more like a cake than a cookie, it was a bit dry but had plenty of chocolate flavor.

 

We then had to take a bit of a stroll around the World Showcase until we got to the German Pavilion and the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen booth.  They had the Linzer Cookie which was filled with raspberry jam.  This was fantastic and was my clear favorite of all the cookies we tried that day.

 

Over in the American Adventure pavilion was the American Holiday Table booth.  Here you could try a classic Gingerbread Man cookie.  I do not enjoy gingerbread myself so this was a miss for me, but my girls raved about this cookie.  They liked it so much they begged for a second one to enjoy on the way to our next booth.

 

In between the Morocco and France pavilion was a very popular food booth called L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen.  They had a Pastrami on Rye sandwich which I had tried last year and was really good, as well as a couple different potato Latkes.  But we were here for a cookie and got the Black and White cookie.  This has a nice lemon flavor to it, but nothing too exciting.  My youngest enjoyed eating all the frosting from the top and she said that was her favorite part.

We had done it.  After the Black and White cookie, it was time to head over to the Holiday Sweets and Treats booth for our complimentary Completer cookie.

 

It was a cute Santa Mickey-shaped Sugar Cookie and we even got a free bottle of white milk.  We each took a small bite just to say we tried all of them, but by this time we were sick of cookies and couldn’t really enjoy it so we packaged it up and took it home.

To try and celebrate our glorious victory over the cookie stroll we headed into the Port of Entry gift shop to see what Festival merchandise was available.  There were the standard t-shirts, sweaters, and candy cane flavored popcorn but nothing really called out to me this year.  Then as we wandered around the store I found something.

The collectible coins/medallions were back.  The Food and Wine versions had been removed and replaced with the new Festival of the Holidays designs.

The machine looks exactly the same, but had a new marquee and was filled with the new coins.

They are still the same cost at $5 each, or 3 for $10.

The designs are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Chip & Dale.  The back of the coins has the Festival of the Holidays logo.

I was originally against these coins mostly due to their very high cost, but now that these seem to be coming out for each festival I’ve grown to enjoy.  With everything going on this time of year I actually forgot these may even be available so it was a happy coincidence to come across them.

Later that evening the rest of our family arrived at Epcot and we had dinner in the France Pavilion at Chefs de France.  Then we finished our evening enjoying the Candlelight Processional with guest host Gary Sinise.  He was fantastic, the music was wonderful and the singing just topped off our amazing day.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday.  Please stay safe and enjoy your special time with family and friends.

Living with the Land NEW Pressed Penny Set – Epcot

So we are halfway through the month of December.   This is the time of year that I begin to try and prepare myself for the chaos that ensues when Disney starts releasing the new dated coins all over property.  I assumed those would be the next “new” coins, but then they tried to sneak a new machine over at The Land Pavilion in Epcot.

My family was heading into Epcot for the Candlelight Processional the day after I had heard about this new machine.  So things couldn’t have worked out better.  After we had dinner there was a little time to spare before the show was to start, which gave me the opportunity to visit The Land.

When you walk into this pavilion you are on the second floor.  Directly across is the Garden grill revolving restaurant and just to the right of that is where the coin press machines were located.

There used to a 3 design penny machine and a 3 design quarter machine (see above) here but both have now been removed.  The quarter machine had one of the 2019 dated designs so this may be the beginning of those being retired.

Above is a picture I took to show that both of those old machines are gone and only the new 8-design machine is there along with a dog-tag engraving machine.

Here is a close up of the machine.  It has a similar cabinet design to the previous machines and blends in nicely with The Land Pavilion theme.

The internal working of the press is always very mesmerizing to me.  I enjoy getting down close and watching as it presses my coins.

Here is a picture of the marquee on the top of the machine with the designs available in this set.  Same price as the other similar machines, $1 per penny or all 8 for $5.

Finally above is pictured my complete set after pressing.  There are some fun designs in this set and some characters we don’t see very often like Bambi and Jiminy Cricket.

The entire set has the works “Living with the Land” on them which are in reference to the classic slow movie boat ride that takes you through The Land Pavilion greenhouse.  It’s not a very thrilling ride but has some fun information along the way and you get to see where they grow some of the produce used in the restaurants all over property.

Will this be the last new set before those 2020 coins start showing up.  I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date on where and when that all starts happening.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pressed Pennies – Epcot

Weren’t we just at Epcot?  It seems like I’ve been here the last few weeks documenting penny machines.  Well that’s okay I’m not going to complain about Disney released new Pressed Penny designs.  As you may remember a week ago I had visited the park to find all the penny machines that had been converted to $1, and one of the last machines was at The Seas with Nemo and Friends gift shop.  While I was checking out that machine I saw a couple techs working on a new 8-design machine so I knew I had to come back and get more info on it.

Did I mention the front of Epcot is a huge construction site?  Yes, it’s a bit of a hot mess to try and get into the park at the time of writing.  There is quite a walk from the parking lot into the park even if you take the tram but I keep telling myself it will be great once all is done….in a few years (gulp!).  Thankfully I wasn’t going too far into the park as I just need to stay in Future World and headed towards the Seas with Nemo and Friends.

This is a bit of an older attraction but one that kids and adults all seem to like since it’s not too intense for those not interested in roller coasters or space simulators.

Due to this, you can usually get a fast pass pretty easily, or if that’s not available the standby wait time is usually fairly short.  I was able to get a Fastpass and headed right in.  The attraction has you getting into a sea shell ride vehicle and takes you through the Finding Nemo story.  There are some screens projecting Nemo and his friends that are surrounded by coral or other underwater scenery and is just a nice relaxing way to soak up some air conditioning.  At the end of the ride, you exit out into the Seabase (large aquarium) area of the building.  Eventually, you exit out through a gift shop.

If you would rather not ride on the attraction that is no problem when looking at the front entrance to the ride where you would hop into line just turn to the left and follow the pathway around back.  This will bring you directly into that gift shop.

On the far side of the gift shop, you can see the penny machines.  the one on the right side is the recently converted 4-design machine that was changed to $1 per penny and I wrote about previously.

However, the machine we were here to see this day was the one on the left.  This is the new 8-design penny machine.

Standard (now) touchscreen interface, the cost is $1 per penny or $5 for all 8 designs.  The machine accepts cash, credit card or digital payment like ApplePay.

The machine supplies shiny new pennies and they came out really nice.  The images are mostly themed around the Pixar movie Finding Dory the sequel to Finding Nemo.  But there are also a couple designs from The Little Mermaid including one of Ariel and Ursula’s Moray Eel Minions Flotsam and Jetsam.

What a nice new set of pennies and it fits in really nicely with this area of the park.  I’m a sucker for aquariums and when they have a fun ride, manatees, and pressed pennies I’m all in.

Epcot Machines Converting to $1 per Penny Design

I think we all knew this was inevitable.  First, we saw the new penny machine in Toy Story Land released at $1 per penny, then all the 4-design machines in the Magic Kingdom were converted to $1.  Now I’ve seen it with my own eyes, Epcot has been changed as well.

I’ll try not to keep harping on this but Epcot basically is a big construction site right now. So many changes are coming and I’m sure that it will be beautiful once all done.  It makes getting around this park now a bit of a pain with all the construction walls and buildings being torn down but I was on a mission to find all these converted machines.

Just beyond Spaceship Earth (the big golf ball) is Pin Central.  Basically, just a stand where you can buy a ton of different Disney Pins, or trade with cast members and other guests.  On the left and right sides of this stand were two penny machines.

   

In the pictures above the machine on the left is the “before” and the machine on the right is the “after”.  You can see the cabinet has been changed slightly.  It has some new graphics, no longer has the coin slider since the machine supplies the pennies now, and also has been given a credit card component.  The 4 penny designs have not changed: Phineas & Ferb playing guitars, Spaceship Earth with a Goofy Hat, Agent P, and Duffy the Disney Bear.

   

If you walk to the opposite side of the Pin Stand you can find the second machine available here.  Left is before and the right picture is after the conversion.  As with all these machines, the images have not changed.

   

Next, I headed over to the Land Pavilion in Future World (soon to be part of World Nature after Epcot’s renovations).  Inside the Land Pavilion is where you would find the main attraction Soarin’, as well as the Living with the Land attraction where you take a boat ride through a greenhouse.  Once inside the pavilion on the lower level is the Sunshine Season’s food court area and is where you can find the above penny machine.

I included a close up of the new usage details that are located on the front of the machine.  Due to the machine supplying the penny after payment is made there is a slightly different method of use.  Not much has changed, but you do need to “take your take” and don’t just start cranking the handle after you insert payment.  You do need to give it a few extra seconds to load the penny in place or your end result will be a mis-rolled coin.

   

We will be back to finish off Future World in a little bit, but for now, I headed into the World Showcase and my first stop was the Japan Pavilion.  The first machine here has been moved towards the back of the pavilion after it’s conversion.  This makes it easy to find and is now right next to the second machine.

   

It was nice to see that these unique cabinets have been kept the same other than the new instructions and payment methods.  I always like the way these looked and they fit into the pavilion nicely.

   

After the Japan pavilion, we had a bit of a trek through a few other Countries until we eventually found the African Outpost.  This is not a full pavilion but has a unique store and also a tent with a very talented woodcarver working on various pieces for purchase.  I’ve spent lots of time just watching him work as it’s really fascinating.  It was nice to see this cabinet get a bit of an update, there is now a marquee on the top with large images of the designs available in the machine that was not there previously.

   

We were almost done with the World Showcase but had one Pavilion left to check out. I headed into the China Pavilion and found the first machine about halfway towards the back near an outdoor stand that was selling puppets.

   

The second machine is all the way in the back of the Pavilion.  It’s near the exit to the movie theater where you can see the Reflections of China video.  The cabinets are fun designs for these machines as well and look to have received a fresh coat of paint.

Initially, these were all the machines that had been converted to $1, but strangely there was still one other 4-design machine in the park that had remained unchanged.

It was located back in Future World at the Seas with Nemo and Friends attraction in the gift shop.  Above is a picture of the machine.  After some conversations with other collectors we figured it would be changed eventually but due to it being a combination cabinet that housed not just the penny machine, but also a quarter press and a change machine all in one.  This was probably a bit of a complex machine to upgrade.  I held off on writing this post for weeks hoping that the machine would be changed and I could put the completed stamp on this park but it seemed like months were passing by and it still hadn’t changed.  So I started to detail out all the other machines, and of course just as I was about to publish the post I visited the park one random evening and witnessed them putting the machine out and getting it setup.

As you can see the machine was split out from that massive combo design.  It now has a new stand-alone design, but the images are still the same.  I chatted with the wonderful tech that was working on the machine as I’ve met her a few times in the past.  She mentioned the quarter press has been removed completely along with the change machine.  This is a bit sad since I really like the pressed quarter machines since the coins are larger they have nicer final images pressed and the details are always more pronounced.  Thankfully there are still a few quarter press machines around the property so I just hope they don’t decide to start removing them.

You may have noticed from the above picture of the new penny machine that there appears to be another machine beside it.  I was going to gloss over it and hope you didn’t notice but it was kind of hard to hide it from.  In place of the removed quarter press, they did release a new 8-design penny press machine.  It wasn’t completely working when I visited to get the above pictures so I’ll be going back in the next few days to use the machine and get more details on it.  At that time I’ll write a separate post on the pennies available in that new set.

Where will the next set of machines be converted?  My guess is Hollywood Studios but there are also a few machines at Disney Springs and a couple at the resorts.  I’ll be making some extra trips to these locations over the next few weeks to try and keep everyone up to date on the changes.  Happy collecting!!