Sir Mickey’s Heroine NEW Pressed Penny Set – WDW Magic Kingdom

I wish I could say that I’m pretty good at predicting when Disney is going to release a new pressed penny machine.  But more often that not I’m caught by surprise at not just the designs they release but also the location.  This exact situation just happened at the Sir Mickey’s gift shop at the Magic Kingdom.

This cute little shop is located behind Cinderella Castle, and is also where you exit after meeting some of the Princesses at the Fairytale Hall.  The items in the shop are primarily Princess and Prince oriented.  It’s themed around a couple classic Mickey Mouse cartoon The Brave Little Tailor from 1938 and Mickey and the Beanstalk from 1947.  I loved this cartoon as a kid and even thought I had visited this shop many times in the past I don’t think I realized all the details that were here.

Each corner of this shop has some fun scenes from the cartoons including the above of Mickey climbing up the beanstalk, and underneath all sorts of items from his Tailor shop.

Princess Minnie is in the opposite corner looking beautiful in her Purple dress.  This is a very popular photo location, but is worth the wait.

This is probably the biggest detail (literally) in this the store that I never noticed until this most recent visit.  It’s of the Giant taking the roof off the shop and peeking inside.  This is just so cool for them to have included.

So why did Disney catch me by surprise with this new pressed penny machine?  Well it’s primarily due to the machine that was previously here.  They used to have a 3-design electronic machine that has been home to one of the annual dated designs.  I assumed (incorrectly) that the dated designs would continue here, but that was not the case.

Voila, instead of just changing out the dated design the entire machine was swapped out and now was home to a new 8-design machine.

The machine is in the exactly same location within the store as the old machine.  The cabinet does have a nice wood grain design that I think would look very nice in any castle.

Unfortunately there were no 2021 designs in this set, but the pennies are still a fun collection of Princesses and Heroines including Cinderella, Elsa, Anna Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and even Tinker Bell is here.  To be honest I would have preferred to have a set more themed around this shop with Brave Little Tailor Mickey, Princess Minnie and of course the Giant plus there are plenty of other fun characters from the cartoons to include.  But I guess these Princess designs are probably more popular for the majority of guests.

So now my big question is, what happens to the new 2021 penny design that would have gone here?  All the other 3-design penny machines have recently been converted over to $1 and those designs have remained the same (upcoming post about this soon). I’m a little concerned that the dated set may be getting slimmed down a bit with these machines being changed around and also the pressed quarter machines seem to be on the way out.  But time will tell and I’ll be here to share all the details as soon as I know more.  Happy Collecting and Keep on Pressing!!

Wreck-It Ralph 2 NEW Pressed Penny Set – Epcot

Just a week or so ago I headed over to Epcot for one last visit to the International Food & Wine Festival.  I had tried most of the items but there were a few that topped my list so I wanted to go back one last time and indulge.

After our tour around the World Showcase, we were heading back towards the front of the park and headed along the pathway just near the Canadian Pavilion.  As we walked my daughter asked, “Isn’t the Figment rides near here’s?”…Ugh!

She was referring to of course the Journey into Imagination attraction featuring a purple dragon called Figment.  Now I will admit I’m not the biggest Figment fan.  I do enjoy Figment as a character but the ride is terrible and in my opinion, he’s pretty annoying.  My fingers are crossed that they will “eventually” change this ride.  In the meantime, I indulged my daughter and went on the ride with her.  Thankfully it’s not a long ride but I always come out of there humming that song.

After exiting the ride you find yourself in the ImageWorks area of the pavilion.  Pre-Covid days this place would be packed with kids enjoying some of the interactive exhibits or more than likely to meet some characters like Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope.  Unfortunately for now there is nothing going on inside this space.  Guests just walk right through it into the gift shop and then back outside to the park.

For no apparent reason, we decided to just take our time in this area and enjoy it with no one around.  Eventually, we did head out towards the gift shop and I noticed that a new penny machine was placed here.  This location used to have a 3-design electronic machine but that had disappeared a couple years ago.

The designs of this design are all themed around the Animated movie Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet.  This would match a little better in this area if Ralph still had a meet and greet here, but currently, he is not here so the machine seems a bit out of place.  They have started to renovate a pavilion on the other side of Future World that will become the Play Pavilion and seems to be themed around movies like Inside Out, and Wreck-It Ralph so I would think this machine will be relocated over there once construction is completed.

Just on a quick side note, for anyone that would rather skip the Figment ride you don’t need to go through that to get the pennies.  Just walk around the side of the Imagination Pavilion and you will find the exit/entrance to the ImageWorks gift shop.  Head inside the penny machine is just past the merchandise area.

I do like this set and think the designs are cute, but find it kind of strange that this is the movie they are opted to released penny designs for.  Are there any other pennies with designs from another movie sequel?  I’ll have to think about that but I don’t think so.  Leave me a comment if you can think of one.

Thank you for checking in this week and I hope you had a fantastic holiday last week.  Enjoy, stay safe, and as always Keep on Pressing!

Aladdin NEW Pressed Penny Set – Magic Kingdom

Earlier this week I made a quick trip over to the Magic Kingdom so I could press some pennies for a friend of mine.  Other than getting these pennies I didn’t have much of an agenda which was supposed to make for a nice leisurely trip to the park.  All too often I’m rushing around the park, and you kind of forget about what a magical place you are in.  It is nice to every so often take your time and enjoy where you are.

On Main Street USA I stopped into the Starbucks for a coffee and then headed towards Adventureland.  I’m not sure why this is my preferred path, but I do find this is the direction I head more often than not.

There are quite a few great attractions in Adventureland, but one that holds a bit of sentimental value for me is The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  This was the first ride we had taken our oldest daughter Hanna on when we first took her to the parks when she was small.  We don’t go on it very often anymore but I always look fondly on this ride every time I pass by.

Even though I was taking it easy on this visit, I still find myself visiting each penny machine just to make sure they are still there, or if any changes have been made.  In between the Swiss Family Tree House and the Magic Carpet ride is a machine that can be easily missed due to its location at the Island Supply Breezeway (restroom area).

This is a high traffic area most of the time since there are restrooms here and it’s a shortcut from Adventureland over to the Liberty Square area of the park.  But about halfway through this breezeway is where the penny machine is located.  When I walked into this area I immediately noticed the machine had been changed.  Previously this was a 3-design electronic machine with a change machine attached all in one cabinet.  That is no longer here (even the change machine is gone) and now a new 8-design machine is available.

The machine cabinet is just plain white and nothing overly special about the design or theme.  It is the newer touch screen versions we have come to know so well and are definitely becoming the new normal in the parks.

The designs on the pennies are all themed around one of my favorite animated movies Aladdin.  The images include Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, Genie, Iago, Abu, and more.  This is a really great set and I’m so glad it was released.  I think this will be a very popular machine.

After pressing the pennies I made the executive decision to jump in line and take a spin on a magic carpet.  It would have been more fun if my daughter was with me, but that’s okay it was still fun and I’ll be sure to take her on the next time we are in the parks.  Happy Collecting and Keep on Pressing!

Main Street Emporium NEW 2020 Medallions – Magic Kingdom

I know a few years ago when Disney first released a collectible Medallion machine that I was at first intrigued enough to get a set but tried to convince myself I wouldn’t keep getting them.  But as time has gone on, and more and more of these machines are released I have found my medallion collection growing a bit out of control.  The Festival medallions over at Epcot are probably my favorite and I have been keeping an eye on that machine, but then out of the blue, we got a report about a new set not too far away at the Magic Kingdom.

After work, I took a quick trip over to the park to try and find these new medallions.  I always enjoy walking under the Railroad station and having Main Street USA just reveals itself.  In my mind, it’s always a fun way to be welcomed into the park.

I continued up Main Street towards the Emporium.  Just a quick note on this store, with the current situation in the park they are trying to keep everyone moving in one direction so many of the doorways here are listed as “Exit Only”.  To get into the store you do need to head about halfway up Main Street and enter near the Disney Clothiers store.

Brace yourself when you enter this store as it can be quite chaotic.  It gets worse later on when the park is closing down for the night, with people trying to get their last-minute souvenirs.  The medallion machine is tucked away near the area of the store that has a big selection of Plush toys (sorry it’s hard to be more specific).  Just around the side of one of the checkout counters.

The machine is in a pretty plain cabinet but does actually blend in well with the aesthetics of the Emporium.

The cost is the same as the other machines around the property.  $5 per medallion or you can get all 4 for $15.  This is a slight change from before, where if you were paying with a credit card it would only allow you to get 3 of the coins for $10, and then you had to come up with cash for the 4th design which was pretty inconvenient.  Now they let you get all 4 at once which is much nicer.

The designs on each medallion include Mickey & Minnie holding hands, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy.  On the front of the coin with each character are the words Magic Kingdom, and Walt Disney World.  On the back of each coin is the 2020 Cinderella Castle logo they have been using this year.

This is another great set of medallions, but wow they get expensive.  Especially since pressed pennies are now increasing to $1 each, and medallions at $5 each I may need to get a second job to keep up with my collection.  I did find it a little strange that it’s October and they are releasing another set of dated 2020 medallions but figured these were probably already in the pipeline to be released earlier this summer but got delayed due to all the shutdowns.  Guess in a few months we can look forward to seeing what 2021 designs we get.

Happy Collecting!

The Jungle Book NEW Pressed Penny Set – Animal Kingdom

It’s been a little while since we were over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, so we had scheduled a reservation to visit this past weekend.  It seems that it was just meant to be as I was informed on the drive over to the park that there were reports of a new pressed penny machine sighting.

We did have a whole day planned at the park, but it didn’t take too long for us to find the new machine.  Just over the bridge when you first see the Tree of Life there is a pretty large gift shop on the left called the Island Mercantile.

I usually cut through these stores just for some quick Air Conditioning, but this time we were on the hunt.

The inside of the store is really beautiful with all sorts of theming and unique carvings on the walls and up in the ceiling.  Plus there is a ton of merch, but we will revisit this shortly.

After wandering around the entire inside of the store more than a couple times I headed outside, and sure enough, there was the machine.

The cabinet of this new machine was gorgeous, with some cool wood carved creatures on the front and both sides.  Plus I really liked the blue color.

I pressed a set of the new pennies and was a bit surprised to notice that they were all themed around the Disney classic animated movie The Jungle Book.  There are designs of Mowgli, Baloo, Shere Khan, Kaa, Bagheera, and more.

Now just a quick note, after getting these pennies I headed back into the store and was just curious to see what type of merchandise they would have for The Jungle Book.  I checked every shelf and display I could and the only items I found were a couple collectible pins.  It is a bit sad to know that this movie doesn’t have much available, but at least we have a nice new pressed penny set.  Keep on Pressing!

WDW Converting Older 3-Design Electric Penny Machines to $1

Over the past year or so we have reviewed how Walt Disney World (and some other theme parks around Central Florida) have begun converting their penny machines over to $1.  The machines being convered were the 4-design hand crank models and we were hoping it would stop there.

But unfortunately on a recent visit to the Magic Kingdom I found what a lot of collectors had been worried about.

I didn’t even make it very far into the park before noticing the very first machine over near the Newsstand looked different.

 
Old Machine                                   New Machine

Above on the left is how the machine looked only a few weeks before.  The picture on the right is how it looked after coming back.  When I noticed the credit card payment system I knew what had happened.

The marquee at the top is a bit different as well, with added information on the new increased cost and they also announce proudly that “We provide the penny”.

Here is a close up of the payment system and information on how it works.  Please note that if you chose to use a credit card or digital payment like ApplePay you will automatically be charge the full $3 and will get all 3 pennies.  You cannot use this type of payment for only one design.  For that you need to use cash and it must be exact the machine does not give change.  So make sure you have your dollar bills ready.  After you insert your dollar, the button will light up and you can chose your design to press.

Here is a picture of the penny set.  They are exactly the same as before the machine was converted.  No variances that I can see like the Frontierland Railroad Station machine we reviewed last week.  The pennies the machine supplied were not great and I’ve definitely seen better with other machines.  But I’ll try cleaning them up a bit and hopefully that will help.

I’ve mentioned this numerous times in the past that many collectors aren’t happy about not being able to use their own preferred pennies.  I do like to use my own whenever possible, but I just enjoy this hobby too much for this small detail to deter me from collecting.  It’s more about the adventure and just simple enjoyment of watching a penny get squished into a fun souvenir.

We are anticipating that since this machine has been changed over the rest of the 3-design electronic machines will soon follow.  On this most recent visit to Magic Kingdom I did check on the other machines but no others had been convered as of yet.  As always we will keep you up to date on the changes.  I don’t think I’ll review each machine individually as they are converted and may instead wait for all of them to be done and write one large article about all of them.  Let me know what you think.  Will you continue to collect these pressed pennies?

Stay safe and Keep on Pressing!

Frontierland Railroad Station NEWish Pressed Pennies – Magic Kingdom

Fresh off a couple new penny machines over at Epcot, it now was time to head back over to the Magic Kingdom for a NEW-ish machine.  What do I mean by that…well we will get to that in a little bit.

I was able to get a park reservation for a Sunday and above is a picture of the entrance to the park.  It was pretty quiet on this visit.

We headed back towards Frontierland only stopping once for a Dole Whip (I’m so weak), then back to Splash Mountain.

As you stand in front of the entrance to Splash Mountain, if you look up you will see the Frontierland Railroad Station.  Unfortunately due to the Tron Coaster construction currently underway the railroad is not running.

But that’s okay since the place we are actually heading is not up to the railroad platform.  Instead, you walk just to the right of Splash Mountain underneath the train station.

If you decide that you would rather take a trip down the Briar Patch by riding Splash Mountain first that’s no problem.  Once you exit the ride you will have to walk underneath the train station as well to get back to the park.  Which is perfect since this is where you will find the new penny machine.

Previously this location had a 3-design electronic penny machine that was removed fairly recently.  Then with the latest news that Splash Mountain will be rethemed to Princess and the Frog, I assumed this machine may not return until after that retheming.  But I was wrong.

As you can see from the image above the machine has returned but is noticeably different.  For one it is now a 4 design manual press machine.  It has also been updated to the new $1 per penny price point, and the machine supplies a shiny new zinc penny.

Here is a look at the new set of pressed pennies from this machine.  Now if you have been collecting Walt Disney World pressed pennies you may be like me and at a glad recognized these designs.  After I had pressed this set I was pretty sure these were previously retired designs that were just brought back.  But once I got home I took a closer look to compare these with the older designs I remembered.

 

First, we will look at the Br’er Vulture design.  It was originally at this very same location under the Frontierland Railroad Station.  However, when I put the two pennies together (New is on the Left, and Old is on the Right) you can see there are some differences.  There is now a notch at the top of the design that splits the dot border, and the Magic Kingdom banner is in a different location.

 

The second penny with Br’er Rabbit was also at the old machine in this same location.  The notch on the left is now splitting the dot border, Br’er Rabbit looks to be a little smaller, the Magic Kingdom banner is larger and the (c) Disney is now on the left of the design.

 

The third penny design that has Mickey and Minnie splashing in some water is STILL available at the Splashdown Photo Preview area.  This is located at the exit of Splash Mountain where there is a wall of video screens showing the ride photos.  In this same area is a sort of hidden penny machine.  That notch is splitting the border again on the new design, the Splash Mountain logo looks a little different, and Mickey & Minnie are more spread apart.

 

The last penny design used to be inside the Country Bear Jamboree waiting area but was recently removed and replaced with an 8-design touch screen machine.  That notch is again splitting the border, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad appears to be a new font, the Train and tracks look a bit more detailed, and the Magic Kingdom banner has been raised a bit and isn’t as wide.

As you can see these are technically new penny designs, but upon closer look, they are very similar to other designs just with some slight variances.  I obviously still picked up a set for my collection and many other collectors enjoy finding variant designs so I’m sure these will be popular.  However, if you remember I did mention above that Splash Mountain is going to be rethemed shortly so I do find it a bit odd that they kept some of the Splash Mountain designs.  You may want to get a set of these before this machine inevitably changed for some new Princess and the Frog designs.

Happy Collecting!!

The American Adventure NEW Pressed Pennies – EPCOT

On a recent trip to Epcot, I was primarily looking for the new Mission Space penny machine.  If you haven’t read about that trip you can check it out here.  After finding that machine the rest of our day was set aside to try some of the Food and Wine Festival food booths, and we also did a Ratatouille Scavenger Hunt.

As we made our way around the World Showcase the crowd level was higher than I had anticipated and many of the food booths had very long lines.  That mixed with the hot Florida sun made waiting in those lines seem very unappealing.

We did periodically come across a booth with either a short or no line and we took advantage of those.  Above was from the Africa booth and was the Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous.  This was really good, the shrimp were a little overcooked but the flavors were great with just a little spice to them.

A little further along our travels, we visited the Spain booth and tried a couple items.  First, we tried the Charcuterie which was a selection of imported Spanish Meats, Cheeses, and Olives with an Herb Vinaigrette.  My wife absolutely loved this one.  I did try a bit of it and the meats and cheeses were really flavorful, but olives are just not my thing.  The second item we got was the Spanish-style Paella with Chorizo and Shrimp.  This was probably my favorite so far of the festival with lots of flavors.

By this time we were getting a bit tired and in need of a break.  The American Adventure pavilion just nearby so we headed in that direction for some downtime in the shade.

While we sat under the shaded pavilion rehydrating with some much-needed water, I spied something across the patio.

I quickly headed over to investigate and sure enough, it was a brand new penny machine.

It is a newer version of the 4-design hand-crank machine.  Each design costs $1 and you can use either cash, credit card, or digital payment like ApplePay.  The machine supplies the penny to be pressed so you are not able to use your own preferred pennies, unfortunately.

Here they are the pressed penny set.  I really think this is a cute set and love the design of the Mickey-American Flag, but they are all great new designs.  I did walk around the rest of the pavilion just to check on the old machine but it was nowhere to be found and I’m going to assume it’s been retired.

We eventually finished our visit to Epcot and had a great time.  I did check the other Pavilion penny machines but didn’t see any other new ones so far.  This is an interesting change since it’s one of the first times we have seen a 3-design ($0.50 per penny) machine completely replaced by these new 4-design ($1.00 per penny) machines.  Fellow collectors have been anticipating this change and it may be finally coming to fruition.  This would be a huge overhaul of machines since most of Disney property has those older 3-design machines.  This change over could take years and I’ll be very interested to see if we get all new designs or if they will just install the old designs back into the new cabinets.  Only time will tell but I’ll be sure to document them as quickly as I can.  Keep on Pressing!!

Mission Space NEW Pressed Pennies – Epcot

It’s been almost a month since my last visit to a Disney Theme Park.  This was partly due to my own feelings of safety and looking to ensure I kept my exposure limited whenever possible.  But another factor has also been playing a part in this decision and that is the Disney Park Reservation system.  Basically, if you want to visit one of the parks you need to make a reservation in advance.  With the parks having the limited guest capacity (currently, it’s around 30%), and that is also divided between On-site Resort Guests, Day Guests (not staying at a resort), and Annual Passholders.  Unfortunately, Annual Passholders book up these reservations pretty quickly and it’s been a bit difficult to get one.

Photo Credit: Disney

Prior to all this, whenever I heard about a new pressed penny machine or design I would just head into the park that evening or the following weekend at the latest to document the new coins.  But with this new reservation system, it makes spontaneous trips almost impossible.  I took that as a sign to just take a break from the parks.

Eventually, I was able to secure a reservation for Epcot and as my luck would have it, there was a new penny machine released.  It was very nice to be back in the parks, but since it was Labor Day weekend the crowds were definitely larger than I had anticipated.  Plus Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival was in full gear and weekends are a busy time for these Festivals.

My family was anxious to get back into the World Showcase for some rides and more importantly Festival Food booths.  But first I needed to stop by my arch-nemesis Mission Space.  Here’s a quick story.  Years ago when I still lived in New Jersey I had visited Walt Disney World for vacation and had a reservation for my favorite restaurant on property ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort.  That day I had decided to visit Epcot to kill time before my dinner, and my friend wanted to try Mission Space.  I’m always a bit nervous about new attractions but decided to go on with him.  Basically, it’s a centrifuge where it simulates you blasting off from Earth into Space.  Because it’s a centrifuge you are in these little capsules that spin around really fast to simulate the g-forces you would encounter on this type of trip.  Our flight was a bit delayed due to someone getting sick as they exited the ride.  That should have been my notice to skip this one but I didn’t and afterward, my stomach was upset and I was so out of it I had to just go back to our resort.  The thought of food would make me nauseous so I had to make the difficult decision to skip my ‘Ohana reservation.  It’s such a popular restaurant that I was unable to reschedule for any other time during our visit.  So my hatred of this attraction all stems back to that trip and how it made me miss dinner at my favorite restaurant.

Years have past and that scar still runs deep.  I haven’t been on this attraction since, and they even now have a “less intense” version but I’m still not ready to experience it again.  However, even though the penny press machine is located in the gift shop you do NOT need to experience the attraction if you don’t want to.   When facing the front of the building just walk over to the left and you will find the gift shop.  I always liked the above picture which is in the shop just behind the checkout desk.

Just inside the doors to the gift shop is where the penny machine could be found.  Not too long ago there was a 3-design machine here that had Mission Space theme designs.  But that was recently removed and had a Star Wars machine here instead.  I always thought that was a bit of a stretch to have Star Wars with Mission Space but hey what do I know.

I was glad to see the new designs were all inspired by Mission Space.  Above is the marquee from the machine and the price has remained the same for now.  $1 per penny or you can get the entire set of 8 for $5.

The large plexiglass window on the front allows for a fun view of the inner workings of this machine which I always enjoyed watching.  They also have pressed pennies from the machine on display so you can see what the final results will be.

This is a nice set and I’m glad we were able to get over to Epcot for them.  Eventually, I’ll bury the hatchet with this attraction and go on again but I’ll be sure to not have any special dining reservations afterward.  We enjoyed the rest of our day at Epcot and did come across another new penny machine but you’ll just have to stay tuned to read all about that one shortly.  Happy Pressing!!

Epcot Reopening Preview – NEW Pressed Pennies!!

A week after Disney reopening the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks, they were ready to open their other parks Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  Not only was Epcot reopening but they were also kicking things off with their Food and Wine Festival that will now be running longer than any previous year.  I was able to snag a Park Reservation to check out Epcot and see how things had changed.

Just like the other parks, there is a required temperature screening before you can enter the park.  It was quick and simple with no line when I had arrived.  Afterward, I headed through the security check and then up to the main entrance.

A really nice thing that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before at the parks is that all of the entry touchpoints were open.  This helped prevent any line from forming while you scan your magic band or park ticket.

As I mentioned above the Food and Wine Festival officially started July 15th and will run through the Fall.  This is also the 25th anniversary of the festival.

Walking back towards the World Showcase you can see the very light crowd level in the park.  The nice thing about Epcot is that it a large property and allows guests quite a bit of room to spread out.

One thing that I thought was interesting is that not all of the Festival food booths were open.  Quite a few of them had signs stating they will open in the “Fall”.  Also, there was next to no Food and Wine merchandise available, instead, they were still trying to sell through the Flower and Garden Festival items from before the parks had closed in March.

I decided to head towards the Mexico Pavilion and start my way around the World Showcase in that direction.

The first open booth I encountered was the Mexico booth and I just had to stop and try something.  The Ribeye Taco was just calling my name.  It was really good but the portion size was really small and at $6.95 seemed overpriced.

I continued my trip around the world by next visiting the Norway Pavilion.  The line for the Frozen Ever After attraction was around 30 minutes which wasn’t too bad compared to normal operating days.  However, I was more interested in visiting the Relaxation Station in this area that is located in the Akershus restaurant.  Previously this was a Character Dining buffet but with all the current restrictions that are not happening.  Instead, you can come inside for a break from the sun for some air conditioning and a chance to remove your mask for awhile.  I have never been to this restaurant but I was really amazed at how beautiful it was.  The decorations and theming were really great and I hope to actually eat here sometime in the future.

Next up was the China food booth with the above menu available.  The offerings do seem limited this time around.  I’m not sure if this will change as the festival continues.

They also have some variation of a Bao Bun at this booth which I’m obsessed with.  This year it was a Mongolian Beef version so I picked it up with a cup of the Happy Peach drink.  This was another winner for me, the beef was flavorful and the bun was soft and pillowy.  Even though the bun was $6.75 I felt it was a much better value than the taco I had earlier.  The peach drink was just okay and at $11.50 due to it containing alcohol was pretty pricey.

As I stood to the side of the China Pavilion enjoying my food, all of a sudden the music ramped up and I was greeted by a Character Cavalcade featuring Elsa and Anna.  I mentioned this in the Magic Kingdom review but I wanted to say again that I really think this is a great way to enjoy the characters.  These impromptu experiences are not scheduled and just happen randomly throughout the day.  They don’t last long unless you follow them around the Showcase.  But within just a few minutes they had passed by where I was standing and then everyone went back to what they were doing.  I hope they keep these up in the future.

I continued around the Showcase and as you can see the crowds continued to be really light and in my opinion very enjoyable.  All too often, I’ve visited the parks with massive crowds and it can take some of the fun out of your day.

Over in the Japan Pavilion with the Matsuriza Traditional Japanese Drummers no longer performing it was really quite.

The Morocco Pavilion was also extremely quiet.  I walked through the marketplace and think I saw only 2 or 3 people.

Next up was the France Pavilion.  My wife loves the Chocolate Croissants available in Les Halles Patisserie and I was going to surprise her with one, but unfortunately when I went inside the Patisserie was closed.  I have seen that a few days after my visit it has reopened with a limited menu.

One completely new experience for me on this trip was the ability to check out this large Pavilion building that I’ve only ever seen from a distance.  It’s located between the United Kingdom and Canadian Pavilions.

Usually, this is reserved for special events, but during the Festival it’s been opened to guests and houses a few different food booths.  This place was huge!  Plenty of space inside, lots of high top tables that were all appropriately spaced out, and live music were playing.  Plus there was plenty of Air Conditioning, always important during summertime in Florida.

The food booth all the way in the back of the Pavilion was dedicated to Macaroni & Cheese which sounded pretty good to me.

I opted for the Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese which was also really fantastic.  The Buffalo flavor was not very spicy and I would have preferred a little more spice for my taste.  Since Disney wants to make sure as many people can enjoy it their spicy level is usually pretty low.  But in any case, I reall[y did enjoy this and was on quite the roll this trip with Festival foods.

After enjoying a bit of a break in this Pavilion I headed back out to the Showcase and finished my tour.  I headed back towards Future World and visited a few areas like the Imagination Pavilion, The Land, and The Seas with Nemo and Friends.

Nothing new in any of those areas, so I headed to the other side of Spaceship Earth and headed towards one of my favorite attractions Test Track.  Unfortunately, this ride was not working when I got there, but I decided to go around the side to the Simporium (gift shop).

I spoke with a Cast Member who confirmed that the store was open even though the ride was down.  There usually is a 3-design penny machine inside and I wanted to make sure it was still there, but to my surprise, it was gone.

In its place was a new 8-design touch screen pressed penny machine.  First I had to do my usual photoshoot with the machine and then I went up and pressed my set.  The Cast Member told me I was the first guest (other than the tech who installed it) to use the machine.  I felt so honored to be the first!

This was a nice set of designs all themed around Test Track.  There are a few with Mickey and his friends as well as a couple with some unique Test Track logos.  I was so happy to find some new pennies on this visit and it was a great way to end my day.

My plan was only to try a few food items this time around as I really wanted to spend most of my time reviewing the pressed penny machines.  I’m planning on going back maybe in August to do a full Food and Wine Festival tour with my wife and friends which is something we do every year.  As for the penny machines around the World Showcase, they were all pretty much still in their usual locations, only a couple were not open like in Germany and Canada.  Those machines are located in the gift shops which were not open that day.  The machines in Future World were all the same and available other than the new one at Test Track.  It was definitely a great day and so much fun to be back in Epcot.  I’m looking forward to visiting again to really dive into the Food Festival and hopefully, we will see some more new pressed pennies soon.