When my husband, daughter, and I moved near Walt Disney World, we made a promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t go crazy buying souvenirs and merchandise so that our house didn’t become its own off-site Disney outlet. At the same time, we do enjoy the idea of collecting items. For us, pressed pennies (and dimes and quarters) were a great option.
Here are some of the reasons we love collecting pressed pennies:
* They are inexpensive. Where else can you get a souvenir for 51 cents (for pressed pennies), 85 cents (for pressed dimes), or $1.25 (for pressed quarters)?
* They are easy to store. Whether you buy specially designed booklets to store them in, use them for arts and crafts, or just keep them in a small container, they don’t take up a lot of space.
* They are fun to make. Who doesn’t like watching things go smash and crunch? Many times when we put the coins in to make a pressed penny, people around stop to watch. There’s just something very cool about watching the process.
* They are available other places, too. From tourist attractions to rest areas along the interstate, you never know where you will find one.
* They all tell a story. Whether it is an extinct attraction or a Haunted Mansion pressed penny given to a four-year-old girl for her bravery going on the attraction for the first time, every one can have its own unique story that adds to your travel memories.
* They are good souvenir options when some merchandise is hard to get. During the time when it was nearly impossible to find Frozen merchandise at Walt Disney World, there were three Frozen pressed pennies available. So for less than $2, you could get a unique piece of Frozen merchandise even if everything else was sold out.
* They are collectible. Every year, new designs come out, including some designs specific for that year only. This year there are 15 pressed coins that are marked with 2015 scattered all around property. In addition, there are coins that are part of sets (for example, the Seven Dwarves or a set of Mickeys).
* They are slower to release than other collectibles. Unlike pins or vinylmation, where you could easily go broke just trying to buy every new release, you won’t be scrambling to get every new release. Although new designs do appear throughout the year, it is usually one here or one there every few months instead of dozens in a series appearing in a single day.
Finding Pressed Coins at Walt Disney World
Pressed pennies can be found all throughout Walt Disney World, at the theme parks, resorts, water parks, and Downtown Disney. In addition, there are pressed penny machines in the Port Canaveral terminal before you board a Disney cruise. Pressed quarters are found alongside some of the pressed penny machines. Pressed dimes are available in one place only at Walt Disney World—in the arcade in Tomorrowland just outside the exit from Space Mountain.
Some locations have change machines nearby, but in general, make sure to bring your own coins—and especially the pennies. There are two basic types of machines: ones that use a hand crank to select the design you want and then crank some more to press the coin, and ones where you press the button of the design you want and the machine does the hard work.
How to Select the Best Pennies to Press
For the true pressed penny aficionado, the best pennies to use are from prior to 1982, when the pennies were made 95% of copper. For those coins, when you smash them, you will get a uniform color throughout. After 1982, pennies are made from approximately 99% zinc with a copper coating, and so you will get silver-colored streaks in the penny as it is pressed. For me personally, I think this adds some character to the penny. Once you have some pennies selected, you may also need to get them cleaned. There are almost as many different ways to clean pennies as there are pressed pennies out there. From hot sauce to lemon juice to SOS pads or Brasso, some cleaning methods can be found here.
Once you have your pennies all cleaned, you will want to keep them neat and tidy until it is time for you to press them. The best advice we were given early on is to use an empty M&M Minis tube filled with quarter-quarter-penny so that you have a set of two quarters and a penny ready to go at a moment’s notice. This is also a great way to budget with kids—once they run out of coins in the tube, they are done “shopping” for that day.
Web Sites for Checklists
My personal favorite site for keeping track of Walt Disney World pressed pennies is PressCoins.com.
This site contains checklists to help you locate and keep track of the coins currently available, as well as those that have been retired. Many of the pages show not only the coins themselves, but what the machines look like (as the machines can seemingly play hide and seek in the back of stores around property).
To locate other pressed coins around the world, check out the “official web site for elongated pennies” at PennyCollector.com.
There you can find everything you want to know about pressed penny machines throughout the world, plus resources to help you buy, sell, and trade.
What To Do with a Collection
Books to store your pressed pennies can be purchased at many gift shops around property. If you are interested in getting more creative, a few minutes on Pinterest can provide a variety of ideas. From jewelry (such as earrings and charm bracelets) to framed artwork to keychains and more, there are many different DIY projects that you can do with pressed coins.
How do you decide what to collect? That’s really up to you. Some people may try and collect them all. Others may go for a specific character, or only coins of rides they have been on. In addition, there are a couple special coins of interest.
Star Wars Weekends Pressed Pennies
During Star Wars Weekends, a special machine is brought out into the area around (or in some years inside) Darth’s Mall. This machine contains the Star Tours logo, plus Leia Minnie, Jedi Mickey, and Darth Goofy.
The Mysterious Agent P Coin
While doing the research for this article, I came across several mentions of the ultra-rare Agent P coin. While there are several Agent P (from Phineas and Ferb) coins available in Epcot, this particular one is not shown on any of the pressed penny coin signs. From what I was able to glean, you are able to obtain this coin from the pressed penny machine in France as part of Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure and somehow the die in the machine only presses out that coin if you are on that adventure. I decided to see if you could get the pressed penny without playing the game, and tracked down the machine, nestled in the back of the gift shop between Impressions de France and Les Halles. Unfortunately, the machine seems to have been “played” a bit too much, as it was out of order, jammed full of coins. I was able to see the die in there that would press the special coin, however. Hopefully this will be fixed soon, and I will keep checking back.
But is it….you know….legal?
When we first started collecting coins, some of our relatives expressed concern for our daughter’s eventual chances at a presidential run for her willful destruction of U.S. currency and asked “Isn’t it….well, you know….illegal to do this?” In short, the regulations about mutilating money comes more from the standpoint that I can’t take two ten dollar bills, cut out a zero from one of them, glue it to the other, and try to say it is a hundred dollar bill. As long as you are not trying to pull a fraud, you are allowed to safely “mutilate” the coins in pressed penny machines, as signs on the machines clearly state.
So are there any other pressed penny collectors out there? Got a favorite? Got a design you wish Disney would make? (And is anyone else wishing they’d hide a nickel machine somewhere on property?) Leave a comment and share your love for the smashed cents out there!