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.


Maryland House Travel Plaza – Aberdeen, Maryland

For those of you that read my last post about the Chesapeake House Travel Plaza this was the next Plaza along I-95 in Maryland.  To be honest I was still enjoying my snack from the first Plaza when I came up to this one but figured I would stop in just to see if there were any penny machines and wouldn’t you know it there were actually three of them.  This location is called the Maryland House Travel Plaza and is located at mile marker 81.9 just near Aberdeen.

Maryland House 01

I visited here quite a few years ago and from what I remember this place has been completely renovated.  It’s really a nice place to stop in and grab some food, or just walk around and stretch your legs.

Maryland House 02

As I mentioned there are three penny machines located here.  But two of them I have actually come across at other locations.  After I got back home I checked my trusty online resource for pressed coins and got some information from pennycollector.com.

Maryland House Machine 02

The first machine as you can see from the bottom of the image above is from Washington, DC.  I had taken my family on a long weekend trip to DC a few years ago and used this machine at its original location called Honest Abe’s which was a gift shop outside of Ford’s Theatre.

Maryland House Machine 02 Blog

The designs have not changed and include images of Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial and Ford’s Theatre.

Maryland House Machine 03

The next machine is a Hello Kitty themed unit that I originally found in New York City in the heart of Times Square.  There was a Sanrio Hello Kitty store that I snuck into and pressed these coins.  As with the Honest Abe machine these designs have not changed.

Maryland House Machine 03 Blog

I do not know anything about Hello Kitty or her friends so I had to look this information up online.  The pennies have designs of Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars, My Melody and Tuxedo Sam, and Badtz Maru and Hello Kitty.

Maryland House Machine 01

The third and final machine located here was back to the Maryland themed coins I’ve been finding along I-95, but were not duplicates to anything I had pressed so far on my trip.

Maryland House Machine 01 Blog

Here we had the Maryland Home Travel Plaza, the Naval Academy Est 1840, My Maryland Lucky Ball Marker, and a famous Maryland Crab.

It was kind of strange to find the first two machines here, the Washington DC one not so much since it was relatively nearby.  But the one from New York City had made quite a trip.  I’m not sure this is a dumping location for machines on the way out of commission, or if they are being transitioned to other locations.  In any case if you are interested in these I would go get them as soon as possible.  Who knows where they will go next and what will take their place.

Chesapeake House Travel Plaza – Maryland

On a recent business trip I had to cut through Maryland and took the opportunity to check out a few Travel Plaza’s on I-95.  First up was the Chesapeake House Travel Plaza which is located between exits 93 and 100.

Chesapeake House 02

The nice thing about this plaza is you can access it from both the North and South bound sides of I-95.  After making a quick pit stop I wondered around to find the two penny machines located inside.  It was pretty early in the morning so not much was open yet inside, but luckily the machines were out in the main area for use.

Chesapeake House Machine 01

As you can see there weren’t many people around so it made using these machines really easy.  I always find that usually at these travel plazas if there are machines people are always leaning on them and worst of all if they are near the restrooms good luck fighting the crowd to press your pennies.

Chesapeake House Machine 01 Blog

The four designs were of the Drum Point Lighthouse, the Maryland State Flag, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and I Bussed Along I-95.  With these coins safely stashed away  I made a 180 turn and directly behind me just a few strides away was the second machine.

Chesapeake House Machine 02

I will say that coming from Jersey we have a lot of machines located up and down the Turnpike, Parkway and AC Expressway but a lot of the designs are duplicates.  These two machines have some nice unique designs that are Maryland themed.

Chesapeake House Machine 02 Blog

This next set of four pennies includes the Chesapeake Bay, Frank Zappa, a Black-Eyed Susan (MD State Flower), and the Baltimore Orioles Logo.

Before leaving I grabbed a coffee and a quick snack before heading back out to my car.  I still had a long drive ahead of me and quite a few more pennies to press.  Remember if you are traveling along any of the big interstate highways and need to stop for gas or a quick snack be sure to explore every inch of the plaza because you never know where you may find a penny machine.