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.

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.

Festival of the Holiday’s 2019 – Epcot

Happy New Year!!
Unfortunately, I had planned to write the below post a couple weeks ago but I got sick and some family events happened during the holidays.  I apologize for the delay and this festival has completed for 2019 but the next festival will be upon us before too long.
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Epcot doesn’t waste any time transitioning from one Festival to the next.  It seems like just a few weeks ago I was enjoying the Food and Wine Festival, and then just this past week everything changed over to the Festival of the Holidays.

I will admit this is not one of my favorite festivals, but it still gives me an excuse to head over to the park and try some new food items, or experience the Candlelight Processional which is actually a great show.

This year my two daughters wanted to try and complete the Cookie Stroll.

Last year I had attempted it but only got through a couple cookies before I felt sick from all the sugar and holiday spice.  This year my plan was to break up the sweetness with some savory dishes and hopefully not go home with my tail between my legs utterly defeated and embarrassed.

My two girls were excited and ready for some cookies.  After we got inside the park we picked up our Festival Passport so we knew where to go and headed for the first cookie.

 

The booth over near the Canadian Pavilion was called the Yukon Holiday kitchen, and they had the Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie.  I am not a huge peppermint fan, but this cookie was actually really good.  It was soft, moist and didn’t have an overwhelming amount of peppermint flavor which was a plus for me.

If you are going to try the cookie stroll, make sure you get your passport stamped after you pay for the cookie.

 

The second cookie was at the Fest of the Three Kings booth and was a Chocolate Crinkle Cookie.  This was just okay for us, my girls didn’t really like it.  To be it was almost more like a cake than a cookie, it was a bit dry but had plenty of chocolate flavor.

 

We then had to take a bit of a stroll around the World Showcase until we got to the German Pavilion and the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen booth.  They had the Linzer Cookie which was filled with raspberry jam.  This was fantastic and was my clear favorite of all the cookies we tried that day.

 

Over in the American Adventure pavilion was the American Holiday Table booth.  Here you could try a classic Gingerbread Man cookie.  I do not enjoy gingerbread myself so this was a miss for me, but my girls raved about this cookie.  They liked it so much they begged for a second one to enjoy on the way to our next booth.

 

In between the Morocco and France pavilion was a very popular food booth called L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen.  They had a Pastrami on Rye sandwich which I had tried last year and was really good, as well as a couple different potato Latkes.  But we were here for a cookie and got the Black and White cookie.  This has a nice lemon flavor to it, but nothing too exciting.  My youngest enjoyed eating all the frosting from the top and she said that was her favorite part.

We had done it.  After the Black and White cookie, it was time to head over to the Holiday Sweets and Treats booth for our complimentary Completer cookie.

 

It was a cute Santa Mickey-shaped Sugar Cookie and we even got a free bottle of white milk.  We each took a small bite just to say we tried all of them, but by this time we were sick of cookies and couldn’t really enjoy it so we packaged it up and took it home.

To try and celebrate our glorious victory over the cookie stroll we headed into the Port of Entry gift shop to see what Festival merchandise was available.  There were the standard t-shirts, sweaters, and candy cane flavored popcorn but nothing really called out to me this year.  Then as we wandered around the store I found something.

The collectible coins/medallions were back.  The Food and Wine versions had been removed and replaced with the new Festival of the Holidays designs.

The machine looks exactly the same, but had a new marquee and was filled with the new coins.

They are still the same cost at $5 each, or 3 for $10.

The designs are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Chip & Dale.  The back of the coins has the Festival of the Holidays logo.

I was originally against these coins mostly due to their very high cost, but now that these seem to be coming out for each festival I’ve grown to enjoy.  With everything going on this time of year I actually forgot these may even be available so it was a happy coincidence to come across them.

Later that evening the rest of our family arrived at Epcot and we had dinner in the France Pavilion at Chefs de France.  Then we finished our evening enjoying the Candlelight Processional with guest host Gary Sinise.  He was fantastic, the music was wonderful and the singing just topped off our amazing day.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday.  Please stay safe and enjoy your special time with family and friends.

Orlando Icon Park – Penny Machines Converted to $1

Our fears have been confirmed.  It seems like Disney is not the only place converting their pressed penny machines to $1.  A very kind friend had sent me a message online that they saw some penny machines in Orlando had the new price rate.  I almost couldn’t believe it so I made sure to head on over as soon as I had a free afternoon to confirm it…and it turns out to be 100% true.

The attraction in question has gone through quite a few name changes over the past couple of years.  Currently, it’s called Icon Park over on International Drive.  I had written about this place previously as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye and you can read about Madame Tussauds here and the Sealife Aquarium here.

The large Ferris wheel can be seen from all over Orlando, but when you park right beneath it in the lot the actual size can be a bit overwhelming.  It’s very difficult to get it all in one picture.

You can head inside to where the main building is located right behind the giant wheel.  This is where you can get your tickets to ride the Icon (Ferris wheel), or visit the other attractions here.

One of the first places you will come across is Madame Tussauds the famous wax museum.  I didn’t go inside this time, but it is definitely a fun place to experience.  Just outside the exit to the gift shop is where the penny machine is located.  Just as a reminder you do NOT need to pay for admission to use this machine.

You can see the machine has some updated decals on the outside.

This machine accepts dollar bills and supplies a pre-loaded zinc penny.

Even though the machine was removed temporarily to perform the conversion, just like most of the Disney machines, the designs available have not changed.

Located directly across from the wax museum is the Sea Life Aquarium which is really a hidden gem.  I have gone back to this aquarium a few times over the last couple of years and I really enjoy it each and every time.

As much as I do encourage you to buy a ticket and experience this unique aquarium if you are stopping by just for a quick visit to use the penny machine you do not need to pay for admission.  Just to the left of the ticket counter is the entrance to the gift shop.

Just inside the gift shop near the soda cooler and ice cream freezer is where you can find the machine.

The dreaded $1.00 signage and instructions on how to use the machine.  No penny, No problem!

These designs have also remained unchanged.  I did press a new set and they did come out pretty nicely even though they are on pre-loaded zinc pennies.  I will be curious to continue to monitor how they look as the years go by.  Using zinc pennies has always been something long-time collectors have tried to avoid.  I’m crossing my fingers they don’t deteriorate too quickly but I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Living with the Land NEW Pressed Penny Set – Epcot

So we are halfway through the month of December.   This is the time of year that I begin to try and prepare myself for the chaos that ensues when Disney starts releasing the new dated coins all over property.  I assumed those would be the next “new” coins, but then they tried to sneak a new machine over at The Land Pavilion in Epcot.

My family was heading into Epcot for the Candlelight Processional the day after I had heard about this new machine.  So things couldn’t have worked out better.  After we had dinner there was a little time to spare before the show was to start, which gave me the opportunity to visit The Land.

When you walk into this pavilion you are on the second floor.  Directly across is the Garden grill revolving restaurant and just to the right of that is where the coin press machines were located.

There used to a 3 design penny machine and a 3 design quarter machine (see above) here but both have now been removed.  The quarter machine had one of the 2019 dated designs so this may be the beginning of those being retired.

Above is a picture I took to show that both of those old machines are gone and only the new 8-design machine is there along with a dog-tag engraving machine.

Here is a close up of the machine.  It has a similar cabinet design to the previous machines and blends in nicely with The Land Pavilion theme.

The internal working of the press is always very mesmerizing to me.  I enjoy getting down close and watching as it presses my coins.

Here is a picture of the marquee on the top of the machine with the designs available in this set.  Same price as the other similar machines, $1 per penny or all 8 for $5.

Finally above is pictured my complete set after pressing.  There are some fun designs in this set and some characters we don’t see very often like Bambi and Jiminy Cricket.

The entire set has the works “Living with the Land” on them which are in reference to the classic slow movie boat ride that takes you through The Land Pavilion greenhouse.  It’s not a very thrilling ride but has some fun information along the way and you get to see where they grow some of the produce used in the restaurants all over property.

Will this be the last new set before those 2020 coins start showing up.  I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date on where and when that all starts happening.

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail and New Collectible Medallion

Welcome to December!  Thankfully it’s not too cold here in Florida, but during this time of year, it’s hard to get in the Holiday spirit.  Thankfully Disney puts on some events to help get you feeling festive.  In previous years we have checked out the Mickey’s Very Mery Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, and last year we saw the holiday projection show down Sunset Boulevard on the Tower of Terror.  But the one thing we have started to make a tradition is the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs.

This is something completely free to do, and you can also try to visit Santa if you don’t mind waiting on average around 200 minutes (a virtual queue is available).  For us, though we usually just pick a nice place to have dinner around 6pm, then just as it gets dark we head over to start the trail.

The main entrance for the trail is over in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs near the Earl of Sandwich or Once Upon a Toy store.  There is a podium set up where you can put your name down for a time to visit with Santa, or you can just head right in and check out the trees.

The trail consists of 23 themed Christmas Trees.  Usually, they are based around specific Disney movies.  Above is the Sleeping Beauty tree with lots of fun ornaments like the fairy godmother hats, some balls of yarn and of course the princess herself Aurora.

This next one was our personal favorite this year.  It was themed around the Princess and the Frog animated movie.  It had some Mardi Gras masks on it and was topped with some Jazz instruments.

The Little Mermaid tree had King Triton’s Trident up at the top and was decorated with lots of seashells, starfish and what we guessed were large pearls.

One of my favorite animated movies is Aladdin and I always look forward to this tree.  It’s located on top of a carpet that looks very much like the magic carpet from the movie.  Jafar’s cobra staff is peeking out about halfway up the tree, and of course, there is the magic lamp right at the top.

With Frozen 2 just released this past week, we knew this was definitely going to be out this year.  There are plenty of carrots on the tree for Olaf’s nose and I’m sure in case Sven the Reindeer is looking for a snack.  The tree has a snow-frosted look to some of the needs which were a nice detail.

I was a bit conflicted with this tree.  I love the Haunted Mansion attraction and have gone on it more times than I can count.  But this tree seemed a bit out of place.  I know it’s very popular among Disney fans but the large Bride torso in the middle of the tree was a bit off-putting.

Cinderella’s tree was very elegant.  the decorations not too overdone, but I enjoyed seeing the pumpkins, fancy ornaments and of course a clock to keep track of when midnight arrives.

I saved this one for last as I thought it was pretty unique.  Having a lightsaber as the topper to the tree was a nice touch.  There were little Jawa ornaments and a Porg or two in there.

Did I mention Disney makes it snow in this area?  Well, sort of anyway.  Periodically you can hear the machines start-up and the snow start to blow into the air and fall all around.  The kids definitely love it but make sure they don’t try to catch any of the flakes on their tongues as it’s actually a type of soap bubble so it won’t taste very good.

After we finished up the Christmas tree trail we headed back towards the parking garages but made a small stop in the Pin Traders store.  Our daughters are always on the lookout for new pins to trade.  While they were trading with cast members I headed over to the Medallion machine that was moved here (previously it was at the Art of Disney store).

It appears from a distance to be unchanged, but something caught my eye and I went in for a closer look.

The price was still the same $5 for one coin or 3 for $10.  Sure enough one of the coins had been replaced.  There used to be a Mickey’s 90th Birthday celebration coin.  But now that 2019 was coming to a close I guess it was time to move out those dated coins.

 

Above is a close up of the medallion on the left and on the right is the artwork from the machine button.  The one and only Mickey Mouse.  With some new medallions in my pocket and the kids with some new pins, it was about time to head home.

There were plenty of great Christmas trees but wow does the trail get busy.  I’ve heard if you go earlier in the day it’s not as bad, but seeing the trees lit up at night is just how we prefer to see them.  It’s hard to get pictures of your family in front of their favorite tree but just be patient as the crowds will eventually give you a split second or two to snap your picture.  Our mantra of the Holiday season…just be patient and keep on collecting!

Halloween Horror Nights 2019 Token – Universal Studios Florida

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dino Institute NEW Pressed Pennies – Animal Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newly Renovated Park Stores at Orlando International Airport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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