It does not take long after arriving at Disney World to be drawn to the many souvenirs available for purchase. From mugs to t-shirts to collectible pins, the temptation to buy is overwhelming. As a Disney fanatic, I am drawn to all of the themed items representing one of my favorite places. My three sons are as well.
Since we do not have an inexhaustible souvenir budget, my husband and I encourage our children to be reasonable when it comes to purchasing vacation mementoes. Over the years, a favorite has emerged for them: pressed pennies!
What exactly are pressed pennies? A pressed penny is an actual penny that is placed in a special machine and imprinted with a distinct image. The guest chooses the design from an assortment of machines throughout the World. Each machine usually includes several choices. The guest inserts two quarters, plus the penny, into the machine, makes a selection, and either cranks a handle or taps a button to start the process of “pressing” the coin. Seconds later, the penny emerges – flattened, elongated, and embossed with the chosen image.
Pressed penny machines can be found all across Disney World. They are spread out over each park, as well as Downtown Disney, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, and all of the Disney resorts. One of the biggest selections to choose from is at the Contemporary Resort.
Pennies can be imprinted with a large variety of images including characters, rides, countries, shows, and more. My sons have chosen to collect the pennies that have their favorite images on them, which include almost every one at Disney World! Others may choose to collect pennies from the different countries in the World Showcase at EPCOT or only pennies of characters.
My sons will occasionally splurge on a pressed quarter, which costs a total of five quarters. These machines are more difficult to find, but often have a desirable image to be stamped on them, such as the Tower of Terror, a favorite ride of our boys.
Disney sells themed books to display the collection of pennies for approximately $7 per book. Each of our children has two of these books for their coins. The older books have slots for sixty-four pennies, while the most recent holds only fifty-six. However, it will also hold nine pressed quarters. Our kids like this feature because they no longer have to squeeze a quarter into a slot designed for a penny.
Our family prepares year-round for purchasing these souvenirs. In between Disney trips, we save quarters and pennies. A couple of days before our departure for the World, we divide the quarters among the boys, sometimes adding more so they have enough to purchase approximately ten to twelve pennies each. We then select the shiniest and brightest pennies for pressing. We place all of these coins in a small, plastic bag that can be zipped closed. This bag is carried with us during our entire vacation so that we are not caught off guard by the presence of any unexpected machines.
Pressed pennies are a fun reminder of our Disney vacation. The boys take them out periodically between trips and enjoy remembering not only their favorite Disney characters and attractions, but also the experience of making these souvenirs.