Halloween Horror Nights 2018 Token – Universal Studios Florida

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  Something about the fall season, the cooler weather, leaves changing colors and jack-o-lanterns lighting up the neighborhood houses has just the right amount of spooky.  As I got older the horror movie genre became a guilty pleasure and then visiting local haunted house attractions and hay rides was a must each year.  Then about 15 years ago I visited Florida during October and saw commercials in my hotel room about Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.  It looked amazing and I knew I had to squeeze it into my vacation plans.  To this day that was one of the greatest Halloween events I have ever been to.

Since relocating to Florida this was something I wanted to revisit as soon as possible.  Our daughters are a little too young for this as it can be pretty scary even for adults.  But my wife was interested in going so we got some tickets and a babysitter so we could head over and check it out.  Above is a picture I took of the Universal arches about a week before we actually went to HHN (Halloween Horror Nights).

Above is a picture I took of the line we were in the middle of just to try and get into the event.  It usually starts sometime between 6-6:30pm.  This was taken around 6pm and it took almost an hour to actually get inside the park.

Once inside, since it hadn’t gotten dark yet I wanted to check out the souvenirs first and see what they had to offer.

The logo for this years HHN included the above creepy disfigured pumpkin and it could be found all throughout the park.  As you can also see one of the HHN houses this year was themed around the popular Netflix show Stranger Things and there was a ton of merchandise with that on it.

In the middle of the Universal Studios Store was a collection of vintage arcade games.  Including Pac-man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong and some other popular games.  Now these machines do not take quarters, but instead can only accept special tokens.  The above machine is where you can purchase those tokens.  They were $1 for 2 tokens or discounts if you bought in larger quantities.

Being a pressed penny collector I obviously wished these designs were in a pressed penny format, but I was still happy to see these special tokens.  This is something I always wished Disney would do for their events and parties.  I didn’t want to spend time playing the arcade games (although it was tempting) but I did pick up a few of these tokens for my collection.  They had the creepy pumpkin on one side, and the HHN 2018 logo on the other.

It was now starting to get a little dark out and we met up with some family friends to head over to our first haunted house.  Our strategy because of the huge crowd for this event was to visit the houses at the back of the park first and then move towards the front.  This seemed legitimate in theory but seems lots of other guests has the same idea.  First up we visited the Trick ‘r Treat house which is themed around the cult classic movie of the same name.  Unfortunately for the safety of the guests and scare actors there is no video or photography allowed inside the houses.  If you are interested there are plenty of “media preview” videos inside the houses on YouTube.

The detail inside these houses is really amazing, and with Universal behind the make up and costumes you really get sucked into the houses.  The pathway weaves around sharp corners and through narrow hallways with the scare actors jumping out at you every few feet.  They are not allowed to intentionally touch or grab you, and it all makes for an amazing adventure.

The second house we visited was called Seeds of Extinction.  This is an original house theme based in a post-apocalyptic wasteland overgrown with invasive vegetation.  Basically scary plant creatures jump out at you as you walk through the house.

In between the houses along the main walkways are areas called Scare Zones.  Some of these are IP (intellectual Properties) or original theme zones just like the houses.  One of the more popular scare zones was the Killer Knows from Outer Space zone.  The uber creepy clowns just slowly stalk around you as you try to get through to the next house.

The fog, and lighting in these areas really add to the ambiance and creepiness factor.

Another scare zone was called Vamp 1985.  In this area about every 20-30 minutes the ball drops to celebrate New Years eve.  The only problem is that when the ball drops the vampires storm into the crowd looking for victims.

Up next we visited another original house called Scary Tales.  This was my favorite house we visit this night.  By this time it was around 10pm and the lines for the houses were getting pretty crazy.  The line for this house was posted as being 35 minutes but I’m pretty sure we waited at least 50 minutes, but it was worth it.

The story behind this house is that the Wicked Witch of the West has cursed the land of the fairies, twisting beloved stories beyond recognition.  This just means that all your favorite fairy tales have been turned into horror themed nightmares.  One of the rooms was the witches house from Hansel and Gretel and there was an amazing smell of gingerbread as you walked through.  The scares in here were not too over the top, but the theming was really detailed and amazing.

The Stranger Things house was definitely the longest one all night and it didn’t get much better.  We checked the wait times for this house numerous times during the night and it was always around 60-90 minute wait which was just too long for us.

One of the last scare zones we headed through was called Twisted Traditions.  The description was that an ancient evil had reawakened and transformed Halloween into an abomination.  There were a lot of scary pumpkins, and things handling from trees along this path.  Plus lots of creatures jumping out to see why we were walking through.  One of the coolest features of this zone were all the lit pumpkins decorating the tree tops.

The HHN night we visited was on a Wednesday.  We chose that day as it was supposed to be a lower attendance day, but as you can see from the wait times above it was still pretty busy.  We ended up getting into four houses out of ten that are available, and all the scare zones.  If we can figure out how to visit again before these events are done for the season we will definitely be back.  The houses were amazing, the scare actors were fantastic and it was just a lot of fun.  The night would go on until 2am but we headed out around midnight since we had work the next day.  The souvenir tokens were a very nice surprise and will make a nice addition to my collection.  Hopefully this is something they will continue doing annually.  We are definitely going to visit again next year and this would be a fun little souvenir to get year after year.

Happy Halloween!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaritaville – Universal CityWalk Orlando

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incredible Hulk Coaster – Islands of Adventure Orlando

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

Universal Studios / Islands of Adventure Updated 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Screen Collectibles – Universal Studios Orlando

I’m going to try my best and start keeping everyone informed on new Penny machines that become available throughout the Universe Studios resorts.  I must be a glutton for hard work and long hours.

I’ve always been a Disney Fanboy at heart, it’s my favorite vacation spot and now that we live in Florida I had a Disney annual pass within hours of crossing over into the state.  I would never say I get tired of Disney as it’s a true passion for me, the movies, stories, characters, parks, resorts and pressed coins are all things I’m completely obsessed with.  But Orlando is the Theme park capital of the world so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to spread out a bit and see what others may be interested in as well.

My last trip to Universal had been earlier this year during a quick trip (at that time) down from Jersey to Florida doing some house prep before our move later that summer.  I raced through both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure trying to document all the machines and jump on a few rides in between.   After almost 6 months since my last trip I thought it would a good time to check on if anything had changed.  As luck would have it I found a new machine.  Shortly after you walk into Universal Studios you come across a store called Silver Screen Collectibles which in the past primarily specialized in Betty Boop merchandise.  However more recently an area of this store had changed over to a small little cat.

Hello Kitty seems like a strange choice, but even though the picture above doesn’t show it that place was pretty packed with people later on in the day.  Must be more popular than I thought.

As with a lot of new machines I’ve been coming across lately this store has a new 8 Design penny machine.  Touch screen and just like the other machines it supplies penny sized zinc tokens.

Now as you can tell from my above ignorance of Hello Kitty’s popularity I really have no idea who any of these characters are.  But I’m making an educated guess that they are all part of the Hello Kitty universe.  Each coin does list the name of the character and my daughter thinks they all “look soooo cute”.  So I’ll take that as a stamp of approval on this new set.

With all the Hello Kitty merchandise in that store I don’t see this machine leaving any time soon but you just never know.  I’ll keep checking back at these parks to make sure and document any more new machines.

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Click here to see my YouTube channel video on this machine

Islands of Adventure – Orlando, FL

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

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

   

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

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

   

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

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

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

   

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

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

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

   

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

   

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

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

   

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

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

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

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

Universal Studios – Orlando, FL

After walking through the large crowds in City Walk I had my first dilemma as to which of the two theme parks I should explore first.  I’m not a huge thrill ride fan so the crazy roller coasters weren’t a deciding factor.  Eventually I decided to check out Universal Studios which I have very fond memories of visiting as a child.

I know a lot of it has changed over the past few years.  Jaws was always a favorite of mine but is sadly no more.  If anything good could come out of that area it’s the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley which was really amazing.  There was a bit of a line to get into the park, but eventually I was in and started looking for my first stop.

Just inside the main entrance on the left side was the Universal Studios Store.  It was a little early for me to get any souvenirs (didn’t want to carry them around) but they had quite a few machines available inside.

   

The first machine inside was a three design electric model.  It had images of some classic Universal movies and attractions.

   

The second machine was only a few feet away and was another three design electric model.  The images on these coins included Kong, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Gru from Despicable Me.

   

When I came across the next machine I was a little surprised to see that they also had these new 8-design touch screen versions.  The machine supplies the coin which is technically not a penny but a blank token.  The finished coins came out nice and shiny and were all themed around Despicable Me and the Minions.

   

The last machine in this store had three designs all of Spongebob and his friend Patrick Star.  There was supposed to be a fifth machine with four designs available but I searched every inch of that store and couldn’t find it.  Guess I’ll have to make another trip back soon to look again.

After leaving the store I headed over towards the exit to the park to an area called It’s a Wrap.

   

Over near the restrooms and locker area was the first machine.  This had four designs including the Universal Orlando Logo, Hulk, Spiderman and Woody Woodpecker.  A short walk over to the actual It’s a Wrap store is where I found the second machine.

   

Another four design hand crank model had images of Spongebob & Patrick, Homer Simpson, and two Marvel Character.  Now it was time to start heading further into the park.  Just up the main street I stopped in at the Silver Screen collectibles.

   

These coin designs were the same as when I visited last, but the machine had received a face lift with new signage.  The images on these coins were from I Love Lucy, and Betty Boop.  Back out on the street I saw a very interesting looking building that was from the Despicable Me movies.

Inside is where you can experience Minion Mayhem which is an interesting attraction, but if you suffer from motion sickness may want to either up your Dramamine dose or skip it.  When you exit the ride as all great theme parks do you need to pass through a related gift shop.  This store is called Super Silly Stuff.

   

Big surprise here as the machine is Minion themed and has another set of Minion coins.  They have certainly taken over.  A short walk across the street brings you to the Shrek 4-D attraction.  I’ve gone on this in the past and am not a big fan.  It’s another attraction with a large movie screen and your chair moves along with the movie and you get splashed in the face with water (Yay!).  The chair mechanisms were never very good so I skipped it this time, but still wandered around to visit the store here.

   

This machine will have designs of Donkey, Shrek & Donkey, Fiona, and Shrek & Fiona.  There used to be a second Shrek machine just outside but I couldn’t find it so I’m not sure if it’s gone completely or just out being fixed (maybe updated, wink wink Universal).  As I mentioned in the past I’m not a thrill ride fan so something like Rip Ride Rocket is not something I would ever go on, but I did walk back through the exit to access the penny machine located there.  They have staff members that will try to hold you up from going the “wrong way” but if you ask nicely about the penny machine they will let you go use it.

   

The cabinet of this machine was pretty cool and very colorful.  The coin images were themed around the ride and of course Rock n’ Roll.  Heading back out I thanked the staff member again and headed back towards the New York area of the park.  The new Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show Ride wasn’t open yet when I was there, but since has opened to mixed reviews.  I’ll have to try it out next time I’m there.  Just a short walk around the bend of the street and I came the Revenge of the Mummy coaster.  I was interested to try this one but the wait time was way too long so I just wondered into the gift shop known as Sahara Traders.

   

This was another unique design for the penny machine.  Due to the top part of the machine it was a little hard to turn the hand crank properly.  Also this machine is located in a terrible area along the only pathway exiting the ride through the middle of the store.  So as you try to use the machine there are large herds of people exiting constantly with not much room on either side to let them by.  With the coins in hand I exited and saw something that brought me right back to childhood.

I was a huge Transformers fan as a kid, watching the cartoon and having every toy I could get my hands on.  Seeing Optimus Prime standing on the building just drew me over.  The ride is pretty awesome, and is in 3-D while you are driven through a battle of Autobots and Decepticons.  When you leave of course you are ushered through the Supply Vault.

   

At first I was worried this would be the same set that I got out at the Parking HUB, but the designs were different and amazingly detailed for how small they are.  I had kind of my way into the middle of the park and lost my initial path.  When hunting for penny machines I always try to walk in a way that ensures I access every possible nook and cranny without having to double back to often.  There was a little pathway that got me back over towards the I Love Lucy store which is right where I needed to be.

Another one of my favorite movies is Terminator 2.  This ride has been in the park for years and remember going on this with my parents many times.  It’s part 3-D movie, and theater performance where the actors come right out into the audience.  After watching the show you visit the Cyber Image souvenir store.

   

This machine used to only have one design available of the Terminator 2 3-D attraction logo, but that has been retired.  Now you can get three different pennies, one with a new T2 3D image, but then there are also two Marvel’s designs with Thor and Iron Man on them.  There was a little bit of a walk to get into the next area that had penny machines, it’s unofficially the kids zone but has some fun things to do.

First up was bikini bottom and the Spongebob Storepants (Ha) shop.  Really nice design to the outside of this building.  Inside you can visit with Spongebob or use the penny machine like I was.  Note that the machine is located right behind the cash register so there isn’t a whole lot of room back there.

   

Just behind the Storepants is where you find the E.T. ride.  Another guilty pleasure of mine which I have no issue standing in line for.  I only had to wait about 15 minutes to get on my bike and travel with E.T. back to his planet to help save it.  Be sure to pick up your souvenir pennies by the doors to the gift shop on your way out.

   

There was one last stop over in this kids area, and that was to visit with Barney.  I don’t even know if he’s still on TV anymore, but he was definitely wandering around looking for kids to interactive with but there weren’t too many takers.

   

I was about to check out the Animal Actors show but was too late for the current performance so I kept on walking.  The next area of the park is really fantastic if you are a Simpson’s fan, and lets you walk right through Springfield.

You can go into Moe’s Tavern and get a Duff Beer or a Flaming Moe.  There’s a Krusty Burger for Lunch, or Lard Lad Donut for a sweet treat.  They even have the Kwik-E Mart with all kinds of Simpson merchandise.

   

Right outside the main door to the Kwik-E Mart is a four deign hand crank machine with all Simpson designs.

   

Inside they have a second machine with three designs in an electric machine.  Also with all Simpson inspired designs.  After grabbing a Duff Beer (actually really good) I was sad to say goodbye to Springfield but had a lot more places to go.

 The Men In Black (MIB) ride is another classic for me.  It’s kind of like laser tag, but you’re in a ride vehicle shooting aliens and completing against the other people in your vehicle.  After obliterating a bunch of aliens I ended up in yet another gift shop looking for a penny machine.

   

The next area after the MIB ride was part of the Harry Potter world but I wasn’t yet ready to check that out.  So I covered by eyes and walked past it quickly so I could get the last couple machines available in this park.

Who doesn’t like candy when they are walking around on a hot day in a theme park.  Over at the San Francisco Candy Factory you can get all things sugar related.  It was too hot for me to get anything but I did find the machine towards the back of the store.

   

Almost done I promise, there was just one more machine in this area and was just outside the candy store towards the water.  This is where you can get your picture taken in front of a huge shark (Jaws) hanging by his tail.  I’m always convinced it’s going to move when I go near it so I always just look from a distance.

   

With all the machines in Universal Studios collected and photographed I headed to the one area I was keeping until the end.  Over in the back corner where the Jaws ride used to be is the newest addition to the Harry Potter world Diagon Alley.  This is really really amazing.  The details they put in are stunning, and honestly could have spent the entire afternoon wandering around just looking at all the buildings and store fronts.  I had some pictures but really didn’t want to spoil this for anyone that hasn’t seen it in person.  So I’m leaving this up to you go head out to the park and see it up close and personal.  I will share one picture which doesn’t give away much.

In this area of the park there is a recreation of King’s Crossing Train Station, and yes you do get to walk through the hidden 9 3/4 platform wall.  This was a picture I took while waiting for the Hogwarts Express which is another really neat little ride over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Island of Adventure.

Are you tired?  I’m tired and I did this trip like 2 months ago and I still have one more park to review.  But who am I kidding I loved every moment of it as the pressed penny obsession continues.  There was one cool little piece of info I wanted to share with you that I found while at Universal.  CTM Group which is the company that created the penny machines and the designs has created a special link online that you can use to keep up to date on all the machines located at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and City Walk.

This little sticker was on most of the machines throughout the park.  I snapped a picture so I wouldn’t forget about it.  In case it’s too hard to read the website address is: www.ctmgroupinc.com/universal Once back at my hotel I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised to see it was up to date and accurate for what I had found that date in the park.  This is similar to the maps they also have online for Walt Disney World and is a nice tool to have when trying to collect these coins.  I saved the link on my cell phone so I could access it on future visits inside the park.

Parking HUB and City Walk – Universal Studios Florida

I feel like lately majority of my posts have been about Walt Disney World or Disneyland.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, these are the places my pressed penny collection started and will always hold a special place in my heart.  Plus they are the locations that release the most penny designs throughout the year and I always want to make sure everyone knows what’s released and where to get it.  But the next few posts I’m taking a break and heading to a different part of Orlando.

Just like Disney the Universal Orlando theme parks have a lot of pressed coin machines.  But I find they don’t get updated as often as Disney.  The last time I was at Universal in Orlando was about 5 years ago, and not many of them have changed in that time.  However I was in the area for a trip and had a free day so I figured it was time to go see what’s new and update my collection notes.

After arriving at the property I was directed to their parking structures.  There are two parking areas, the primary one is the South lot with sections designated by “Cat in the Hat”, “E.T.” and “Spiderman”.  There is an additional North lot with section labeled for “Jurassic Park”, “King Kong”, and “Jaws”.  These are just to help you remember where you parked your car.  There are long moving sidewalks that help keep everyone moving towards the parking HUB.  The HUB is kind of like a “Y” with the two arms connecting to the parking lots, and the bottom arm taking you towards City Walk and the Parks.

I tried to put together a map with some notes on it above outlining how it looks.  The reason for this is there are eight pennies machines available in this area.  The South parking area does not have any machines, but if you are coming from that area as soon as you get to the HUB there are four machines before you even hit security.  The other four machines are on the 3rd level of the North Parking lot just at the end of the moving sidewalk.  It would still cost you $20 (for now in 2017) to park here, but you could access all eight of these machines without going into the parks.

   

First up lets take a look at the machines in the HUB.  As soon as I entered the HUB from the South lot I was greeted by this colorful machine that was covered in Minions.  Just to the left of this machine is a little gift shop area, if you cut through this to the other side are the other three machines all lined up together.

   

The second machine was one I had acquired years ago and was still functional with the exact same designs.  This is kind of a greatest hits of Universal with designs of Spiderman, Jurassic Park, The Hulk, and Spongebob.

   

The middle machine was all about Transformers.  This machine was a little finicky.  It pressed 3 of the 4 designs, but the design for Bumblebee just wouldn’t roll at all.  When I got home I searched eBay looking for the missing design and eventually found it to complete this set.

   

The fourth machine was another set of Minions / Despicable Me coins (These are kind of like the Frozen coins at Disney all over the place).  My daughter loves these designs, she can’t get enough of the minions.

So that finishes up the four machines located in HUB.  Before you go through the security scans, if you walk over to the moving sidewalk that takes you to the North parking structure is where the other four machines are at.  These machines are all located on the 3rd level of the parking structure, however if you are coming from the HUB you are already on the right level.  These machines are all located within a 15-20 foot radius of each other, up against various support columns.

   

The first machine has some designs of various attractions in the parks like the Jurassic Park Ride, and the Hulk Coaster.

   

The second machine has images of Spongebob, The Simpsons, Shrek, and the Jaws Ride which is no longer there.  I’m curious how long this image a some other similar ones around the parks will be available.

   

Next up was the third machine which was themed after The Fantastic Four.  The designs included Mister Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, and The Thing.

   

Finally the last machine out here in parking lot land was a Woody Woodpecker model.  Not sure if kids even know who this is anymore, but I liked it and the designs make for a cool nostalgic set (minus Spongebob).  Images of Woody Woodpecker, Spongebob Squarepants, Scooby-Doo, and Shaggy.

With all the coins I needed jingling in my backpack I headed back towards the HUB, through security and made my towards City Walk which is their shopping and entertainment area (kind of like Disney Springs).

The last time I was here there were a half-dozen penny machines throughout City Walk at some restaurants and shops.  But when I visited there was only one machine available here.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co is a restaurant obviously themed after the movie starring Tom Hanks.  The penny machine here is the same one way back when I visited last.  Unfortunately these themed restaurant machines don’t change very often/ever.

   

Since I already had these coins I just snapped a new picture and headed back out into the sun.  I was on my way over to one of the theme parks with a big bag of change ready to be squished.  Stop back and see where I went next.