Busch Gardens Tampa – Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Busch Gardens Tampa – Part 1

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

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

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

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

  

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

  

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

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

  

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

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

New Marquee on Spider-Man Penny Machine – Islands of Adventure, Orlando FL

This will be a quick post on something I had meant to write about over a year ago and just kind of forgot about it.  It’s not a new machine, or anything really major but something I thought was kind of interesting.

One of my favorite attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks is The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.  It actually took me years before I finally decided to try it.  It seems that as I’ve gotten older I’m a little more adventurous with rides, and I’m glad I finally tried it because it’s really fantastic.

Once you are done with the ride and just like every other theme park you exit into a gift shop, and if you are a Spider-Man fan this is the place for you.  On a quick side note, if you are not a ride person you can still access the shop from outside, it’s located just to the left of the attraction entrance as seen above.

In this gift shop were two penny machines.  One was a 4-design hand crank model, and the other machine was the newer 8-design digital touch screen version.  When I first used the digital machine was back in 2017.  I had then visited Universal numerous times since then and walked past this machine many times without noticing anything different.  Then in 2018, I was working on a video for our YouTube channel documenting all the machines throughout Universal Orlando and something caught my eye.  The machine cabinet was the same but the marquee at the top was different.

   

The picture above is my attempt at a comparison.  On the left is the picture I took in November 2017, and the one on the right is from July 2018.

The designs were still the same inside the machine, and nothing else really had changed just the marquee.  I know the newer marquee design is how most of the machines are displayed now with all the penny designs right at eye level.  Again this was nothing overly exciting but I thought it was interesting that they had taken the time to change this part of the machine.

The Great American Toilet Paper Shortage 2020 – Pressed Pennies

I’m sure we are all starting to get a little cabin fever from our self quarantining, and this current situation we are all experiencing is definitely something to take seriously for our own health, and others around us.  It is a little hard to spend this much time all cooped up inside and is harder for some of us than others.

I did need to venture out the other day to the grocery store for a few items and the highway near our house was completely deserted.

 

Thankfully our house is nicely stocked with a reasonable quantity of toilet paper and paper towels, but when I got to the store those shelves were completely bare.  The stores even had a queue setup that you could wait in, just in case they did get a shipment that day but there was no guarantee.  I picked up the items we did need and headed back to our home.

With all non-essential stores and attractions closed, for now, it’s hard to get my pressed penny fix.  To try and help I have been scouring eBay for coins to help fill in some of my collection gaps.  But more often I’ve been going through the TEC Facebook page and other Pressed Penny related groups or websites.  Among all the different posts from fellow collectors, I did come across a few that put a smile on my face and wanted to share with everyone.

First was on the TEC (The Elongated Collectors) Facebook page which if you aren’t a part of the group you should check it out.  The Facebook page is free and open to anyone even if you are not an official TEC member.  It’s a great way to experience the club and see what other members are posting about the hobby.  Plus there is a lot of trading and buying/selling of coins.  Some of these designs are pretty unique and would be hard to find anywhere else.

One recent post was from Tyler Tyson who is not just a member of TEC but the current Vice President of the club.  He had been working on a light-hearted penny design commemorating the toilet paper shortage.  There were a few different progressions of this design that he posted over a week or so.  He did make these available in a limited quantity to anyone in the group that was interested in for a small fee.  This is another perk of being in the Facebook group as special designs like this will pop up for sale every so often.

Updated:
Shortly after I had posted about the above penny, Tyler offered to the Facebook group a special set of 4 pressed dimes.  Each dime had the progression of the design through each stage ending with the design on the bottom.  He was offering only a small quantity of this set so they are probably no longer available, but as I’ve mentioned it’s a good reason to be a part of the Facebook page for special items like these.

Another group on Facebook I follow and really enjoy is The Penny Depot.  They also have a website and online store where you can buy many of their pressed penny designs.  I’ve written about some of their other designs in the past and have quite a few of their designs in my collection.  They are really detailed and celebrate some special events that you just don’t penny designs for very often.

In a recent post, they had made available another fun design called “The Great American Toilet Paper Shortage 2020”.  As soon as I saw this design I immediately went to their website and ordered one for my collection.

This wasn’t to try and make like of the situation we are in, but I did think we need to look on the lighter side of things from time to time to keep our sanity.  Please be safe and happy collecting!

Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure New Pressed Pennies 2019-2020

Back in 2019 I had visited the Universal Studios Orlando parks around Easter Weekend and noticed that some of the penny machines had stickers on them notating that some of the designs would be retiring.  You can read about that here to catch up.  Then I waited patiently and checked back at the parks about every two weeks waiting for these new designs to appear and it did take a long time.  The last few final pennies didn’t show up until earlier this year, and I’m finally able to share them all with you.

First up was a machine that used to be found out in one of the parking structures and had the Fantastic Four as designs on the pennies.  Those have been retired and now this machine was relocated to the Universal Store in CityWalk.

I really like this set with some fun designs.  They include a class King Kong, and E.T. images, plus a new Jaws designs, and my favorite is the Back to the Future penny with Doc Brown’s DeLorean License plate “Outatime”.

That was the only change out in CityWalk, so we then headed inside Universal Studios Park first as they only had 2 machines with changes.  Just as we walked inside the park we headed into the Universal Studio Store.

This store has 4 machines in total available, but only one of them had received new penny designs.

With this machine, not all of the designs were replaced.  The Kong design stayed which I thought was a bit strange.  The two new designs are of Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon and Mel from the Secret Life of Pets.

Next, we walked over to the San Francisco area of the park and into the Candy Factory.

This machine always had a fun cabinet and fit in nicely with the “Factory” design inside.

I was pleasantly surprised to find another Back to the Future design here with Marty and Doc together, then there was Max from the Secret Life of Pets, and my Daughters’s favorite Princess Poppy from the Trolls movie (she had me press a few extras for her own collection).

That wrapped up the designs at Universal Studios, although I will note that with the closure of the T2 3D Stunt show and the soon to open Bourne Spectacular set to replace it.  In the gift shop for that attraction, the penny machine was recently removed so I’m crossing my fingers that a new one will return.  Maybe with some Jason Bourne designs.

With Universal Studios done we headed over to the other park Islands of Adventure for quite a few changes.  The first was in the Island Market & Export store.

 

Initially, this machine had a sticker on it stating all three designs were to be retired, but then the sticker was eventually removed with no changes.  As you can see above the designs have been kept the same.  Guess they changed their mind.

The next location was over in Seuss Landing at the Cats, Hats and Things gift shop.

Ok, so this one was a bit strange.  The sticker that was on this machine showed the design on the left side of the marquee with the Cat and the Hat with his fingers intertwined was to be retired.  But you can see above that was not the case, instead, the design on the right of the Cat and the Hat full-body design was removed from this machine and relocated to the Gertrude McFuzz store (see below for that machine).

This machine did receive a new design of Fish in his Bowl.

Now we will skip over to the Gertrude McFuzz store and go over the rest of this Dr. Seuess design changes.

When this machine was updated it was around the Holiday season and this area of the store is used for the Grinch meet and greets so it does get a bit busy and hard to access during that time.

Above is a picture of the two “new” designs at this machine.  The one on the left is just “new to this machine” and was originally in the Cats, Hats and Things store.  The penny on the right of The Lorax is brand new.

Passing through Seuss Landing you arrive in The Lost Continent.  There is a store near the Mythos restaurant called Treasures of Poseidon.

Unfortunately, the machine that was here just inside the doors was completely removed, but…

Shortly after that machine was removed and failed to return I did find a new machine over in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center.  You can read more about it here.

The machine cabinet is different but I had a feeling this may have been the same machine just redesigned for this location.

Continuing through the Jurassic Park area the next set of new pennies was in the Jurassic Outfitters store.  You just need to walk all the way into the back near where the Jurassic Park River Adventure boat ride lets out.  It’s easy to find, just follow all the soaking wet people.

This is another cool cabinet design.  I like how it appears to be carved out of stone which is perfect for the Jurassic themed store.

The new designs here are themed around Jurassic World and include the Movie Logo, Blue the Raptor and the Indominus Rex.

The last few machines are over in Toono Lagoon.  First, we headed into the Betty Boop store.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this machine.  I had visited here years ago and the machine broke after I rolled two of the three designs.  Then I made a special trip back a couple years later to get the missing design and the machine was broken.  I eventually found the missing penny on eBay to complete my collection and thankfully haven’t had to use this machine since.  But that all changed when these new designs were released.  Thankfully the machine worked perfectly and I got my new coins without any issue.  The new designs are of Betty winking, and her dog Pudgy.

Across the walkway is the Toon Extra gift shop.  They have lots of Scooby-Doo, Betty Boop, and Popeye merchandise in here along with other cartoon favorites.

I thought he speech bubble on this machine was fun.  “A Penny for your Thoughts.”

All three designs in this machine were replaced.  They are all themed around Popeye and include the Spinach eating man himself, Olive Oyl, and Bluto.

That completed all the new pennies released in Universal Orlando.  In total 20 new pennies were made available and I think most of them were fun new additions.  It is nice to see some of the new Dreamworks animated movie characters getting coins, plus some of the classic franchises like Back to the Future.  Universal does not usually change out their designs as frequently as Disney so this may be it for a while.  But I’ll be sure to visit when I can for any new machines or designs.  Hopefully, they continue with those stickers on the machines, which makes it much easier to know which designs retiring.

Hollywood Studios Machines Converting to $1 per Penny Design

At the time of writing this, Walt Disney World Theme parks currently closed due to the Covid-19 virus and the social distancing going on throughout the United States we are all pretty much confined to our homes.  But this does give us some time to catch up on things like cleaning up the house, or maybe spending some time outside weeding our garden…however, in my case, those still sound very boring and I’d rather write about pressed pennies.  Thankfully we had so many new pennies released, and I still have our family vacation from last year to write about that this may just be the time I need to get all those adventures posted.  First, though I wanted to continue reviewing the next park at Walt Disney World to convert their 4-design penny machines over to $1.

Hollywood Studios has had an exciting year, with 2019 bringing us Star Wars (Land) Galaxy’s Edge, then in December we got the new Rise of the Resistance ride which is unbelievably amazing, and now just a few weeks ago the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened.  This has finally completed (for now) the park’s transformation and part of that was swapping out these penny machines.

Let’s get started by heading straight up Hollywood Boulevard to where it intersects with Sunset Boulevard.  There is a little building here called Hollywood Junction.  On the backside of this building, there used to be two machines.

  

But unfortunately one of these machines has not returned.  It’s been weeks since these machines were all changed so I’m assuming that the second machine has been retired and not coming back.  Maybe it was to make room for the new ATM placed in this area, but in the picture above on the right, there still looks to be plenty of room for that machine.

I’ll say this just once at this time but please note this is the same for all the other machines I’ll review today.  After the conversion, the machine(s) have returned with the new $1 per penny price tag.  It accepts cash, credit card or digital payments like ApplePay.  The machine also supplies a pre-loaded zinc penny.  You can no longer use your own preferred pennies.  Also, the designs have not changed and are exactly the same as they were before the change.

Next, I headed over to the Muppet Courtyard into the Stage 1 Company gift shop which is all Muppet’s Themed.

 

This machine is located in the back of the store where they usually have most of the plush toys but of course, that can change.  This store does have two other machines, but this is the only 4-design model available here.

I had to kind of backtrack a little bit towards the Echo Lake area.  Near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show is a little shop called the Adventure Outpost.

 

The first machine at this location is right out front before you even enter the store.  The cabinet of the machine has changed slightly but still is pretty similar to what it was before.

 

The second machine is inside the store.  As I mentioned above this store is small so it isn’t hard to find this machine but it can be a little difficult to use if the store is busy.

If you do decide to go and watch the Indiana Jones stunt show one of the exits brings you out near the Backlot Express quick-service restaurant.  There is also a little outdoor gift shop here that has the next penny machine.

 

The machine has moved slightly after the change but is still in the same general area of that outdoor shop.

 

Next, we headed to the other side of the park and started heading down Sunset Boulevard.  About halfway down you will come to the Sunset Ranch which has a couple quick-services places to eat, plus a pin store, and a little stand called Anaheim Product with churros, pretzels, frozen lemonade, and other snacks.  Right out from of this stand is the above pictures penny machine.  I always liked this machine with the cabinet designed to looks like crates of produce.  When the machines get themed like that it always just seems to add to the fun.

If you spin around 180 degrees you will see a little alleyway in between some larger stores.  At the back of this alleyway are a set of restrooms and a penny machine.

 

I always dislike when penny machines are placed outside restrooms but that seems to be a very common location for them.  Guess people need something to do while waiting for their family members.

 

At the end of Sunset Boulevard, we took a left into the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard.  Just beside the face painting tent is the penny machine.

Past the entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is an area of the park that was previously only open for certain events, but now is open all the time with a new attraction at the Sunset Showcase Theater called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

 

The penny machine in this area is located just outside the exit to the theater.  You do not need to sit through the show to access the machine as it is outside for anyone to see.  But the show is cute and has a really cool Lightning McQueen animatronic inside.  Originally this machine was located back in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard near the previous machine but was relocated here once the show opened premiered.

Finally, we come to the last 4-design machine in this park.  It’s over near the Tower of Terror, outside the Hollywood Tower Gift Shop in the courtyard.

 

You do not need to ride Tower of Terror to use this machine (thankfully).  That ride is not one of my favorites so I’m glad I can just walk over to use this machine with the screams of the attraction riders hollering out in the background.

Hollywood Studios had the most 4-design machines of all the parks.  They were changed out over the course of a month or so.  It’s interesting to watch how they handle this by removing about half of the machines first, then once those are changed out they remove the second half.  However, these definitely seem to take longer than the other locations to get all the machines back.  As I mentioned way back at the beginning we did lose one of the machines that still has not returned and I don’t think it will.  But the park still has lots of other machines and plenty of penny designs available to keep you busy.  Oh and if you have some time in between pressing your coins, make sure to try out some of the new rides you won’t be disappointed.

Cocoa Beach Pressed Pennies – Florida

Are you tired of Winter yet?

To try and help bring some sun and warmer temperatures this past week I had some family in town that really wanted to visit a Florida beach.  Not wanting to head too far from our home we decided to visit Cocoa Beach.

We arrived early enough in the morning that there were plenty of parking spots in the paid parking lot available near the Pier.  But I was told by some employees that the parking lot does fill up quickly and is not always available if you come later in the day.

As an added perk of paying for parking, we also got vouchers that allowed us access to the Pier for free.  But I’ll review that later on.

I was pretty impressed with this beach.  It appears clean and had plenty of places to set up your beach towel for a fun day.  We opted to pay for a covered canopy that gave us close access to the pier and other available activities nearby.  This is not required, but we liked the option of having the shaded canopy overhead.

Coming from New Jersey I’m used to my beaches having long boardwalks with vendors and food options, but that is not the case here at Cocoa Beach.  As you can see in the above picture after you leave the parking lot you basically are right on the beach.  There are some stores and places to eat and drink up on that long pier in the distance.

But before we headed towards the pier, near the parking lot was a place called Trader Rick’s and was kind of like a general store.

The outside of the building was decorated with all sorts of sea creatures and my favorite some Manatees.

Inside they sell all sorts of things to help with your day at the beach.  They have towels, bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, soda, snacks and tucked away in the back a Penny Pincher machine.

I always think these Penny Pincher machines are unique from the standard machines we usually find at popular attractions.  The design is a little different, and they always seem to run really quiet without the familiar clinking sound you may be used to from other hand-crank versions.

The only issue I have with this type of machine is they almost always roll short for me.  I guess I should try to adjust how I press the pennies to account for this, but on this visit, I actually ended up with some nice final pennies on my first try.

With my pennies pressed and a nice cold soda in hand, I headed back outside and started my tour of the Pier.

The pier is not very wide but does have some fun stores along the one side, and plenty of seating on the opposite side.  The stores have all different souvenirs with Cocoa Beach printed on them.

About halfway down the pier, there was a pretty large bar with some high top tables around.  They did offer food service here along with the full-service bar for all your favorite tropical mixed drinks.  I grabbed a seat along the bar and had a wonderful view of the entire beach.

Once I was done with my food and drink I headed back towards the Pelican Bar & Grill. But just before the main doors to the restaurant there was a hallway off to the left.

This had access to the restrooms and a couple employee-only areas, but of course, this is also the perfect place to have another penny machine.

This machine was in a pretty bad location with people coming and going from all different directions.  It was a little hard to use and even harder to try and take pictures of the machine.

After a few attempts to use the machine, I was able to press a full set and the designs came out really nicely.  I do like that they are labeled with Cocoa Beach on them which always helps make them special in my collection so I can remember my visit and where they came from.

The Pelican Bar and Grill is located about halfway down the pier.  But as you can see from the picture above there is plenty more pier beyond that and something else right at the very end.

This second half of the pier is only available with a small paid admission fee.  Out here you can do some fishing right off the elevated pier.  As I mentioned at the beginning with my paid parking I was given a voucher that gave me access to this part of the pier for free.

All the way at the end of the pier is the Rikki Tiki Tavern.  It’s interesting to be out there as you are way out in the water.

There was live music playing out here, and plenty of seating but it was a very popular place and I had to wander around for quite a while before a seat opened up.

The bar also gave a great view of the beach in both directions and really made for a nice place to enjoy some drinks and wonderful sea air that always just seems to make me feel like I’m on vacation.

After a long day of fun on the beach, in the water, and on the pier it was eventually time to head home.  I had a couple new sets of pressed pennies to catalog once I got home, but for now, the slight sunburn I had and relaxing disposition was just what I needed.  The Central Florida Theme Parks are always near and dear to my heart, but sometimes it’s nice to just get away and put your feet in the sand.

Fantasy Faire Pressed Pennies – Magic Kingdom

I had just finished up finding a new penny machine over at the Wilderness Lodge when I received a message from a fellow collector that another new machine was at the Magic Kingdom.  A nice leisurely way to travel over to the park from this resort is by boat.

So I headed out back and thankfully didn’t have to wait too long before the boat arrived.

With the windows open and a nice breeze coming inside the boat it definitely is a nice alternative to the buses or even monorail if you park in the Transportation and Ticket Center lot.

The boat will pass by the Contemporary Resort and then into Seven Seas Lagoon where it eventually drops you off right in front of the Magic Kingdom.

Once inside I headed straight down Main Street, cut through Cinderella’s Castle and found myself inside Fantasyland.

I had been told the name of the store (Fantasy Faire) where this new machine was supposed to be located, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where it was located within the park.  There are always plenty of cast members around willing to help and they even walked me right over to where it was located beside Mickey’s Philharmagic.

For those of you that may not be familiar with Mickey’s Philharmagic, it’s one of those 4-D movie attractions.  The premise is that Mickey will be conducting an Orchestra, but Donald gets a hold of the Sorcerer’s Hat and is dragged into some of Disney’s famous animated musical scenes.  Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast), Can’t wait to be King (The Lion King), A Whole New World (Aladdin) and a few more.  The scenes are all recreated in 3-D and you periodically are splashed with some water or scents are sprayed in your direction depending on what is on the screen.  I think this definitely needs an upgrade to the screen and the 3D is a bit weak, but the music is really fun and gets everyone in the theater singing along.  After the show is over you exit down a hallway back into the park but along the way, there is an opening to the Fantasy Faire gift shop.  Inside the theming continues with the orchestra and plenty of musical touches.

You can also get into this store without having to go through the attraction.  Just to the right of the Philharmagic attraction entrance is another entrance to the store.

Over along one wall that is covered with Minnie and Mickey Ears was where I found the new penny machine.

The only issue I ran into with this machine is that it’s located right next to a Cast Member door which opens out into the store.  So if you are standing a bit too close to the machine the door won’t hit you but does come close especially with the Cast Members coming in and out of the door.

The designs for this new set include all your favorite Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and more playing various musical instruments.

This new set is cute but I wish it actually had the Philharmagic logo on them or just included images from the actual attraction.  But it’s still nice to have another new set of pennies for my collection.  After pressing the coins I jumped in line to watch Mickey’s Philharmagic and then grabbed a Pineapple Dole Whip before I headed out of the park.

Happy Collecting!

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!!

FUN Convention 2020 – Orlando Florida

Just this past weekend was the F.U.N. (Florida United Numismatists) Convention for 2020.  It’s also so early in the new year I almost missed it.  But thankfully I had thought ahead and added it to my phone calendar last year so I wouldn’t forget.  This was my second year attending and it seemed to be bigger than last year.  If you are interested in reading about my visit last year you can check it out here.

Once again this year it was over at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.  This place is huge, and it seems like I’m walking miles just to get from the parking lot to the actual convention hall.

There are plenty of signs around to help you find where you need to go.

Eventually, you will come to the registration area.  The convention is free to attend but they do like you to check-in and get a name tag.

The other perk of checking-in is they will give you a coin for visiting.  These are different each year which makes them a fun collectible.  This year’s theme was Walking with Liberty.  The above picture shows the front and back of the coin.

Once you have your name tag you head upstairs to where the coin show is located.

As I entered inside I’m always taken back by just how big this event is.  The number of vendors and clubs with tables can be a bit overwhelming at first.  Thankfully you do get a guide book and the aisles are labeled with numbers to help you navigate around.

All the way in the back is the Educational Exhibits which I love checking out.  I probably spend most of my time back here.  The exhibits range from rare coins to special sets of currency, or even a specific theme.

I check out all of the exhibits but I’m always drawn to the elongated coin ones which are where I spend most of my time.

The time and effort people have put into these exhibits are unbelievable and I hope one day to enter one myself.

There were even some exhibits specifically about our club TEC (The Elongated Collectors).  The above had some sample newsletters, information about the club and even an 1893 Columbia pressed coin which is usually considered the first pressed design available at the Chicago World’s fair.

Another exhibit for TEC showcased some of the special pressed coins available to our members like a recruiter coin, a merit coin and the Dillard exhibit aware, plus there was even a copy of the Yesterday’s Elongated book

After I finished exploring all the exhibits I started wandering up and down all of the aisle.  It’s amazing what is available here.  No matter what type of coin or currency you are interested in, the odds are there is someone here that would be able to help add to your collection.

Over near the U.S. Mint area, was where I found the tables I was really looking forward to finding.  First was the TEC table and right beside it was Mr. Ray Dillard’s table.

Mr. Dillard was there with his trademark machine that he offers to press your pocket change for free.

This year’s design was keeping with the Conventions theme of Walking with Liberty.

Above is a picture of the pressed penny he was handing out to all visitors that stop by his table.

Then as a very special gift, he presented me with the same design but pressed on a US dollar coin.  This was a gift for TEC Members attending the convention.  It was really fantastic and I was completely caught off guard by his generosity.

Over at the TEC table, my daughters and I had a great time chatting with current TEC President Cindy Calhoun.  I had met Cindy years ago at an ANA convention in Philadelphia and it was nice to catch up a bit.  My daughters were so excited when she handed them each some pressed pennies for their own collections included the above “Join TEC” coin which I think is a great way to help spread the word about the club.

With our pockets full of some new pressed coins and plenty of handouts we were ready to head home.  Even though this has only been my second year attending I do look forward to it and have 2021 already programmed into my phone so I don’t forget about it next year.  Everyone we spoke with was very friendly and just so passionate about their hobby and personal collections they just love talking about it.

I don’t talk about it too often but if you are not already a member of TEC you really should check it out.  I’ve been a member for over 10 years now and have thoroughly enjoyed being a member.  The cost is very reasonable and you can opt for either a hard copy of the newsletter to be mailed to your home or you can get a digital copy emailed to you.  Each quarter you also get a nice little package with some unique pressed coins you just won’t find at your average theme park, and you will also get the coveted membership coins each year.  You can join by visiting the website www.tecnews.org and click on the Join/Renew coin.  Be sure to reference member #4237 so they know you heard it from me as I’m always trying to share the adventure of elongated coin collecting.