Legoland Florida – Winter Haven, FL

A few years ago I took it upon myself to digital a whole bunch of old home videos my parents had made of my sister and I growing up.  There were a few family vacations which were fun to go back and experience, especially the ones where we visited Florida in the early 80’s.  During one of these videos we had visited a place called Cypress Gardens that I had no recollection of but figured it had to be pretty close to the Orlando area as we never wondered too far from there when on vacation.  To my surprise it was still around but had changed quite a bit in the 30 plus years since my last visit.

What did it turn into?  Legoland of all things.  I decided to take my youngest daughter with me to check it out as I’ve never been to one of these parks.

This place was amazing.  I have always loved Lego but my building skills are pretty rudimentary.  Simple square buildings with walls not structurally sound and fall over whenever I tried to move my creation from one place to another.  But the sculptures they have here are really unbelievable.

Two familiar friends we found were Emmet and Wyldstyle from the Lego Movie.  Nearby was a store called the minifigure market and is where I found the first penny press machine.

The penny machines found through this park were pretty unique.  The machines were almost silent when used, but did take a little more effort than usually to press the coins.

   

The pennies did roll a little short, but most of the design was visible.  This first set of pennies included images of Cypress Gardens, a Carousel Horse, Lego Duplo and some Lego people faces.

This park is huge and there is quite a bit of walking to do but the theming changes with each area.  There are sections like Duplo Valley pictures above.

The World of Chima is where an interesting water attraction can be found.  You ride in a boat with a water cannon in front of each seat that allows you to shoot streams of water at targets throughout the ride.

It was a little chilly when we visited and this ride looked like you got pretty soaked so we decided to skip this visit.  But will be checking this out again the next time.

The next area we headed into was the Lego Kingdoms which is themed around Kings and Queens, Castles, Knights and of course Dragons.

There is a ride called the Dragon, and the exit to the attraction takes you right by the King’s Market.  This is where I found the second penny machine.

   

These pennies pressed much better than the first.  The designs included images of a Knight’s Horse, a Lego Jester, the lost Kingdom Adventure, and The Dragon.

A short walk away was the next area called the Land of Adventure.  This area was kind of all over the place.  It started out like we were in Egypt with a Pharaoh and hieroglyphics, then to a jungle safari with Lego animals all over the place.

The area then ends with a dinosaur themed coaster called Coastersarus and is where the third penny press was found.

This was an interesting location for a penny press.  I’ve used machines inside restaurants, near bathrooms, and up at the top of the Empire State Building but this was a first.  The coaster actually had part of the track running right overtop of this machine.  So as I used it I could near people screaming as they coasted just a few feet over my head.

   

The pennies from this machine had images of the Legoland water park, the Statue of Liberty, an Elephant and the Coastersaurus.

Did I mention this place was big?  Next we found ourselves in the Lego City section.

The fun thing about this area is that it’s just like a mini town.  There is a Lego firehouse, police station and ice cream parlor.

There is even a Lego version of the DMV.  Well technically not, but it’s actually the Ford driving school.

Just outside the driving school shop is a Lego Ford Mustang that is pretty awesome with some realizing engine noises.  Right behind the mustang was the last penny machine we found.

   

The designs available at this last machine included Jet Ski, a Lego person driving a Lego car, Skipper School, and a Ride Vehicle.  Nearby was the water park but due to the cold weather it wasn’t open this day.  I’m not sure if there are any additional penny machines there but I’ll definitely be back to confirm.

Instead we headed over to the area that started this whole thing Cypress Gardens.

I was hoping to see some of the same locations I saw in the old home videos but nothing really looked the same.  It was still nice to walk along the trails through the gardens and hoped that maybe I had walked this same trail as a child.

We did spend a good amount of time walking around the gardens, but eventually made out way to the center piece of Legoland call miniland USA.  This was really cool to walk through.  They recreated US cities all made entirely out of Lego.

There was the Las Vegas strip with all the different casinos.

Even part of International Drive in Orlando with the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and the Sea Life Aquarium.

I even came across the Daytona 500 with racing cars flying around the track.

We had spent a long day at the park and done a lot of walking so we decided it was about time to head out.  On our way back to the front of the park we checked out The Big Shop.  Basically this was one big Lego store with Lego sets, t-shirts, candy, and even some Disney stuff.

Near one of the check out registers I found a pressed penny booklet for Legoland which I had to pickup for my collection.

This theme park was a lot more fun than I had anticipated.  I’m not really sure what I thought it would be like but my daughter loved it.  There were a lot of rides for her age which was nice and made the experience a lot more fun for her.  So many times at the other parks she ends up not being tall enough and has to watch from the sidelines.  The Lego creations and details they have all around the park are really incredible and you could spend and entire day just looking at those.  They even have Lego birds in some of the trees.  If you haven’t tried Legoland and are looking for something different be sure to check this place out, and remember to bring some pennies!

Hershey Park – Hershey, PA

After checking out Chocolate World just a short walk away was our true destination for this trip Hershey Park.

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Now I will admit that my wife and I are not big thrill ride fans so most of the crazy roller coasters they have here are lost on us.  But our daughter loves the little kiddie rides and I’m having panic attacks about potentially having to go with her on bigger rides when she’s older.  For now we get to do the nice easy things like meet Mr. Hershey Bar.

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Not to mention Hanna’s absolute favorite thing to do a classic carousel.

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We do make it on some of the more “boring” rides like cable cars, the monorail, and the odd log flume ride.  The day we were here actually was a really hot day for this late in the summer, and Hanna really wanted to just play at the Boardwalk.

My wife volunteered to take her through water park area and I was able to sneak off with our younger daughter Melody (8 months old) to wonder around the park.  This was to accomplish two things.  1) Melody was pretty cranky due to the heat and trying to get her to take a nap was top on my priority list.  2) There were penny machines to be found.  Now I didn’t collect these machines in this order, but I’m going to review them as you would after first entering the park.

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As you go through security and have your admissions ticket scanned you will immediately find the first two machines.  The first one is on the right of the main path just outside one of the many souvenir shops.

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I will apologize now for not having actual pictures of the final pressed pennies.  All of these coins were collected on a previous visit a couple of years ago and the designs have not changed.  Due to this I didn’t press any new sets since I already have a few of each in my collection which unfortunately is all packed away as my family is getting ready to move.  So instead I took close-ups of the machine marquees that show the coin designs. Back to the machine, the set available here includes Springtime in the Park, Ms. Hershey Kiss, Great Bear Roller Coaster, and the Storm Runner ride.

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The second machine is on the left side of the main path.  This may actually be easier to collect on the way out depending on the crowd level when you first enter.

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The designs available at this second machine are the Kissing Tower, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Character, The Wildcat Roller Coaster, and a Hershey Kiss Street Light.  By the way in case you are wondering about the Street Lights these actually exist and are located all around town see picture below.

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After walking up the first big hill in the park you come out in the main kiddie ride area.  Near Starship America and the Carousel is the third machine.

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Just due to where this machine is located there are always a lot of kids around it.  To be honest not many are ever actually using the machine but they always get a kick out of watching when it’s used.  I always make sure to show them how it works and the finished products then they quickly run off to ask their parents for spare change.

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This set includes the Hershey Bears Logo (Minor League Hockey Team), Mr. Hershey Chocolate Bar, Hershey Park Logo, and a Carousel Horse.  To find the next machine you have quite a walk ahead of you.  It’s located way over toward the Boardwalk and is just outside the bathrooms/changing rooms for the water flume on steroids ride called Tidal Force.

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A word of warning about this area.  The ride Tidal Force has a splash area that includes part of the pathway that surrounds it.  When the ride vehicle comes crashing down there is a huge wave of water that splashes down over some suspecting (and non-suspecting) visitors.  This machine is thankfully out of the splash zone, but just beware in case you don’t want to get wet.

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The pennies at this machine have images of Hershey Park in the Dark, Lightning Racer, Wild Mouse, and Tidal Force ride logos.  The last machine is back on the other size of the park past Zoo America near the Skyrush Roller Coaster.

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As you may be able to tell from the above picture this machine is located right outside a set of restrooms.  This always tends to be a busy area with not a lot of extra standing room for people waiting for their family members.  Plus you get some strange looks when trying to take pictures of the penny machine as people are exiting the restroom doors.

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This final set has designs of a The Claw, Fahrenheit, Skyrush, and a Train Engine.  The first three designs are all thrill rides located in the park.  That concludes all the penny machines in the park, however as I was wondering around I came across 4 new Medallion machines.  These are not really my thing (I spend enough on pressed coins) but thought I would mention these just in case anyone does collect them.  The cost for these were $3 each or 2 for $5.

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The first one was located near the restrooms by the carousel.  The designs were a Carousel Horse, Milton S. Hershey, a Hershey Kiss Lightpole, and Hershey Chocolate Bar.

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The second machine was over near the Wildcat Roller Coaster.  This set of Medallions were of Hershey The Sweetest Place on Earth, Ms. Hershey Kiss, Cocoa Bushes, and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.

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This third machine was available in the area near the Zoo America entrance, by the restrooms at the Loft Catering.  This set has pictures of Fahrenheit, Mr. Hershey Chocolate Bar, a Hershey Kiss, and the Hershey Smoke Stacks.

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Finally the fourth Medallion machine was located by the restrooms near the Chevrolet Music Box Theatre.  This set included the Hershey Park Boardwalk, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup character, the Kissing Tower, and Laff Trakk.

With all the penny (and Medallion) machines photographed and documented for my collection it was time to head back and see how everyone was doing in the water park.  As usually Hanna didn’t want to leave but with the promise of chocolate on the way out she reluctantly agreed to dry off and start our trip back home.  This is a really great place to enjoy a day of rides, food, chocolate and pennies.  How does that not sound like fun!