Retired Pennies at Universal Studios Florida – Coming Soon

Just last week was Easter weekend and I knew from previous years that the Walt Disney World parks are usually really busy.  So this year I decided to visit Universal Studios in hopes the crowd levels may be a little less over the Holiday weekend.  Well unfortunately that was not the case.

Those parks were just as busy, but my plan on this trip was just to enjoy a nice day wandering around the park, and not worrying too much about trying to get on any of the rides.  I was also going to use this as an opportunity to see if any of the penny machines had moved, or if there were any new designs.  Universal doesn’t change their pressed penny machines as often as Disney so there usually isn’t much to update.  After we walked into Universal Studios we headed towards Hollywood Boulevard and checked out the first penny couple machines in the Silver Screen Collectibles and Hello Kitty stores but they were the same, no changes.  This was the same for the next few machines as well over near the E.T. ride, Barney, Springfield and the Men In Black (M.I.B.) store.  Then I came to the San Francisco Candy Company and found that the machine had been moved to a different area of the store.

I was taking some new pictures of the machine when I noticed something.  There was a sticker in the corner of the glass window where you can watch the penny being pressed.

The sticker was announcing that the engravings (designs) would be retired in the Summer 2019.  It also showed pictures of the designs that were going to be retired and in this machine it would be all 3.  Now I had a new objective for this trip, are there more of these notices in the parks?  Then I started to second guess myself about the other machines I quickly had looked at already so I backtracked to make sure.  None of those machines had any stickers about retired designs.  Then I headed back to where I had initially left off and check the machines in the Transformers Ride, the Mummy, Shrek and Minions attractions but those were all staying the same.  The last machines to review in this park were at big Studio Store near the entrance / exit to the park.

This store has 4 machines inside and most of them are staying the same but one did have one of those stickers on it.

This machine will only have 2 of the 3 designs retired.

This one seems a little strange as the Thing 1 & 2 and Gru designs are retiring but the Kong design is staying.  Kong doesn’t have an attraction in Universal Studios anymore and instead has a new ride over in Islands of Adventure so I’m not sure why it would be staying in this location.  Next I headed over to Islands of Adventure to continue the search.

We didn’t go too far inside the park when we visited the Island Market Export store and found the first machine with some soon to be retired designs.

This machine was towards the back of the store pass the big candy counter.

There are two machines located back to back of each other.  The front facing machine has the retired sticker and apparently will have all 3 designs removed.

Next we headed into the Cats, Hats and Things store which is where you exit from the Cat in the Hat ride.

This machine will only have 1 design retired.

I would assume a new Cat in the Hat design will be coming to this machine, but it would seem strange to have something else here.

A little further down the path was the Gertrude McFuzz store.

The Grinch has a meet and greet in this store, and is right near where the penny machine is located so it can be a little tight when the line is long.

Two of the three designs here will be retired.

We then left Seuss Landing and headed into the Lost Continent.  There was only one penny machine in this area of the park at the Treasures of Poseidon store.

This machine has been in this store for a long time and the designs have been unchanged, but that apparently is changing.

According to the sticker all 3 of the designs will be retired.  Not sure if this means the entire machine is going away, or if just new designs will be replaced.  After that we cut through The Wizarding World of Harry Potty which still has no pressed pennies, and then we found ourselves in Jurassic Park.

Near the River Adventure ride (the big water drop ride) is the Jurassic Outfitters store.  All the way in the back where you get your pictures from the water ride was the next machine.

These are some nice classic designs with he Jurassic Park logo, and the Islands of Adventure logo.

But according to the sticker on this machine all three designs are going away. There is some construction nearby this area with a rumored new Jurassic Park themed roller coaster so maybe these designs are being replaced with images for that new attraction.    The next area was Toon Lagoon which is themed around many old school comic characters like Betty Boop, Popeye, and Wimpy among many others.

There is one large gift shop that runs along one side of this area called Toon Extra.  Plenty of character merchandise and of course a penny machine.

I always liked the “A Penny for your thoughts” quote on the bottom of this machine.

This is another machine with all three of the designs being retired.  The set included Betty Boop, Popeye and Spongebob Squarepants.

Directly across from Toon Extra is a small store that is all about Betty Boop.

This machine and I are not on good terms.  Years ago I was on a quick trip to Florida and visited Universal trying to press all the pennies they had, but this machine was broken.  Then I spent the next year or so trying to find someone to get the pennies but that didn’t pan out.  Eventually I came back for another work trip and when I went to use this machine it was broken again.  I just couldn’t win.  But since then I was able to eventually press the set, but I will admit I’m a little happy to see it go.  Hopefully the entire machine gets an overhaul.

the posted sticker on the machine shows only two images going away, and one Betty Boop design staying in the machine.  That was it for Toon Lagoon, and no other changes in Super Hero Island so I headed out of Islands of Adventure.  The only other machines still to be checked on where in the parking structures so that’s where I headed next.  There are currently 7 penny machine around the parking hub and 6 of them appear to be staying the same even tough most of those designs are very dated.

The very last machine I checked out was in the North Parking structure just before you get to where all the cars are parked.  This is another machine that’s been around for quite a while, I think I initially presses these designs about 5 or 6 years ago at least.

I guess the latest Fantastic Four reboot movie didn’t do enough to keep fan interested in these coins.

The entire set of 4 designs are marked to be retired.

That was all I found but was excited to know that so many coins are being retired, and hopefully being replaced with new designs.  The possibilities are intriguing with what may show up.  Some of the machines where all the designs are going away, may be replaced with those new 8-design machines.  Obviously the other machines with just one or two images retiring may get pennies for all the new attractions that have been showing up at the parks recently.

In total I found notices that 26 total pennies are to be retired.  As I mentioned above that’s no guarantee that 26 new designs will be back and some may just be gone for good.  Also there is no set date for when these are being changes out, it just says Summer 2019.  I’ll be visiting the parks on a regular basis to try and report back as soon as these start changing out.

Any ideas what you think may be on the way?  Any designs you would like to see show up.  Let me know in the comments below.  Happy Collecting!

Amazing Spider-Man Ride Queue – Islands of Adventure, FL

Over the past few months I’ve visited the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks on a regular basis to keep up to date on any changes with the penny press machines.  They don’t release very many new machines or designs especially when compared to Disney but it does happen from time to time.

However on each trip I remembered a machine that was still listed online as being active and available, but I hadn’t been able to find it.  I’m usually pretty good at sniffing out machines wherever they are.

The machine in question was a 3 design electronic model located somewhere near The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride.  There is a decent sized gift shop at the end of the ride which is the standard location for attraction press machines.  Currently this tore has an 8-design touch screen machine, and a 4 design hand crank model however the third machine was just not there.

That all changed about a week ago when I got some intel from some friends that are new annual pass holders.  They have been visiting the parks quite often and experiencing all the rides since these are new parks to them.  They for years have primarily been Disney guests.  After they had spent an entire day at the park recently they mentioned in passing if I knew about the penny machine in the standby queue for the spider-man ride.  Blam, mind-blown.  I had to find out for myself if this was true.

The first opportunity I had to get over to the park I took it and decided to wait in whatever line length there was to try and find this machine.  As luck would have it there was a 15 minute wait time posted which was going to make things a little easier.  Once inside the building the design of the queue is pretty cool.  It’s setup like you are walking into the Daily Planet newspaper.  As you can see from the above picture I walked past some of the reports desks, and the detail all around were really cool.

Then as I turned the corner into the next room I was the familiar glow of a penny press machine marquee sign.  I’m sure you can tell by my picture that there wasn’t anyone in here which made using this machine pretty simple.  However, this seems to be a very poor location if the wait line was long because the queue turns back and forth right near where the machine is.

While I stood here pressing my pennies, and taking pictures and video of the machine there were a few people who walked past.  It was a little awkward to let them by while I used the machine so if you plan on using this during a busy time of day just be aware of that fact.

The designs on each penny included the Spider-Man symbol, Doctor Doom, and Spider-Man.  After I finished documenting this machine I headed through the rest of the queue.

Above is a picture I took of the ride vehicle.  It’s not a roller coaster, instead you get into the above vehicle and put on your 3-D glasses.  Then are driven through various scenes that change from practical design to large screens that project the 3-D movies of the attractions.  The vehicle moves around and gives the sensation of swinging from building to building just like Spider-Man as he tries to save the day.  The ride is really great and I’m glad I finally got to ride it.

Usually on my trips into the parks my youngest daughter Melody is my partner in crime.  She’s only 2 years old so she’s not tall enough to ride these larger more intense rides.  Hopefully when she’s a little older she will enjoy those rides so we can go on them together.  There are no other mysterious machines I haven’t been able to find so far so I don’t think any other machines may be located in the other ride queues but you never.  I still think this is a very strange place for a machine, and if you aren’t into this type of attraction it would make accessing the machine a little difficult.  I’m sure you could always wait in line, use the machine and then back track without riding.  There’s no shame in that as some of these rides really do seem pretty intense, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting the pressed coins you want or need for your collection.

Margaritaville – Universal CityWalk Orlando

This week I made a trip back over to Universal Studios to see if anything had changed.  They don’t seem to switch out machines or designs as often as Disney does, but It was a nice excuse to visit the park.  After checking out both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure everything was still the same.  On my way out of the park I was walking through CityWalk and decided to stop in at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for lunch.

I’ve been in here a few times over the years and always enjoy the food, and the margaritas are also pretty good.

Once out inside it’s designed to make you feel like you are on the beach.

There is even an airplane hanging from the ceiling and other items that are referenced from all your favorite Jimmy Buffett songs.  Cheeseburgers in Paradise anyone?  After grabbing some lunch I took a quick exit through the gift shop called the Smuggler’s Hold to see what they had.

There is an entrance to the store from the outside in case you weren’t eating at the restaurant.  Inside there is a lot of fun Buffett style  merchandise.

As you can guess there were a lot of shot glasses, t-shirts and beach signs reminding you it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

This place was pretty big inside.  As I wandered around I found something new, an 8-Design touch screen penny press.

After I got home I did some searching online and found that this machine had just recently been released.  If I didn’t know any better I would think my subconscious somehow knew.

The set of penny sized tokens pressed pretty well.  I did make a couple sets but some designs did roll a little short.  The images are also themed around Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville.  There is a Parrot Head, Beach Patrol, Having Fun at Margaritaville, Margaritaville Orlando, No Shirt No Shoes No Problem, Livin for the Weekend, It’s 5 O’Clock somewhere, and Cheeseburger in Paradise.

After finishing up with the machine and taking my pictures and videos it was time to head home.  CityWalk wasn’t too busy at this time of day but always gets a little more popular as the sun goes down.  This was a fun set of pennies to find, and I’m thankful for stumbling across it on this trip.  I’ll be keeping my eye out over here in the future, and may have to spend some more time going through all the shops and restaurants to see if any more surprises show up.

Incredible Hulk Coaster – Islands of Adventure Orlando

Click here to see my YouTube channel video on this destination
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2018 is off to a great start so far.  Only one day in and a lot of new pressed pennies have started to appear.  First up I took a trip over to the Islands of Adventure (Universal) park.

The crowd wasn’t too bad, but I also visited first thing in the morning when I’m sure most were still in bed recovering from their New Years festivities.  I had news that a new penny machine was released near the Incredible Hulk Coaster.

As I walked closer to the area I actually found myself sitting there just watching people ride this coaster.  There are a lot of twists, turns and loops but people seemed to really enjoy it.

   

As I’ve mentioned before these are not really my type of ride so I was hoping the penny machine wouldn’t be in the actual queue.  I walk around a bit trying to find the machine but couldn’t find it.  Eventually I found a team member and asked about it, but the only confirmation I received was that it wasn’t in the queue (Phew!).  This ride didn’t have a gift shop which is surprising and usually a guaranteed place for a penny machine.  Instead I did find that if you walked towards the exit of the ride there is a photo preview area where you can see yourself on the ride (if you dared go on).

Bingo, the new penny machine was located right near the photo counter.  This can be a bit of a busy area with groups of people exiting the ride and trying to see their picture.

As you can see from the picture above this is another of the 8-Design touch screen machines.  Same price as the others where you can get one design for $1 or all eight for $5.

This is a numbered set and all say Islands of Adventure.  The designs include four different images of The Incredible Hulk, plus designs of Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Nick Fury.

There is definitely no shortage of Super Hero pressed pennies at this park, but they do seem to use the same characters a lot which I’m sure if due to the licensing with Marvel.  In any event I’m happy to have new coins on the first day of 2018 and hope this will be another great year of collecting.

Happy New Year!

Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure Updated 2017

Earlier this year during a quick trip down to Florida before our move I had a whirlwind tour of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  I was short on time so I tried to visit both parks in one day (really just part of the day) and document all the pressed penny machines.  It had been awhile since my previous visit so there were a lot of machines to find, and it gave me a chance to replace some old pennies with some new ones.  You can read all about that visit here.

But during that trip there were a couple of machines that were either not working or not available during that trip.  This past weekend I decided to revisit those parks and see if those missing machines were now available.  First up I headed to Universal Studios and just inside the main gate was the flagship gift shop.

The Studio store has a total of five penny machines inside.  I was able to get four of them on my last trip but missed a four design manual machine.  I’m not sure if it was actually off stage or if I just somehow walked past it.  There is an area of this store that is like a candy shop and this machine is found just beside it.

I found the machine almost immediately after walking inside the store.  It was working perfectly and pressed the designs nicely.

Minions definitely seem to be the favored characters as they are everywhere including quite a few of their penny machines.  This is a another cute set of these mumbling yellow sidekicks.

This was the only machine I had missed at Universal Studios, but as I checked around to make sure none of the other machines had changed I found a Hello Kitty 8-Design machine in the Betty Boob Silver Screen Collectibles store.  I wrote about this new machine previously and you can check it out here.  After I checked out the rest of the park all the other machines were still in the same place with the same designs.  So if was only a quick Hogwarts Express Train Ride over to Islands of Adventure.

As with the Studios I had done a pretty good job on my first go around and didn’t miss many machines.  There was really only one I knew about and it was by the Amazing Spider-Man attraction.

The reason I missed this the last time was I was told the machine was located in the queue for the attraction.  The wait time for this ride was pretty crazy and with my tight schedule I just couldn’t spend the time inline.  However, on this most recent trip the machine was now located inside the Spider-Man gift shop.

This was an 8-Design penny machine with a really colorful cabinet with Spider-Man all over it.  It’s right near the exit to the gift shop so you can’t miss it.

This set includes four different designs of Spider-Man in various poses.  The other four designs include Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Venom and Power Man.  With this new set packed away and I headed across the walkway to the Marvel Alterniverse store.  Previously this store had two penny machines one was themed around the Hulk, and the other around the X-Men.  The Hulk machine was moved out to the North Parking Garage, but the X-Men machine was gone at this time.  In their place at the Alterniverse store was another 8-Design penny machine.

This machine had a pretty plain cabinet with the marquee just having a standard Universal Orlando logo on it.

Of course since this was located in a Marvel gift shop it was a pretty safe bet that these coins would have superheroes all over them.  This was a numbered set that included each of the Avengers: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Vision, and Black Widow.

I took my time finishing my review of the machines in Islands of Adventure and confirmed that the rest of the machines were all in the same locations with the same designs.  It seems that the machines here don’t change as frequently as in the Disney parks, but they do seem to change more often than I had assumed.  I upgraded my ticket to an annual pass for this year so I can try to visit more often as these are great parks that I just don’t usually get around to visiting as often.  I’m going to keep checking back on them to see if anything changes and will be sure to share the news.

Islands of Adventure – Orlando, FL

Fresh off my trip on the Hogwarts Express I exited right in the middle of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  This place is awesome but extremely busy.  On a previous trip my wife and I rode the attraction that is inside the Hogwarts school.  It’s definitely a great ride, but on this trip the line was way too long.  I headed over to the Butter beer cart to grab one to go and quickly headed out of this area to less crowded areas.

Just outside the Harry Potter area you will find a store called the Treasures of Poseidon this is also the area where Sinbad is located.

   

In the middle of the store is a jewelry counter that takes up a lot of space.  The penny machine is off to the side of this near one of the doors, but if there are a lot of people looking at the jewelry this can be a tight fit to use the machine.  Next up was a nice walk over a bridge into the Jurassic Park area.

Up the hill on the left is the Dinostore.  It’s not very big but is attached to the Discovery center which has some fun interactive things for kids (and adults) to learn about dinosaurs.

   

As you walk into the Dinostore if you turn left and go straight back the machine will be in the corner.  It’s a four die hand crank model with different dinosaur designs on each coin.  Almost straight across the walkway is another dino themed souvenir store called Jurassic Outfitters.

This store is much bigger, but always seems to have lots of people inside.  There are three penny machines located throughout the store.

   

The first machine is located outside just to the right of the entrance to the store.  Another hand crank model which can be tough to use as this is a common area for people to stand around while their family member shop inside.

   

Machine number two actually had its designs changed since the last time I had visited this park.  I also like the design of the machine cabinet making it looks like rock which fits right in with the theme.

   

The last machine in here continues the dino theme of the pressed penny sets.  The original Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies and I really like that one of these coins has that logo on it.  There were no more machines in the Jurassic Park land, so I grabbed a churro and a coke to enjoy my stroll over to Toon Lagoon.

   

One of the first places I stopped to check out was call Toon Extra and specialized in old school cartoon merchandise.  The penny machine in here had designs of Popeye, Betty Boop and Spongebob.  Not sure why Spongebob is considered a classic cartoon.  Right next door was a similar store called the Betty Boop store which had everything Betty inside.

   

When I had used this machine on my last visit it only pressed two of the three designs.  The images haven’t changed since then so I made sure to get an extra set.  There is a little area nearby called Gasoline Alley which has bathrooms and lockers primarily for people going on the Dudley Do Right water ride.  It’s so busy here that it seems like the perfect place for a penny machine.

   

With the classic comics behind us we were heading into Marvel territory by entering Super Hero Island.  The buildings and streets here really make you feel like you have jumped into the pages of a comic book.

Anyone recognize the above building?  Nelson & Murdock Attorneys at Law (ahem Daredevil check it out on Netflix).

   

Of course we can’t be in Super Hero island and not run into a comic book store.  They do actually sell comics books, and collectibles of all your favorite Marvel superheros.

A unique ride when it first made its debut, still is a fan favorite and many other rides have copied its format.

   

Inside the gift shop at the exit to this ride are supposed to be three machines.  Above is the first with four Spiderman designs.

   

The second machine offers three designs pressed on quarters which is the only non-penny machine in all of the Universal Studios parks in Florida.  The third machine however was MIA, which was disappointing as it was another of the 8-design touch screen models.  Hopefully it will be available again soon.  The next store in this area was a little strange to me and was called the Marvel Alterniverse Store.  I’m sure some comic book fans would know what that means, but it just looked like another superhero gift shop.

   

Both machines inside this store were on opposite sides of the entrance doors.  The first one had 3 images of X-men characters and the last was of Spiderman.

   

The second machine was for all your Hulk fans out there.  All four designs were of the Hulk which is fitting since there is a coaster right nearby called The Incredible Hulk.  This area of the park definitely had a lot of machines available, and there was one more place to check out called Kingpin’s Arcade.

   

Right before you walk in the main entrance of the arcade you will find this interesting looking machine.  I’m guessing it’s supposed to look like a skyscraper, but whatever it’s supposed to be all these fun machine cabinets make finding them a lot of fun.

   

The second machine was inside the arcade and all the way in the back.  It took a little while for me to find it as I wasn’t initially sure where it was.  There are obviously a lot of kids in here, it’s dark and very loud.  I didn’t stick around too long but the kids seemed to be enjoying all the arcade games even though they were in a huge theme park with rides, but to each their own.  Finally I was able to leave the comic books behind and head over to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss.

I will say that over in this area of the park it really does put you right in the pages of your favorite Dr. Seuss story.

   

Of course the most classic of all is The Cat in the Hat.  Inside the gift shop by this attraction is a machine with three designs including two of the Cat in the Hat and another of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

   

Just in front of the entrance for the Cat in the Hat ride is a second machine with four designs of other Seuss favorites: Max (Dog from the Grinch), The Grinch, The Lorax, and Little Cindy Lou Who (also from the Grinch).

Further into Seuss land is the Circus McGurkus cafe with your usual theme park food of burgers, chicken nuggets and pizza.  There is a penny machine here but it’s outside near all the tables and chair to each your McGurkus food.

   

Beside Circus McGurkus is the Snookers & Snookers Sweet Candy Cookers, and across the walkway from that is the Mulberry Street Store with Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goodies galore (sorry couldn’t help myself).

Inside Mulberry Street there were the last two Seuss inspired penny machines.

   

Machine number three has pennies with the Seuss Landing Logo, the Grinch and Horton the Elephant.

   

The second machine has more of the same, designs including The Grinch, Horton, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the Cat in the Hat.  With all the Seuss rhymes running through my head it was time to head towards the exit before I completely lost it. As I headed towards the park exit there were still a few last stops to make.

   

Every park has to have a huge souvenir store near the entrance/exit to the park.  At Islands of Adventure their store is known as the Trading Company.  Above is the first machine inside with designs from the Spongebob cartoons.

   

The next machine has more Marvel’s characters.  I was a big Punisher fan as a kid so I really enjoyed finding a pressed penny with his logo and signature skull on it.

   

Machine number three included pennies with Popeye, Thing 1 and Thing 2, The Simpson’s Family, and Homer Moe & Barney.  Kind of a strange set of designs to be put together.

   

The fourth and final machine in this store was an 8-design super hero sized machine.  This had a numbered set of designs with the Avenger’s characters on them.  Right across the walkway was another store not quite a big as this one called the Island Market & Export.  This place has the usual souvenirs from the park but also includes a candy store in the middle.

   

Inside there were two machines back to back with each other.  The first one had a random assortment of designs in the set.  Spiderman, Betty Boop and Spongebob.

   

The second machine had pennies with the Cat in the Hat, Betty Boop and the Hulk.  I decided to skip the candy store even though it was calling my name.  Really the last thing I wanted to do in 90 degree Florida weather was eat some sticky candy.  As I left the store I could see the exit to the park but had one last stop to make.

   

There is always one last souvenir stand right by the exit for those absolutely last-minute gifts.  This one was called Port Provisions and of course had the last machine available in the park.  This machine included a four design set of Marvel character’s including two of the Hulk, Spiderman and Daredevil.

It was now time for me to make the slow sad walk back through City Walk and eventually back to my car.  I had actually done all of this in one day (City Walk, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure).  With no kids this time that helped speed things up and I did skip a lot of rides I usually like to go on.  But this was still a fantastic little trip and allowed me to get caught up on some missing coins to complete my set.  There were a few machines I couldn’t find so I’ll definitely be back hopefully in the very near future.

I posted the above picture in my review of Universal Studios but wanted to include it again here.  This was a label on pretty much all the machines through the parks at Universal and shows a link to www.ctmgroupinc.com/universal.  This link has maps of each park and where all the penny machines are located as well as pictures of the coins at each stop.  I saved this link on my phone for future use as it’s a great way to either weed out coins you don’t want, or if you are like me, make sure you don’t miss any.  Have fun collecting!!