Epcot Flower and Garden 2019 – New Booklet and Medallions

Well better late than never I guess.  The Epcot Flower and Garden festival for 2019 started back on March 6th and ends June 3rd.  I’ve mentioned this in the past, but this is my favorite festival.  The flowers are beautiful and smell fantastic, the food booths are pretty good (not as good as food and wine) but the biggest perk I find is that the crowds aren’t as crazy.

I do like Food and Wine in the fall but holy cow those crowds are out of control.  So I always prefer the Flower and Garden.  Since the festival started in March we have been over to enjoy it a few times.  I was hoping for either a new pressed penny booklet like last year or even some new pennies but nothing had been released.  With nothing new to write about I was a bit sad that I wouldn’t be able to post about the festival this year.  But then on my last visit, I found not one but two new things and couldn’t wait to share them.

Before I get into the new things I found let’s take a bit of a stroll through the festival.  Don’t worry our first stop is pretty close by.  Behind Spaceship earth was a new topiary this year of Daisy Duck.

Okay, that was long enough let’s go into Mouse Gear and check out the first new item.

I’m not sure if this is just a coincidence or not, but I found a new pressed penny booklet in this gift shop.  In the above picture, it is the one on the right.  The entire booklet is pink and covered with all your favorite Disney Princesses.  Yes, that is the correct price $12.99 but it holds about 48 pennies so that’s not too bad.

Back to the festival and some more topiaries and flowers.  Here was Goofy as we leave Spaceship Earth behind and head towards the World Showcase.

The beautiful flowers all laid out around the lagoon and surrounding areas are really amazing.  The bright colors are just screaming to have their picture taken.

Right at the entrance to World Showcase, we find our favorite mice Mickey and Minnie surrounded by plenty of heart topiaries.

 

Near the Canadian pavilion was the next set of new topiaries this year depicting Bambi, Flower, and Thumper.  Flower was always my favorite little skunk.

 

In the United Kingdom area, we found Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Rabbit.

 

Continuing around the showcase we headed into France and found the above fantastic topiaries of Kermit and Miss Piggy.  These were definitely fan favorites this year and there was quite a line of people trying to take their perfect pictures of the muppets.

Some of the other pavilions had similar topiaries from last year but just located in different locations.  Above were Snow White and Dopey dwarf just outside the Germany pavilion.

Of course, we couldn’t pass by Norway without seeing Anna and Elsa from Frozen.

Finishing up our tour around the World Showcase we saw the Three Caballeros near the Mexico Pavilion.

Here is my attempt at a postcard shot.  A nice reflection of Spaceship Earth and the flower beds along the water.  All I’m missing was the Monorail driving through.

Do you remember seeing this building on your trips to Epcot?  It’s called the Odyssey building and in years past used to have more going on inside.  Usually, in my past visits, this was where we would make a quick bathroom break as we cut over to Test Track or back into the World Showcase.  However, this has now become the new festival center.

During the Flower and Garden Festival, it’s being called the Gardeners Terrace.  Inside is one of the food booth locations but I heard rumor it will soon be a Starbucks when Epcot’s future world starts going through some changes and that Starbucks is relocated.

Also in this area is some Festival merchandise including shirts, Minnie ears, pictures, and paintings and a whole lot more.

While we were in here looking at some of the items for sale I turned around and caught a glimpse of this new machine.

Obviously, this is not a pressed penny (or quarter machine) like we probably would have preferred.  But instead, it had those souvenir medallions that are slowing popping up like the ones I found in Disney Springs last year.  Plus they were themed specifically for the Flower and Garden Festival.

There were four different medallions in total.  They have a section in the middle of the machine where you can see what they will actually look like.  This is a bit of a strange setup as these coins are not what is dispensed to you when you buy them.  They are just there for display.

So you may be asking how about the cost.  It’s the same as the one at Disney Springs, $5 for one, or 3 for $10.  The machine does not give out change so you either need to have exactly $15 if you want all 4 medallions.  However, something that has been changed a bit from the first machine like this I used.  If you are using a credit card when you swipe your card there is a count down on the display that gives you 10 or 15 seconds to make your selections.  This is how the machine calculates how much to charge your card.  So during the time if you only select 1 design, when the countdown is done it will confirm you are being billed $5.  But you cannot select all 4 in one transaction.  I used my credit card and when I selected the first 3 designs it immediately completed the transaction and told me my card was billed $10.  So I had to swipe a second time and select just the 1 remaining medallions to complete the set.  Then I had to stand there and wait until the timer completed making sure someone else didn’t come up and charge more coins to my card.  Just be mindful of this if you are using the machine so you are only billed for what you want.

Two of the coins are a nice shiny gold color and the other two have more of a darker tarnished look.  Two of them have Figment the dragon on them, one has Minnie Mouse with a flower and the last has the 2019 Flower and Garden logo on it.

The back of all the coins has the same design pictured above with Spaceship Earth, World Showcase, the Monorail, and the Epcot logo.

This is really a great set of coins.  Yes, I absolutely wish these were pressed pennies instead, but as soon as I saw them I couldn’t get my money out fast enough.  I love having souvenirs with the different events on them and especially the year which helps document when we were there.  These were very popular when I visited and can’t imagine them not continuing this moving forward.  Starting August 29th is the Food and Wine festival so crossing our fingers we get some new coins for that, and maybe then the Festival of the Holidays.

I mentioned at the very top that the Flower and Garden Festival ends June 3rd, 2019 so if you get a chance make sure you pick up these medallions as I’m sure they won’t be around very much longer.

Typhoon Lagoon Water Park – WDW Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing – Ocala, Fl

Ever since I was small I’ve always loved cars.  Playing with my matchbox cars as a very young kid I always enjoyed the orange track you could snap together and have the cars race into the craziest double loop track design I could come up with.  Then after I got my license and my first car I remember visiting some race tracks with my friends as they would race their cards down the 1/4 mile stretch.  To be honest, racing was never really my thing, I enjoyed watching other people do it back then but never wanted to try it for myself.  Now years later Nascar and drag racing seem to be more popular than ever.

Shortly after we moved down to Florida a neighbor mentioned a museum that was about an hour away and was a Drag Racing fans heaven.  I was not what you would call a big fan, and don’t know much about who even still races, but the one name I did recognize was Don Garlits.  So I eventually found some time to head up and check it out.

Don was born on January 14, 1932, in Tampa Florida.  He is considered the father of Drag Racing.  Not just a race car driver but also an automotive innovator.  He perfected the rear engine design putting the fuel and other mechanical components behind the driver which helped protect the driver better.

After many years of racing Don opened a museum on his property in Ocala, Florida in 1976.

This sign greeted me as I pulled in off the highway.  Not sure if it applies to Don or to just visitors of his museum.

The museum is split up between two buildings, and houses just under 300 vehicles, and thousands are artifacts.

I headed inside and was just completely blown away.

This truly is a museum about all Drag racing.  Sure there is a lot of history and items about Don Garlits career, but there is also plenty of other items from many different drivers and racing teams.

They have over 90 drag racing cars alone, and each is surrounded with magazine covers, newspaper articles and trophies all pertaining to each vehicle.

When I had first checked in and paid my admission fee they said it usually takes about 2-3 hours to tour the museum.  But just being the casual fan that I am, I think that you could easily spend much more time than that with all the history and amazing stories being told with each exhibit.

There is even a separate area called the Engine room and that is exactly what you will find inside.  Each of these mammoth engines is enclosed in plexiglass to keep them preserved but it still allows you a 360-degree view of them.

Hiding just inside the door of the Engine room was the first penny machine (did you think I came here just for the cars).

The penny machine only has one design available.  You slide your two quarters and one penny inside and it comes alive to automatically press your penny.  There is a large sign on the front of the machine letting you know to wait until it has finished before trying to press another penny.  I think due to the machine only having 1 design it takes a little longer for the machine die to reset each time.

The penny design was pretty cool.  It had one of Don’s famous drag racing cars and the name of the museum and location.  I always really enjoy these types of designs as they make for great mementos of the places we visit.

I continued through the first main building and just couldn’t believe how big this collection was.  They even had a simulator where you could test your speed off the line by sitting in a driver’s seat and watching the lights change to green before you pressed the accelerator.  Apparently, I made a good choice not going into drag racing since my reaction time was appalling.

Eventually, I finished with the first building and headed just a short walk to the second building.

You do need to show your admission ticket to get inside this second building and there was an attendant behind the counter checking.  Just past that counter was a second penny machine.

This machine also only had one design.

The design on the penny was of a nice looking classic car.  It also said Don Garlits Classic Cars and Ocala, Florida.

If you like antique cars or even some American muscle cars this was the building for you.  The entire building was just jammed packed with them.  Each had a placard listing all the details about the car, the engine and the history of the car.

Once I had finished looking at all the cars and taking a bunch of pictures and video I think I had been there for almost 4 hours.  That may be a bit extreme but this really was an amazing place and I’m glad I made the trip up to see it.  As I mentioned at the beginning I’m not a huge drag racing fan but I really don’t think you need to be.  If you are ever in the area be sure to set some time aside and visit this museum, it was a lot of fun and of course, you can pick up a few pressed pennies as well.  Please note that paid admission is required to access both penny machines, but it’s well worth the nominal fee and a few hours of your time.

Curtain Call Collectibles – Magic Kingdom

I got a little behind on posting about this machine that came out a few weeks ago.  So many new machines have been released it getting harder to keep up.  But I shouldn’t be complaining about all these new penny machines as it really is fun to find them and share information on each new set.  On this trip we were headed back into the Magic Kingdom, however before that I needed to make a quit stop over at the Polynesian Village Resort.  A family member had asked me to check on a souvenir they had seen at that resort and regretted not picking it up during their visit so I was stopping by to help out.  With that little task over I headed out back of the resort which is always really beautiful with the lake as a backdrop.

I decided to take the boat over to the Magic Kingdom just to try something new.

The boats are too big but it did make for a nice little trip over to the park.  Once inside the Magic Kingdom we didn’t have too far to go.  The new penny machine was located right on Main Street, but first my daughter wanted to visit with her favorite fairy Tinker Bell.

Just past the main street train station is the Town Square Theater.  This is where you can meet the big guy himself Mickey Mouse, but also Tinker Bell.

This is always a really great meet and greet that my daughter absolutely loves.  Tinker bell always get down on the ground and has a great time with the little ones.  We took a bunch of pictures and then headed towards the exit which as you know always takes you into a gift shop.

This store is called Curtain Call Collectibles, but for those of you that may want to visit this store without seeing Tinker bell you can come in directly from Main Street.

To be honest I don’t think I even realized this was here at first and have walked past it a many times without going inside.

There is a bit of a walk back to the store, but you can see some very pretty gardens along either side.  This area can get busy during parade times.

Once inside you can see it’s a long narrow store that has all the usual items like pins, plush characters, t-shirts, and so much more.  About halfway through the store (regardless of which direction you go) the penny machine is up against the wall opposite the check out area.

The machine was a nice dark blue cabinet that blended in well with the surrounding area.  When I first got there it had been slid out and the back was opened undergoing a bit of maintenance.  Thankfully it was nothing major and the machine was back in working order after about 10 minutes.

This set was primarily themed around Peter Pan with designs of Tinker Bell, Wendy, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tick Tock Croc.  But also included designs of Mickey, Minnie and Pluto to round out the eight designs.

Another great set of pennies for a movie that hasn’t had a big representation in the pressed pennies across property.  We still had a big day ahead of us at the park, but made sure to visit Peter Pan’s Flight to finish off our visit.

Just takes a little pixie dust to make for a magical day.

Showcase of Citrus – Clermont, FL

Just a short drive away from Walt Disney World property is a town called Clermont.  One of the main highways through Clermont is 27 and is where countless new housing developments have been popping up.  I know this as my family lives near here and we spend a lot of time driving up and down Highway 27.  However one place that we have driven past a hundred times is called Showcase of Citrus.

From a distance this place just looks like a large fruit stand along the highway selling Florida fresh Oranges and other citrus.  But after a friend had visited and raved about a Monster Truck tour through the Citrus grove it was something we had to check out.

We made the drive down from Clermont along 27 until we arrive at the location and were greeted with a Great White Shark hanging from its tail in the parking lot.  Just to set the record straight I’m sure you can guess that this is not real, but does catch you eye as you drive by which I guess is the point.

Inside the main building we were greeted by an alligator with a bag of oranges.  This place we definitely interesting, but filled with lots of fun things including local honey, hot sauces and of course fresh citrus.  Plus I even saw a sign for gator meat if that is something you are looking for.

However first we were here for the main even which was the 4×4 Monster truck tour.

This thing was huge and they actually have three of them so I’m guessing business has been good.  Thankfully we didn’t need to climb up that ladder leaning against the side of the truck.  Instead there are some ramps at the back that make getting up into the truck much easier.

Our tour guide was fantastic and had a lot of knowledge about the citrus grove.  They actually grow over 40 varieties of citrus in these fiends.  Only a small portion are sold in the roadside store, and the majority is sent to a processing plant near Miami for companies like Tropicana.  The ride on the truck can get a little bumpy but wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

There are some swampy areas that the tour goes through and if you are lucky there can be some local wildlife around.  On our trip we saw the above gator, and a few turtles but not much else.

One interesting part of the tour was that we headed into a cow pasture that was just filled with lots and lots of cows.  They immediately recognized the truck we were in and came running over.  The reason is that the cows are obsessed with oranges.  The tour guide had a large basked of oranges and he handed them out so that we could toss them over the side of the truck for the cows to eat.  Who would have thought cows liked citrus?

The tour was about 45 minutes or so and was a lot of fun.  Our daughters had a great time on the truck but really liked feeding the cows.  When the tour was over we headed back to the main building.  In the back was a large play area for the kids and a petting zoo with a few animals like a Donkey, and Pig.

We also tried some of their fresh citrus slush that was nice and tart but very refreshing on this sunny Florida afternoon.

Before we left for the day we had to check out the store in a little more detail.  There were lots of old product signs in the rafters, and lots of classic Florida gifts like “grown your own orange tree” or a lucky alligator foot for your key chain.

There was also a wall filled with all sorts of hot sauces, and fresh local honey.  They did offer some samples to try before buying, but be careful some of those sauces were extremely hot.

They also had a wine tasting bar that had a lot of Florida wines for sale.  You could get a free sample of any of the wines and some where very interesting.  We tried a Key Lime wine and a Guava wine which were actually pretty good.

The above Swamp Juice wine was not my favorite but would make for a fun bottle to bring out with dinner for your out-of-state friends.  With a few bottles of wine ready to take home just as we were checking out I noticed something around a nearby corner.

Pappy’s pressed coin machine.  These machines are not very common a least in my travels so far, but I have come across a few and they are definitely unique.  Pappy will talk a bit to try and entice you over to use the machine, and he also talks while he pressed your coins.  If you look closely you can see his hand is on a handle that turns as the penny is pressed.

Each design was $1 and the machine supplied the penny so there was no guarantee of the type of penny that you would get.

The designs on each penny were all about the Showcase of Citrus which is nice.  Sometimes in these type of roadside attractions the penny machines have generic designs like “My lucky penny”.  But these were nice unique designs with the Monster Truck, and the Showcase of Citrus logo.  One rolled a bit short, but the others came out pretty nicely.  You can see in the above image the difference in pennies since I couldn’t supply my own.

With our wine, bag of oranges and some new pressed pennies we were ready to head home.  This was definitely a lot of fun and I’m glad we tried it out.  As I mentioned at the beginning we had driving past it a lot and never stopped in which should teach us a lesson as you never know what you may find.

Replaced Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary Penny Designs

In 2018 Disney’s Animal Kingdom was celebrating its 20th anniversary and had released some special pressed penny designs.  Well now that it is 2019 the anniversary has come and gone which means those 20th anniversary designs are also no longer available.

At the Outpost Shop located at the entrance to the Animal Kingdom before even the security checkpoints is where the first machine was found.

The machine cabinet has remained the same, only the penny designs inside and the marquee have been changed.

I should rephrase that a bit.  The penny designs are actually still the same but now without the 20th anniversary banner on each.  Now the designs just say Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Disney Conservation Fund.

The pennies have images of Russell, Doug and Kevin from the movie Up!

The second set of pennies that have changed was relocated at the Mombasa Marketplace.

This store has lots of unique African inspired artwork and even some instruments that my two daughters always enjoy creating music with.

Just like the other set, these designs are the same main image as before but the 20th anniversary banner has been removed.

This set is from The Lion King and includes images of Simba, Timon and Pumbaa.

As you can see these are not major changes, and the casual pressed penny collector probably wouldn’t notice.  But for some any one interested in trying to acquire all Disney pennies the 20th anniversary set may be a little hard to find now.  Hopefully you were able to pick up a set before they were retired.

Lunar New Year Pressed Penny Set – China Pavilion in Epcot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: parkpennies.com

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

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

Jungle Adventures – Christmas, FL

Merry Christmas!!

Ok this is a bit of a stretch I’ll admit but when I was trying to figure out something to write about for this holiday season I was kind of drawing a blank.  I did find a new online penny vendor with some new holiday designs but that’s what I usually do, and this year I wanted it to be a bit different.  As I scoured the internet I was trying to see if there was a local Christmas festival or anything that may have a pressed penny design but kept coming up empty.  However eventually I did notice something on a map of central Florida during these searches, and found a little town called Christmas.

Yes you read that right, Christmas Florida is an actual place and it was only about an hour away from our house.  Plus the icing on top was that there was a roadside attraction in this town that had a penny machine.  The pieces were all falling into place.  Pennies, Christmas, and Alligators…sure why not.

Jungle Adventures is where we were headed.  It was a nice Florida “winter” day in the high sixties (sorry if you are from up north), and the as a nice change of pace from the usual Orlando traffic, there were not many cars on the road in this part of town.

As we turned off the highway we were greeted by Swampy the World’s largest Gator.  This is just the design of the main building that includes the gift shop and admission desk.  Quite the roadside attraction.  We got parked, headed inside to buy our tickets to the park and started our Adventure.

After leaving the main building we came to the Golden Gator Bridge that takes you over the water to the Wild Animal Island.  The green stuff on top of the water is called Duckweed that is a flowering aquatic plant that floats on still or slow-moving wetlands.  While walking over the bridge we could see quite a few gators just floating along very slowly.  Then on the other side we came face with some really big ones.

As you can see from the above picture the walkway allows you to get right up close to the fence but there are signs everywhere stating not to put your fingers in the case.  Seemed like good advice.

The fence is only 5 feet or so high, and I was able to reach over for some pictures.  The big guys didn’t flinch at all.  I was worried they may move around a bit as we got closer but they must be used to all the attention.  There is staff all around to answer any questions and you can also buy various bags of food in the gift shop for feeding all the different animals.

There were a couple Florida Panthers here as well, but just like our cats at home they were enjoying a nap which I’m sure is how they spend most of their day.

There is an elevated nature walk along this boardwalk.  Thankfully it’s all screened in at the bottom to keep you safe.  This literally takes you right through the swamp.

There were a large amount of vultures here when we visited.  I’m sure they are there for the scape of food left behind, but they can be a little intimating as they are pretty big when you get close to them.

I saw this little guy resting on a branch just above the water and thought he looked pretty comfortable.  It was a little surprising that all the gators weren’t more active, and I think I maybe saw one moving slightly but that was about it.  A few times my daughter even asked if they were real, which I assured her they were.

After feeding some of the animals, and having a nice afternoon visit we headed back into the main building.  Inside the gift shop area was where the penny press machine was located.

It was a nice old school three design electric model.  The machine worked great and the pennies pressed very nicely.

The set of pennies included the Jungle Adventures Logo, a Gator and a Florida Panther.  This place isn’t huge, but does have a nice big collection of animals to visit with and learn about.  We have visited Gatorland which I believe has more gators, but at Jungle Adventure I felt like we were able to get much closer to the gators which may or may not have been a good thing.    They do offer a boat tour that gets you even closer to some of the gators, but it unfortunately was not operating during our visit due to inclement weather.

This was a classic Florida attraction, with some fun things to do and there was practically no one there.  I think we only saw 2 or 3 other families there which is a nice change from the more popular theme parks.

As I said at the beginning this was a bit of a stretch for a Christmas post but hope you enjoyed it.  Have a great Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.  Stay safe and remember 2019 is just around the corner.  So many more pennies still to find and we have lots of things planned for next year.

Riverside Depot – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Just this past weekend we have news of a new penny machine.  I was surprised by this as I figured Disney was preparing to release the new 2019 dates sets which usually happens around this time of yer.  But instead we were given an early Christmas gift with a new machine.

The machine was released over at the Animal Kingdom park.  There are some holiday decorations up but the other parks are definitely more decked out.

The huge tree is just past the security check at the front of the park, but before the ticket windows.  There are quite a few photo pass photographers around the tree offering to take your picture.

If only they had a way to get some lights up in the Tree of Life that would be really cool.  They do have a projection show on the trunk of the tree at night, but from what I remember it’s not holiday themed this time of year.

When you enter the park and cross over the bridge to see the big Tree of Life in front of you, there is a store on your right hand side called the Riverside Depot.  This is connected to the Discovery Trading Co. store which already has three penny machines.

Discovery Trading Co is more t-shirts, sweaters and other apparel you can wear.  The Riverside Depot however is where you can get some plush characters, holiday ornaments, candy, pins for pin trading, and a wide selection of items.

Towards the back of the store is the new and only penny machine in the Riverside Depot.  As you can see from the above picture it a 8-design multi machine.

This is the first machine of this style located in the Animal Kingdom, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

A nice feature of this machine is that a portion of the purchase amount goes towards the Disney Conservation Fund.

This set has some of your favorite Disney animal characters from  various movies.  The designs include Abu from Aladdin, Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Squirt from Finding Nemo/Dory, Terk from Tarzan, Rhino Guard from Robin Hood, Hathi Jr from The Jungle Book, Bruce from Finding Nemo, and Heimlich from A Bug’s Life.

Another great set of designs.  I especially like the Rhino Guard from Robin Hood.  That is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies as it’s one of the few videos we had on tape that my sister and I would watch endlessly.  If only they would release some of the other characters like Robin, Little John, Maid Marian, the Sheriff.  Oh I could go on, that would be a great set but maybe someday my wish will come true.  Stay tuned for next week as I have something a little unique setup for Christmas.  For anyone traveling this coming week please stay safe.

Blizzard Beach Water Park – WDW Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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