Pirates of the Caribbean Collectible Medallions – Magic Kingdom WDW

Throughout 2019 we have noticed that the 4-design pressed penny machines around Walt Disney World property have been slowly converted to have a higher cost per penny…now at a whopping $1.  This is up from the standard $0.50 which seems to be the norm for most of the penny presses around the United States.  You can read about some of the recent changes here.   While thoughts on this increase among collectors various with some not happy about the increase, others upset that they can no longer use their own pennies, to others agreeing this was inevitable with the assumed rising cost to maintain the machines.  However, you fell about this change about increased cost I have started to notice something else start popping up around property that is even more expensive…collectible medallions.

Initially, when a set of these came out I had convinced myself I wouldn’t get them and wanted to stay focused on the pressed pennies.  Then they released a special medallion for the Flower and Garden Festival in Epcot (something I’ve always wanted with pressed pennies), and I finally broke.  Thankfully at the time, there were only a couple machines but it seems like more and more of these are making appearances.  Just a few weeks ago I received a message on Facebook about a new set of medallions but this time in the Magic Kingdom for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

The first chance I got I headed over to the park and visited one of my favorite rides.  I was able to get a last-minute fastness so I enjoyed the ride first and then headed towards the gift shop in search of the machine.

The store is actually called the Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar but most people just say the gift shop at the end of the Pirates ride.

It didn’t take long to find the machine since it’s located pretty much in the dead center of the store.  This is good and bad, easy to find but in a very busy spot.  There are people both exiting the attraction that pass right by it, and also people shopping all around.  I stood here about a good 5 minutes just to try and get a clear picture of the machine and the above is about the best I could do.

The cabinet for the medallions is pretty cool looking.  The distressed wood makes it look like it came straight off a pirate ship or was made of old treasure chests.

I find these machines a bit interesting as to how they are setup.  In the middle of the machine are large glass pieces where you can see inside where the coins are stored.  But these never move so they are not actually the ones you get after you pay for them.  I guess this is where the “extras” are stored until needed, but wouldn’t it look strange when the inside is empty due to the coins all being loaded for dispensing?  To be honest I’ve never seen one of these medallion machines without any coins in this middle display section but you would think eventually they would want to sell off those coins as well.  If I ever find someone doing some maintenance on these machines I’ll have to try and ask how it works.

Here are the buttons that you would press to pick the medallions you want after paying for them.  The cost is $5 each, or 3 of them for $10.  So if you want all 4 that will run you $15.  The machine does accept cash or credit card, but be aware if paying with a credit card it will only allow the $10 option (for three coins).

As per usual I just couldn’t resist the entire set.  The coins are made of different materials, although I would actually assume the core of them is the same but with a different coating/finish on the outside.  The designs are Pirate Mickey, Pirate Minnie, Pluto and the Skeleton steering the ship from the ride.

The back of all the medallions has the same design for the Pirates of the Caribbean with the skull and crossbones.  These coins aren’t dated like some of the other ones released this year so I would think this set may be sticking around for a while but you just never know with Disney.

Now back to my original conversation on the increased cost to the pressed pennies.  Am I happy about an increase in cost, of course not!  I wish they could stay at $0.50 forever especially with my obsessive need to collect all of them that would help keep my expense budget down.  But I do really enjoy this hobby and even at $1 per penny, it’s still a pretty good steak for a collectible and souvenir from Disney.  It would be nice to be able to use my own penny but the machines now do seem to be supplying uncirculated pennies that come out nice and shiny and hopefully will hold up over the years if properly stored, only time will tell.  Then we come to these new medallions and at $5 a coin they are now starting to push their luck.  The coins are hefty and solid, not cheaply made and I enjoy the unique designs on them.  I don’t know if I would pay much more than the current cost for these medallions so hopefully, they stay this cost for now and limit the total number of medallions available to help keep these all affordable for collectibles and casual fans alike.  If the costs rise too much more and my budget allows for only medallions or pressed pennies, the pennies will win out every time.  Although even that has a limit of how much we would be willing to pay for our beloved pressed pennies.

Halloween Horror Nights 2019 Token – Universal Studios Florida

Are two years in a row considered a trend?  Well if not I sure hope this continues.  Back in 2018 I visited Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios for the first time as a Florida resident and had an amazing time.  One of the fun finds during the event was a souvenir token I found and you can read about it here.

 

Well here we are one year later and Universal has done it again.  The theme this year is a retro 80’s style.  You can see from the pictures above the one on the left is during the daytime and on the right is after the sun goes down.  They project a Tetris like pattern on the entrance arches.

With our annual passes, we were allowed into the park a little early to wait in designated areas called “Stay and Scream”.  It helps you avoid the massive crowd that will gather in front of the park before the event starts.  It is nice to get a bit of a jump start on the houses/mazes but as you can see from the above they aren’t quite as scary when the sun is still up.  That picture was taken out front of the house themed around the cult classic “House of 1000 Corpses”.

Crowds can get pretty crazy and the wait times for the different houses can fluctuate throughout the night.  They do offer a smartphone app that you can use to monitor the wait times and is a priceless tool when trying to experience as many houses as possible.  They also have screens with the current wait times out in front of each house.  Above was for an original concept house called “Nightingales Blood Pit”.

Some of the scenes inside the houses can get pretty gruesome, but it’s not recommended for younger visitors.  I took the above picture which is about the only picture I had that wasn’t too gory.  This is the exterior of the Nightingales house.  Unfortunately, no photography or videography is allowed inside the houses.

Back in the New York area of the park is an Arcade that is available here year-round.  However this year during Halloween Horror Nights they have converted it into the Palace Arcade which you may recognize if you are a Stranger Things fan (a show on Netflix).

This arcade was also given the 80s makeover and I almost felt like a kid again back in my youth spending countless quarters on video games.

They even swapped out some of the modern video games with retro ones like Rampage, Asteroid and Mrs. Pac-Man.

The only way to play any of these games is to get some of their special tokens.  The machines will not accept quarters for some reason.  But for us coin collectors this is a fun alternative.

There are quite a few of these token machines throughout the arcade and the exchange isn’t quite what it was back in the 80s.  You can 2 tokens for $1 or a bit of a discount if you get a larger quantity.

One side of the token has Halloween Horror Nights 2019, and the reverse has a Palace Arcade logo.  I did get a few of these tokens, this way I could keep a few for my collection and still play some retro games before heading back out for more scares.

Halloween Horror Nights is really an amazing event and I just can’t get enough of it.  The scares are all in fun, but as I mentioned above really not for small children.  I will be going back as many times as I can because the houses and scare zones are just so much fun and the scare actors do a great job.

I’m crossing my fingers that next year will continue this trend of fun souvenir tokens.

The Dino Institute NEW Pressed Pennies – Animal Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newly Renovated Park Stores at Orlando International Airport

Just a few days ago I had to make a trip over to the Orlando International Airport so I could pick up some family.  Their flight was due in around 7pm and never really knowing how traffic will be on I-4 I left a bit early to make sure I had plenty of time to get there.  But as luck would have it traffic wasn’t too bad so I had quite a bit of time to wander around the airport.  Thankfully I remembered that some of the Theme Park stores in the airport had recently gone through some refurbishments.  Years ago they all used to have penny machines but most have disappeared, and the only one that was available was in the Disney Earport store but that is now closed for renovations. Go figure!

First I stopped by the Seaworld store.  I always liked that Seaworld blue color and it was all over the store.  The stuff here is the same as you will find in the theme park but I’m sure probably has an airport premium on the price.

I did notice that there was an abundance of Sesame Street merch in the store which would be thanks to the new Sesame Street land that opened earlier this year in Seaworld.  As I wandered through the store I kept an eye open for a penny machine but there wasn’t one to be found.

Next up I headed to the recently opened Magic of Disney store.  This was one of two Disney stores in the airport which are at opposite ends of the main terminal building from each other.  I always felt a bit claustrophobic in this store as it was just small, and not very open but that has completely changed now.  It looks like most of the walls were removed and it’s very nice and open.

I really liked this illuminated Mickey head behind the check out area with the castle silhouette.

Lots of pictures from the theme parks inside and the store was split into areas for all the different Disney properties like Star Wars, Pixar, and classic Disney items.

There was a bit of Halloween merch already in here but that’s not too surprised.  They are already hosting Halloween parties in the Magic Kingdom and it’s only September.  Unfortunately, this store didn’t have a penny machine either which I thought at the very least the Earport machine would have been relocated here temporarily.  But that was not the case.

The last store that was open for me to check out was the Universal Orlando store.

Of course, there was a big section of the store dedicated to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  All the different school houses, more wands that you can imagine and plenty of other fun souvenirs to take home.

The rest of the store was a big mashup of their other theme park icons like The Simpsons, Fast and Furious, and Jurassic Park.

Just like the other stores, there was no pressed penny machine.  But something that did catch my eye is this 2019 Universal Coin.  It was encased in this thin acrylic case with a large cardboard mat around it.  The coin itself just had the Universal Studios globe logo surrounded by reels of film.

The back of the coin has more of the film reels and says “The EPIC Adventures at Universal Studios 2019”.  It’s nice that it was dated so I’m assuming it will only be available through the end of the year.  Although to be honest there were a LOT of these in the store.  Did you see the price tag?  $24.99 for this one coin.  I was really interested in picking one of these up but wow that price was a bit steep and even I couldn’t justify spending that amount.  Maybe if I hold out until the end of the year they will be discounted, fingers crossed.

Located near that big coin I did find a basket with some new Universal Pressed Penny booklets.

The price wasn’t too bad at only $8.00.  Plus you do get one pressed penny embedded on the front cover.

It’s just the classic Universal Studios globe logo but still a fun penny to have in your collection.  I didn’t pick this booklet up at the airport as I’m sure they have them back in the parks so I’ll double-check the next time I’m there.

That was about the closest I got to a new pressed penny at the Orlando International Airport.  As I mentioned at the beginning there is one other Disney store called the Earport that is being renovated right now.  It is due to open again in a few months I believe so I’ll be sure to go back and see if the old machine is back or if maybe we can expect some new designs.  Safe travels!!

Jurassic Park Discovery Center – Islands of Adventure

I have spent a good amount of time this summer visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure keeping an eye out for those new pressed penny designs.  If you read my post about the retired design stickers we found a few months ago, we have been anxiously waiting for those new pennies to show up.  Some have made an appearance and I’ll be posting about all the new replacements once they have all been released.  However, on my most recent visit, I actually came across a brand new machine.

This one caught me by surprise and to be honest I was lucky to even find it.  I had my two daughters with me as we visited Universal Studios first but had no changes, so we then went into Islands of Adventure.  The last few pennies we are waiting on still hadn’t shown up but we made our way around the lagoon just to enjoy the park for a bit.

There has been quite a bit of construction going on near the Jurassic Park area with rumors about a new Roller Coaster.  Nothing official has been released by Universal at this time.

We eventually made our way around to the Jurassic Park area and decided to head inside the Discovery Center for some air conditioning.

While we were inside I tried to think if I had ever noticed there were two floors.  On the main upper level, there is a quick service place for burgers and milkshakes, and a gift shop on the opposite side that has a 4 design hand crank penny machine.  So obviously I’ve been in that store a few times.  My girls ran over to the railing where the big T-Rex was located and noticed all sorts of things going on downstairs so we headed down to check it out.

There were quite a few dinosaur statues around and some interactive exhibits giving interesting facts about the dinos.  There was even a dino nursery with dino eggs just waiting to hatch.  They also had a few “scientists” walking around that were more than happy to answer questions you may have about the dinosaurs.

After we visited the nursery is when I noticed a penny machine stashed beside a planted tree which seemed like a strange place for it.

I started to wonder how long this machine may have been here.  The machine was in a pretty standard cabinet that looked like a wooden crate.

But it does have the NEW! sticker on the glass of the machine which seemed to be a new thing they are utilizing so I’m taking a guess that this machine was put here sometime this summer.

The designs on the pennies were of a Carnotaurus, a Triceratops, and a Raptor possibly Blue from the new movies.  Each design does also have Jurassic World along the bottom.

The latest Jurassic World movie Fallen Kingdom was released in June 2018 but maybe this is all due to that mysterious construction going on behind the Discovery Center building.  Guess we will just have to wait and see.

Manatee Viewing Center – Apollo Beach, FL

When you ask people about the wildlife in Florida, of course, they tend to bring up the Alligators.  But another one that is really synonymous with the Sunshine State is Manatees.  They are protected by the state, and during certain months of the year, they move inland to some of our state parks.  Visitors can come and quietly see them and we have done this in the past at the Blue Springs State Park.  But this year we got a bit of a late start trying to make it out somewhere new to see some Manatees but were able to see a couple in Apollo Beach.

This was in a bit of a unique location and when I was reading up on it before our trip I was a little confused about what it was all about.  This Manatee Viewing Center is actually run by the Tampa Electric company.  The Big Bend Power Station delivered electricity to the surrounding community.  In 1986 they began operating Big Bend Unit 4 and that same year people started seeing manatees in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal.  This is where saltwater taken from the Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4 flowed clean and warm back into the bay.  When Tampa Bay reaches 68 degrees or colder the Manatees seek out this area which is why they are only here roughly between November and April each year.

Due to a large number of people that would come out to this area to see the Manatees, the Viewing Center was born.  Today the Big Bend discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary.  There is quite a bit of parking but just like all the other Manatee viewing places, they can fill up quickly with plenty of visitors.  I always recommend getting there as early as you possibly can.

As you walk around the raised boardwalk pathways that are about 8 feet above the water it gives you a wonderful overview of the canal.

I will admit that the large power station in the background was a little distracting but soon forgot about it as we saw the manatees gently swimming around below us.

As I mentioned we came pretty late in the season and there were not too many manatees still enjoying the canal.  We saw about 3 in total this day, but I was told that it came during the middle of the season there are so many more around.

In one area they did have posters hung up giving some information about the manatees that return year after year.

We also found one of these manatee statues up near the gift shop.  I remember seeing a similar one at the Blue Spring State Park.  I wonder if these are located at all the different manatee viewing areas throughout the state.  Guess we will have to keep that in mind as we check out other locations in the future.

We headed inside the gift shop just to see what they had available.

As you would assume the place was just filled from corner to corner with manatees.  From stuffed versions to ceramic art models, bracelets and all types of jewelry.

Plus plenty of t-shirts like the above shown above which I picked up for myself.

Outside the gift shop and over near the little snack bar area we found the penny machine I (not so secretly) new was also here.

It was a four design hand crank model.  Unfortunately, it was not leveled properly and tilted as bit as you turned the handle, but the pressed pennies still came out perfectly.  You just want to be careful on that first turn that you don’t knock the whole thing over.

The penny designs were of a manatee, two pelicans, two manatees swimming and a large fish.  Sorry, I’m not much of an angler so I don’t recognize exactly what type of fish this might be.

There were a lot of other things to do here if you didn’t want to just stand around and watch manatees.  Down on the main floor, they have a stingray touch tank, there are some of those mold-o-matic machines that once you pay $3 you get a wax mold of a manatee in different positions.  They also had a butterfly garden, and some nature trails you could explore.

Towards the back of the viewing center was also a large pier that extended along the length of the canal.  We saw plenty of fish in the water but no manatees along here this time.  But I’m sure if you go during the busy season this would be a fun place to see large numbers of them floating by.

This was a really great place to see some manatees.  I’ll definitely try to come back here next year during the busy season.  There are lots of viewing space so I would think even if there are lots of people you have plenty of places to stand and see these gentle mammals enjoying the warm water.

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) – Tampa, FL

On the weekend I was heading to Busch Gardens in Tampa for a special event but along the way, I passed the MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) near the park.  I always loved science museums as a kid and knew I wanted to bring my daughter back to try it out.  This past weekend we finally made it back and had a great time.

There would usually be plenty of parking in the back of the museum.  However, during our visit, there was a renaissance fair going on nearby that was sharing the museums parking so spots were pretty sparse.  After a short walk, we made it to the museum entrance.

Even outside the museum were some fun science experiments like one with a couple large satellite dishes allowing you to whisper on one side for your friend to hear 30 feet away.

I will admit that the museum looks much larger from the outside.  Not to say it’s small, but I was thinking it may be more than one floor.  All the exhibits were spread out on the main floor that extended pretty far back.

The exhibits covered all sorts of different topics as they usually do.  At the very beginning was some info on the space program and even had a tire from one of the shuttles on display.

There was a hanging table that simulated seismic waves like an earthquake.  My daughter thought this was so much fun.  We would build a tower, then press the button and watch the table vibrate and our tower falls apart.

Another fun experiment was this tug of war contraption.  We watched a family pull on one side but couldn’t budge the one person holding the opposite end, due to all the pullies the rope was threaded through.  Ahh, science!

One area took me a bit by surprise as it had some dinosaur fossils, usually, I would think this more for a Natural History museum.  But there is science in all things so and I’m not complaining about being able to see some dinos.

Back in one corner of the museum was dedicated to hockey science.  They had displays showing all the different equipment the players wore and how it protects them against injuries.  Another display shows how they painted the lines on the ice and also how a Zamboni (the vehicle that cleans the ice) works.

Each area wasn’t huge in size but there were so many different topics to explore that we did get to spend a good portion of our day playing with all the different experiments.

However, one area of the museum that kept drawing my daughter was the obstacle course outside.  This is located outside in the courtyard of the museum.  There is a harness that you get strapped into that is connected to the support beams as you make your way through the course.  This just ensures you don’t have any way to fall or get hurt.  My daughter was so excited to try it but only made it a little way up as I think she underestimated how high up she would go.  It was still a lot of fun and she has been talking about it ever since.

We eventually headed back inside and were ready to call it a day.  Towards the entrance of the museum just past the admission desk, there was a wall of vending machines.  My daughter immediately headed to the Dippin’ Dots machine for some “ice cream of the future” as it’s labeled.  After she had her snack I used the pressed penny machine right beside it.

Each penny says the Museum of Science and Industry on it along with images of a T-Rex, a Sauropod, a Pirate and some Butterflies.

This museum had plenty for us to do and we will definitely be back for more fun.  They mentioned that new traveling exhibits come in and out all year long so we will keep an eye out for future visits.

One thing I thought of after we had left was about the penny machine and how they should make an exhibit out of it.  They could demonstrate the amount of pressure needed to squashed the coin, and how the gears work to allow us to create so much crushing power with so little arm strength.  I’ll have to submit a suggestion the next time we visit!  Happy collecting.

NEW Medallion Art of Disney Store – Disney Springs

On August 2nd the Disney Channel released the final movie in their Descendants series.  This is a series of movies my daughters have only recently found, but were immediately drawn into them and are their current obsession.  Basically the story revolves around the VKs (Villain Kids), the children of all the famous Disney movie villains like Mal the daughter of Maleficent, or Evie the daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White, Carlos is the son of Cruella de Vil, and Jay the son of Jafar just to name a few.

To celebrate this new movie, over at Disney Springs on the Waterside Stage they started having nightly DescenDance Parties.  Basically, there is a DJ up on stage encouraging everyone to dance, and periodically there are video clips show on stage with the Villain Kids showing off new dance moves or of course promoting the new movie.  When I told my girls about it they immediately wanted to head over and check it out.  To be honest, I was kind of blown away, the movie is great and the kids absolutely loved it.  Most of the adults are sitting back on the benches watching, and down front by the stage are all the kids (or kids at heart) dancing around enjoying their favorite songs.  The show starts nightly at 7:30pm and runs through 10:30pm.  We stuck around for a couple hours at which time our girls were exhausted but we still had to drag them away.  No one was quite ready to head home yet so we wondered around Disney Springs a bit and just window shopped a few of our favorite stores.

Over near Rainforest Cafe is one of my favorite stores the Art of Disney.  I try not to buy too many items from this place but they have so much cool stuff it’s hard to just look and not buy.  It had been a while since my last visit so we headed inside to see what was new.

The artwork is constantly being rotated in the store but mostly because it’s very popular and people buy up all the artwork as quickly as they put it out.  They have paintings, prints, posters, sculptures and so much more.  There are even animators on hand that will hand draw your favorite Disney character if you want.

As we walked through the store I noticed in the far back corner where the collectible Medallion machine usually was located, it was no longer there.

I headed over to that side of the store just to make sure but did find it had just been moved to the opposite corner.  This seemed a little strange so I headed up to it just to see if anything else had changed.

The machine itself was the same with no changes.

Then when I looked at the designs that were available one immediately stuck out.  There used to be a Frozen design with Anna and Elsa as the far left option.  But now there was Mickey’s 90th Celebration design.

Here is a close up of the button on the machine.

Above is a picture of the actual medallion that I picked up for my collection.  The cost is also the same as before, $10 for 3 medallions or $5 each.  Definitely a bit pricey but these are not plastic or cheaply made coins, they have quite some weight to them and the designs have very nice detail with Mickey and his birthday hat.  Plus I love the slogan World’s Biggest Mouse Party.  This will make a nice addition to my Mickey’s 90th Celebration set of pressed pennies that the parks released earlier this year.  If you want to read about those pennies you can check it out here.

Since Mickey’s 90th is only going on until the end of the year, and this machine also has a dated 2019 medallion the odds are good they won’t be around forever.  I’ll have to remember to keep a closer eye on this machine as the designs seems to be changing more frequently than I would have guess.

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!

Brevard Zoo – Melbourne, FL

Every so often on a weekend when I ask my daughters what they want to go and do they surprise me by saying no to a theme park.  As I child I would have given a limb to live so close to these world-famous theme parks, but I guess sometimes you just need to do something else.  A recent weekend had us in just this predicament so I quickly searched around for a place we haven’t visited yet and found the Brevard Zoo which was about an hour and a half away on the east coast.

Due to the drive, we arrived later than I would have usually preferred, and we did run into a bit of an issue finding a parking spot.  The parking area is a decent size, but it was packed which on the upside is a good sign that this is a popular place.

After we paid for our tickets we headed inside.  This was a really nice place with some wide-open areas to just sit and enjoy the day, plus a lot of different geographic zones showcasing the animals.

Weaving all around the zoo was a large pond/lake.  At one point we did see people canoeing with a guide which I believe is something the zoo offers for an additional cost.  We may have to come back and try that out when the girls are a little older so I don’t have to do all the paddling.

Even though we live in Florida it’s always still fun to see these zoos with a “Wild Florida” area filled with the wildlife we can see almost on a daily basis.

There were plenty of pathways taking you through the different exhibits, and most of them were a bit elevated so you could get a nice higher up view of the animals.

Of course in the Florida area, we saw plenty of Alligators both swimming (floating) or resting on land catching some sun.

We also came across a Bobcat which my daughter absolutely was fascinated with and wanted to bring home with us.  Thankfully we found a popcorn stand nearby and I was able to bribe her away from that idea with a snack.

After visiting our local Florida animal friends we headed into the Australian outback.

They had some big lizards back here but of course, the main event was the kangaroos.

Next was probably my favorite area of the zoo which was an African area.  It started out with an exhibit filled with Meerkats which is always fun to watch as they pop their heads out of the holes.

But then as we continued walking the path started to go up on an incline when we came to the big guys.  On one size were some zebras and a rhino all enjoying some lunch.

After that, we strolled over to the other side where the giraffes were found.  You could pay for some lettuce leaves to feed them which was a very popular activity.  I’m not sure exactly how much food a giraffe eats in a day, but I’m sure they get plenty at this place.  The walkway eventually deadends and you make your way back through the African area but we did spend most of our time here as I just thought it was a unique way to get up close and personal with the giraffes.

After we finished checking out the zoo and had some lunch along the way we headed back towards the front of the park.  Just outside of the Wonders of the Wild gift shop we found the penny machine that I maybe sorta kinda knew was here.

This was a really cool looking penny press.  It was shaped like a tree stump about four feet tall, and then had a statue of a monkey on top making sure you don’t use the machine incorrectly.  I’ve seen a similar machine at an Insect machine in Philadelphia years ago (just without the monkey).

The penny designs were pretty standard for a zoo.  Meerkats, a River Otter, an Alligator, and a Zebra.  To be honest, I’m kind of surprised there wasn’t a Giraffe design but I guess I’m one of the few that really liked that area of the zoo.

This wasn’t the largest zoo we have ever visited but it was a lot of fun and had some very unique exhibits that I really enjoyed.  I’ve always really loved visiting zoos and aquariums so you don’t have to twist my arm too hard to go to one.  Especially when they are within a reasonable drive from home, and of course having a pressed penny machines helps.