Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – Orlando, FL

This week I headed back over to International Drive in Orlando to visit another roadside attraction.  I had visited a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! back in New Jersey on the Atlantic City Boardwalk years ago.  All I remember is being more disturbed than anything just due to some of the very strange things Mr. Ripley supposedly found along his world travels.

Since this is located right on I-Drive it has to stick out somehow from all the other tourist attractions so the building was designed to look like it was sinking into the group.  It’s a fun little optical illusion, similar to the upside down building at WonderWorks.

As soon as you walk inside there is a small lobby area where you can buy your admission tickets if you didn’t pre-purchase online.  In this area you can find the penny press machine.  Little disclaimer, I have heard that from time to time this machine moves inside the attraction and paid admission is needed.  But for now the machine is right out front and no ticket needed to use it.

For some reason I always find that these style machines tend to roll short more often than not but this one wasn’t too bad.

The designs included in this set were of the Ripley’s Orlando Building, the Two-headed Calf, a Tiny Car, and a Shrunken Head.  Even though I had the pennies already I figured since I was here may as well head inside and see what they have to offer.

When you first get inside you are shown the original Ripley desk.  There is a spooky hologram they project of Robert Ripley sitting behind the desk giving some anecdotes of his travels.  As I mentioned above there are some distributing things in this museum that deal with animal birth defects, to tribal rituals including pretty graphic piercings and other things I’m just going to skip over.  Some people find it fascinating but wasn’t really my cup of tea.  I skipped ahead to a large artifact room that had some more PG items on display.

Such as this cute Wall-E sculpture.  I stood there for a few minutes hoping it would move or talk but it doesn’t.  Just a nice piece of artwork.

After visited with Wall-E I found myself in the Medieval torture section, and I’m pretty sure you can guess the crazy contraptions they had on display in here.  They aren’t too graphic, but just looking at some of these devices can set your imagination wild.

Since we have been living in Florida for about a year and still getting used to all the thunderstorms I thought the above sign was a fun fact.

Eventually I headed into an area with some fun little interactive exhibits like seeing how flexible you are.

Or try your hand at a giant Operation game but for some reason the infamous funny bone is missing.

There was also a room with a large piece of the Berlin Wall, and also a room with some wax figures of Ripley’s famous human attractions so you can take selfies with.

As a last test for some reason before you exit into the gift shop you get to walk down this hallway that spins around you.  Of course you get dizzy and you have trouble walking straight through.  There is a bypass but this is fun to watch people experience.  Once you pass through this area you exit into the gift shop which is very small and hard to get through if there are even a few people in there.

This is a place that is just a little too weird for me, and I’m usually into that kind of stuff. I’m glad the penny press machine is outside so you don’t necessarily have to go through the museum if you are a little squeamish or just not interesting in this type of museum.  I probably won’t be back any time soon unless someone from out-of-town really want to check it out.  There is a lot of stuff inside and you could spend a few hours if you take your time but I would recommend checking out their website first to sample what’s there before you venture inside.

SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival – Orlando, FL

In some past posts I’ve reviewed the different festivals that have gone on over at Epcot, but just recently I tried something new.  My youngest daughter has really enjoyed SeaWorld lately and we have found ourselves over there more often than I had anticipated.

On a recent trip we found ourselves visiting the park in the middle of their Seven Seas Food.  I had heard some advertisements on the radio and TV about the festival but to be honest it has started to seem like every park and town are having their own food festivals now.

However since we had been to SeaWorld quite few times in the last month I was looking for something different to try.  As much as I like the Food and Wine or Flower and Garden at Epcot they can definitely get pricey after while.  At the Seven Seas Food Festival you can buy everything al la carte, or they do offer special lanyard.

These lanyard can be purchased for a set price depending on the total number of samples you would like.  As an annual passholder they also had special bonus samples offered for free when you buy a lanyard.  Then when you visit the different booths you can get any of the food or beverage options and each will only cost you one punch on the lanyard regardless of the item price.

The food options were overall pretty good.  As you enter the main festival area there are passport booklets that review the festival, and the food/beverage options.  There is also a map inside showing you where all the booth locations are throughout the park.

I didn’t want to go too crazy with the food, but figured we would at least sample a few things as we walked around.  First we stopped by the Cocina Criolla booth and tried the Pincho de Cerdo con Tostones which was skewered flame grilled pork with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce which I have pictured above.

Next we headed over towards the Brazilian Market and sampled a few things.

Above was the Brazilian Churrasco which was grilled skirt steak with chimichurri and garbanzo frito.

There was also an interesting Brazilian chicken salad with chicken, ham, raisins, carrots, apples and olives topped with shoestring potatoes.

My daughter likes the Arctic Encounter so we always make sure and check that out so we can visit the beluga whales and polar bears.  As we exited there was the Polynesian Market where I sampled a Lumpia which was a spring roll filled with pork and served with a Thai pineapple sauce.

There were a few additional items I sampled while we walked around the park but we actually had a surprise encounter.  Over near the Mexican Market we ran into Executive Chef Hector Colon.  He oversees the menu development for not just SeaWorld Orlando, but also Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park.  I had recognized him from a behind the scene documentary on SeaWorld.  It was really fantastic to meet him and we appreciated the time he took out of his day to chat with us and take a picture.  We thanked him for all his work on the festival and the food throughout the parks as they really have raised the bar.  I felt that was a great way to top off our day at the park and decided it was time to head out.

As we headed towards the exit we passed by the Shamu Emporium.  It’s still under construction right now, and a whole bunch of penny machines from around the park are now temporary located here.  I took a quick review of each machine in the area and found one that was either new or somehow missed on my previous trips.

The machine was working nicely but I did have an issue pressing one of the designs.  I tried it a couple of times and each time rolled a little short.

The designs look to be some classic SeaWorld images of Shamu the famous Orca whale.  When I was back home I checked my collection and didn’t see these included so I think they may be new designs or at the very least new to me.

The Seven Seas Food Festival was a lot of fun, the live music was great and the food was really fantastic and different.  Unfortunately the festival concluded at the end of April but I will definitely be back next year.

Grand Floridian Resort NEW Pressed Pennies

As luck would have it I go out-of-town for a week and when I get back home there was a bunch of new penny machines released.  I’m not complaining but it did make for a busy few days as I tried to get caught up on what I had missed.

For this first stop I headed over to the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  If you aren’t staying at this resort or have a dining reservation parking here is usually off-limits.  Depending on who you get at the security booth sometimes they let me park for 10 minutes to run in and use the penny machines.  But don’t bank on this every time as I’ve only been able to do that a couple of times.  In most instances I park over at the Ticket and Transportation Center and take the monorail over.

To access this new machine that was just released you need to head up to the second floor of the main building.  However, as mentioned above if you take the monorail over you will enter the resort already on the correct floor.

Just inside the doors to the monorail station is where the new 8 design machine can be found.

The plain white cabinet of this machine fits right in with the style of this resort.

All of the designs say “Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort” on them which is already nice to have included.  The images included in this set are of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Mickey & Minnie, Pluto, Tinker Bell and Bambi.  This was a nice new set to have released and I’m curious to see if more of these 8 design machines start showing up at other resorts.  They definitely seem to be the machine of choice at Disney lately.

Before we go, some of you eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that this machine is located in the same place a previous 3 design machine was.  Well as part two of this adventure I headed over to the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts which is where that machine had been moved to.

The machine can be accessed from either the Yacht Club or Beach Club resort as it can be found outside the Lafferty Arcade which is pretty much in between both resorts.  This is also just a short walk from the famous Beaches and Cream Soda Shop.  As you can see in the picture above to the far right is Beaches and Cream with the original penny machine found at this resort.  In the middle is the Arcade and on the left side is the penny machine relocated here.

The machine is the same, and the three designs are also unchanged.  For those of you still trying to collect the 2018 dates pressed coin set this is where the 2018 Chip & Dale penny can now be found.

This was an interesting choice of locations for this machine, but it does kind of fit with the design of these moderate resorts.  I’m just happy they didn’t make this disappear for a while as it would be inconvenience to lose out on the 2018 penny.

As I mentioned before there are still some other new machines out there that I’m working on visiting and documenting.  I should have details on those shortly, and will be sure to share with everyone what the new coins looks like and where they can be found.

Crayola Experience Visit #2 – Orlando, FL

Last summer I had gone over to the Florida mall in Orlando and found a few penny machines inside.  Two at the M&M Candy Store, and another machine in the Crayola Experience.  You can check it out here.  During that visit I only used the 8-Design machine located in the crayola store but I knew there was another machine there but a paid admission ticket was required.  I knew at some point we would need to go back.

 My daughters love to make a mess especially when it comes to arts and crafts.  We decided to take another trip over to the mall but this time specifically just to check out the rest of the Crayola Experience.

If you park in the right area of the parking lot you can walk right inside, or if you are already in the mall shopping there is a separate entrance from the mall as well.  Once inside we bought our tickets and headed up to the second floor.

My girls fell in love with this place as soon as we got upstairs.  Everything is painted really bright and colorful.  The whole area is pretty big and have various sections where kids and adults can try different types of art.

There are areas with plain old crayons, and paint, or more interesting things like melted wax or digital coloring.

There are stations where you can create your own crayon which really means you just design a custom label that gets stuck on a stock crayon from a machine.

There is also a small cafe inside.  We just checked out the snack bar area that had soda, candy and fresh made fudge.

There are also a couple different indoor play grounds for the kids to expel some energy after eating candy and fudge from the snack bar.  We had spent a good part of the day and had a bag full of custom crayons and fresh new artwork for our refrigerator at home.  On the way back towards the stairs and elevators there is a desk where you can view some of the digital artwork created during your visit.

Right beside this desk was the second penny machine which was a four design hand crank model.

As with the rest of the building this machine was bright and colorful.  I wish I had thought to take pictures of the side of this machine as there was some cute artwork of crayons people melting in the Florida sunshine.

The designs on these pennies are of some crayon people experiencing some of Florida fun activities like a roller coaster, playing gold, the water skier pyramid, and building sand castles on the beach.

After pressing the pennies we headed back downstairs and over to the food court for some lunch.  The crayola experience is a great place to visit if you have children that really enjoy creating artwork.  The staff is very nice and helped show us what to do at each station.  I don’t think there is enough there to spend an entire day, but you can definitely enjoy a few hours here.  The cost seems a little pricey but after seeing all the art work we came home with which was included in the admission price it seems to justify the cost.  It was a lot of fun here and our kids are already asking when we will be heading back.

Food Truck Pavilion – Disney Springs, FL

Fresh off the new release of the 2018 dates set of pressed coins Disney didn’t waste much time getting out another new set of pressed pennies.  The new machine can be found over at Disney Springs which seems to be a popular spot lately for new machines.

Over on the West Side is where you can find the big AMC movie theatre, Cirque du Soleil theatre, a Starbucks and some other interesting stores and restaurants.  This area is under quite a bit of construction right now with the recently demolished Disney Quest building making way for a new NBA Experience, and some other new restaurants.

Just past the Starbucks and across from the Star Wars Galactic Outpost and Marvel Superhero Headquarters is an open area just along the water front.  This area is where you can now find the Disney Food Trucks.

Usually there are three different food trucks here but lately only two have been available with the third one on the move around property.

   

The Springs Street Tacos obviously has various tacos for sale.  The Fantasy Fare truck has things like empanadas, chicken taquitos, and Mexican meatball sliders.  This area also does have live music later on at night and can get quite crowded with spectators.

If you are walking along the main pathway you will see the penny machine just to the center entrance to the Food Truck Pavilion.

The machine has some nice artwork on the cabinet.  The design is of the Disney Springs logo which I think is pretty cool.

This is a cute unique set of pennies that I hope they continue releasing.  The set includes images of Minnie eating an ice cream cone, Chef Goofy with a Turkey, Chef Mickey with a Sandwich and Dopey Dwarf eating Cake.  With the recent changes to Disney Springs and the massive amount of new restaurants now available these coins just fit right in to this area.

Above is a picture I took of the machine at night which you can see the area does get busier, plus there is a mobile bar right beside the machine which usually has a long line. This can cause a little congestion around the machine but people are usually nice to step aside if you ask to use the machine.

As I mentioned before I really like this set and think it’s a great new addition to anyones collection.  Hopefully they continue on this pace of releasing some more creative designs like these ones.  Side note, if you are visiting Disney Springs make sure to check out some of the new restaurants they really are great.  A few of my favorites are Art Smith’s Homecomin’, and Maria & Enzo’s.  Enjoy!

SeaWorld Part 3 – Orlando, FL

On this third time around to SeaWorld another few weeks after my previous visit I decided to start early in the day and stay late if needed to find the last batch of penny machines.  The entire drive over to the park my youngest daughter kept saying she wanted to see sharks.  So I make sure that our first stop once we got through security was over to the shark exhibit.

This type of exhibit is pretty common now among aquariums where you are surrounded by the tanks.

Once nice feature is that when you do make it to the large main tank with the sharks, there is a moving walkway which prevents people from blocking the pathway.  This keeps everyone moving through, but at a nice leisurely pace so you can take some nice pictures or have the sharks swim along with you.  After we were done with the sharks we headed into the far side of the park that we hadn’t visited before.

A strange sight in the middle of Florida were ice glaciers, and snow.  This was all themed to be like you were in Antarctica and is where we found the Empire of the Penguin exhibit.

Once inside where you can see all the penguins I will admit it’s freezing in there.  This obviously is for the comfort of the penguins, but since we were wearing t-shirts and shorts we didn’t stay inside too long.  As we exited of course we found ourselves in a penguin themed gift shop.

The shop wasn’t too big, but did have a penny machine located inside.  It’s kind of around the corner, and I think that if we didn’t go through the penguin exhibit I may not have noticed it was here.

   

With these pennies pressed and stored away we headed out the far side of “Antarctica” and heard the familiar screams / laughter from a water flume ride.  Here at SeaWorld they have one called Journey to Atlantis..

I’m not a fan of getting soaking wet in a theme park and avoid these water drop rides most of the time.  My sister loves Splash Mountain so when her family is in town visiting I’ll join her on that one just like when we were kids.

On this visit I decided to try to stay dry so we just stood by and watched a few boats go down the large drop and get drenched at the bottom.  When you are looking directly at this ride if you turn 180 degrees you will see the above three machines just waiting to be used.

   

The first machine on the left side was labeled around the Journey to Atlantis ride but strangely the penny designs didn’t have anything to do with that ride.

   

The machine in the middle of this trio was themed around the Kraken which is another intense roller coaster nearby.

   

The third machine has designs of some seals.  This is probably due to the Pacific Point Preserve area of the park back near Antarctica.

Before we headed on I wanted to make a quick stop into the gift shop for the Journey to Atlantis ride.  Whenever I’m hunting for penny machines Disney has met pretty trained to look inside souvenir stores.  Unfortunately there weren’t any penny machines there but they did have a small little aquarium.  As we wandered around the store I also found a pressed penny booklet that I just had to get.

I’ve posted in the past that I store all my pressed coins in 2×2 cardboard holders inside three-ring binders.  However that still doesn’t stop me from collecting these booklets.  I have a large plastic container in my house just filled with them.

A little further past the Journey to Atlantis ride was a pit stop area with some restrooms.  We made the stop but only because two more penny machines were located here.

   

One machine is by the women’s restroom and the second by the mens.  I’ve never been a fan of having penny machines hear restrooms as they just end up being used to lean on, or people loitering around them.  Most are nice enough to move aside when asked, and more often than not you also get a group of kids wanting to see how the machine works.

   

While using this second machine I did have a nice family give me a heads up about some other penny machines near by.  We chatted for a bit about pressing coins and also let them know about TEC (The Elongated Collectors)  Club which they were unaware of.  Wishing each other well on our collection we split up and went in search of the last few machines.

Taking the instructions from my new friends we headed over to the TurtleTrek and Manatee rehabilitation area.

Turtles are cool, but there is nothing like a manatee.  I’m still fascinated by these creatures.  There was a staff member near by giving a little presentation about some of their newest additions.

Two orphaned baby manatees.  It was a heartbreaking story that is always sad to hear.  People just not paying attention with their boats and these slows moving animals.  The two just don’t mix.  But these little ones were being well taken care of and they were just really fun to watch.

   

After visiting with the baby manatees I headed back over to the Turtle area and found the next penny machine.  By this time we had explored almost the entire park, but we had one last area to check out.

Dolphins, how could I have forgotten about dolphins.  At the top of the tank they do have feeding times where you can help feed the dolphins.  Or for a better view of these amazing mammals you can go to the underwater viewing area.

If you walk down the pathway towards the viewing area is where we found the last two penny machines.

   

The machines are on either side of the pathway, but because this is both the entrance and exit to the viewing area and of course with the popularity of dolphins this area does get a little congested.

   

It had been another busy day but we enjoyed every moment of it.  After visiting with the dolphins for a little while we headed back towards the front of the park.  We had visited every corner and gift shop of the park and found all the penny machines currently available.

SeaWorld definitely has a lot of offer and we will be back hopefully before too long.  With a total of 24 machines each with 4 penny designs that’s a total of 96 pennies.  Most of the machines do have the ability to make change if needed but I always recommend coming prepared whenever possible.  This would be a massive project to try to collect all of these during one visit, but not completely out of the question.  I’m not sure you would have time for much else.  As I mentioned there is a lot to see and do here so take your time and enjoy it.

SeaWorld Part 2 – Orlando, FL

A couple of weeks after my first visit to SeaWorld I finally got some free time to go back and pick up where I left off.  There were still quite a few penny machines here somewhere and I was determined to find them.

I headed back towards the Mako roller coaster but turned in towards the Shark Underwater Grill & Bar.  This is a restaurant that is similar to the Coral Reef in Epcot if you have ever visit it.  Basically you get to eat a table service meal in front of a large aquarium tank.  This one as the name would imply has quite a few sharks keeping their eyes on you while you eat.

Just outside the Shark restaurant is an area that you can feed sharks at certain designated times during the day.  Now I will admit you won’t be feeding great white sharks, instead they are much smaller and friendlier.

Located in this area are two penny machines.  One at each end of the feeding tank.

   

During feeding times this area can get a little crowded, and it was hard to use these machines as people were completely surrounding them.  But if you go during a non-feeding time they are pretty easily accessible.

   

Just down a short walk away is the other big roller coaster this park is home to called Manta.  This is a coaster that has you flying kind of like superman underneath a Manta Ray ride vehicle.  It looks really cool, but would be way out of my league.

Just outside the entrance / exit to Manta is a small little gift shop, and directly across the walk way is where I found the next penny machine.

   

There is a second penny machine just down the pathway towards the Flamingo exhibit.

   

It was getting a little late in the afternoon and I was supposed to meet my father over at the Orlando Convention Center to check out the Auto Show.  So unfortunately I only had time for a couple more machines.  There was one place I remember having a few machines years ago and thought I would stop by.

The Sting Ray lagoon and Feeding area is one big touch tank, and they do have staff nearby willing to answer questions and give presentations about the rays.

   

This first machine is located right in front of the lagoon as you walk up towards it.  The machine seemed like it needed a new dose of grease in the gears as it was really squeaky.  The hand crank was pretty tough to turn, and as you can see by the coins above they were rolling short.  I actually tried using this machine a few times over a couple other trips and the set pictured was the best of each coin.  Hopefully they will get someone out there to do some service on it.

There are quite a lot of rays available in this tank.  If you reference the times guide for the park you can find out when the feedings take place and for a small fee can help feed them.

At the back of the lagoon are some sinks so you can wash your hands after feeding or touching the sting rays.  This is also the area where you can buy the food during feeding times.  Back here is also where you can find the second penny machine.

   

This machine was working much better than the one out front.  With this second batch of pennies pressed my second visit was about over.  I headed back out of the park and eventually made it over to the convention center for the auto show.  Unfortunately there were not penny machines there (what were they thinking!).

SeaWorld was definitely growing on me and I couldn’t wait to get back.  There was another whole area I hadn’t checked out yet, more sea creatures to visit and of course a few more penny machines to find.

SeaWorld Part 1 – Orlando, FL

My youngest daughter has really gotten bit by the theme park bug.  It has become almost a weekly tradition now where we get up Sunday morning and she immediately says “Animal Park”.  This is her signal that she wants to visit a park and who am I to deprive her of that but this time I thought I would actually try to let her see some animals.  It has been probably over 10 years since the last time I visited SeaWorld so I thought it was about time to go back.

Now the park has been receiving some bad press lately, and it seemed to show in the crowd level.  It was pretty light on the day we visited, and they also had some great deals on tickets.

   

As soon as you enter the park you way by the one of the main gift shops that I believe is call Shamu’s Emporium.  It’s and indoor and outdoor shop which a lot of merchandise.  This store was a nice welcome to the park with six penny machines right off the bat.

   

Usually I go over what designs are on each penny, but to be honest a lot of these designs are of the animals.  Not duplicate designs, but I figured you may get tired of me saying Manatee or Turtle too many times.  Plus to be honest sometimes I’m just not sure exactly what creature is on the coin.  The pictures will give you a good look at the designs available at each machine.

   

This second machine was literally just a few steps to the left of the first one, and also had a nice change machine built in should you not heed my advice and always come prepared for penny pressing.

   

At the corner of the building is the next machine and you can also see the fourth machine right beside it.

   

As you keep walking past the store to the far side you will come across the last two machines found here.

I remember years ago when I was here there were a few electric penny presses, but on this trip I can confirm they are all gone and you will need to bring some elbow grease.  If you are planning on pressing all the coins in one day your arm is going to be soar.  It actually took me a couple visits to get all of these.

   

The second machine here is right beside the other.

   

I had been in the park for probably less than 15 minutes and only walked about 100 feed but already I had 24 pennies pressed and my elbow was starting to throb.  But I wasn’t complaining as my day was just beginning.

Just past Shamu’s emporium the path splits and you can go either left or right.  But as you can see in the picture above straight ahead was the SeaWorld Rescue store and a penny machine right outside.

   

After pressing this next set of pennies I opted to head towards the right path.  This took me past some small snack stands, the dolphin nursery, a quick service tex-mex restaurant and more souvenir stores.

   

Somehow I ended up on a boardwalk style path that extended out over a big area of water.  During the holiday season they had Christmas trees out in the water as part of a  light show and some were still up during our visit.  At the far side we found the famous Shamu Stadium and the inside looked very familiar.  Some of it had been updated but I remember that large tail fin shaped screen.  Sadly no shows were going on while we were there but it was nice to see the stadium again.

We said goodbye for now to Shamu’s stadium and walked over to a place called the Wild Arctic.  This is kind of a ride, but not really.  There is a motion simulator that you can take which makes it seem like you are making the trek up to the Arctic via helicopter I believe.  But since I had my youngest daughter with me we opted to skip the ride and just walk to the Arctic.  It’s all inside a building as you can see from the above picture.  The A/C is blasting inside to make it a little colder but not uncomfortable.  This is where you can see the beluga whales and polar bears.

Once you exit the Wild Arctic and make your way outside you will find the next penny machine just off the path next to a bench so you can take a quick break.

   

We headed back over towards the stadium and walked around to Shamu’s Happy Harbor which is like a kids play area and water park.  They do have some small rides and carnival style games, but to my surprise no penny machines were here.  Eventually we walked up to the parks newest roller coaster (for now) called Mako.

If you zoom in on the picture above you can see the penny machine off in the distance.

   

This first visit to the park I found this machine but the coin slider was jammed and I couldn’t use it.  We made it back a few weeks later and I was able to press the coins, but they did roll a little short.  With the sounds of roller coaster riders screaming over our heads we headed on our way.

I think this is a good place to stop for now.  Trust me there were a lot more penny machines to find.  As I mentioned it did take me a few trips back to get all of these pennies and check out the rest of the park.  Be sure to check back so we can find the rest of the machine.  Happy collecting.

Aquatica Water Park – Orlando, FL

This week I had it scheduled to go check out a water park and of course it ended up being cold here again.  But that wasn’t going to stop me, but I didn’t decide against actually going in the water.  Plus as an added perk due to the cold the park was nice and quite with not a lot of visitors making my tour around a nice leisurely one.

There were quite a few different water parks around Orlando to I could visit, but I decided to check out SeaWorld’s Aquatica.

This park was definitely much larger than I had anticipated.  When you first walk in you cross over a bridge that had part of the lazy river.

There is also a very large water slide that is clear and goes directly through a Dolphin tank which is where I found the first penny press machine.

Just to the right side of the dolphin viewing area is where the penny machine was located.

   

The designs on these pennies were really unique.  They are of very common animals we have all seen at different aquariums and zoos, but the way these were designed was really cool.  This set included designs of a Manta Ray, a Lizard, a Flat-billed bird, and a dolphin.

I started my tour around the park and basically followed the lazy river for most of the trip.  Eventually I did come to an area which was designed for some younger visitors and looks like a lot of fun.  Various buckets drop water on unsuspecting swimmers, and there are water sprinklers all over the place.

In one area of the park is a large sand “beach” covered with lounge chairs for sun tanning or just relaxing.  As you can see due to the colder temperature this day I had the pick of any chair I wanted.

Near the sand “beach” are two large wave pools.  On my visit only one of them was operational but you can see the size of it in the picture above.

Throughout the park there are various water attractions and slides.

As with a lot of parks there is always something new being added.  Aquatica is no different and there was an area with construction walls to hide the magic going on behind them.

In one area near the lazy river there are private cabanas that you can rent for the day.  During busier times of the year it’s recommended to book these ahead of your visit to ensure you can get one as they are very popular.  Since I didn’t have one I could go back into the area, but this was the private bridge heading back to the cabanas which include covered areas, private seating, and concierge to help get you anything you want like food or drinks.

Seeing things like this water fall, and the slides really made me regret I didn’t bring my bathing suit.

After touring around the entire park I headed back to the large gift shop called Kiwi Traders.  This was actually right near the dolphin viewing tank.

Inside the gift shop you can guy beach towels, sun tan lotion, and all store of standard theme park souvenirs.  They also do sell bathing suits which was tempting.  Outside the gift shop was this sculpture / water fountain which looked to have the same type of animal designs I found on the first set of pressed pennies.  Then I noticed behind the fountain was a second penny machine.

   

Just like I found with the rest of the park this penny machine was very colorful.  The set of pennies at this machine had images of a Kiwi Bird, a Puffin, a Woodpecker (maybe), and a Turtle.

My quick (and dry) tour of the park was a lot of fun.  I haven’t really been to a water park since I was a teenager and this made me miss it.  I can’t wait to get back here as soon as the weather warms up a bit.  Plus I must say it again, these coin designs are really cool and not something I’ve seen before and made a nice addition to my 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.