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.

Magic Kingdom Reopening Preview – NEW Pressed Pennies!!

Back on March 15th, 2020, the Walt Disney World Theme Parks closed due to the COVID Pandemic.  I was there on the last night before it closed and it was a very different experience that I don’t know if I’ll ever see again.  Cast Members were hugging each other in tears, not knowing if or when they may see each other again.  Guests were sitting all along Main Street after the park had officially closed but were just so reluctant to leave not knowing when they may be back in the park.  Eventually, once we had emotionally prepared ourselves to leave we passed by the Main Street Train Station where Mickey and some of his friends were there waving goodbye as we left the park.  I knew we would be back and hoped it would only be a month or so, but soon that closure time extended to two months, then three.

Finally, after about 117 days, Walt Disney World was ready to attempt a reopening with a lot of changes to not just crowd levels but also ride procedures and face coverings.  A few days before the Magic Kingdom was going to reopen to the general public they offered a special preview for Annual Passholders and I made sure to snag one of those limited spots.  Here is a review of my first trip back to the Magic Kingdom.

The park was scheduled to open that day at 9am, but I was wake by 6 in the morning and was just too anxious to get there.  Obviously from the above picture, I was not the only one and there was quite a line at the parking plaza to get into the lots.  To try and help keep everyone spaced out they were pulsing groups of cars through the plaza.  This caused the line to move a bit as a few cars to pass through, then you would sit at a standstill for a while waiting for that previous group to make their way into the parking lot.

It didn’t take too long to get parked but it was a bit of a process.  After we were guided into a spot the trams were not operating so we had to walk from the parking lot to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC).  Then it was time for our temperature screening.  This was a simple process, you just keep your distance from other guests until it’s your turn and then an Advent Healthcare worker used a non-invasive thermometer to scan your forehead and give you the go-ahead to proceed inside.  After that was the security screening and then on to the first choice of the day…Monorail or Ferry boat.

The line wasn’t too bad for the Monorail so I opted to check that out first.  The number of guests in each car was limited and in my case, I had the entire car to myself.  You can see in the above picture that they have installed a divider over that center bench to try and keep the two parts of the car separated a bit.  But you can see there is a gap around the edge so this is not a full-proof solution.

My ride in the Monorail was pretty quick and before I knew it I was back in the Magic Kingdom with the Train Station looming over the Main Entrance.  The fingerprint scanners have been covered over and not required at this time.  You just touch your Magic Band to the touchpoint and walk on in.

I walked under the train station and onto Main Street feeling like I had never left.  It was a wonderful feeling to be back inside the park, but you did have the sense that things were different.  Up high on the Train Station platform was Mickey and a group of his Friends all welcoming us back which was wonderful.

Main Street USA was fairly empty especially compared to what I’ve been used to over the past few years but was a nice change and I wish it could be like this all the time.

My first stop was over to Adventureland and I was looking forward to getting on Pirates of the Caribbean.  You can see in the above picture that the extended queue is set up with the social distancing markers.  Due to the current low capacity the park is allowing, there was no wait and I walked right on the ride.

After I had completed my Caribbean tour with my favorite pirates I needed a Dole Whip.  Not just because it had been months since my last taste, but also it was extremely hot and humid as we have all come to know Florida for.  That first taste of Dole Whip was heavenly and I savored every moment before continuing on.

Now that I had cooled off a bit, I headed into Frontierland and did make it on Splash Mountain.  I’m sure by now you have heard that Disney announced Splash Mountain will be rethemed to Princess and the Frog.  No time frame has been released yet, but this was definitely the most popular ride in the park with many fans trying to make sure they got in one last ride just in case the ride closes sooner than later.  Then I headed over towards the Country Bear Jamboree and found some of the bears on the second-floor balcony waiving and interactive with guests passing by below them.

With the Country Bears having fun outside I couldn’t pass up a visit to their Jamboree and also figured I would enjoy some Air Conditioning at the same time.

Inside the waiting area for the show previously there had been a 3 design pressed penny machine.  But on this visit, I noticed that machine was gone and was replaced with a new 8-design machine.

The pressed penny designs included images of all the different Country Bears from the show including Big Al, Liver Lips, Brother Ted, Teddi Barra, and more.  With the new pennies stored in my pocket, I headed into the show and enjoyed another great Jamboree performance.

Crowd levels were amazingly low.  Once I left the Country Bears I wondered through Liberty Square, took a quick ride inside the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, and then over towards New Fantasyland.  The above picture is of the Stroller Parking near the Carousel.  For anyone that has experienced this area on a normal day, the above picture at least for me was shocking.

The pathway in front of the Little Mermaid attraction was completely deserted.

This continued over into Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland as shown above.

Space Mountain was another attraction that had a posted wait time of around 15 minutes for most of the day but was just a walk-on.  I think the 15 minutes was just the length of time it took to walk through that long queue line.

In the Tomorrowland Terrace was one of the Relaxation Stations.  This is a place just like Universal offered where they have tables separated from each other allowing you a place to remove your mask for a bit of a break.

This is a nice place to sit and relax since it’s open allowing for a nice amount of airflow, but you are also covered from the sun or rain.

By this time I had made almost a complete tour of the park, but wanted to head back down Main Street to visit the Emporium.

But once I got down in that area I was just taken back by how empty it was.  I was almost speechless but wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could.

Not too long after as I was just sitting along Main Street one of the random Character Cavalcades was headed my way.  One of the recent changes Disney made was doing away with the scheduled afternoon parade.  Instead, they have these small Cavalcades which is usually just a single float with a few characters on it.  These are released into the park sporadically to avoid people standing around in groups.  It’s actually a great way to do it without the large crowds.

Getting into the Main Street Emporium is a little different.  This store has a LOT of different doors, but only the set about halfway up Main Street is available to actually enter the store.  All the other doors are marked as Exit Only and have Cast Members there to prevent you from entering the wrong way.  This is to ensure they can manage the number of guests inside the store.  As you enter, a Cast Member has a Tablet that they “Add” you as a guest in the store.  It’s connected to the Cast Members near the exits that are “Removing” guests as they leave.  If there are too many people inside the store they will set up a queue where you need to wait before being allowed inside.

I walked around not really looking to buy any merchandise (I’ve already got plenty and need to try and cut back).  But as I entered the main section of the Emporium I noticed a new Pressed Penny machine.  In this area previously were two machines, a 3-design Quarter Press and a 3-design Penny Press.

But after searching around I can confirm those machines have been removed and replaced with this new 8-design model.

More of a surprise was the addition of more 2020 dated designs.  With 2020 about half over it seems kind of strange to release these now.  Plus I’m curious to see what happens in 2021, will only the dated designs be replaced or will we get a whole new set of 8-designs.  This set has designs of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Princess Aurora, and a few other familiar characters.

After I finished using that new machine I kept walked around just seeing what was new, and towards one of the exits, I saw another new penny machine.

These 8-design machines are certainly becoming a popular choice at Walt Disney World.  In this location, there used to be a 3-design penny press which has also been retired and replaced with this second new machine.

More 2020 designs are available in this set along with images of Tinker Bell, Snow White, Mickey, and more of his Friends.

This was a really great day.  I was a little apprehensive about heading back into the parks especially since Florida has been having some high numbers of confirmed COVID cases lately.  But with all the precautions Disney has taken, I did feel quite safe and was always trying to ensure I didn’t touch too many things and tried to keep myself distanced from others as much as possible.  There is nothing like visiting a Disney Park to brighten your spirits, and finding three new pressed penny machines was just the icing on the cake.

ESPN Club – Disney’s Boardwalk

Years ago when I had been visited Walt Disney World on vacations we always spent most of our time obviously in theme parks.  Whether we were going on rides, eating snacks, or big meals, and especially when penny pressing we were more often than not in those parks.  After we moved down to Florida I was able to try and explore more of WDW property since we didn’t need to spend all of our time in the parks anymore.  Some of these trips had us find some hidden gems like the Sebastien’s Restaurant over at Caribbean Beach Resort or the secret dinner menu over at the All-Star Movie Resort.  But one place had ended up being my go-to spot when I just want a bit of Disney pixie dust without heading into a park, and that ended up being the Disney Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk wraps around about half of Crescent Lake just outside of Epcot.  Directly across from the Boardwalk is the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, the Swan & Dolphin Resorts are also just a quick walk away.  Then right on the Boardwalk is the Inn  (Resort) that you can stay at during your visit and is a beautiful place is you don’t mind the creepy clown slide by the pool.

Along the Boardwalk are some carnival-style games where you can win prizes, along with plenty of restaurants, bars, and live entertainment at night.  I have visited most of the restaurants and shops along here, but one that I had never experienced was the ESPN Club.  This place can get very during televised sporting events.  Finally it was time to go and see what this club was all about, so I made sure we went shortly after it opened on a Saturday to try and avoid the crowds later on.

They do list the upcoming games on the marquee out front so you can keep an eye out for your favorite team.  But as you will see inside there are plenty of TVs to cover any game you may be looking for.

This is not some secret club and you don’t need to sign up for anything ahead of time.  This is open to the public just like any other restaurant or bar.

As you walk inside past the check-in stand the main bar is straight ahead.  Notice all those TV screens around the bar, that’s just the tip of the ice burg.

The sports memorabilia is also in full force here and amazing to see their collection.

This was the main dining room that was set up like a basketball court which was neat, and lots more autographed items all around the walls.

They had items from all different teams among the major sports like Baseball, Football, Hockey, and Basketball.

The autographed jerseys are all nicely framed and I’m pretty sure that no matter who your favorite player is they probably have his jersey.  The amount of stuff in here is amazing.

This wall had some Hockey jerseys of some players I remember from when I was younger.  I especially liked the Chiefs one in the middle of the famous Hanson Brothers from the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot.

 

I had wondered around to see all the memorabilia while I waited for my lunch which did arrive pretty quickly (a perk of going early).  For an appetizer I tried their House Made Chili which was okay nothing I would go out of my way for.  Then as my main entree I had the Reuben sandwich.  It was fine but again nothing extraordinary and I wouldn’t rush back for it.  They did have a big menu so I would definitely come back again to try something else.

Once my lunch was done I skipped dessert and paid my bill.  This way I was able to spend a little more time checking out the decorations.  In the little hallway that connects the main entrance to the larger dining room I was seated as is where the pressed penny machine was located.

This is also part of the waiting area for guests in the restaurant.  There were a few seats along the sidewall and I would anticipate this area gets pretty crowded if all you are looking to do is use the penny press.  Pro-tip: go early!

Here is a picture of the marquee on the machine with the designs for each available penny.

My original set of pressed pennies from here were in pretty bad shape and I had used crumby pennies.  So I used this as an excuse to get a fresh new set.  The images are of Mickey playing Football, Donald playing Basketball, and Daisy playing Softball.

Overall I had a fun time here and as much as I make it sound like I want to avoid crowds, I think this would be a great place to watch an important playoff game or even the College Basketball tournament.  Having all the screens with different games, and plenty of beer on tap plus I’m sure the crowds inside would just add to the atmosphere.  I may have to try this out sometime in the future.  The food is fine and I did enjoy what I got but would be interested in trying something different next time like some Buffalo wings…mmm wings.

The pressed pennies hadn’t changed in the years since I last stopped in, and it would be nice to see some updated designs at some point.  I do like the ESPN Club logo on each design which made a unique touch to this set.  After I left the restaurant I enjoyed the rest of my morning just taking in the sights along the Boardwalk which really is a great place to visit when you need a little break from the parks.  Keep on Rollin’!!

Disney Springs / WDW Resort Machines Converting to $1 per Penny Design

The below was all documented prior to the closing of the theme parks.  With the recent announcement that Disney Springs will have a limited reopening on May 20th only time will tell if the machines are still available or if using them will change due to new health concerns.  When I feel it’s safe to revisit I’ll go back and post an update.  Enjoy!
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With all the Disney Theme parks changed over the conversion finally made it’s way to Disney Springs and the Disney Resorts.  This did seem to be a much longer transition for some reason, but I was keeping a close eye on them and was able to document the last few machines before all the park closures.

Let’s start this tour over at Disney Springs which is really one of my favorite places to visit on property.  Mostly because I love food and there are so many great restaurants there, but they do also have plenty of penny machines.

I parked my car in the Orange Parking garage since it’s closest to the Westside of Disney Springs near the AMC Movie Theater.  Not too far from the parking garage is the Food Truck Pavilion where the first machine was located.

 

I usually mention this at some point in each of the conversion blogs but wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to mention that all these machines were converted to $1 per design.  The machine supplies a shiny zinc penny, however, the designs have not changed and are the same as they were before the change.

Next, I headed towards the Town Center area which is where you can find Planet Hollywood, the Coca-cola Store, Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy, and one of my favorites Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill.

 

In between the Coke store and Wolfgang Puck is the Fire House Restrooms and a Pressed Penny Machine is just outside.

I had a bit of a walk to the next machine which is outside the big World of Disney store at the Marketplace Stage.

 

Not much changed with the machine other than maybe a fresh coat of paint, and new signage for how to use the machine and the updated payment system.

Continuing through Disney Springs I miraculously passed by the Ghiradelli’s store without buying any ice cream, pass the Dockside Margarita stand, and instead over to the Once Upon a Toy store.  Wow, I have very interesting priorities!

 

This was a machine I thought would need more work to have converted just due to its different shape and design.  But the vendor somehow figured out a way to do it while keeping the overall look of the machine pretty similar.

After leaving the toy store I cut through the Pin Trader store, and then through the Star Wars Trading Post.  It does surprise me this store doesn’t have a penny machine, but exiting out this store I could see the next machine up against the outside wall of Goofy’s Candy Co near a Winnie the Pooh photo spot.

 

These machines do accept cash and credit cards or digital payments like Apple Pay.  Please note that if you are only looking to press one coin the only option is to use cash.  If you opt for a credit card or Apple Pay you are automatically charged $4 and get the entire set.  This does cause confusion for some people and I’ve seen them leave after only pressing one penny and I always call them back to try and help ensure they get their full set.

Right around the corner is the main entrance for Goofy’s Candy Co.  I try to avoid this place whenever possible as it’s just too tempting when you walk inside.

 

But on this trip, I needed to face my candy enemy and head inside to check on the penny machine and maybe buy a piece of Cookies and Cream fudge..or maybe two pieces I can’t help myself.

That finishes up all the machines at Disney Springs, but next, I wanted to check out the machines at the Resorts.  Thankfully there are only two 4-design machines on property.  Since my car was all the way on the other side of Disney Springs I decided to grab a Bus over to the first resort.

My first stop was at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort.  This is one of my favorite resorts.  My wife and I spent a week here years ago and really enjoyed the resort plus we made sure to pick up beignets each day after visiting the parks so we had a snack in our room.  I’m sure housekeeping wasn’t happy with the excessive amount of powdered sugar we managed to get all over the floor.

 

Inside the main Lobby of the Resort just outside the Scat Cat’s Club near the restrooms is the penny machine I was looking for.  Since my two pieces of fudge at Disney Springs didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth I headed to the food court and picked up an order of beignets for the road.  I waited for the Resort bus to Epcot to arrive and enjoyed my snack on the bus.

Once at Epcot, I cut through the park and over to the International Gateway where I headed towards the Boardwalk Inn.

 

During the day the Boardwalk by the water doesn’t have a lot of entertainment going on, but this is a fun place to be after the sun sets.  There are buskers doing all sorts of shows for passersby.  The penny machine is located near the dock where you get the Friendship boats back to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or a couple of the other resorts along the waterway.

That was the last 4-design machine on property and they have now all been converted to $1 pre-loaded machines.  This was a fun day trip, but I always enjoy checking out the penny machines and just enjoying the resorts and parks. Will they decide to change the 3-design electronic machines I truly don’t know but kind of think it may be inevitable.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with all the machines once the parks open up again after this longer than anticipated closure.

Stay safe and Happy Collecting!

Hollywood Studios Machines Converting to $1 per Penny Design

At the time of writing this, Walt Disney World Theme parks currently closed due to the Covid-19 virus and the social distancing going on throughout the United States we are all pretty much confined to our homes.  But this does give us some time to catch up on things like cleaning up the house, or maybe spending some time outside weeding our garden…however, in my case, those still sound very boring and I’d rather write about pressed pennies.  Thankfully we had so many new pennies released, and I still have our family vacation from last year to write about that this may just be the time I need to get all those adventures posted.  First, though I wanted to continue reviewing the next park at Walt Disney World to convert their 4-design penny machines over to $1.

Hollywood Studios has had an exciting year, with 2019 bringing us Star Wars (Land) Galaxy’s Edge, then in December we got the new Rise of the Resistance ride which is unbelievably amazing, and now just a few weeks ago the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opened.  This has finally completed (for now) the park’s transformation and part of that was swapping out these penny machines.

Let’s get started by heading straight up Hollywood Boulevard to where it intersects with Sunset Boulevard.  There is a little building here called Hollywood Junction.  On the backside of this building, there used to be two machines.

  

But unfortunately one of these machines has not returned.  It’s been weeks since these machines were all changed so I’m assuming that the second machine has been retired and not coming back.  Maybe it was to make room for the new ATM placed in this area, but in the picture above on the right, there still looks to be plenty of room for that machine.

I’ll say this just once at this time but please note this is the same for all the other machines I’ll review today.  After the conversion, the machine(s) have returned with the new $1 per penny price tag.  It accepts cash, credit card or digital payments like ApplePay.  The machine also supplies a pre-loaded zinc penny.  You can no longer use your own preferred pennies.  Also, the designs have not changed and are exactly the same as they were before the change.

Next, I headed over to the Muppet Courtyard into the Stage 1 Company gift shop which is all Muppet’s Themed.

 

This machine is located in the back of the store where they usually have most of the plush toys but of course, that can change.  This store does have two other machines, but this is the only 4-design model available here.

I had to kind of backtrack a little bit towards the Echo Lake area.  Near the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show is a little shop called the Adventure Outpost.

 

The first machine at this location is right out front before you even enter the store.  The cabinet of the machine has changed slightly but still is pretty similar to what it was before.

 

The second machine is inside the store.  As I mentioned above this store is small so it isn’t hard to find this machine but it can be a little difficult to use if the store is busy.

If you do decide to go and watch the Indiana Jones stunt show one of the exits brings you out near the Backlot Express quick-service restaurant.  There is also a little outdoor gift shop here that has the next penny machine.

 

The machine has moved slightly after the change but is still in the same general area of that outdoor shop.

 

Next, we headed to the other side of the park and started heading down Sunset Boulevard.  About halfway down you will come to the Sunset Ranch which has a couple quick-services places to eat, plus a pin store, and a little stand called Anaheim Product with churros, pretzels, frozen lemonade, and other snacks.  Right out from of this stand is the above pictures penny machine.  I always liked this machine with the cabinet designed to looks like crates of produce.  When the machines get themed like that it always just seems to add to the fun.

If you spin around 180 degrees you will see a little alleyway in between some larger stores.  At the back of this alleyway are a set of restrooms and a penny machine.

 

I always dislike when penny machines are placed outside restrooms but that seems to be a very common location for them.  Guess people need something to do while waiting for their family members.

 

At the end of Sunset Boulevard, we took a left into the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard.  Just beside the face painting tent is the penny machine.

Past the entrance to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is an area of the park that was previously only open for certain events, but now is open all the time with a new attraction at the Sunset Showcase Theater called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.

 

The penny machine in this area is located just outside the exit to the theater.  You do not need to sit through the show to access the machine as it is outside for anyone to see.  But the show is cute and has a really cool Lightning McQueen animatronic inside.  Originally this machine was located back in the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Courtyard near the previous machine but was relocated here once the show opened premiered.

Finally, we come to the last 4-design machine in this park.  It’s over near the Tower of Terror, outside the Hollywood Tower Gift Shop in the courtyard.

 

You do not need to ride Tower of Terror to use this machine (thankfully).  That ride is not one of my favorites so I’m glad I can just walk over to use this machine with the screams of the attraction riders hollering out in the background.

Hollywood Studios had the most 4-design machines of all the parks.  They were changed out over the course of a month or so.  It’s interesting to watch how they handle this by removing about half of the machines first, then once those are changed out they remove the second half.  However, these definitely seem to take longer than the other locations to get all the machines back.  As I mentioned way back at the beginning we did lose one of the machines that still has not returned and I don’t think it will.  But the park still has lots of other machines and plenty of penny designs available to keep you busy.  Oh and if you have some time in between pressing your coins, make sure to try out some of the new rides you won’t be disappointed.

Fantasy Faire Pressed Pennies – Magic Kingdom

I had just finished up finding a new penny machine over at the Wilderness Lodge when I received a message from a fellow collector that another new machine was at the Magic Kingdom.  A nice leisurely way to travel over to the park from this resort is by boat.

So I headed out back and thankfully didn’t have to wait too long before the boat arrived.

With the windows open and a nice breeze coming inside the boat it definitely is a nice alternative to the buses or even monorail if you park in the Transportation and Ticket Center lot.

The boat will pass by the Contemporary Resort and then into Seven Seas Lagoon where it eventually drops you off right in front of the Magic Kingdom.

Once inside I headed straight down Main Street, cut through Cinderella’s Castle and found myself inside Fantasyland.

I had been told the name of the store (Fantasy Faire) where this new machine was supposed to be located, but for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where it was located within the park.  There are always plenty of cast members around willing to help and they even walked me right over to where it was located beside Mickey’s Philharmagic.

For those of you that may not be familiar with Mickey’s Philharmagic, it’s one of those 4-D movie attractions.  The premise is that Mickey will be conducting an Orchestra, but Donald gets a hold of the Sorcerer’s Hat and is dragged into some of Disney’s famous animated musical scenes.  Be Our Guest (Beauty and the Beast), Can’t wait to be King (The Lion King), A Whole New World (Aladdin) and a few more.  The scenes are all recreated in 3-D and you periodically are splashed with some water or scents are sprayed in your direction depending on what is on the screen.  I think this definitely needs an upgrade to the screen and the 3D is a bit weak, but the music is really fun and gets everyone in the theater singing along.  After the show is over you exit down a hallway back into the park but along the way, there is an opening to the Fantasy Faire gift shop.  Inside the theming continues with the orchestra and plenty of musical touches.

You can also get into this store without having to go through the attraction.  Just to the right of the Philharmagic attraction entrance is another entrance to the store.

Over along one wall that is covered with Minnie and Mickey Ears was where I found the new penny machine.

The only issue I ran into with this machine is that it’s located right next to a Cast Member door which opens out into the store.  So if you are standing a bit too close to the machine the door won’t hit you but does come close especially with the Cast Members coming in and out of the door.

The designs for this new set include all your favorite Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and more playing various musical instruments.

This new set is cute but I wish it actually had the Philharmagic logo on them or just included images from the actual attraction.  But it’s still nice to have another new set of pennies for my collection.  After pressing the coins I jumped in line to watch Mickey’s Philharmagic and then grabbed a Pineapple Dole Whip before I headed out of the park.

Happy Collecting!

2020 Dated Walt Disney World Pressed Coins Set

Happy New Year!!  Ok sorry I know it’s February but I have some great news, all the 2020 pressed coins have been released at Walt Disney World.  Well, most of them are available…but we will get to that in a bit.  This year was a bit chaotic, we came out of the gate early in January with a hand full of new coins, then it took some time for the rest to appear.

Just recently the last few 2019 designs were finally removed and replaced with old retired designs, not new 2020 ones.  I was trying to hold out as long as I could before writing this to keep all this information in one post.  I’ve spoken with some fellow collectors and we believe that the 2020 dated designs have all been released.  As always if anything changes I’ll be sure to update everyone.

We will star over in Epcot at the Mouse Gear store.  This is the main gift shop just behind Spaceship Earth and has been home to a dated penny design for quite a few years.

   

The penny machine can be found along a wall covered in the 2020 merchandise like t-shirts, sweaters, snow globs, picture frames and so much more.  The penny available here was of Spaceship Earth.

Remember at the beginning when I said most of the designs are available well this is the one exception for now.  I was at Epcot the day this design was released.  But for some reason about a week, later this store was closed up for a lengthy refurbishment.  As of the date, I’m writing this penny machine has not been moved and is currently unavailable.  There is a new “Temporary” Mouse Gear store behind the Electric Umbrella quick service restaurant, but the machine hasn’t been placed there yet.  This design has become a highly sought after design for now since it was only available for a few days not many people were able to get one.  Rumors are that the machine cabinet is being rethemed and will then return.  I’ll be sure to post an update if it shows up again.

   

Epcot also had a second penny design available back in the World Showcase at the Disney Trader’s gift shop.  The design is of Chip and Dale carrying what I think is Donald’s hat.  After pressing this penny I headed over to the International Gateway and grabbed the new Skyliner over to Hollywood Studios.

   

The first new design is back in the Rock Around the Shop the gift shop for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  I really like the design of this machine’s cabinet and hope they don’t change it.  It just really fits in well here.  The penny design here was of Chip and Dale in 2020.

 

Not too far away was the next coin in the Tower Hotel Gifts which is the store for the Tower of Terror attraction.  This pressed quarter has a similar design from previous years of the Tower of Terror.

With Hollywood Studios completed we headed over to the Animal Kingdom.  Back in Dinoland USA at the Chester and Hester Dino Treasures gift shop is where the penny machine is located.

 

The penny in this store is of the Tree of Life the icon of the park also with 2020 at the bottom.  Animal Kingdom used to have a dated pressed quarter located at the Harambe Train Station but this machine did not get a 2020 design.

Now we were off to check out some of the resorts for new coins.  First, we stopped at the All-Star Sports resort.

 

The machines are located in the main lobby building just outside the Arcade.  There is one-quarter machine available and the design here is of 2020 Goofy.

A little further down the road, we visited the All-Star Music resort.  These machines are also located in the main building just outside the Note’ Able Arcade.

 

The pressed quarter design at this resort is of Pluto with 2020 on it.

The last All-Star resort is Movies and ended strong with two pressed coin designs.

 

These machines are found in the World Premier Food Court and can be a busy place if you visit during common mealtime.  The pressed quarter design is of Donald Duck.

 

Just a few steps to the right is the penny machine with the new 2020 design of Pluto.  This completed the All-Star resorts so we jumped back in our car and headed over to the Art of Animation resort.

This resort has one of my favorite food courts called the Landscape of Flavors.  When you first walk in there is a pretty big gift shop, then the food court is just beyond that.  The penny machines are just past the gift shop.

 

The design available at this machine is another horizontal image of Donald Duck in 2020.  There was just one more resort we needed to visit and it probably my all-time favorite.

I love the theming at the Polynesian Village Resort, and the food options are great.  Inside the main lobby building called the Grand Ceremonial House, up on the second floor is the Moana Mercantile and the penny machine is right outside the store.

 

Of all the designs this year I think this one is my favorite, 2020 Minnie Mouse.

After a quick ride on the Monorail, we were inside the Magic Kingdom.  I headed right down Main Street, through the Castle and into Fantasyland.

Near the carousel is a store called Sir Mickey’s.  This is also the store you exit into after you experience a Princess Meet and Greet.

 

In previous years this machine has been my archnemesis.  I think in 2019 I had to visit this machine about 3-4 times before it was finally working to press the penny.  This year I lucked out and it was working without any issue.  This is another cute design of 2020 Mickey Mouse.

In previous years the Main Street Emporium had a dated penny and quarter, but not in 2020.  This year those old designs were replaced with previously retired designs from other locations.  But I did find another machine at the Main Street Train Station.

 

This was a new machine placed here in 2019 and all four of the designs were replaced with new 2020 penny designs.  This set has images of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Cinderella’s Castle.  We had just one more place to visit to finalize all the 2020 coins, we grabbed a bus over to Disney Springs.

   

In the Pin Traders store, there is a collectible medallion machine.  This has moved around a bit over the last year, but this seems to be it’s new “permanent” location.  There was a 2019 design here and it has been replaced with a new 2020 medallion.

Wow, I don’t know about you but that was quite a trek around WDW property.

This year there are only 4 pressed quarter designs.  It does seem like these pressed quarter machines are slowly being removed as quite a few of them were taken away last year and have not returned.  There were 12 pennies and 1 collectible medallion, making for a grand total of 17 dated coins.

Keep in mind that penny from Epcot’s Mouse Gear is not currently available, and is also a prime example of making sure you try to get these coins as soon as you can.  With so many things changing around Walt Disney World property these machines seem to come and go periodically which can leave holes in your collection.

Have a great 2020 and I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with any changes to this setup or if that pesky Mouse Gear penny shows up somewhere.  I think this is going to be another big year at WDW with new coin released so we will definitely be busy.

Keep on Smashing!!

(More) Frozen Pressed Pennies – Epcot Norway Pavilion

It’s 2020 and Disney has started released their dated pennies and quarters so I’ve been focused on that for the last couple weeks.  Then all of a sudden in the middle of that they decide to release a brand new penny machine in Epcot.  We are in between festivals so I was intrigued about what designs could be in this machine.  Then I got a message from a fellow collector on Instagram about the new Norway machine.  Uh oh, I think I know what this new set is going to be themed.  Wasn’t there just a new Frozen movie released?

Over in the Norway Pavilion, there are two separate sections.  If you are coming from the Mexico Pavilion, the first area has the Anna and Elsa Royal Sommerhus which is a meet and greet area.  Then if you go a bit further the second area is where the Frozen Ever After ride is located along with some shopping and the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.  I, of course, headed to that main section near the Ride with all the shops but couldn’t find this new machine.  Eventually, I checked the first section and remember there was a gift shop at the exit to the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.  This store is called The Wandering Reindeer.

They even have a cute cross-stitch of a reindeer up on the wall.  Not for sale that I could tell, but give them time.

Inside is all Frozen all the time.  I don’t think I saw one piece of merchandise that wasn’t Frozen related.  But I guess that’s to be expected as you would normally just be finishing your visit with Anna and Else before exiting in here.  Please note that you do not actually need to do the meet and greet to get in here, there is a door right from the outside as I pictured above.  Once you walk inside all the way in the back left is where I found the machine.

I apologize for the picture, the lighting inside was terrible and with parts of the machine backlit it made getting a good picture very difficult.  As you can see the machine is our new standard 8-design machine.

The machine does still supply new shiny pennies for you and these came out pretty nicely.  The designs include Else, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Hans and some of the characters together.  After I got home I took a further look at these and honestly couldn’t tell if these if there were technically a Frozen II set or not.  I didn’t think Hans was in the second movie, but my daughters said otherwise so I’m not sure what to call them other than just a new set of Frozen pressed pennies.  As a collector, I’m surprised for more Frozen designs, but again with the popularity of the new movie, I guess this does make sense. Kids will be looking for souvenirs with their favorite Frozen characters, and the parents will be happy to only drop $5 for a souvenir.  Not too bad in my book.

First 2020 Penny Set and Souvenir Medallion – Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney World has started releasing the 2020 coins.  The machines with the individual designs in each park and a few resorts are still coming out and I’ll have a big post about all of those once they are available.

However, there were a few separate 2020 coins that were released and I thought I would go ahead and share them with you separately.

First was over at Disney Springs in the Pin Trader store.  This location does have quite a few penny machines but those designs have not changed.  The new design that I came across was in the Collectible Medallion machine.

This machine seems to have its designs swapped out on a fairly regular schedule.  I feel like I was just over here getting a new coin not too long ago.

The cost of these coins is still the same at $5 per coin or 3 for $10.  Above is a picture of all the current designs available.  The second design from the left is the one we had found just a few weeks ago.

This medallion is pretty similar to the 2019 version it replaced.  It has a similar Disney Springs pattern on the front with Mickey Mouse on top obviously now it has 2020.  The back design is still the standard Disney Springs logo on all the other medallions here.

Next, we actually headed into the Magic Kingdom.  We visited on January 4th and it was a crazy madhouse.  Thankfully we weren’t going in too far for these new penny designs and just headed into the Main Street Railroad Station.

Not too long ago this location used to have a 3-design pressed quarter machine, but that was replaced in 2019 with this machine that had 4 designs all dated with 2019.  I actually thought this would be one of the last machines swapped out, but sure enough, it was one of the first.

This is still a 4-design hand-crank machine, but it’s one of the recently converted models that cost $1 per design.  This machine does accept credit cards or digital payments like ApplePay however, if you use those forms of payment you must get all 4 pennies for $4.   If you only want one penny (or less than the full set of 4) you need to use cash.

Above is a picture of the marquee at the top of the machine.  I liked the Train logo in the middle from last year and am glad to see it return.  It’s just a nice little touch to signify where it is in the park.  They should have a machine at each train station and make a fun subset to collect for a penny pressing trip around the Train loop.

The designs here all have 2020 on them with images of Cinderella’s Castle, Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.

Well, this was just a quick taste of the new 2020 pressed coins still on the way.  I think I have about half of them collected.  Hopefully, the rest will be released soon as these are highly popular to collect each year and I know people are anxious to know where they are all located.

Here’s to a fantastic 2020 with lots more pennies to press!

Festival of the Holiday’s 2019 – Epcot

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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